Class Year

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Honors Designation

High Honors

Department

Sociology and Anthropology

Primary Advisor

Carolyn Hsu

Second Advisor (if necessary)

Christopher Henke

Abstract

The current research examines Colgate University’s wireless local area network or, “wireless network.” Drawing on Actor-Network Theory, mostly as presented by Bruno Latour’s work, this research seeks to produce a sociological understanding of “wireless networks,” of which presence and prominence in the contemporary world continue to grow in their significance. In doing so, this paper demonstrates as well as defends the value of Actor-Network Theory as a viable choice to analyze today’s increasingly hybrid society, in which non-human actors can no longer be neglected. Based on a series of interviews, fieldwork, and a variety of other collected and examined materials, the paper presents a scrupulous description of Colgate University’s “wireless network,” which is more than a mere compilation of computer devices; rather, Colgate University’s “wireless network” is a “social” network with unclear boundaries. Furthermore, the paper introduces the notions of appropriation and blind spot, which are analytical concepts devised to grasp the basic mode of relations among actors relevant to the “wireless network.” These notions contribute to Actor-Network Theory, which focuses mostly on the production of associations, by allowing Actor-Network Theory researchers to investigate what happens after the production of associations, i.e., the persistence and evolution of existing associations.

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