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Artifacts have consequences, not agency: Toward a critical theory of global environmental history

Hornborg, Alf LU (2017) In European Journal of Social Theory 20(1). p.95-110
Abstract
This article challenges the urge within Actor-Network Theory, posthumanism, and the ontological turn in sociology and anthropology to dissolve analytical distinctions between subject and object, society and nature, and human and non-human. It argues that only by acknowledging such distinctions and applying a realist ontology can exploitative and unsustainable global power relations be exposed. The predicament of the Anthropocene should not prompt us to abandon distinctions between society and nature but to refine the analytical framework through which we can distinguish between sentience and non-sentience and between the symbolic and non-symbolic. The incompatibility of posthumanist and Marxist approaches to the Anthropocene and the... (More)
This article challenges the urge within Actor-Network Theory, posthumanism, and the ontological turn in sociology and anthropology to dissolve analytical distinctions between subject and object, society and nature, and human and non-human. It argues that only by acknowledging such distinctions and applying a realist ontology can exploitative and unsustainable global power relations be exposed. The predicament of the Anthropocene should not prompt us to abandon distinctions between society and nature but to refine the analytical framework through which we can distinguish between sentience and non-sentience and between the symbolic and non-symbolic. The incompatibility of posthumanist and Marxist approaches to the Anthropocene and the question of agency derives from ideological differences as well as different methodological proclivities. A central illustration of these differences is the understanding of fetishism, a concept viewed by posthumanists as condescending but by Marxists as emancipatory. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
European Journal of Social Theory
volume
20
issue
1
pages
95 - 110
publisher
Taylor & Francis
external identifiers
  • scopus:85011599928
  • wos:000394669700008
ISSN
1461-7137
DOI
10.1177/1368431016640536
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
9bcbb7ab-adf3-4f92-99b8-da8a78a45998 (old id 8727685)
date added to LUP
2016-02-19 14:02:52
date last changed
2018-05-06 03:06:23
@article{9bcbb7ab-adf3-4f92-99b8-da8a78a45998,
  abstract     = {This article challenges the urge within Actor-Network Theory, posthumanism, and the ontological turn in sociology and anthropology to dissolve analytical distinctions between subject and object, society and nature, and human and non-human. It argues that only by acknowledging such distinctions and applying a realist ontology can exploitative and unsustainable global power relations be exposed. The predicament of the Anthropocene should not prompt us to abandon distinctions between society and nature but to refine the analytical framework through which we can distinguish between sentience and non-sentience and between the symbolic and non-symbolic. The incompatibility of posthumanist and Marxist approaches to the Anthropocene and the question of agency derives from ideological differences as well as different methodological proclivities. A central illustration of these differences is the understanding of fetishism, a concept viewed by posthumanists as condescending but by Marxists as emancipatory.},
  author       = {Hornborg, Alf},
  issn         = {1461-7137},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {95--110},
  publisher    = {Taylor & Francis},
  series       = {European Journal of Social Theory},
  title        = {Artifacts have consequences, not agency: Toward a critical theory of global environmental history},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1368431016640536},
  volume       = {20},
  year         = {2017},
}