The agency of hybrids: overcoming the symmetrophobic block

McMaster, T and Wastell, DG 2005, 'The agency of hybrids: overcoming the symmetrophobic block' , Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, 17 (1) , pp. 175-182.

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We respond to ‘challenge 3’ presented in Rose, Jones and Truex’s excellent polemic by way of elucidating the meanings of hybrids, actants, agency and symmetry in Actor-Network Theory. We provide a (very brief) account of Latour’s project to unravel the modernist epistemological settlement that separates humans and non-humans in the world, and that alas so often results in errors and confusions. We contend that the framing of the challenge itself implies the very distinctions that ANT seeks to reject (namely the dichotomization of the world into mutually exclusive ‘subject’ and ‘object’ divisions). Following Latour, we argue that such pure forms do not exist—and furthermore that ‘agency’ is the property of complex hybrids comprised of various strands of human and non-human materials and abstract elements. This is the true meaning of the principle of symmetry! We conclude with some counter-challenges of our own.

Item Type: Article
Themes: Subjects / Themes > H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business
Subjects / Themes > Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA075 Electronic computers. Computer science
Subjects outside of the University Themes
Journal or Publication Title: Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems
Publisher: IRIS Association (Information Systems Research in Scandinavia)
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 09050167
Related URLs:
Depositing User: H Kenna
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2009 11:17
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 07:52

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