Latour, Bruno


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Latour (1947 - ) is a French philosopher turned anthropologist. After field work in Africa and California, Latour focused on the study of scientists at work. This work is evidenced in his well-known book Laboratory Life: The Social Construction of Scientific Facts with Steve Woolgar.
In Laboratory Life Latour argues that to the untrained eye scientific experimentation looks highly biased and dismissive of what appears to be contradictory results. They argue science is a set of beliefs, values and practises, and is reconstructed as a culture. Latour evidenced this theory in his later work The Pasteurization of France (1988) in which he shows how the acceptance (or rejection) of science is not usually on the basis of evidence but the result of social factors at work. Latour can therefore be considered a constructionist and is highly critical od essentialist frameworks.
Later, in 2005 Latour published Reassembling the Social which clearly states Latour’s rejection of a basic structure of reality or a single consistent world. Instead Latour emphasises the relativism and the work of ‘actors’. Here Latour introduces the basis of Actor Network Theory, a strictly constructionist approach that states that relations between ‘actors’ are both material and conceptual.