Praxis and process meet halfway: The convergence of sociological and cognitive approaches in translation studies

Hanna Risku, Regina Rogl


In translation studies, a range of different approaches and traditions has emerged to explain the numerous factors that influence the translation decision process. While the sociology and cultural studies approaches look at the social practices in and around translation, their psychology and cognitive sciences counterparts concentrate on the cognitive processes. In this paper, we analyse and discuss two claims in particular, namely (1) that some sociological and cognitive approaches in translation studies are converging with respect to accounting for the factors that influence translation decision processes, and (2) that these approaches complement each other well, since the former increasingly take account of the individual within the social and societal dimensions, and the latter expand the focus from the individual to the extra-individual and social dimensions. We retrace the various theoretical frameworks that have been used to describe translation as a process that is embedded in a set of norms, social fields or actor networks. We then compare these primarily sociological frameworks to the distributed cognition approach developed in the cognitive sciences. Based on a discussion of the compatibilities and incompatibilities between actor-network theory and distributed cognition, we demonstrate ways of making this debate productive for translation studies research. To back up this primarily theoretical discussion, we take a closer look at two examples from our own empirical research on work processes in translation project management.



Translation praxis; translation process; sociology of translation; cognitive translation studies; convergence

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