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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Dr Jonathan Tummons

Tummons, J. (2019). Ethnographies of Higher Education and Modes of Existence: using Latour's philosophical anthropology to construct faithful accounts of higher education practice. In Theory and Method in Higher Education Research. Huisman, J. & Tight, M. Emerald Publishing. 5: 207-223.

Author(s) from Durham


Bruno Latour, one of the architects of actor-network theory, has now enfolded this approach within a larger project, An Inquiry into Modes of Existence – AIME. Framed as an empirical inquiry into the ontological and epistemological conditions of modernity, Latour argues for a radical shift in how “objective truth,” “scientific fact,” and “meaning” are established within the world. In this chapter, I draw on several elements of AIME to illustrate how Latour’s ontology, building on, augmenting and responding to criticisms of actor-network theory, can be used to explore higher education, focussing on one episode derived from a larger ethnography of medical education.