A new kind of symmetry?: Actor-network theories and the new literacy studies.
Studies in the Education of Adults, 34(2) pp. 107–122.
This article offers an introduction to both actor-network theories and the new literacy studies, assuming no prior knowledge of either, but referring to examples of empirical research in both areas of study. The article points to useful lessons for adult education research that might be derived from approaches developed in the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge. The goals of such research are to enhance our understanding of educational policy and practice as effects of power circulating in networks of human and non-human entities. There is a critical discussion of some of the concepts and assumptions underpinning both actor-network theories and the new literacy studies, and some of the problems are not resolved in this article, but identified as issues to be worked through in practice. An example of current government strategy for improving adult literacy and numeracy skills in England is mapped onto a framework designed for researching four stages in the translation of complex networks into 'facts' about phenomena that scientists seek to control.
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