From Diffusion to Translation and Back. Disembedding–Re-embedding and Re-invention in Sociological Studies of Diffusion
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This paper reviews and parallels the thesis of disembedding–re-embedding of ideas, objects and practices in the translation paradigm (à la Scandinavian institutionalism) with the discussion of reinvention in the diffusion of innovations theory (as put forward by Everett M. Rogers). The main inquiry to be answered is the extent to which these two propositions might be taken as theoretical allomorphs of a generic treatment of the dialectics of circulation of ideas. The analysis of the two assumptions makes use of Djelic’s (2008) classification of three main framing types within sociological studies of diffusion: diffusion as epidemiology, diffusion as encounter with embeddedness, and diffusion as mediation and construction. The main input of the article is that it shows that the re-invention hypothesis links the diffusion of innovations theory with the diffusion as encounter with embeddedness model, while the disembedding–re-embedding of ideas perspective associates the translation paradigm with the diffusion as mediation and construction model. The paper further discusses the dynamics as well as the theoretical implications of these theoretical affinities for the Scandinavian translation stream.
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