Pierre Lemonnier

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Fieldwork

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199571888
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics



This article centers on the importance of collaborating the study of linguistics with technology. Several decades were needed for anthropologists to realize that objects produced by humans in society are a social production. Indeed, any given object, be it a battleship, a hammer, or a stone picked up from the ground, is always a product of its fabrication or use, through gestures, skills, and knowledge which may vary from one culture to another. In other words, techniques are as responsible for producing social ties and types of information as they are for transforming the material world. As sociologists of science and modern technology put it when they refer to a ‘seamless sociotechnical network’, techniques and objects are embedded in other realms of social actions which we arbitrarily define and name for the sake of social sciences. And because techniques occur in all social actions, it may be incorrect to isolate a domain in human life and production as merely ‘technical’. The anthropology of techniques is therefore merely one point of view among others on objects and techniques. It is the one that not only asks if an object is an element of a set of ‘political’, ‘religious’, ‘economic’, ‘artistic’, or other practices and representations, but also asks in what way its conception and its material production are characteristic of the human group that manufactures or uses it. Paying attention to the most physical dimension of technical actions is a way to reveal fundamental information about a cultureand its social organization or system of thought that is provided by no other anthropological approach.

Keywords: technology; social production; social ties; seamless sociotechnical network; material world

Article.  8462 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Anthropological Linguistics

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