Theorizing is not Abstraction but Horizontal Translation.

Guggenheim, Michael. 2024. Theorizing is not Abstraction but Horizontal Translation. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, ISSN 1600-910X [Article] (In Press)

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Abstract or Description

The literature on theorizing usually implicitly assumes that theorizing is writing. Recent focus on theoretical diagrams seeks to correct this idea. But even this focus on diagrams measures them against writing. Instead, taking up ideas developed by the sociology of translation, I propose to understand theorizing as a specific kind of translation, namely horizontal translation. Horizontal translations create new worlds through conceptual invention and re-definition and by creating new geometries of how concepts relate to each other. Because such relationships are geometric forms, rather than sequential texts, diagrams are core media of theoretical work, because they allow the visualisation of such conceptual forms.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Theorizing; actor-network theory; translation; diagrams; media; writing; visualization

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Invention and Social Process (CISP) [2016-]


16 October 2023Accepted
14 February 2024Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 Dec 2023 09:33

Last Modified:

01 Mar 2024 10:56

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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