The Actor-network theory presents a model to show the dynamics of science. ANT explores the structures and work of sociotechnical elements. Nowadays, it is used in various studies, including but not limited to economics, medicine, market, and management. The purpose of this paper is to explore how ANT can be applied to analyze the foreseen impacts of peak oil, as Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack show them in the film A Crude Awakening.
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According to the Actor-network theory, networks of stabilized materials make possible the existence of big social structures and society as a whole. Technology influences social relations creating sociotechnical communication between individuals. Distinct patterns of relations occur wherever people use technologies. The airports, subway, streetcars, and security systems all feature this type of communication.
ANT incorporates both people and things involved in socio-technical relations. The actor or actant in this system is anyone or anything that can act. All human and non-human elements present a network of two systems. Technorati comprises all needed materials, while sociogram includes all people taking part in sociotechnical communication. The relations are based on the design, construction, distribution, and use of a particular artifact.
In the documentary, A Crude Awakening, Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack explore the history, the current state, and prospects for petroleum production. The plot revolves around the term peak oil that is the moment of maximum oil extraction rate, which is followed by a prominent decline. Numerous interviews with petroleum geologists, former OPEC Secretary-General, and energy analysts support the credibility of the film.
The authors tie oil extraction with all aspects of human life, showing the possible outcomes of cheap petroleum shortage. The situation fits perfectly in the ANT system. The technogram is all materials and technical equipment needed for the oil extraction, while the sociogram includes all people involved in the production, distribution, and use of petroleum. In other words, society as a whole plays the role of an actor in this system.
In an ANT system, each actor depends on other actors, and every one of them is a network of various elements. If one part of this system fails to function in a proper way, the whole system will crumble. The decline following the peak oil presents a vivid example of one actor undermining the work of all other parts in a network.
When the oil extraction industry fails to produce enough product, the rise in prices of petroleum will have a devastating effect on society as a whole. The interviewees in the film talk about such consequences as wars for oil resources and economic recession in all countries dependent on cheap oil. Therefore, the failure of one actor in a significant system leads to the total breakdown of an actor-world.
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Oil extraction presents a vivid example of an Actor-network system where all actors are linked together, and every one of them is a network of various elements. In their documentary, A Crude Awakening, Basil Gelpke, and Ray McCormack demonstrate the devastating consequences that arise from a failure of one actor in this system. The decrease in petroleum production after peak oil will lead to an economic crisis in all countries dependent on cheap fuel. The experts talk about harm for all spheres of sociotechnical communication and wars for oil supplies. The consequences of peak oil clearly illustrate the breakdown of an actor-world.