Theory, Culture and Society 19 (5-6):69-89 (2002)

This article takes up the challenge posed by ANT's principle of radical symmetry in a different way, by developing a counterargument to the Latourian presumption that social and symbolic constructions are in themselves too fragile and weak to effectively knit together the social order which needs ballasting by a myriad of technological objects. It is argued that social orders are also maintained by self-fulfilling prophecies which are stabilized by the reality effect of what is called `everyday essentialism'. Social facts are routinely enacted by circular bootstrapping operations which are often misrecognized as such in order to produce an illusion of ontological transcendence. It is this practical everyday reification of social facts which also creates fixities, nodes, and sites for the symbolic `packaging' of material objects. Over against ANT's agnostic appreciation of this reifying practice as `something we all do', Pels, like Vandenberghe, therefore retains an interest in a critical theory of reification. This critique signals the normative significance of `acting-as-if' over against all forms of ontological essentialism: if social situations are more clearly defined `as if' they are real, we are less likely to be caught out by the stark reality of their consequences.
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DOI 10.1177/026327602761899156
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References found in this work BETA

Sociality with Objects.Karin Knorr Cetina - 1997 - Theory, Culture and Society 14 (4):1-30.
Vive la Crise!Pierre Bourdieu - 1988 - Theory and Society 17 (5):773-787.
On the Family as a Realized Category.Pierre Bourdieu - 1996 - Theory, Culture and Society 13 (3):19-26.
Reflexivity.Dick Pels - 2000 - Theory, Culture and Society 17 (3):1-25.

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