The Sociology of an Actor-Network: The Case of the Electric Vehicle

  • Michel Callon


If laboratories and research sites are to the twentieth century what monasteries were to the twelfth, then the sources of their power and efficacy remain a mystery. How is it that the ideas and writings that issue from these institutions are able to revolutionise, if only gradually, conditions of work in industry, the universe of consumer goods and lifestyles? How are the discoveries made in Stanford, Gif-sur-Yvette, and Cambridge diffused such that they become universally known and recognised? How are certain technical devices, shaped in research departments of French or English companies, able to conquer markets throughout the world? Anthropological studies of the laboratory have shown that nothing exceptional occurs within the walls of research centres themselves which could account for their influence. These studies have also shown that the force and generality of results obtained cannot be attributed to the existence of a specific scientific method (Latour and Woolgar, 1979; Knorr-Cetina, 1981; Lynch, 1985). Though scientists give certain activities a higher priority than others (see Chapter 3), the former do not possess greater rigour or a logic which enable an observer to distinguish them from the latter.


Fuel Cell Public Transport Electric Vehicle Internal Combustion Engine Technical Object 
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Copyright information

© Michel Callon, John Law and Arie Rip 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michel Callon

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