9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN24 Science and Technology

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Research Systems and Networks Building AA, AA.225

Conceptualising network structures though Assemblages

Technological Innovation, in its development and diffusion involves both collective action and complex interdependencies. The concept of social networks - which combine the social world and individuals in patterns which are not pre-determined - would therefore seem a useful way of expressing the relationships required for such innovation. However, because the concept does not imply a specific system or mechanism of technological innovation, social networks are often invoked in a very uncritical way, with the concept itself unable to produce any insight into either the social or networking processes at work in the development of new practices or technologies. In this way it becomes a placeholder or blackbox which can be set aside while other factors are brought into relief. In this paper I introduce the concept of "assemblages" in an attempt to outline a corrective to these limitations in a way that captures the crucial interdependencies and relationships from which innovation emerges. The paper presents research data from a project examining the ceramic sector explaining how the concept of assemblages exemplifies innovation practice.