Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools


Consider the world interacting

  • Logo CNRS
  • Logo ENSL
  • logo-enssib.jpg
You are here: Home / Research / Selected publications / The whole is less than the sum of its parts

The whole is less than the sum of its parts

2012 - Bruno Latour, Pablo Jensen, Tommaso Venturini, Sébastian Grauwin & Dominique Boullier.

Abstract: In this paper we argue that the new availability of digital data sets allows one torevisit Gabriel Tarde’s (1843–1904) social theory that entirely dispensed with using notions such as individual or society. Our argument is that when it was impossible, cumbersome or simply slow to assemble and to navigate through themasses of information on particular items, it made sense to treat data about socialconnections by defining two levels: one for the element, the other for theaggregates.But once we have the experience of following individuals through their connections (which is often the case with profiles) it might be more rewarding to begin navigating datasets without making the distinction between the level of individual component and that of aggregated structure.It becomes possible to give some credibility to Tarde’s strange notion of ‘monads’.We claim that it is just this sort of navigational practice that is now made possible by digitally available databases and that such a practice could modify social theory if we could visualize this new type of exploration in a coherent way.

Keywords: Social theory; Gabriel Tarde; actor-network theory; digital methods; data visualization

British Journal of sociology, Vol 63 n° 4 pp. 591-615

Sep 13, 2022 Newsletter IXXI Septembre 2022
Mar 02, 2022 L'Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 propose un poste de Maître ou Maîtresse de conférence en Modélisation biostatistique et Intelligence Artificielle.
Jun 22, 2021 The graduate school "Confinement-Controlled Chemistry" is looking for top-class graduate students with an interest in exploring the influence of geometrical confinement on reactions. Our graduate school offers a three-year-program, starting October 1st 2021 latest (preferably earlier), that combines cutting-edge research with a structured curriculum (in English) of lectures, colloquia and workshops in the fields of theory, spectroscopy, synthesis, and surface science. The program also comprises the opportunity for an integrated three-month research stay, preferably at the University of California.
Mar 31, 2021 Newsletter IXXI - AVRIL 2021