, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 509-511
Date: 06 Dec 2011

Michel Callon, Pierre Lascoumes and Yannick Barthe, Acting in an Uncertain World: An Essay on Technical Democracy

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Since its inception, actor-network theory (ANT) is one of the most successful Swiss Army Knife-type theories developed within science and technology studies (STS) and is used widely in the social sciences and the humanities. It seems that ANT can be applied to everything, and usefully so. Not surprisingly, such unwieldy success has been received with suspicion. There must be something wrong with a theory that promises so much while satisfying so many. This is Steve Fuller’s (2010) suspicion, which underlies his review of the book Acting in an Uncertain World published in French in 2001 by Michel Callon, Pierre Lascoumes and Yannick Barthe (CLB) (available in English since 2009). Fuller evokes nothing less than the world that nourished Hitler himself when describing the underlying spirit of this book – and, by extension, a world where ANT can be successful. Out of line as it may seem, attacking ANT’s stubborn denial to accept anything as given for its political consequences is a well-kn ...