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International Sociology

http://iss.sagepub.com/ Actor-Network State : Integrating Actor-Network Theory and State Theory


Jan-Hendrik Passoth and Nicholas J. Rowland International Sociology 2010 25: 818 DOI: 10.1177/0268580909351325 The online version of this article can be found at: http://iss.sagepub.com/content/25/6/818

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Actor-Network State
Integrating Actor-Network Theory and State Theory
Jan-Hendrik Passoth
University of Bielefeld

Nicholas J. Rowland
Pennsylvania State University

abstract: This conceptual article draws on literature in the sociology of science on modelling. The authors suggest that if state theory can be conceptualized as an engine rather than merely a camera, in that policy is mobilized to make the world fit the theory, then this has implications for conceptualizing states. To examine this possibility the authors look through the lens of actor-network theory (ANT) and in doing so articulate a relationship between two models of the state in the literature. They find that an actor model of the state is accepted by many scholars, few of whom develop network models of the state. In response, this study introduces an actor-network model and proposes that its contribution to state theory is in rethinking the character of modern states to be the outcome of actually performed assemblages of all those practices of building it, protecting it, governing it and theorizing about it. keywords: organization F political sociology F sociological theory

What are states? Classic answers include normative claims of what states should be or empirical descriptions of what states really are. However, prescriptive and descriptive approaches routinely coexist in political theory, international relations, international law and social theory. Models of political action and political actions that result in new models, we propose, hold valuable insights related to performativity, in particular, regarding the character of modern states. Performativity, as coined by Austin (1970: 235), describes instances where in saying what I do, I actually perform the action. Callon (1998) introduced the term to the sociology of economics and finance, suggesting

International Sociology November 2010 Vol. 25(6): 818841 The Author(s) 2010 Reprints and permissions: www.sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0268580909351325

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that economics performs the economy, creating the phenomena it describes (MacKenzie and Millo, 2003: 108). MacKenzie (2006: 17) prepared a possible classification of four performativities. Basic levels of performativity include generic, which is the mere use of an aspect of theory in practice, and effective, where the aspect of theory being used in practice has an observable effect on the processes it depicts. MacKenzie (2006) asks readers to be especially cautious when considering deeper levels of performativity, which include Barnesian, where the use of an aspect of theory in practice shapes processes so that they becomes more like their depiction in theory, and counter-performativity, where the use of an aspect of theory in practice results in processes unlike their depiction in theory. The same case can be made with respect to political theories and state engineering. Political action has never been an exclusively academic exercise, and the gap between theory and practice is a commonly voiced concern, for example, in literature on foreign policy (George, 1993; Nye, 2008). This gap is related to modelling because models guide practice but they are also used to improve knowledge. Models are designed to be parsimonious abstractions but are also constantly edited to create ever more exacting depictions of issues under study. The boundary separating academic political theory and practical political action is porous in places and fixed in others, and discovering where and when is an important empirical matter, but one that is outside the confines of this article. The primary contribution of this article is to bring in action through actor-network theory (ANT), which we consider necessary for future performativity research linking political theory and practice. If state theory is performative, then this implies that states are performed. To unlock this idea, we suggest, state theory could best see states as performed through the concepts and implied methodology of ANT. To that end, we review state theory and show how scholars depict the state to be an actor (i.e. a macro-entity with quasi-interests, quasi-goals and quasi-actions) and how few scholars depict the state to be a network (i.e. elaborate webs of distributed agency). We then outline how an actor-network concept of the state helps to overcome (some of) the problems of the state as an actor and the state as a network models while at the same time not devaluing previous empirical findings or purporting that they are obsolete. We conclude by reconsidering the value and dangers of performativity and document common criticisms aimed at actor-network approaches. We expect this article to be of interest to scholars pursuing performativity of politics research and that it holds promise for expanding the relevance of ANT outside science and technology studies (STS). While initially developed in STS, ANT was always intended to be a general theory of action, and one that we suggest is particularly well suited to
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studies of state and state formation. Lastly, we review a vast literature in this short article; but we had to be selective and acknowledge that some readers will be dissatisfied.

Modelling the State in State Theory


State theories have been, for a long time, seen as blueprints for actual political practices, which makes a mixture of normative and descriptive elements the specialty of political theory. As a construct in political philosophy, the state has always been a shared term with a long history and many meanings. The advent of modernity and modern social theory changed the situation. In attempts to reconceptualize the state as an element of modern social order, social theory formulated models of the state, with the model seeing the state as an actor being the most accepted.

The Rise of Actor Models Seeing states as actors has been a well-spring for research, and by being a useful concept for political and governmental consulting, it has become a stable and robust model in sociological and political theory. It enabled a large body of research on how states relate to other states by signing contracts and waging war, how states relate to their civil societies and how states relate to other organizational entities of modern political life. But while it is mostly associated with the movement towards neostatism, towards bringing the state back in (Evans et al., 1985), its genealogy is more diffuse and intertwined. It emerged as a model of the state as an actor that mediates conflicting interests of different social groups in classical liberalism and as a model of the state as an actor whose actions are instrumental to maintaining social order in orthodox Marxism in the 19th and early 20th century. While social theory moved away from liberalism during the second half of the 20th century and, driven by scholars like Parsons, Easton and Dahl, towards a different analysis of political systems, Marxism emerged as an asylum for modelling the state. Scholarly emphasis on this area is remarkable given the lack of explicit conceptual tools for understanding the state in Marxs and Engels writings. Marxs own account of the state is seemingly bipartite. Younger Marx (1970) thought of the state as semi-autonomous from the capitalist class and its interests. Later Marx reduced the state to something that directly served the interests of the ruling bourgeoisie (Marx and Engels, 1998). It was late Marxs conceptualization of the state that was perpetuated by the Second International and the Comintern. This instrumentalist approach (i.e. the state as an instrument of the ruling class used for domination and exploitation) is therefore what is commonly linked to Marxist theories of the state (see Jessop [1977] for a review). However, some
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important transformations took place in Marxist theorizing during the 1960s and 1970s. Poulantzass (1978) move towards structuralism followed by poststructuralism and discourse theory (see Golding [1992] for later systematic approaches; see also Holub, 1992; Smart, 1986), progressively understood the state as a manifestation of power relations, transforming the concept of the state so that some relative autonomy of states and state projects could be analysed. Additionally, there was an increasing interest in the various forms of capitalist welfare states, which fostered research in the complex interplay of social struggles and institutions (Jessop, 1977, 1990). Modelling the state as an instrument (i.e. as a structure that serves capitalism regardless of who in fact controls it, as a calculating subject, the ideal collective capitalist) was replaced by a concept of the state as an ensemble of institutions that served specific, concrete class interests (e.g. Miliband, 1969; Offe, 1972). The model of the autonomous state developed as a byproduct of the attempts to overcome the instrumentalist and therefore reductive approach of traditional Marxist state theory and, thus, the state as an actor, one could say, was born of neo-Marxist theorizing during the 1960s and 1970s.

Towards a Reified Actor Model of State Autonomy Neo-Marxist state theory did transform the concept of the state so that some relative autonomy of states and state projects could be analysed. But for those who initiated an intellectual sea change (Evans et al., 1985: 4) in the 1980s this relative autonomy was not enough. By suggesting an increased relevance of the state in political science and historical sociology, they called for an even stronger position of historical comparative enquiry in the specific institutional forms and their contexts. Reaching back to a certain interpretation of Webers definition of the state as a compulsory political organization with continuous operations [politischer Anstaltsbetrieb] . . . [whose] administrative staff successfully upholds the claim of the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in the enforcement of its order (Weber, 1978: 54), neostatism opted for a strong actor model of relative and potential state autonomy. States could be weaker or stronger actors in the internal and external organizational processes of political relations (Mann, 1983). Modelled as an entity acting in a world-historic context, states were structured by environments of relationships, conflicts between different groups and nations and sets of institutional structures embedded within international and domestic conditions (Skocpol, 1979: 290). The state was therefore not per se an autonomous entity; it gained and lost autonomy under specific historical circumstances. Neostatism freed state theory from conceptualizing the state as either an instrument of control or a disinterested mediator between diverse
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groups, which opened up new possibilities for comparative research. For example, this transition shed light on the distinct mechanisms of institutional infrastructure that enabled state managers to wield power (e.g. Mann, 1985; Nordlinger, 1981). It also helped scholars to ask about the ways in which state formation and war-making shape the institutional infrastructure in which states are embedded (e.g. Mann, 1987; Porter, 1996; Tilly, 1973). By inspiring this research and by being a useful concept for political and governmental consulting, it has become a stable and robust concept in sociological and political theory in recent decades. It also distracted from a set of other questions, however: the link between social movements and states, gender issues and a lot more (see Gordon, 1990; Jessop, 2001). Seeing the state as an actor, when laced with political conservatism and anti-Marxism during the 1980s and 1990s (Binder, 1986; Mahon, 1991), was transformed from a clear analytical concept to a taken-for-granted theoretical presumption. This way of thinking about the state has already been criticized by scholars like Abrams (1988), who argued that the emergence of the state as a political or pragmatic tool was always a part of history rather than an assumed aspect of all sovereign governments. The notion of the state was potentially dangerous for scholars because:
The state is . . . in every sense of the term a triumph of concealment. It conceals the real history and relations of subjection behind an a-historical mask of legitimating illusion: contrives to deny the existence of connections and conflicts which would if recognised be incompatible with the claimed autonomy and integration of the state. The real official secret, however, is the secret of the non-existence of the state. (Abrams, 1988: 77)

By conceptualizing the state as something that has a certain out-there-ness and by reifying it as an acting entity, the state has been frequently confused as an actual macro-being in its own right an entity whose actions can be studied by social researchers and abstractly systematized by political theorists. For example, Scott (1998) provides an image of the state as a central agency, which, through the creation and implementation of state planning policies to improve the aggregate lives of target populations, appears like a source of concerted action. Scotts (1998: 89) research describes state-driven planning as a high-modern project spanning the 1800s until the First World War, which, in Mitchells (1991: 83) words, makes the state appear like a person writ large. This conceptualization is not without its uses; however, its limitations are predictable. According to Carroll:
When social scientists uncritically adopt the idiom the actor-state, they do not so much describe a political reality as become agents in the construction and institutionalization of the Hobbesian state-idea, the idea that when the head of state acts, the state itself acts. (Carroll, 2006: 1920, emphasis in original)

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The state is anything but an agent (Carroll, 2000: 15; see also Meyer, 1999: 137). Instead, it is constituted in a highly complex matrix of ideas and representations, government and bureaucratic agencies, and land and people, therefore speaking of the state as an actor is a limited idiom (Carroll, 2000: 15; see also Carroll, 2007). At specific historical moments, the state as a social construction, network accomplishment, or schema emerges as an autonomous agent from society and, in studying these aspects of history, scholars should emphasize the practices through which the uncertain yet powerful distinction between state and society is produced (Mitchell, 1991: 78). Still, the neostatist perspective, which emphasizes a unified state vision, persists despite research which suggests that large engineering projects like state planning policies (and their implementation later on) are not born of one vision but many diverse sets of interests and a menu of possibilities lashed together and then winnowed down until a single unified course of action is established (Carroll, 2007; Latour, 1999; Rose, 1999). Rather than unified actors, states are afforded the singular appearance of constitution by a much distributed network of agents, which do not necessarily act in concert.

A Poststructuralist Network Model As an alternative to actor models of the state, network models emerged criticizing the former in the process of developing the latter. Rather than thinking of international relations and policy decisions as the obvious outcome of large and powerful acting entities (i.e. states), network models emphasized the complex and interwoven conditions of statehood and political decision-making. By emphasizing state formation and state reorganization, seeing the state as a network offers a process-oriented view of political institutions and political structures, which explicitly challenges the conceptual apparatus through which the state can be thought of as a monolithic actor. Rather than seeing the state as a stable and static political entity, the network approach sees statehood as a much more contingent and unstable process of governance. What was once a given (i.e. stable states) becomes the source of new questions, none more important than asking where and how power gets institutionalized and structured into networks. This conceptual movement towards a network model is tightly linked to the works of Foucault and his innovative reconceptualization of power. For Foucault, there are no states per se, but only stateness (tatisation) (see Deleuze, 1986: 106). That which looks like a state takes the form of force, is constituted by human relationships and becomes a way of linking what can be said, done and seen. Stateness is the exercise of power under modern conditions. But power is neither a capacity of someone in power nor a possession of someone who has power. Instead, power is thought of as
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a network of influence: the machinery and mechanisms to discipline that regulate subjected subjects (see, for example, Foucault, 1977). Rather than being something that a person, state, or political institution can possess, power is a network of ubiquitously interrelated forces produced by interwoven discursive and non-discursive practices. Therefore, states cannot (and must not) be analysed as centres or instruments of power (as classic Marxist state theory did) or as the ability of individual states to achieve their interests (as neostatist theory did from the 1970s on). The art of government (Jessop, 2001), on which a Foucauldian state as network model instead focuses, is best analysed by studying the sets of practices that monitor and discipline masses of subjects as collectives (i.e. populations). By this logic, what is often seen as an individual state becomes more akin to a grand project of discursive and non-discursive formations (Jessop, 1990). As Mitchell argued in his widely read article linking Foucaults concepts to the analysis of political institutions, such a description of stateness starts with the microphysical methods of order (Mitchell, 1991: 92). These methods of order that Foucault (1991) also called governmentality, which establish a network of disciplinary power, are effective in bringing about the organized power of armies, schools and factories, and other distinctive institutions of the modern state (Mitchell, 1991: 93). Therefore, the state is not the source of those mechanisms and methods, but their effect. By all those concrete and interwoven things done and said maintaining borders, patrolling public places, printing passports, discussing how to regulate immigration, writing reports on strengths and weaknesses of other states an idea of the state as a unified entity is crafted. The state only appears as an abstraction in relation to the concreteness of the social (Mitchell, 1991: 95) and, therefore, its analysis is mostly devoted to uncovering the diverse processes of state formation (Steinmetz, 1999).

Trivializing the Network Model However, Foucaults analytical emphasis on networks of practices that maintain and regulate these microphysics of power (Foucault, 1977) still leaves one question unanswered: What is so special about the modern state that nearly anyone could mistake it to be a single actor? Diverse sets of practices designed to order and regulate humans, ideas and material objects that constitute states could have been brought about by other institutionalized forms, which do not necessarily need to take the form of states per se. So within a theory of power as a distributed and ubiquitous network of regulating and ordering relations, the idea of a stable and fixed entity of a state becomes necessary to explain. For Foucault, the answer is as historical as it is simple: under modern conditions most possible power relations were reordered under the label of this strange
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abstraction called the state. It is the detailed analysis of the various parts of this reordering of power that has inspired numerous research studies under the label of governmentality studies, which emphasize the discursive practices associated with the art of government. Gouvernementalit is plurivalent for Foucault. It is used to describe completely the art of government, including control and measurement techniques, qualifying valuations, ways of ordering discourse and practices in different historical periods. It is also used to describe the particularly modern mode of exactly all these different ways of weaving power relations together. While governmentality is at once internal and external to the state, under modern conditions, we notice a governmentalization of the state (Foucault, 1991: 103). Driven also by the common misunderstanding that governmentality as a neologism was created by linking the terms government and mentality (Lemke, 2000), describing exactly the specific mode of reordering modern power relations that Foucault analysed in his works of the technologies of the self and on the emergence of biopolitics, most governmentality studies consolidated a bias of analysing modern styles of mentality as a way of modern governing (see Barry et al., 1996; Burchell et al., 1991). Under the label of governmentality studies, a huge body of literature emphasized changes in discourse towards a rationalized mentality of governing. Crucial for this article: in the process of prioritizing the development of discourse analysis, these scholars neglected to develop the Foucauldian network model of modern statehood. In summary, actor models had the great advantage to be intuitively graspable and applicable to all kinds of research problems concerning global politics, national policies and international relations. However, their primary advantage is also their principal disadvantage. Conceptually, seeing the state as a unified entity that acts leads to a tendency among scholars to reify what was only meant as an analytical framework. In contrast, the network model emerged as an attempt to reconceptualize the nature of states. Influenced by poststructural theory, the focus shifted from the action of identifiable state actors to the diverse and multiple complexes of interlinked practices that bring about the kind of stateness that we usually understand as modern statehood. Much less intuitive than seeing the state as an actor, the network model and its potential contributions to theory were stillborn originally theorized by Foucault but not nurtured and, therefore, muted in governmentality studies with the exception of the works of Mitchell and Carroll. Next, we outline an alternative view of states drawn from actor-network theory (ANT). Seeing the state as an actor-network will re-establish the intuitive view that states are in certain contexts really actors, but without ignoring powerful insights from the Foucauldian viewpoint, which
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suggest that states are complex and always changing networks. In a fitting actor-network twist, it is only because states are networks that they can appear to be actors. This direction for state theory does not ask same old question what a state is it is an actor-network, of course because that does not say much, and instead asks how states are.

Actor-Network Theory
Originally developed in STS by Michel Callon (1986a, 1987), Bruno Latour (1987) and John Law (1987), ANT is best known for its unorthodox insistence on the agency of non-humans (Callon and Latour, 1981) and the heated debates this stance has generated among scholars in STS (Callon and Latour, 1992; Collins and Yearley, 1992). ANT does not so much explain why networks take the distinctive forms that they do. Instead, this approach is embedded in a tradition of empirically dense qualitative case studies, which detail how actor-networks get formed, how they are made to hold themselves together and how they fall apart over time. ANTs primary theoretical contribution is relational materialism (Law, 1999). ANT is relational because actant (i.e. those human or non-human entities) that populate a network take definition only in relation to one another, rather than in isolation from one another by some inherent quality. These interrelated definitions are typically revealed through tests and trials, which separate network connections stable enough to grow longer from those that are weakly linked and expected to wither. This seemingly naked position on power relations is refreshed by ANTs materialist perspective because networks are conceptualized as seamless webs of people and things. For example, in their attempts to build fuel cell cars, government engineers at Electricit de France (EDF) were simultaneously required to imagine a future France where these cars (and EDF) might prosper (Callon, 1987). Renault, dedicated to internal combustion engines, deemed EDFs electric car project infeasible for social and technical reasons, and close readers recognize evidence for relational materialism here: technical solutions were infeasible for social reasons and social solutions were infeasible for technical reasons. ANT concepts constitute a vocabulary for describing the behaviour of human and non-humans, symmetrically. Network-builders (or heterogeneous engineers) create actor-networks by aligning and advancing the interests of potential actors through translation, interessement and enrolment (Law, 1987: 117). Translation refers to the work of making two things that are not the same, equivalent (Law, 1999: 8). Translation has a linguistic meaning, as in the translation from one language to another, and refers to how network-builders harness symbolic meanings to attract the interests of potential recruits. Translation also has a geometric meaning that
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refers to attempts to mobilize human and non-human resources. The twin meanings are united in ANT because translating interests means at once offering new interpretations of these interests and directing directions (Latour, 1987: 117). Network-builders enrol heterogeneous actors through translations that iteratively define and position actant in networks of the builders making. Interessement is the group of actions by which a network-builder attempts to impose and stabilize the other actors it defines through its problematization (Callon, 1986b: 71). Increasing numbers of enrolees lengthen and strengthen a network, which incrementally protects the network from being disbanded while also propelling it closer to becoming irreversible a point where previous translations are consolidated, making further translations foreseeable and [nearly] inevitable (Callon, 1995: 59).

Applying Actor-Network Theory Elsewhere ANT was described as:


. . . more than an approach to the sociology of science and technology. It was offered, rather, as a way of rethinking the very idea of society as a domain distinct from nature and from technical artefacts, and as a way of bypassing the distinction between social structure and agency. (Barry and Slater, 2002: 178)

Based on generalized symmetry, translation and enrolment, an ANT study of politics begins without presupposed ideas about who or what is involved. ANT sensitizes scholars to the heterogeneous imbroglio of diverse semiotic and material elements enrolled into networks, similar to Foucaults dispositif or Deleuzes agencements (Deleuze, 1986; Deleuze and Guattari, 1987). To be analysed in ANT, the underlying rhizomatic structure of any process must be revealed. ANT has been used to study economics, medicine and politics. For example, Callon (1998) and MacKenzie (2006) showed how, rather than being merely a description of economic processes, modern economic research and theory actually perform the economy. This is because economic processes rely on the performance of economists concepts and procedures, which are woven often seamlessly into the fabric of machines, programs and algorithms. Similarly, Mols (2003) ethnography of a Dutch hospital shows how a single body is at once many bodies made of flesh, technology and/or concepts, and that they must all be enrolled to accomplish even simple tasks such as testing for arteriosclerosis. Applied to politics, Carroll (2006) offered a description of how Ireland the nation-state constitutes a mangle of state-ideas, statesystems and state-country. The state, as a semiotic and material project, was established through diverse techniques for measuring, channelling and giving meaning to populations. In the process of generalizing ANT
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to these diverse fields of study as a methodological framework for postpositivist descriptions of sociotechnical and semiotic-material assemblages, ANTs concepts and terms became increasingly systematized and generalized as well. These diverse ANT accounts, Latour (2005) argues, must avoid putting too much explanatory weight on the conceptual framework that guides detailed descriptions. If imported concepts, such as the market, the body, or the state, are fraught with a posteriori assumptions like markets bring economic equilibriums or they fail, bodies are the vital and mechanical precondition of human behaviour, or states are actors in an international arena, then the research is already done. In contrast, ANT accounts treat markets, bodies and states as sociotechnical assemblages that come into being as concrete actors are enrolled: price-calculation devices, traders trained in economic theory and Reuters terminals in the case of markets; flesh, medical devices and anatomic almanacs in the case of bodies; land, borders, measurement and counting procedures and ideological treatises in the case of states. Markets, bodies and states are not abstract entities, but concrete localities that one can visit to observe networks of the social unfolding. Macro-phenomena such as the modern financial economy, health care and international relations are produced and stabilized somewhere by interrelating diverse elements. It is this focus on relations rather than on related entities that makes a good ANT study and it is exactly this pragmatic relationalism that makes ANT applicable to the problems of state theory.

Applying Actor-Network Theory to States and State Theory We introduce an actor-network model of states in order to salvage poststructuralist insights concerning multiplicity, instability and plurality while simultaneously introducing conceptual barriers that avoid trivializing actor models of states. Moreover, by reconceptualizing state actors and state action, ANTs symmetric analytical vocabulary opens the possibility to speak about states as actors without reifying them as such. The contribution to state theory is in seeing the state not as a thing but as the ongoing relational outcome of practices and processes which iteratively expand and protect it while others disband and unravel it. This seemingly simple shift has research implications. First, no entity big or small not politician, citizen, or state, international organization or transnational network is per se an actor. State actors only exist (i.e. take meaning, exert force and, therefore, act) in relation to assemblages of human bodies, borders and fences, tax payments and government forms, even bogs and trees (Carroll, 2006). Furthermore, early configurations, ongoing transformations and the occasional disbanding of actor-networks
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are processes constituted by state actors that transform, channel, or register other (networks of) actors. Second, the power of state actors is not inherent and does not merely exist as part of their nature. Instead, these characteristics are emergent network achievements. If any actor appears to be big, powerful, or stable, then this typically obscures the work that had to be done in order to establish and then reproduce the network position (i.e. the source of the power or influence). When actor-networks such as states appear to be fixed entities of predetermined form, this is also a network accomplishment that concurrently requires the concerted efforts of actors to obscure the networks laborious creation and cover up whatever lingering contingencies remain in order to appear given and merely a matter of fact (Latour, 1993). Third, in speaking for states, states are enacted. In their seminal essay, Callon and Latour (1981: 277) ask: how do micro-actors successfully grow to macro-size? Their answer returns us to Hobbess solution to the problem of social order, the Leviathan, where individuals unite under a common banner with a common voice. The difference in size between microand macro-actors is revealed not to exist a priori (i.e. it is not natural or inherent) because macro- actors are composed of micro-actors variously associated. Size is merely the outcome of translations that make actornetworks longer and stronger. In this instance, by translation, Callon and Latour (1981: 279) refer to all the negotiations, intrigues, calculations, acts of persuasion and violence, thanks to which an actor or force takes, or causes to be conferred on itself, authority to speak or act on behalf of another actor or force. The term force takes on special semiotic significance as part of Callon and Latours ideas about distributed agency. Following Greimas and others (Czarniawska, 2004; Greimas and Courts, 1982), any discursive unit (i.e. an actor, event, force, or machine) that is assigned a role to speak or be spoken for, takes on the status of actant. Speaking in the name of a single, unified state is also an act of translation; a process which lengthens and strengthens a network thereby incrementally shielding the network from being broken apart (Callon, 1995: 59). The state must be spoken for because the state a single, unified state does not exist other than conceptually. True to translation, states speak and are spoken for in more than merely a linguistic sense. State are spoken for when frontiers are built and protected, when representative diplomacies invoke them to accomplish objectives and ambitions on both their behalves, or when sending soldiers abroad or returning them home. Speaking for the state is also geometric and geographic because states are performed, made calculable and spoken for by blending the idea of actorlike states with territories bounded by procedures that guide political activity and the number of human bodies that are labelled citizens. States
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are, therefore, not abstract or transcendental; they are the outcome of myriad interlinked mundane political practices and procedures. Fourth, state actions appear to speak when spoken for. Lessons from the laboratory of Louis Pasteur, a classic actor-network theory case study by Latour (1988), are also germane to the analysis of state spokespersons. In the late 19th century, farm animals were dying in France and nobody knew why except Pasteur, the French scientist. He discovered a vaccine that proved effective during inoculation trials, which was then hawked to farmers, hygienists and journalists. The vaccine was widely used and it reordered the relationships that formerly held those groups together. Just as Pasteur spoke for legions of invisible microbes or Freud spoke for the vast and elusive subconscious mind, if micro-actors announced that they were speaking in the name of invisible, rejected, terribly dangerous forces that must be listened to if civilization was not to collapse, then, in doing so, they grow to macro-size by speaking for objects and forces that cannot speak for themselves (Latour, 1988: 40). The implications for state spokespersons are no different. Not unlike scientists who (sometimes) have to speak for their probes and their objects of investigation in order to make them become real and effective in an assignable way, state spokespersons, which can be non-human, create the state as a macro-entity by speaking for other micro-actors. In this sense, a fence at a frontier speaks for a population that has to be protected in the same way that a politician speaks for the same population that has to be governed and both protect the idea of the state and its role in protecting the people it represents. Fifth, to speak for a state, one must also see like a state, which brings with it a modicum of abstraction to the otherwise infinite nuance of everyday life. However, in the case of state-building, the lack of context and particularity [implicit in seeing like a state] is not an oversight; it is the necessary first premise of any large-scale planning exercise (Scott, 1998: 346). To the extent to which land, people and problems during policy implementation can be reduced in complexity, the ability of officials to plan the project is enhanced because it is possible to assign potential projects definitive, quantifiable costs associated with the time and materials necessary to complete them, and, therefore, also the ability to compare them. This economic sleight of hand, where seemingly qualitative state issues (i.e. how and why to adopt one policy over another) are transformed into quantitative matters (i.e. how much does it cost and when will implementation be complete), allows planners to estimate a bottomline (Schumacher, 1973). Just as the market is performed in this way, we too expect similar processes to buttress state projects. Sixth, materiality is made central in ANT research on statehood. For example, Carroll (2006: 14, 15) explicitly recognizes the agent status (i.e. the force) of materiality in his architecture of culture, which includes
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constructed environments, spaces, and technologies. The agency of materiality, for Carroll (2006: 15), is relative to the agency of discourse ([i.e.] symbolic meanings, representation, and cognitive structure), [and] practice ([i.e.] social activity variously organized). When applied to the state, it becomes clear that materiality shapes and is shaped by discourse and practice. For example, Mukerji (1997) demonstrates how various elements of statehood manifest themselves in spaces such as the Gardens of Versailles, which reflected Louis XIVs glory and were central in promoting him as the Sun King. The garden became a place for ritualistic displays and a place to display the French states many accomplishments from precise military and hydraulic engineering to advanced cartography and exotic botany. Similarly, Davis (1986) demonstrated how state projects to build modern cities with long and relatively straight thoroughfares laid the literal groundwork for new forms of social and political collective expression such as parades, rallies and demonstrations, and therefore the tactics of social movements and crowd control operations by local civil servants. In Carrolls (2006: 145) work on colonizing Ireland, draining bogs, for example, was crucial. Reclaiming the bogs of Ireland, or reclamation, was one way that the British controlled the material of nature. Supported by discourse, the British set to eradicate the degeneracy promoted by and reflected in the bogs in order to reshape the practices of Irish natives away from barbaric foraging in the bogs and towards civilized agriculture and centralized townships. Future research on actor-network states entails, first, the empirical matter of how statehood is enacted. In addition to political discourse and the actions of state representatives, we suggest that states are performed by the use of local and global accounting and accountability practices; by planning and executing geopolitical engineering projects; by initiating and normalizing methodologies of political and economic calculation. Paralleling these processes, we expect researchers to empirically observe and relationally explain the sociotechnical underpinnings of actornetworks, their ongoing maintenance and eventual disbandment. Second, it is by those same processes and strategies that political action is constituted on the ground. Therefore, there are some practical matters of interest for politicians and other individuals interested in speaking in the name of the state. The obvious necessity of alliance-building through enrollment becomes not just something to study but something of practical use to construct boundaries between constellations of networked individuals as they buoy the material, culture and practice that give form to statehood and state apparatus. Instead of asking how political representation could be justified a question that has troubled political theory for decades ANT urges us to ask: how it is actually performed? Rather than ask how voting should
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work, we ask how voting is made possible. We do not ask who deserves to be granted security, but by what calculations and equipment dangers and risks are produced, managed and dismissed. Analysing the state as an actor-network means reconstructing and deconstructing the complex sociotechnical arrangement by ethnography of (political) infrastructure, just as Bowker and Star (1999, 2000) have argued for the case of medial infrastructure and just as Carroll (2006) has argued for Ireland. In closing, we argue that states should be seen as laboratories. If the lab is not a place, but a setting in which problems are scaled up and down (Latour, 1983), then states are not containers for political action, but registers of political actors, networks and actions.

Conclusion and Discussion


This article began by suggesting that if performativity were applied to political theories, then this would have implications for conceptualizing states. Our literature review showed that scholars mainly accept the idea that states are actors, but that few of these scholars have articulated network models of statehood except Carroll, Foucault and Mitchell. We introduced ANT and contributed an alternative model to state theory, the actor-network state, to show how actor and network models of states could be reconciled and to conceptualize modern states to be the outcome of actually performed assemblages of all those practices of building it, protecting it, governing it and theorizing about it. Additionally, for political and social scientists who have not yet happened upon ANT or performativity, this article offers an integrated introduction to how such concepts might be harnessed to study the relationship between political theory and political practices. We suggest that future research could uncover how models of states shape and are shaped by political practice, and that this article lays some groundwork for that endeavour, especially in this discussion section where we hint at specific avenues for future research. For more advanced scholars, we also include a section on linking method to theory and practice in modelling theory and end by documenting some common criticisms of ANT accounts.

Performativity Applications in Political Theory The interface between political practice and theory is a well-spring for testing performativity. Engines of interest include, but are not limited to, social movements, foreign policy and international relations. In this discussion, we suggest that one engine of neoliberalism posing as a camera is the New Public Management (NPM) (Christensen and Lgreid, 2007). This models blend of normative and descriptive elements makes it a strategic research site for state performativity and state re-engineering. In the
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standard NPM account, national economic crises and the emerging global economy impelled states to become more efficient and agile, which implied transferring authority from the central politico-administrative level to regulatory agencies (Christensen and Lgreid, 2007: 12). This managerial transition is a reaction to previous forms of public administration characterized by inflexible insularity, which fragmented pubic services and undermined policy by decoupling its creation and administration (Gregory, 2006). NPM, therefore, is a new business-like management paradigm for public organizations, which is replacing traditional models of government and administration (Lynn, 2006). Early NPM reforms were driven by management studies and new institutional economics, which emphasized efficiency, disaggregation and devolution (Boston et al., 1996; Self, 2000). As perceptions of bureaucracy became more negative, the culture, size, cost, and operation of . . . civil services [became] a policy issue (Barzelay, 2001: 12) and public sector administration became an appealing application of neoliberal models of management (Caiden, 1991). While scholars claim that NPM is designed to reinvent or banish the traditional bureaucracy (Barzelay and Armajani, 1992; Osborne and Plastrik, 1997), others suggest that NPMs emphasis on calculable and explicit rules and procedures for the purpose of managing human affairs reveals it to be merely a contemporary manifestation of rationalization (Gregory, 2007: 222). Organizational improvements through disaggregation and devolution are sought rather than strategically improving democratic processes and policy-making, which makes NPM less about abolishing bureaucracy as an organizational form of government and more so a means of refining the master trend of history (Gregory, 2007: 223). This blend of normative prescription and theory enactment makes NPM an excellent entry point for performativity studies.

Theory, Practice and Method An unsung contribution of performativity for state theory is a new sensitivity to historicity in social scientific research. Performance, broadly defined, requires scholars to be mindful of theories that were contemporary to our actors and how, why and when they were put into practice. To our knowledge, this methodological imperative to follow the actors, which was persuasively executed by MacKenzie (2006), for example, was most explicitly articulated by ANTers such as Latour, Callon and Law. As a discussion point, we suggest that method matters for modelling. Performativity emphasizes the tension between theory and practice, but method is no idle matter in the production of research because methodological commitments can forcefully shape scholarly contributions. Occasionally, the theory is the method that shapes practice, for example,
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in weight loss plans, database modelling, or assembly-line production. However, adding a third dimension to the theorypractice interface might prove valuable in instances where method shapes the theory that shapes practice. For example, the applied science of creating computerized models of geologic features informs theories of geology and associated practices of geological excavation and preservation; new methods open room for new theories and applications. Conceivably, practice can also shape theory and method, for example, as is observed in grounded theory approaches to social movement literature. While these are empirical questions, the methodological thrust of ANT urges us to (re)consider the importance of disentangling theory and practice from method in modelling theory. Next we consider criticisms waged at ANT accounts.

Common Criticisms of Actor-Network Theory Research on state performativity cannot be undertaken without considering issues ANT has been criticized for, which we now briefly summarize (McLean and Hassard, 2004). First, the inclusion of actors: how do scholars select which actors enter into analysis and which are excluded (Miller, 1996; Strathern, 1996)? For ANT, this means separating intermediaries from mediators. Intermediaries outputs can be predicted from their inputs so they can be ignored so long as they stay put and do not fundamentally transform anything related to issues under study. By contrast, mediators transform actor-networks. Latour (1987) ask only that scholars follow the actors wherever they may go. This deceivingly simple methodological task is more complex, according to Bloomfield and Vurdubakiss (1999), because deeper reflexive issues must be considered such as the role of ethnocentricity in actor selection and issues of historicity where current conventions are superimposed on historical actors actions. In a related accusation of interest for political theory scholars, actors that do get included are often powerful. Law (1991) suggests two reasons to emphasize these actors. First, the appearance of power is usually the outcome of network-building efforts rather than inherent qualities of actors. As Latour (1988) notes, actors like Louis Pasteur become figureheads as a result of their ability to galvanize leagues of forces; an insight intended to debunk the hero myth, rather than fuel it (Law, 1991). Second, research on large-scale failures, which is not uncommon in STS (Latour, 1996) or political science (Bates, 2008), should balance attention directed at triumphant heroes (Latour, 1992). Second, ANT is criticized for its insistence on human and non-human symmetry without really delivering it. In particular, getting an account from non-human actors is a problem (Collins and Yearly, 1992). Can political scientists assess the interests of a voting machine, an endangered species, or tropical rainforest? Without sufficient expertise of non-humans, scholars merely piece together what other human spokespersons say for
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non-humans, which results in nearly any analysis being treated as an entirely human endeavour. Callon (1986b: 200) insists no point of view is privileged and no interpretation is censored; however, this methodological stance merely returns readers to the problem of inclusion. These issues are not new to governmentality studies, the writers of which have attempted to avoid producing accounts which search for origins or how it was, choosing instead to concentrate on the impact on the present (McLean and Hassard, 2004: 504) resulting in histories of the present (Hull, 1999). Third, ANTers are criticized for overemphasizing the status of nonhumans relative to humans, and doing so without sufficient expertise (Schulz-Schaeffer, 2008). Callon and Latour (1992) insist that more than scientists deserve a right to speak for non-humans and that, consistent with Walsham (1997), conceptualizing the multiplying heterogeneous processes undergirded by actor-networks becomes a valuable tool in a world that seems replete with hybridized sociotechnical operations such as the proliferation of global economic relations, virtual organizations and transnational actors, and other phenomena such as global warming or walls built to halt illegal immigration. These processes, operations and phenomena are actor-networks and yet an analytical vocabulary to discuss both sets of actors symmetrically seems absent from the study. Fourth, actor-network emphasizes local-level (i.e. micro) processes while failing to account for broader structural forces such as sociopolitical trends, institutional environments, bureaucratic arrangements and forms of prejudice or discrimination. The typical stance of ANTers is that if actors do not invoke these broader institutional factors, then they essentially do not exist to actors and therefore do not belong in ANT accounts. Ironically, ANT was designed specifically to overcome the structure/agency debate by emphasizing a model between actors (i.e. agency) and networks (i.e. structure) (Callon and Latour, 1981). In a related and final criticism, ANT ignores issues of political concern. Feminists (e.g. Wajcman, 2004) and political philosophers (e.g. Winner, 1993) have lead the charge on this account. Winner (1993: 370) suggests that ANT research fails to consider the obvious deep-seeded political biases which predate and forcefully shape who and what are considered relevant groups of actors; however, studies since have searched to overcome this issue (Bijker, 1993; Boland and Schultze, 1996; Monterio and Hanseth, 1996). Moreover, the process of building networks is a vastly different experience if you are the one being enrolled and controlled by larger sets of forces, and this, Star (1991) suggests, is a systematic failure of ANT accounts. Individuals actively excluded from participating in processes or others avoiding participation in actor-networks for various reasons can both be overlooked in traditional ANT accounts (Oudshoorn and Pinch, 2003; Wyatt, 2003).
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These issues do not exhaust the scope of criticisms against ANT. It is, in fact, our hope that in applying ANT to the state that new criticism will emerge. Nevertheless, we hope that the benefits for political theory in a turn to STS are also transparent. As we increasingly confront the imbroglio of statehood, the performance of the global marketplace and the sociotechnical network that lay the groundwork of our current experiment in being, ANT provides insight and a few limitations as we search to faithfully describe our current practices and processes. For scholars, ANT offers a (re)solution for seeing the state as both an actor and a network, or, most accurately, as an actornetwork.

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Bibliographical Note: Jan-Hendrik Passoth is research fellow at the University of Bielefeld. He connects sociological theory and science and technology studies by working on problems of social structure and infrastructures, human and non-human agency and discourse and material culture. His current empirical research focuses on the use of standardized and interconnected software technologies in popular culture, politics and the media. Address: Department of Sociology, University of Bielefeld, PO Box 10 01 31, 33501 Bielefeld, Germany. [email: jan.passoth@uni-bielefeld.de]

Bibliographical Note: Nicholas J. Rowland is an Assistant Professor of sociology at Pennsylvania State University, Altoona. He applies concepts from science and technology studies in research on non-profit organizational settings such as universities, health care and state bureaucracies. His current research agenda is on the diffusion and implementation of enterprise resource planning in American universities. Research in preparation emphasizes comparing e-health agendas in the US and Germany. Address: Department of Sociology, Pennsylvania State University, E. Raymond Smith Building 128H, Altoona, PA 16601, USA. [email: njr12@psu.edu]

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