European Journal of Social Theory 15 (1):35-53 (2012)

In recent years, actor-network theory has become an increasingly influential theoretical framework through which to analyse economic markets and organizations. Indeed, with its emphasis on the power of social and natural concrete ‘things’ to become contingently enrolled in different networks, many argue that ANT successfully draws attention to the complex intermeshing of new technologies and social actors in organizations and markets across spatial divides from the local to the global. This article argues, however, that within its own method of abstraction and research methodology, ANT separates ‘concrete’ and ‘contingent’ economic markets and organizations from their abstract, necessary and virtual capitalist form. This means that ANT will tend to over-identify with how concrete-contingent actor-networks are performed in empirical economic markets and organizations at the expense of analysing how such empirical contexts are also internally mediated through abstract capitalist processes such as that of surplus value extraction. This, in turn, creates a number of difficulties in how ANT investigates economic markets and organizations. These critical points are made by recourse to the Marxist poststructuralism of Deleuze and Guattari as well as through conventional Marxist ideas.
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DOI 10.1177/1368431011423573
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