An actor network analysis of constipation and agency: shit happens

As of late, claims have been made in social and political theory that agency is neither a property of subjects nor of objects, but is instead an emergent effect of constellations or assemblages – that agency takes place ‘between’ various things. The question that follows is how to then account for what happens and what to make of the ‘betweenness’ of agency. The answer offered by this article is to trace and situate agency empirically through practices. Exploring the happening and non-happening of a particular object – shit – I show that for things to happen, a lot of work has to be done. By evoking three examples of constipated bodies, I show that while the work that has to be done is different, and that the actors involved are diverse, agency is located in practices.

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