Actor-Network Theory as a Supplement to Study News

Siti Suriani Othman

Abstract


ABSTRACT: This paper proposes to study ANT (Actor-Network Theory). The discussion will start with a short introduction to ANT, then focus on its contributions to news studies, and finally describe its implications for the methodology deployed in this research. By using the qualitative approaches and theoretical review, the findings show that the strength of ANT lies in the overall understanding of the social, as it is a method to study social sciences, rather than merely addressing specific issues in journalism studies. Despite several dominant paradigms in studying news, including political-economy approach, organisational and cultural studies, and their success in understanding news, the main criticism is on the ontology of understanding reality, where based on these paradigms, social actions are being aggregated rather than individually examined. Here, various actual actors that might contribute to the understanding of social actions would possibly be neglected. Besides that, another assumption is that reality is explained based on inherent social structure. Such ontological understanding leads to the act of categorising social actions based on certain structure, such as political, economic, and social structure. ANT also extended the status of object, where non-human actors are also considered in understanding a social phenomenon. With such strengths, I propose that ANT should be considered to be included as a supplement in studying news and to bridge weakness gaps facade by the dominant paradigms.

KEY WORD: Actor-Network Theory; Newsworthiness Construction; News Studies; Journalism Study Perspectives; Sociology of Associations. 

RESUME: “Teori-Rangkaian Pelakon sebagai Tambahan untuk Kajian Berita”. Makalah ini mencadangkan untuk mengkaji ANT (Teori Rangkaian-Pelakon). Perbincangan akan bermula dengan pengenalan ringkas kepada ANT, kemudian memberi tumpuan kepada sumbangannya kepada kajian berita, dan akhirnya menerangkan implikasinya untuk metodologi yang digunakan dalam penyelidikan ini. Dengan menggunakan pendekatan kualitatif dan kajian teori, dapatan kajian menunjukan bahawa kekuatan ANT terletak pada pemahaman keseluruhan tentang sosial, kerana ia adalah kaedah untuk mengkaji sains sosial, bukan sekadar menangani isu-isu tertentu dalam kajian kewartawanan. Walaupun beberapa paradigma dominan dalam mengkaji berita, termasuk pendekatan politik-ekonomi, kajian organisasi dan budaya, dan kejayaan mereka dalam memahami berita, kritikan utama adalah pada ontologi pemahaman realiti, di mana berdasarkan paradigma ini, tindakan sosial tengah diagregasi dan bukannya secara individu diperiksa. Di sini, pelbagai pelakon sebenar yang mungkin menyumbang kepada pemahaman tentang tindakan sosial nampak akan diabaikan. Di samping itu, satu lagi anggapan ialah realiti dijelaskan berdasarkan struktur sosial yang wujud. Pengertian ontologi seperti ini membawa kepada upaya mengkategorikan tindakan sosial berdasarkan struktur tertentu, seperti struktur politik, ekonomi, dan sosial. ANT juga memperluaskan status objek, di mana pelakon bukan manusia juga dipertimbangkan dalam memahami fenomena sosial. Dengan kekuatan sedemikian, saya mencadangkan bahawa ANT harus dipertimbangkan untuk dimasukkan sebagai tambahan dalam mengkaji berita dan untuk menjembatani fasad jurang kelemahan oleh paradigma dominan.

KATA KUNCI: Teori Rangkaian-Pelakon; Konstruksi Maklumat Baru; Pengajian Berita; Perspektif Kajian Kewartawanan; Sosiologi Persatuan.

About the Author: Dr. Siti Suriani Othman is a Lecturer at the Communication Programme, Faculty of Leadership and Management USIM (Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia or Islamic Science University of Malaysia) in Bandar Baru Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. For academic interests, the author is able to be contacted via e-mail address at: suriani@usim.edu.my

Suggested Citation: Othman, Siti Suriani. (2019). “Actor-Network Theory as a Supplement to Study News” in SOSIOHUMANIKA: Jurnal Pendidikan Sains Sosial dan Kemanusiaan, Volume 12(1), Mei, pp.49-68. Bandung, Indonesia: Minda Masagi Press owned by ASPENSI with ISSN 1979-0112 (print) and ISSN 2622-6855 (online).

Article Timeline: Accepted (February 9, 2019); Revised (April 21, 2019); and Published (May 30, 2019).


Keywords


Actor-Network Theory; Newsworthiness Construction; News Studies; Journalism Study Perspectives; Sociology of Associations

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