Agency without Actors?: New Approaches to Collective Action, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Agency without Actors?

New Approaches to Collective Action, 1st Edition

Edited by Jan-Hendrik Passoth, Birgit Peuker, Michael Schillmeier


224 pages

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The question of agency is a key issue in social theory and research. The discourse of human agency as an effect of social relations is deeply intertwined with the history of sociological thought. However, in most recent discussions the role of non-humans gains a substantial impact concerning agency. Agency without Actors? New Approaches to Collective Action asks: Are nonhumans active, do they have agency? And if so: how and in which different ways?

Consequently, Agency without Actors? New Approaches to Collective Action

  • outlines a wide range of novel accounts that link human and non-human agency
  • tries to understand social-technical, political and environmental networks as different forms of agency that produce discrete and identifiable entities
  • asks how different types of (often conflicting) agency and agents are distinguished in practice, how they are maintained and how they interfere with each other.

By studying the substantial impact of the role of non-humans in connection with human relations, the book aims to advance the discourse on agency and investigates into the different possible modes of human and nonhuman interplay.

This book is essential reading for students and scholars of sociology, science and technology studies, social anthropology, animal studies, environmental studies and social theory.

Table of Contents

Note on Contributors 1. Introduction Part 1: Events, Suggestions, Accounts 2. Suggestion and Satisfaction: On the Actual Occasion of Agency by Paul Stronge and Mike Michael 3. Science, Cosmopolitics and the Question of Agency: Kant’s Critique and Stengers’ Event by Michael Schillmeier 4. Questioning the Human/Non-Human Distinction by Florence Rudolf 5. Agency and "Worlds" of Accounts: Erasing the Trace or Rephrasing the Action? by Rolland Munro Part 2: Contribution, Distribution, Failures 6. Distributed Agency and Advanced Technology, Or: How to Analyze Constellations of Collective Inter-Agency by Werner Rammert 7. Distributed Sleeping and Breathing: On the Agency of Means in Medical Work by Cornelius Schubert 8. Agencies’ Democracy: "Contribution" as a Paradigm to (Re)thinking the Common in a World of Conflict by Jacques Roux 9. Reality Failures by John Law Part 3: Interaction, Partnership, Organization 10. "What’s the Story?" Organizing as a Mode of Existence by Bruno Latour 11. Researching Water Quality with Non-Humans: An ANT Account by Christelle Gramaglia & Delaine Sampaio Da Silva 12. Horses – Significant Others, People’s Companions, and Subtle Actors by Marion Mangelsdorf

About the Editors

Jan-Hendrik Passoth teaches Media Sociology, Science and Technology Studies and Social Theory at Bielefeld University. He is working on problems of social structure and infrastructures, human and non-human agency and discourse and material culture.

Birgit Peuker teaches Macrosociology at the Technical University Dresden. Her research interests lie in the Sociology of Science and Technology and the Sociology of Risk.

Michael Schillmeier teaches Sociology, Science and Technology Studies and Empirical Philosophy at the Department of Sociology at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Germany. He currently holds a Schumpeter Fellowship to research ‘Innovations in Nano-Medicine’.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Sociology

This series presents cutting-edge developments and debates within the field of sociology. It provides a broad range of case studies and the latest theoretical perspectives, while covering a variety of topics, theories and issues from around the world. It is not confined to any particular school of thought.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General