Historical Social Research

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Bert de Munck: Conventions, the Great Transformation and Actor Network Theory. [Abstract]

This article proceeds from the field of tension between the synchronical approach of the economics of convention and the diachronical approach of economic anthropology (in the tradition of Karl Polanyi). It is argued that the economics of convention remain problematic to historians in that they fail to capture the long term transformations traditionally referred to as the emergence of modernity and the coming about of homo economicus. As a possible solution, the use of concepts and insights from Actor Network Theory is proposed. While this cluster of theories enables an historical perspective without considering modernity as a natural process, it confronts changing relationships between subjects, objects and cultural systems of meaning head on.