chapter  2
16 Pages

Baldamus’s Adventures with Cross-classification

ByJohn Eldridge

This chapter explains actor network theory, and other sociological approaches that describe social reality in terms of networks and other metaphors of connectivity, comes under Baldamus's scrutiny. It presents an extensive and in-depth discussion of the role of metaphors in the construction of sociological theory and presents an archaeology of net-like metaphors, beginning with Georg Simmel and Pierre Duhem. The social sciences abound with metaphors. There is little doubt that the often remarkable longevity particularly of spatial metaphors is a contributing factor to the survival of obsolete theoretical conventions. The concept of networks is of special interest here because it shows that even a metaphor which had hardly any explanatory power to start with can maintain its popularity for long periods for no tangible reason. It will also be seen from this example how an apparently unambiguous metaphor may circulate from one speciality to another without anyone noticing the delusions, pretences or sheer inanities which it entails.