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Translation (sociology)

In actor-network theory (ANT), translation is the process that allows a network to be represented by a single entity, which can in itself be an individual or another network.[1]

In 1986, Michel Callon published the seminal article "Some elements of a sociology of translation",[2] in which he summarized the process of translation as four 'moments' or phases:

  1. Problematization - the definition of the nature of the problem in a specific situation by an actor (a group or an individual) and the consequential establishment of dependency
  2. Interessement - "locking" other actors into the roles that were proposed for them in the actor's programme for resolving that problem
  3. Enrolment - the definition and interrelation of the roles that were allocated to other actors in the previous step
  4. Mobilization - ensuring that supposed spokespersons for relevant collective entities are properly representative of all members of the network that are acting as a single agent.


  1. ^ Callon, M. & Latour, B., 1981. "Unscrewing the big Leviathan: how actors macro-structure reality and how sociologists help them to do so". In K. Knorr-Cetina & A. V. Cicourel, eds. Advances in social theory and methodology: Towards an integration of micro- and macro-sociologies. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp. 277-303.
  2. ^ Callon, M., 1986. "The sociology of an actor-network". In M. Callon, J. Law, & A. Rip, eds. Mapping the Dynamics of Science and Technology. London: Macmillan, p. 19–34.