John Law (sociologist)

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John Law
Born (1946-05-16) 16 May 1946 (age 72)
Awards John Desmond Bernal Prize
Academic background
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Thesis Specialties in Science: A Sociological Study of X-ray Protein Crystallography
Academic work
Discipline Sociology, Science and technology studies
Main interests Actor-network theory
Notable works"Provincialising STS" (2015)
"STS as Method" (2015)
After Method (2004)
Aircraft Stories (2002)
"Notes on Materiality and Sociality" (with Annemarie Mol, 1995)
A Sociology of Monsters (editor, 1991)
"Technology and Heterogeneous Engineering: the Case of the Portuguese Expansion" (1987, in The Social Construction of Technological Systems)

John Law (born 16 May 1946), [1] is a sociologist and science and technology studies scholar, currently on the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Open University and key proponent of Actor-network theory. Actor-network theory, sometimes abbreviated to ANT, is a social science approach for describing and explaining social, organisational, scientific and technological structures, processes and events. It assumes that all the components of such structures (whether these are human or otherwise) form a network of relations that can be mapped and described in the same terms or vocabulary.

Science and technology studies, or science, technology and society studies is the study of how society, politics, and culture affect scientific research and technological innovation, and how these, in turn, affect society, politics and culture.

Open University distance and research university in the United Kingdom

The Open University (OU) is a public distance learning and research university, and the biggest university in the UK for undergraduate education. The majority of the OU's undergraduate students are based in the United Kingdom and principally study off-campus; many of its courses can also be studied anywhere in the world. There are also a number of full-time postgraduate research students based on the 48-hectare university campus where they use the OU facilities for research, as well as more than 1,000 members of academic and research staff and over 2,500 administrative, operational and support staff.


Developed by two leading French STS scholars, Michel Callon and Bruno Latour, Law himself, and others, ANT may alternatively be described as a 'material-semiotic' method. ANT strives to map relations that are simultaneously material (between things) and 'semiotic' (between concepts), for instance, the interactions in a bank involve both people and their ideas, and computers. Together these form a single network.

Michel Callon is a professor of sociology at the École des mines de Paris and member of the Centre de sociologie de l'innovation. He is an influential author in the field of Science and Technology Studies and one of the leading proponents of actor–network theory (ANT) with Bruno Latour.

Bruno Latour French sociologist, philosopher and anthropologist

Bruno Latour is a French philosopher, anthropologist and sociologist. He is especially known for his work in the field of science and technology studies (STS). After teaching at the École des Mines de Paris from 1982 to 2006, he became Professor at Sciences Po Paris (2006–2017), where he was the scientific director of the Sciences Po Medialab. He retired from several university activities in 2017. He was also a Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics.

Professor John Law is one of the directors of the ESRC funded Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change.

Economic and Social Research Council one of the Research Councils in the United Kingdom

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is one of the seven Research Councils in the United Kingdom. It receives most of its funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and provides funding and support for research and training work in the social sciences and economics, such as postgraduate degrees.



International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

OCLC global library cooperative

OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Incorporated d/b/a OCLC is an American nonprofit cooperative organization "dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world's information and reducing information costs". It was founded in 1967 as the Ohio College Library Center. OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the largest online public access catalog (OPAC) in the world. OCLC is funded mainly by the fees that libraries have to pay for its services. OCLC also maintains the Dewey Decimal Classification system.


Arie Rip is a Dutch professor emeritus of Philosophy of Science and Technology.

See also

Annemarie Mol Dutch ethnographer and philosopher

Annemarie Mol is a Dutch ethnographer and philosopher. She is the Professor of Anthropology of the Body at the University of Amsterdam.

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David Bloor is a British sociologist. He is a professor in, and a former director of, the Science Studies Unit at the University of Edinburgh. He is a key figure in the Edinburgh School and played a major role in the development of the field of Science and Technology Studies. He is best known for advocating the Strong Programme in the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, most notably in his book Knowledge and Social Imagery.

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In science studies, the social process of blackboxing is based on the abstract notion of a black box. To cite Bruno Latour, blackboxing is "the way scientific and technical work is made invisible by its own success. When a machine runs efficiently, when a matter of fact is settled, one need focus only on its inputs and outputs and not on its internal complexity. Thus, paradoxically, the more science and technology succeed, the more opaque and obscure they become."

In actor-network theory (ANT), translation is the process that allows a network to be represented by a single entity, which can in itself be an individual or another network.

The term 'interessement' is French-English, and is synonymous with the word 'interposition'. It was first used by Michel Callon. It is used within the scientific tradition known as actor-network theory, in association with translation and the formation of networks. Various devices can be used in the interessement phase of a translation process, to strengthen the association between actors, and support the structure of the network.

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  1. "Law, John, 1946-". Library of Congress. Retrieved 13 February 2015. data sheet (b. 5/16/46)