According to Bernard Lepetit, "L'histoire est une bonne fille, un peu nonchalante
mais toujours prête à suivre, sans trop discuter, qui vient de la séduire."
This paper explores the specific concerns that are embedded in theoretical
and methodological modalities of research into collective action in the past.
The limits and opportunities offered by concepts and hermeneutical strategies
borrowed from other sciences, in casu social sciences, have to be evaluated
by holding them against the yardstick of the implicit and explicit understandings
and operations chat structure the latter. The argument is developed via
a comparative analysis of a specific theme - academic policy in the archducal
Netherlands (1598-1621) - from two different perspectives, each based on a
different concept of the network as a framework of collective action. It argues
that historians can safeguard their unique selling proposition by substituting
ostensible models of society (in casu Social Network Theory) by a performative
concept of collective action (in casu Actor Network Theory).