A Brazilian Perspective on Mindsets, Digital Practices and Tools for Social Action In and Out of School
Edited By Eduardo S. Junqueira and Marcelo E.K. Buzato
Chapter 2. Mapping Flows of Agency in New Literacies: Self and Social Structure in a Post-social World Marcelo El Khouri Buzato 22
The Agency–Structure Debate: An Introduction As is probably the case for many readers of this chapter, I was drawn into the extensive literature on agency because of two disturbing questions often addressed to new literacies scholars worldwide. “What are we doing with tech- nologies such as the Internet?” and “What are technologies such as the Internet doing to us?” It occurred to me that the best way to answer both questions, leav- ing them conveniently open to further scrutiny, was through a circular defin- ition or a rhetorical tautology: “what we are doing to them is what they are doing to us.” One of the aims of this chapter is to elaborate on that reply a little further, in which case I wear my contributor’s hat for this volume. The other aim is to present a brief introduction to the historical agency–structure debate in social sciences in order to contextualize theoretically both the various conceptual- izations of agency used by the contributors in this volume—here I wear my co- editor’s hat for the volume—and a particular, and particularly controversial, theoretical perspective on the agency–structure integration known as Material Semiotics or Actor–Network Theory (henceforth ANT). In order to highlight the usefulness of Material Semiotics, I present a vignette from my own research · 2 · Mapping Flows of Agency in New Literacies Self and Social Structure in a Post-social World MARCELO EL KHOURI BUZATO Junqueira_t3 contrib 9/9/2013 8:49 AM Page 22 into the production of...
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