Beyond ANT: Towards an ‘Infra-language’ of Reflexivity

Till Jansen

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Actor-Network-Theory (ANT) offers an ‘infra-language’ of the social that allows one to trace social relations very dynamically, while at the same time dissolving human agency, thus providing a flat and de-centred way into sociology. However, ANT struggles with its theoretical design that may lead us to reduce agency to causation and to conceptualize actor-networks as homogeneous ontologies of force. This article proposes to regard ANT’s inability to conceptualize reflexivity and the interrelatedness of different ontologies as the fundamental problem of the theory. Drawing on Günther, it offers an ‘infra-language’ of reflexive relations while maintaining ANT’s de-centred approach. This would enable us to conceptualize actor-networks as non-homogeneous, dynamic and connecting different societal rationales while maintaining the main strengths of ANT.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Theory
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)199-215
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • Actor-network-theory
  • Gotthard Günther
  • Poly-contexturality
  • Reflexivity
  • STS

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