Technological uncertainties and popular culture
This thesis is an inquiry into possibilities and problems of a sociology of translation. Beginning with a recognition that actor network theory represents a sociological account of social life premised upon on recognition of multiple ontologies, interruptions and translations, the thesis proceeds to examine problems of interpretation and representation inherent in these accounts. Tensions between sociological interpretation and social life as lived are examined by comparing representation of nonhuman agency in both an actor-network and a science fiction study of doors. The power identified in each approach varies from point making to lying. A case is made for considering fictional storytelling as sociology and hence, the sociological value of lying. It is by close examination of a fictional story that this study aims to contribute to a sociology of translation. The greater part of the thesis comprises an ethnographic study of a televised children's story. Methodological issues in ethnography are addressed and a case is made for a complicit and multi-site ethnography of story. The ethnography is represented in two particular forms. Firstly, and unusually, story is treated as a Storyworld available for ethnographic study. An actor network ethnography of this Storyworld reveals sociologically useful similarities and differences between fictional Storyworld and contemporary, social life. Secondly, story is taken as a product, a broadcast television series of six programmes. An ethnography of story production is undertaken that focuses attention on production performances, hidden storytellers and politics of authorship. Story is revealed as an unfinished project. A prominent aspect of this thesis is a recognition that fictional storytelling both liberates and constrains story possibilities. This thesis concludes that, in addressing critically important tensions in sociological representation, fictional stories should be included in sociological literature as studies in their own right.