Week Four: Understanding Publishing Assemblages

My response to this week’s lecture on Publishing Assemblages and the Actor-Network Theory

imagesPhilosophers Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari and Manuel DeLanda introduced the term ‘Publishing Assemblages’ to comprehend the expressions and technologies that permit content to the published and the way in which publishing is experienced. Thus in a changing publishing landscape various assemblages emerge and evolve. To the right is a diagram depicting the social assemblages created by DeLanda on two separate axes. The vertical axis indicates expression to materiality whilst the horizontal axis indicates territorialisation to deterritorialisation. The vertical axis explains the range of experience, from expression which presupposes emotive and physical communication forms whilst materiality focuses on physical structures and bodies. In correspondence with the vertical axis, the horizontal axis negotiates spatial boundaries. Territorialisation is then a motion towards increasing homogeneity and organisation whilst deterritorialisation, the anti-thesis, disrupts organisation and promotes heterogeneity.

In understanding assemblages we must be introduced to the Actor-Network Theory and the concept of “flat ontology”. Developed by Bruno Latour, the Actor-Network Theory attempts to consider assemblages through what DeLanda names “flat ontology”. This considers all entities, animate and inanimate (human and non-human) to have an ontological status, equal to each other. The Actor-Network Theory also proposes an understanding of the relational ties within a network. It states the intricacies of a network, a complex system, are concealed from the  ‘actor’ (human or non-human) in the form of punctualisation. Thus the network is portrayed in its simplest form. It is only when parts of a network are working contrarily to the network in its entirety, that a form of depunctualistion begins. This includes the deconstruction of the ideology as a simple network, and represses to a complex assemblage of parts.

In conclusion, although a complex concept to understand, Publishing Assemblages holds both valid and interesting theories on ontological equality, network systems and communication. As a visual learner, the diagram aided my understanding of this concept considerably and promoted ideas of spatiality and homogeneity. I admit the Actor-Network Theory is difficult to grasp, but see the inclinations of sociological reflection and innovation within Latour’s work.



Any Space Whatever, http://www.anyspacewhatever.com/actor-network-rochambeau, Accessed 20th of March 2013.

Doherty, Erin 2011, ‘Assembling the concept of Assemblages’ http://publiclypublishing.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/assembling-the-concept-of-assemblages/, last modified 23rd of March 2011, Accessed 20th of March 2013.

Reid, Alex 2010, ‘Exposing Assemblages’ http://www.enculturation.net/exposing-assemblages, last modified 2010, Accessed 20th of March 2013.

Wikipedia 2013 ‘Actor-Network Theory’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actor–network_theory, last modified 25th of February 2013, Accessed 20th of March 2013.

Diagram: Reid, Alex 2010, ‘Exposing Assemblages’ http://www.enculturation.net/exposing-assemblages, last modified 2010, Accessed 20th of March 2013. 


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