Networks are Useful Description, Assemblages are Powerful Explanations

Paul Haynes
Network models are ubiquitous and offer useful descriptions of a range of a wide variety of phenomena. However, such models lack a consistent and robust ontological framework and, as a consequence, network models are often not models at all, but merely descriptions composed of fragmented and internally inconsistent models and theories that emerged over time and across a range of different perspectives, each with different underlying assumptions. To address this problem a more critical approach to network structures is required in order to move from a descriptive account to an explanatory account. This working paper addressing the topic of network ontology and introduces the notion of assemblages in order to give a clearer framework for network thinking. While this working paper serves merely to introduce the notion of assemblages, the concept is designed to be applied to actual network structures and, as such, has been operationalised in research undertaken in INGENIO between 2007-2010 examining the ceramics sector in Spain and Italy (see Haynes forthcoming).