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How are Networks Theorized?            Clay Spinuzzi     Clay.spinuzzi@utexas.edu
Value• Grounding in activity theory: history,  assumptions, applications• Grounding in actor-network theory: history,  ass...
THE FIGHT
THE FIRST STROKE
The Central Disagreement• Activity theory: Development precedes and  underpins political-rhetorical interests  [weaving]• ...
0.   Engelsian dialectics1.   Mediation2.   Structure of activity3.   Contradictions4.   Activity networksACTIVITY THEORY:...
0. Engelsian Dialectics• “The dialectical laws are really laws of  development of nature, and therefore are  valid also fo...
1. Mediation
“typified rhetorical responses to   recurring social situations”
2. Structure of ActivityLevel   Focus       Chars          Timescale   Aware?   DisruptionMacro   Activity    Culture,    ...
2. Structure of Activity
3. Contradictions
Primary Contradictions
Secondary Contradictions
Tertiary Contradictions
Quaternary Contradictions
4. Activity Networks
4. Activity Networks
Example: Coworking• Coworking = “working alone, together”• Coworking sites = open plan workspaces  where unaffiliated peop...
Clients Clients                                                                         Interior                    Web   ...
WebGraphic design              development                                            SEO  Copywriting                    ...
Client         Client          ClientClient
Exercise: What’s your activity?• What is the object they’re cyclically trying to  achieve?• What’s the outcome they’re try...
Social Media in an Activity System
Social Media in an Activity Network
Social Media in an Activity Network
Social Media in an Activity Network
Activity Theory: Summing Up• Woven, developmental• Nodes: activities, which develop over time• Links: interconnections amo...
0.   Machiavelli1.   Actor-Networks2.   Mediation3.   Translation4.   Composition5.   Black-Boxing6.   DelegationACTOR-NET...
1. Actor-Networks• Actants define each other (Callon 1991, p.142)• The actant is the effect of the network, not its  cause...
2. Mediation• In ANT, creating a relation (link) between two  actants (nodes)• All actants are also intermediaries• Agency...
Genres Developed Over Iterations
Mediation Involves…•   Translation•   Composition•   Reversible Black-Boxing•   Delegation
3. Translationa.   Problematizationb.   Interessementc.   Enrollmentd.   Mobilization
4. Composition• The assemblage becomes an actant.• “Who performs the action?”• “Action is simply not a property of humans ...
5. Reversible Black-Boxing• “I’ll call X.”• “The phone’s not working.”• “The line is dead.”• “I called Telecorp and they’l...
6. Delegation
Exercise: How is translation happening            in your case?• Problematization. What’s the problem to be  solved?• Inte...
GENUINE DIFFERENCES
Genuine Differences   Activity Theory               Actor-Network TheoryThe first stroke is a weave   The first stroke is ...
Genuine Differences   Activity Theory               Actor-Network TheoryThe first stroke is a weave   The first stroke is ...
Genuine Differences   Activity Theory               Actor-Network TheoryThe first stroke is a weave   The first stroke is ...
Genuine Differences   Activity Theory               Actor-Network TheoryThe first stroke is a weave   The first stroke is ...
Genuine Differences   Activity Theory               Actor-Network TheoryThe first stroke is a weave   The first stroke is ...
Genuine Differences   Activity Theory               Actor-Network TheoryThe first stroke is a weave   The first stroke is ...
Commonalities•   Heterogeneous•   Multiply linked•   Transformative•   Black-boxed
Takeaways• Grounding in activity theory: history,  assumptions, applications• Grounding in actor-network theory: history, ...
Exercise: Analyzing an Activity• Identify the object of your activity: the  problem space or material around which  people...
Exercise: Identifying Black Boxes• In the same case, identify a black box (e.g.,  “I’m making a call”).• Try decomposing t...
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Spinuzzi network-3

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A slide deck discussing Chapter 3 of my book Network.

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Spinuzzi network-3

  1. 1. How are Networks Theorized? Clay Spinuzzi Clay.spinuzzi@utexas.edu
  2. 2. Value• Grounding in activity theory: history, assumptions, applications• Grounding in actor-network theory: history, assumptions, applications• Strengths of each theory• Differences between the theories• Applications of each theory to social media
  3. 3. THE FIGHT
  4. 4. THE FIRST STROKE
  5. 5. The Central Disagreement• Activity theory: Development precedes and underpins political-rhetorical interests [weaving]• Actor-network theory: Political-rhetorical interests precede and underpin development [splicing]
  6. 6. 0. Engelsian dialectics1. Mediation2. Structure of activity3. Contradictions4. Activity networksACTIVITY THEORY: KEY CONCEPTS
  7. 7. 0. Engelsian Dialectics• “The dialectical laws are really laws of development of nature, and therefore are valid also for theoretical natural science” (Engels 1954, p.84).• Not only does dialectic constitute a “universally valid … general law of development of nature, society, or thought,” it also constitutes a universally valid law of development for the natural world (p.91).
  8. 8. 1. Mediation
  9. 9. “typified rhetorical responses to recurring social situations”
  10. 10. 2. Structure of ActivityLevel Focus Chars Timescale Aware? DisruptionMacro Activity Culture, Year, No Contradiction history; decades social action, social memoryMeso Goal Tool-in-use; Minutes, Yes Discoordination tactics hoursMicro Operation Rules, habits Seconds No Breakdown
  11. 11. 2. Structure of Activity
  12. 12. 3. Contradictions
  13. 13. Primary Contradictions
  14. 14. Secondary Contradictions
  15. 15. Tertiary Contradictions
  16. 16. Quaternary Contradictions
  17. 17. 4. Activity Networks
  18. 18. 4. Activity Networks
  19. 19. Example: Coworking• Coworking = “working alone, together”• Coworking sites = open plan workspaces where unaffiliated people can work in each others’ presence• Coworkers and proprietors don’t agree on what coworking is
  20. 20. Clients Clients Interior Web design development Object: Outcome: neighborly parallel collaboration work Coworking Clients Art Clients Marketing RealClients estate
  21. 21. WebGraphic design development SEO Copywriting Web services Retail Client Outcome: Object: team collaboration cooperative work
  22. 22. Client Client ClientClient
  23. 23. Exercise: What’s your activity?• What is the object they’re cyclically trying to achieve?• What’s the outcome they’re trying to produce? (Why are they doing it?)(Figure out the object and outcome, and you’llbe able to determine the rest of the activity.)
  24. 24. Social Media in an Activity System
  25. 25. Social Media in an Activity Network
  26. 26. Social Media in an Activity Network
  27. 27. Social Media in an Activity Network
  28. 28. Activity Theory: Summing Up• Woven, developmental• Nodes: activities, which develop over time• Links: interconnections among activities and components of activities• Splicing explicitly built on top of weaving• The first stroke is a weave
  29. 29. 0. Machiavelli1. Actor-Networks2. Mediation3. Translation4. Composition5. Black-Boxing6. DelegationACTOR-NETWORK THEORY: KEYCONCEPTS
  30. 30. 1. Actor-Networks• Actants define each other (Callon 1991, p.142)• The actant is the effect of the network, not its cause (Law 1992)• ANT is ontological.
  31. 31. 2. Mediation• In ANT, creating a relation (link) between two actants (nodes)• All actants are also intermediaries• Agency is distributed
  32. 32. Genres Developed Over Iterations
  33. 33. Mediation Involves…• Translation• Composition• Reversible Black-Boxing• Delegation
  34. 34. 3. Translationa. Problematizationb. Interessementc. Enrollmentd. Mobilization
  35. 35. 4. Composition• The assemblage becomes an actant.• “Who performs the action?”• “Action is simply not a property of humans but an association of actants” (Latour 1999b, p.182; cf. Berg 1999, Law 1986b).
  36. 36. 5. Reversible Black-Boxing• “I’ll call X.”• “The phone’s not working.”• “The line is dead.”• “I called Telecorp and they’ll send someone out.”• “Telecorp didn’t tell the BigTel technician there was a dog in our yard.”
  37. 37. 6. Delegation
  38. 38. Exercise: How is translation happening in your case?• Problematization. What’s the problem to be solved?• Interessement. What people and resources must be defined to address the problem?• Enrollment. How are these people and resources given roles? Defined and attributed?• Mobilization. How can they be persuaded to link up and address the problem?
  39. 39. GENUINE DIFFERENCES
  40. 40. Genuine Differences Activity Theory Actor-Network TheoryThe first stroke is a weave The first stroke is a spliceDevelopmental Political-rhetoricalCompetence, Cognition NegotiationDialectic RhizomaticGenealogical AntigenealogicalAsymmetrical SymmetricalStructural RelationalIrreversible ReversibleContradictions TranslationsEpistemology Ontology
  41. 41. Genuine Differences Activity Theory Actor-Network TheoryThe first stroke is a weave The first stroke is a spliceDevelopmental Political-rhetoricalCompetence, Cognition NegotiationDialectic RhizomaticGenealogical AntigenealogicalAsymmetrical SymmetricalStructural RelationalIrreversible ReversibleContradictions TranslationsEpistemology Ontology
  42. 42. Genuine Differences Activity Theory Actor-Network TheoryThe first stroke is a weave The first stroke is a spliceDevelopmental Political-rhetoricalCompetence, Cognition NegotiationDialectic RhizomaticGenealogical AntigenealogicalAsymmetrical SymmetricalStructural RelationalIrreversible ReversibleContradictions TranslationsEpistemology Ontology
  43. 43. Genuine Differences Activity Theory Actor-Network TheoryThe first stroke is a weave The first stroke is a spliceDevelopmental Political-rhetoricalCompetence, Cognition NegotiationDialectic RhizomaticGenealogical AntigenealogicalAsymmetrical SymmetricalStructural RelationalIrreversible ReversibleContradictions TranslationsEpistemology Ontology
  44. 44. Genuine Differences Activity Theory Actor-Network TheoryThe first stroke is a weave The first stroke is a spliceDevelopmental Political-rhetoricalCompetence, Cognition NegotiationDialectic RhizomaticGenealogical AntigenealogicalAsymmetrical SymmetricalStructural RelationalIrreversible ReversibleContradictions TranslationsEpistemology Ontology
  45. 45. Genuine Differences Activity Theory Actor-Network TheoryThe first stroke is a weave The first stroke is a spliceDevelopmental Political-rhetoricalCompetence, Cognition NegotiationDialectic RhizomaticGenealogical AntigenealogicalAsymmetrical SymmetricalStructural RelationalIrreversible ReversibleContradictions TranslationsEpistemology Ontology
  46. 46. Commonalities• Heterogeneous• Multiply linked• Transformative• Black-boxed
  47. 47. Takeaways• Grounding in activity theory: history, assumptions, applications• Grounding in actor-network theory: history, assumptions, applications• Strengths of each theory• Differences between the theories• Applications of each theory to social media
  48. 48. Exercise: Analyzing an Activity• Identify the object of your activity: the problem space or material around which people’s effort is focused, the problem space that is cyclically transformed.• Identify the outcome: what results from the cyclical transformation. Think in terms of motives or benefits.• Based on these, identify the other components of the activity.
  49. 49. Exercise: Identifying Black Boxes• In the same case, identify a black box (e.g., “I’m making a call”).• Try decomposing the black box. What components or actants compose it and hold it together?• Try examining translation. Where did these actants come from, and how did they come together?• Repeat – forever.

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