35. Sociomateriality and socio-technical assemblages

The actor-network perspective stands out for being an analytical and methodological approach able to looking at the intricate network of relations between human, non-human and more-than-human actors that characterizes research fields such as biomedicine and health (Crabu 2021; Lupton and Willis 2021; Cozza 2021), education (Sørensen 2007; Landri 2018; Schlauch, 2019), environment (Abrahamsson et al. 2015; Haraway 2016; Pellizzoni 2021) and work (Orlikowski 2010; Bruni and Esposito 2019). The studies conducted in these fields allow to reflect about the knowledge produced with ethnographic methods. On the one hand, doing ethnographic research from an actor-network perspective implies questioning the researcher’s role and positioning in the field, treating with care the critical and vulnerable aspects that emerge from it and considering the actors involved as subjects of the research and as co-creators (Konrad 2012) of that situated knowledge. On the other, it means to study socio-technical assemblages as politically charged and living “things” and to place the researcher in an interdisciplinary perimeter that expands the capacity to know and act, that demands understanding and caring in order to know and change the world. In other words, it means to be aware that research practice is “a doing and ethico-political commitment that affects the way we produce knowledge about things” (Puig de la Bellacasa 2011: 100).

This panel aims at opening a space of reflection around the ethnographic knowledge produced by considering the research field as a relational space affected (Gherardi 2019) by personal and material entanglements that happen, that are produced, that wait to be activated. We invite contributions that analyze fields such as health, education, technologies for work, automation processes, in other words, all those fields in ongoing transformation that require a gaze on non-human and more-than-human elements that compose them.


  • How can technologies and material objects become allies during ethnographic work? How does ethnography change when it happens?
  • How can field actors become research allies during ethnographic work? How does ethnography change when humans participating in the research field become allies and partners?
  • How to make protagonists non-human and more than human actors such as remote technologies, platforms, viruses, cells, animals who populate socio-technical fields?
  • How is the production of knowledge transformed by introducing actor-network perspective as analytical and methodological key?
  • What does it mean to do research with care and responsibility when it is necessary to investigate sensitive fields of sociomaterial life?

Keywords: allies; sociomateriality; entaglement; non-humans; more-than-humans; becoming.

Disciplines: Education; Work studies; Biomedicine; Anthropology, Architecture; STS.

Abrahamsson S, Bertoni F, Mol A, Martín RI (2015). Living with Omega-3: New Materialism and Enduring Concerns. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space,33(1), pp. 4-19.

Bruni, E. and Esposito, F. (2019). Digital Platforms: Producing and Infrastructuring Users in the Age of Airbnb, in Meyer, U., Schaupp, S., Seibt, D. (a cura di), Digitalization in Industry Between Domination and Emancipation. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 207-232.

Crabu, S. (2021). Organizing the precision clinic: arranging expertise, knowledge and technologies in cancer precision medicine clinical trials. New Genetics and Society, 40(1), pp. 58 – 72.

Cozza, M. (2021). Affective Engagement in Knowledgemaking. Tecnoscienza. Italian Journal of Science & Technology Studies, 12(2), pp. 115-123.

Gherardi, S. (2019). How to conduct a Practice-based Study: Problems and Methods. Cheltenham, UK • Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Haraway, D. (2016). Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke University Press.

Konrad, M, (2012). A Feel for Detail: New Directions in Collaborative Anthropology, in Konrad, M. (eds.) Collaborators Collaborating. Counterparts in Anthropological Knowledge and International Research Relations, New York • Oxford: Berghahn Books, pp. 3-39.

Landri, P. (2018). Digital Governance of Education. Technology, Standards and Europeanization of Education. London: Bloomsbury.

Lupton, D. and Willis, K. (2021). The COVID-19 Crisis. Social Perspectives. New York: Routledge.

Orlikowski, W. J. (2010). The sociomateriality of organisational life: considering technology in management research. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34 (1), pp. 125–141.

Pellizzoni L., (2021). Post-truth or pre-emptive truth? STS and the genealogy of the present’, in K. Rommetveit (ed.), Post-truth imaginations, London: Routledge, pp. 

Puig de la Bellacasa, M. (2011). Matters of care in technoscience: Assembling neglected things. Social Studies of Science, 41(1), pp. 85-106.

Schlauch, M. (2019). Learning as a Matter of Concern: Reviewing Conventional, Sociocultural and Socio-material Perspectives. Tecnoscienza. Italian Journal of Science & Technology Studies, 10(2), pp. 153-172.

Sørensen, E. (2007). STS goes to school. Spatial imaginaries of technology, knowledge and presence. Critical Social Studies, 9(2), pp. 15-28.

Lascia un commento

Il tuo indirizzo email non sarà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *