The prominent questions raised for me by The Promises of Constructivism (Latour, 2000) are as follows:
- Latour critiques social constructivists for assuming that “society” is foundational and homogeneous. But Latour is also guilty of painting social constructivists with a broad stroke. There are different kinds of social constructivists, with different approaches and beliefs.
- While Latour critiques theory, saying it is quite different from practice, his approach is very theoretical. Again, does his model match up with how scholars actually think?
The relevance of Latour’s ideas for my research:
- While Latour’s model is schematic and reductionist, it does bring into focus a point of view that avoids the pitfalls of both realism and endless relativism and proposes a set of guarantees to ensure the gradual construction of the common world.
- This common world includes more than humans. How will these non-human actors speak and be heard? How will scholars take them into account? How will I factor them into my research?
Questions raised during my seminar include:
- Can understanding the relationships between the human and non-human help us rethink or understand society in a better way?
- How does the idea of the ‘knowing subject’ which has been subjected to critique in critical sociology and post-colonial studies figure into some of these ideas?