On Assemblages and Things: Fluidity, Stability, Causation Stories, and Formation Stories

Sociological Theory 37 (4):401-424 (2019)

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Abstract
This article conducts a dialogue and creates a new synthesis between two of the most influential ontological discourses in the field of sociology: assemblage theory and critical realism. The former proposes a focus on difference, fluidity, and process, the latter a focus on stability and structure. Drawing on and assessing the work of Deleuze, DeLanda, and Bhaskar, we argue that social ontology must overcome the tendency to bifurcate between these two poles and instead develop an ontology more suited to explaining complex social phenomena by accommodating elements of both traditions. Going beyond DeLanda’s recent work, we argue that a concept of causal types must be used alongside a typology of structures to give us an ontology that can sustain sociology’s need for both formation stories and causation stories. We illustrate the necessity and value of our proposed synthesis by discussing MacKenzie’s recent empirical analysis of a high-frequency trading firm.
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DOI 10.1177/0735275119888250
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The Construction of Social Reality.John R. Searle - 1995 - Philosophy 71 (276):313-315.
Karl Marx: Selected Writings.Karl Marx & David Mclellan - 1978 - Science and Society 42 (4):491-494.
Disassembling Actor-Network Theory.Dave Elder-Vass - 2015 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 45 (1):100-121.

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