Publication Type:Conference Paper
Source:7th Annual IAS-STS Conference on Critical Issues in Science and Technology Studies (2008)
Keywords:Actor-Network Theory, Agents, Bourdieu, Ecological Modernisation, hybridity
While ecological modernisation has been heavily criticised, a concern for its agents is lacking. By way of conceptualising agents of ecological modernisation through a Bourdieusian take I explore possibilities to bring Bourdieu’s ‘habitus’ and ‘field’ in a conversation with three other lines of thought: Critical Realist accounts of agents and agency as well as Actor-Network Theory and Haraway’s cyborg metaphor. With them I problematise Bourdieu’s concepts and propose to think of field and habitus as hybrid. Thus, agents act as part of ‘hybrid collectives’. This argument is illustrated by ethnographic data of an agent of ecological modernisation within an organisation: The agent was involved in setting up a recycling scheme. I show how her agency was both enabled and constrained by ‘hybrid fields’ consisting of hybrid entities who/which partially have partial agency. This goes together with recognising the ubiquitous existence of resistance. Both, agents and materials resist and agency is, again, constrained and enabled by ubiquitous resistance. Furthermore, Agents exist within multiple ‘hybrid fields’ and hence they have to organise action vis-à-vis these fields. This organisation of action requires agents to make constrained choices. These constrains exist through both humans and non-humans which, through agency or effect, are part of the factors which shape situations. Then, situations, in both their materiality and their sociality, are shaped by distributed agency as well as effects of entities which do not have agency. Nevertheless, agents have some agency. Therefore I propose a conceptualisation of possible emancipation from (specific) fields. Such emancipation seems necessary for stabilising changes of acting, i.e., changing dispositions.