Content Section

This article
Actor Network Theory (ANT) has taken on a central role in social sciences, highlighting the importance of actions in shaping relations and organizations. Studies inspired by ANT have enhanced our understanding of how knowledge and power are produced in laboratories, political arenas, and knowledge- and technology-intensive organizations. However, so far, ANT-inspired studies have not paid similar attention to situations that lack obvious controversies, but can still have a huge influence on ordinary life. We thus want to contribute to the ANT literature by showing how ANT can be useful in situations that are not necessarily characterized by controversies and heated debates, but rather by (cooler) negotiations. In this case it is the negotiations between the regulator and the regulated that succeed (hot) situations. Regulations are formulated then enacted in (new) local practice. The performative perspective, prevalent in ANT, makes it possible to study processes that can otherwise easily pass unnoticed, as they are rather silent. It also helps us to understand how changes can be comprehended as the transformation of assemblies in practice and how the taken-for-granted products in our daily lives are part of (de)stabilized assemblies. In the study reported on here, we examine the process of introducing non-prescription pharmaceuticals into the Swedish retail sector, how this affects the day-to-day work of supermarkets, and thus also how these products may not be seen simply as boxes of pills on a shelf, but as plural entities that are (trans)formed in practice by (re)assembling, (re)connecting, and (re)labelling.