Le quasi-contrat, un concept anthropologique ?

Richard Bucaille & Jeanne Virieux (2017)

Revue du MAUSS, n° 50, p. 279-290.

Résumé. Pour nommer cette « force » étrange, incluse « dans la chose qu’on donne » et qui « fait que le présent reçu est obligatoirement rendu », Mauss propose la notion maorie de hau. Essayant de mieux nommer ce principe de tout échange sociétal (y compris celui, si délicat, avec la divinité), on propose et tente de justifier le terme, emprunté au droit et peut-être plus large et à la fois plus précis, de « quasi-contrat », implicite mais presque irrésiliable, dont on avance plusieurs exemples variés. On insiste sur l’importance de ces quasi-contrats dans toutes les situations de conflit – guerre au premier chef – où le droit se trouve outrepassé par la violence. Enfin, il faut noter la proximité de ce quasi-contrat avec la notion centrale de l’économie des conventions.


The Quasi-Contract, a Possible Anthropological Concept?
Abstract. To name this strange “power,” included “in the given thing” and that make “the received present is necessarily rendered,” Mauss proposes the Maori notion of Hau. Trying to better name that principle of all societal exchanges (including that one, so delicate, with the divinity), we propose and try to justify the term, borrowed form the law and maybe wider and at the same time more precise, of “quasi-contract,” implicite but almost irresiliable, of which we present several and varied examples. The importance of these quasi-contracts is stressed in all situations of conflict —war in the first place— where the law is overridden by violence. Finally, we must note the proximity of this quasi-contract to the central notion of the economy of conventions.

Lien vers Cairn/ link to Cairn

How complex domination enables selection: Academic hiring conventions in a Pakistani university

Qamar Ali & Julia Brandl (2018)

European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology, Online first

Abstract. The heterogeneity of criteria and of the faculty members involved in assessing candidates for academic positions raises the question how colleagues can find a common operational mode that enables them to select candidates. In this paper, we draw on convention theory (CT) to examine how powerful actors foster quietude and confidence in prevailing conventions which perpetuate their privileges. Findings from a study of a university in Pakistan show how actors use coordinative power to amend regulations, but also highlight how participating colleagues may resist this. The findings help to explicate the notion of complex domination and enrich CT scholars’ understanding of factors that can exacerbate inequalities in hiring.

Link to the review

Time in the Development of Indicators on Sustainable Wellbeing: A Local Experiment in Developing Alternative Indicators

Fiona Ottaviani (2018)

Social Indicators Research, 135: 53.

Abstract. This paper is a theoretical and methodological study on the topics of distribution of and competition between time spans dedicated to social activities in the development of sustainable well-being indicators. This article seeks to answer the following question: why and how should we take into account social time in the development of alternative indicators? To bring to light the complex relationship between well-being, sustainability and people’s relationship to time, this article draws on an experiment aimed at developing Regional Sustainable Well-being Indicators (Indicateurs de Bienêtre Soutenable Territorialisés—IBEST), which took place in the Grenoble urban area. This experiment was based on two methodologies; the first one being a quantitative survey, and the second one being a series of qualitative interviews coupled with a participatory approach. One of the datasheet indicators developed following this methodological crossover is the activity times balancing indicator, which allows us to take into consideration the pressure affecting time spent on social activities (work, leisure, families and civic engagement).

Link to the review


The Populist Toolkit Finnish Populism in Action 2007–2016, PhD thesis by Tuukka Ylä-Anttila (University of Helsinki)

Populism has often been understood as a description of political parties and politicians, who have been labelled either populist or not. This dissertation argues that it is more useful to conceive of populism in action: as something that is done rather than something that is. I propose that the populist toolkit is a collection of cultural practices, which politicians and
citizens use to make sense of and do politics, by claiming that ‘the people’ are opposed by a corrupt elite – a powerful claim in contemporary politics, both in Finland and internationally. The concept of the populist toolkit has analytical utility, since it can separate a set of populist repertoires from others, for example that of exclusionary nationalism, and takes seriously
the effect culture has on action, while avoiding cultural determinism. I study four instances in which the populist toolkit was used in Finnish politics from 2007 to 2016. As data, I use party publications, a Voting Advice Application, newspaper articles and opinion pieces, and a large set of online media data. Methodologically, I employ qualitative text analysis informed by theories of populism, cultural practices, frame analysis and Laurent Thévenot’s sociology of engagements, as well as topic modeling. Article I argues that the state of the Eurozone in 2011 gave the Finns Party an opportunity to frame the situation as a crisis for Finland and to
present itself as a righteous populist challenger to established parties. Article II shows that the Finns Party uses anti-feminist arguments to present itself as a populist alternative. Article III presents a theory of how populist argumentation can use familiar emotional experiences in bonding ‘the people’ together. Article IV tackles the populist epistemology: while populism
can be critical of intellectuals and experts in general, the article shows that another populist strategy is counterknowledge, incorporating alternative knowledge authorities. This strategy is particularly employed by the populist radical right. After the monumental success of right-wing populism in Western democracies, the next big question is whether left-wing or liberal actors will take up the tools of populism, or will they rather position themselves on the side of pluralism, democratic institutions and scientific expertise. This will have to be assessed by future studies.


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Logistic Issues and Impacts of Short Food Supply Chains: Case Studies in Nord – Pas de Calais, France

Amélie Gonçalves & Thomas Zeroual (2017)

In: Soulard CT., Perrin C., Valette E. (eds) Toward Sustainable Relations Between Agriculture and the City. Urban Agriculture. Springer, Cham

Abstract. Short food supply chains (SFSCs) are often seen as being capable of making a valuable contribution to the provisioning of cities from an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable perspective. However, there are doubts as to whether these supply chains deserve this reputation. They involve varied needs and logistical challenges for both farmers and cities, and can have equally varied, and sometimes adverse, economic, environmental and social impacts. These challenges and impacts seem also different from one chain to another. This chapter presents a theoretical framework to help understand these diverse challenges and impacts among SFSCs. Using the economics of conventions, we highlight the importance of coordination between production and demand. This framework is applied to SFSCs operating with one intermediary in the French region of Nord – Pas-de–Calais. Our observations show that the need for rapid and frequent deliveries remains important in SFSCs, making them vulnerable to the negative impacts associated with transport intensive flows of products. The management of information flows varies from one chain to another, and some require more complexity and exchanges between actors. The relationships created by these exchanges can have positive social impacts, creating ties between producers and customers. One type of chain appears particularly suited to the creation of sustainable logistic schemes.

Link to the chapter

Quand les mondes de données sont redistribués : Open Data, infrastructures de données et démocratie

Jonathan Gray (2017)

Statistique et société 5(3), pp. 29-34.

Résumé. L’open data, défini comme un ensemble d’idées et de conventions qui transforment l’information en une ressource publique réutilisable, est promu pour des objectifs variés : améliorer la transparence des institutions publiques, créer des projets qui renforcent la démocratie, stimuler la croissance économique. Les infrastructures sociales et techniques qui soutiennent l’open data recomposent les « mondes de données » : de nouveaux collectifs sociaux se forment, de nouvelles pratiques créatrices de sens apparaissent. Des initiatives politiques transnationales voient le jour. Loin d’être une simple « libération » des données, cela ne va pas sans traduction, médiation, et de nouvelles pratiques sociales. Mais ce mouvement peut-il servir de base d’une délibération démocratique plus riche, ou est-il voué à institutionnaliser socialement diverses formes de bureaucratisation et de marchandisation ?

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Eurostat: Making Europe Commensurate and Comparable

Marja Alastalo (2018)

In: Risto HeiskalaIn & Jari Aro (eds.): Policy Design in the European Union. An Empire of Shopkeepers in the Making? London: Palgrave Macmilla, pp 87-110.

Abstract. Numbers are crucial to the modern systems of government, because they make objects of government commensurate and comparable and reduce complexity. In this chapter, I outline the making of a European statistical apparatus and a Europe-wide space of equivalence. I argue that the present situation, where all member states and even applicant states can be represented by rows, bars and lines in statistical releases, is not self-evident but has taken decades of costly investment in the statistical regime before it became commensurable and comparable.

Link to the book

Call for papers – Deploying Gender Studies in Political Economy

The Revue de la Régulation wishes to stimulate new thought about gender-related issues in political economy. Contributions can be made in the four areas defined below.

Deadline – 31 August 2018

Coordinators: Cécile Lefèvre, Cerlis, Université Paris Descartes and Ined, cecile.lefevre@parisdescartes.fr ; Thomas Lamarche, Ladyss, Université Paris Diderot thomas.lamarche@univ-paris-diderot.fr

1 – Investigations of new fields of economics through the gender lens

The aim of this thematic issue is to encourage reflective articles on « gender and political economy » devoted to themes that are not usually studied from the angle of gender or by means of an analysis defined in terms of gender: gender and systems of production, gender and enterprise, gender and financial globalization, gender and money, gender and economic crisis, gender and the environment, gender and commonplace notions, etc. Comparative approaches (between countries, periods, currents of thought, etc.) are particularly welcome.

2 – Proposals for new perspectives on fields that have already been the subject of publications many times over:

  • Gender and development economics

  • Gender, conventions, indicators and measures in political economy

  • The history of economic thought as seen through the gender lens

  • Gender, work and family (on this theme, given the substantial volume of studies in applied economics on the inequality between men and women in terms of salaries, employment and the relations between family and work, articles of a more reflective and synthetic nature will be given preference over case studies).

3 – Contributions to developments in political economy and heterodox (notably régulationist) approaches inspired by the notion of gender

In view of the strategic positioning of the Régulation Review, contributions relating to the following questions will be particularly welcomed:

  • Institutional economics, the economics of conventions, régulation theory: what do they have to say about gender studies in economics?

  • Are gender studies heuristic (or not) with regard to the development of political economics?

  • Do gender-related issues constitute an interdisciplinary phenomenon which thus establishes a link between the social sciences (economics, history, geography, sociology and anthropology)?

4 – Last but not least, scrutiny of the examination of the gender positioning of economists and of the attention paid by them to gender studies

There are a number of courses and master degrees devoted to gender issues (more of them in sociology than in economics), but the overall picture remains that of a subject granted only marginal importance in academic syllabi for economists. Furthermore, recent investigations have underlined the difficulties encountered by women economists in establishing themselves in the discipline and in the academic environment.

The question of gender also impacts the choice of themes and the different ways in which techniques and methods are used by economists, depending on whether they are women or men.


Link to the review

Creating a governable reality: analysing the use of quantification in shaping Australian wheat marketing policy

Patrick O’Keeffe (2018)

Agrarian and Human Values. Online first, pp. 1-15.

Abstract. This paper analyses Australian policy makers’ use of quantification and technologies of government to implement the project of Australian wheat export market liberalisation. I draw upon policy documents to analyse how quantification has been used to construct a simplified, governable conception of the wheat industry. Policy makers, I suggest, acted upon this constructed reality through assemblages of technologies such as performance objectives, audit, cost-benefit analysis and econometric modelling to facilitate wheat export market deregulation. In addition, this paper shows how quantification was used to delegitimise the social consequences of deregulation and marginalise farmers’ opposition to this shift. Thus, the erasure of the social world enabled policy makers to construct economic objectives such as efficiency and productivity as serving the national interest.

Link to the review

Entre ingénierie de la participation et ingénierie de la quantification. Quand les conventions de richesse sont mises en débat

Florence Jany-Catrice & Samuel Pinaud (2017)

Participations, N° 18, p. 39-67.

Résumé. À partir à la fois d’une réflexion sur les nouveaux indicateurs de richesse et d’une expérimentation réalisée dans le cadre d’une recherche-action, nous analysons les formes d’expression de la participation au sein de différents processus de quantification liés à un objectif de pilotage de l’action publique. Plutôt que de porter le regard sur les usages des chiffres dans l’action publique, l’article analyse les formes de la participation en amont, au cœur du processus d’élaboration des indicateurs sur lesquels s’appuie la décision publique. Nous revenons sur les conceptions de la démocratie sous-jacentes aux processus de mise en chiffre des opinions analysées, et proposons une réflexion sur le lien entre techniques de quantification et formes possibles de la « participation ».

Techniques of participation and techniques of quantification. When “wealth” conventions are debated
Abstract. We start with a discussion about new indicators of wealth, and with an Action Research experiment. We analyze the forms of participatory expressions that are possible in different processes of quantification in relation to public action management. Instead of directly analyzing the uses of numbers in public action, we study the forms of participation that take place upstream and all along the process of construction of indicators, on which public action relies. We bring to light different conceptions of democracy underlying the process of production of numbers and we analyze the link between techniques of quantification and possible forms of “participation.”

Lien vers Cairn/Link

Quand la participation bouscule les fondamentaux de l’économie. La construction participative d’indicateurs alternatifs locaux

Anne Le Roy & Fiona Ottaviani (2017)

Participations, N° 18, p. 69-92.

Résumé. La fréquence du recours aux démarches participatives pour construire localement des indicateurs alternatifs interroge les économistes que nous sommes : pourquoi et comment tant de personnes porteuses de projets ont-elles recours au participatif ? Quelle lecture pouvons-nous faire du développement de ces expérimentations participatives susceptibles de bousculer les fondamentaux de la « science économique » ?
Cet article est consacré à l’analyse d’expérimentations ayant recours au participatif pour construire des indicateurs locaux alternatifs, afin de montrer comment et en quoi le participatif questionne la pertinence des choix méthodologiques, des catégories d’analyse et de pensée de l’économie dominante. Il complète ainsi les travaux menés, majoritairement, par des politologues pour mettre au jour les transformations apportées par la construction participative d’indicateurs au regard du positionnement épistémologique et du contenu épistémique de l’observation économique et sociale traditionnellement conduite par des expert·e·s.

When participation challenges the basic principles of the economy. The participatory construction of local alternative indicators
Abstract. As economists, we are intrigued by the multiplication of participatory approaches to developing local alternative indicators. Why and how do many project managers resort to participatory methods and approaches? How best might we interpret such experiments, which could challenge many of the basic principles of economic science?
This article elaborates on an analytical framework that aims to fulfil two purposes: firstly, it allows one to characterize the experiments in all their diversity; and secondly, it complements existing work, conducted primarily by political scientists. Indeed, our analysis highlights the changes in the epistemological posture and in the epistemic content of socio-economic observation brought about by the mobilization of the participatory approach.

Lien vers Cairn/ Link

Franco-German workshop on “Civic education and social integration, a Franco-German comparison: theoretical and methodological perspectives” in Paris, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (7 to 8 December 2017)

Lisa Schenkel (University of Münster)

School systems in France and Germany are very different in their historical development and institutional characteristics. Nevertheless, in times of growing pluralization, both systems must respond to similar challenges and contradictions. On the one hand, school is supposed to guarantee political integration and socio-economic insertion as well as creating cooperation in classrooms. On the other hand, teachers and students are exposed to a vast number of discourses about social challenges, held by society, economy, government and politics. How can school under these conditions still be the essence of what a nation wants to transmit culturally, and how can social integration take place? Consequently, teachers and students are constantly confronted with various expectations and dilemma-situations in the classroom. To stabilize their domain-specific acting, teachers have to make use of specific conventions and justifications. Especially in the domain of civic education, performative justifications regarding society, economy and politics are permanently demanded from the teachers. But, are these conventions and justifications they use the same in France and Germany? How do civic education teachers refer to the social scientific discourse? Do they use devices in a different manner?

Andrea Szukala (Münster University), Claude Proeschel (Université de Lorraine/ GSRL/EHESS) and Reinhold Hedtke (Bielefeld University) initiated a workshop from 7th to 8th December 2017 at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris that aimed to open new theoretical and methodological perspectives on civic education and social integration in France and Germany.

Claude Proeschl

Experts from France, Germany and Switzerland in the fields of Civic and Social Science Education, Sociology of Conventions, Methodology and Sociology of Education were brought into a scientific exchange to discuss new ways to carry out a comparative analysis that goes beyond a holistic description of citizenship models and school systems by making use of the Sociology of Conventions.

Claude Proeschel and Reinhold Hedtke opened the first session of the workshop by presenting and discussing the idea to make use of the Sociology of Conventions to compare citizenship education in France and Germany. They identified three research directions that would be interesting to follow in a comparative study of civic education in France and Germany: Situations, Practices and Professional Conventions.

Lisa Schenkel, Henning Middelschulte, Rainer Diaz-Bone & Reinhold Hedtke

Subsequently Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne) introduced the participants of the workshop into neopragmatism and explained pragmatist and neopragmatist perspectives on civic education and comparative studies. Furthermore, he elaborated on how methodological situationalism, which uses situations as analytic and interpretive unit, could be used in comparative studies.

Rainer Diaz-Bone & Géraldine Bozec

The first day of the workshop ended on a contribution from Jean-Louis Derouet (École Normale Supérieure de Lyon). He explained how, in the transition from the 20th to the 21st century, a certain number of “great divisions” that founded the modern age were called into question: the division between the normal and the pathological, between scientific, religious and indigenous knowledge, between man and nature, humans and non-humans. A certain number of these divisions are taken into consideration by the now prevailing idea of integrative societies. This also affected the education policy in France: many attempts were made to develop new conventional systems that would consider the differences of students, for example regarding handicaps, sex, culture, religion or talent.

Jean-Louis Derouet

The workshop session on Friday morning started with a talk by Tobias Röhl (Siegen University). He gave some practical methodological insights into how ethnographic research could be used for classroom studies and explained how material things (like chalk, books, an experimental toolkit or a blackboard) contribute to the formation of knowledge in the classroom.

Géraldine Bozec (Université Nice Sophia-Antipolis) pointed out in her talk that it would be interesting to look at the routines of civic education that are constantly take place in the classrooms. But she also expressed the objection that routines, which seem to stabilize civic education, might make it difficult to observe situations of crisis and conflict in which performative justifications of the teachers are inevitable. In this case, a binational perspective might help to identify, deconstruct and analyze situations and conventions that were not taken into consideration before because they seemed to be self-evident for the biased “local” researchers.

Tobias Röhl, Lisa Schenkel, Andrea Szukala, Géraldine Bozec (speaker), Anne-Claire Husser, & Jean-Luis Derouet

Anne-Claire Husser (École Supérieure du Professorat et de l’Éducation de Lyon) enriched the workshop by presenting the state of research on civic education in France. She explained that there is a lot of theoretical and historical research, but very little scientific insights on the process and the situations of teaching.

Anne-Claire Husser & Jean-Louis Derouet

Tobias Röhl

The workshop was closed by Andrea Szukala who gave a short introduction into the structures, traditions and challenges for citizenship education in schools and civic education research in Germany. During the past years, citizenship education in German schools has not only undergone a process of economization and globalization, but it has also been didactically over-stabilized. In the context of the new materialistic sociology of education, she raised questions about how professional actors and learners define critical classroom situations and how they use devices to enhance teacher-learner cooperation and communication about citizenship and belonging. The workshop gathered new perspectives on agency in the social scientific classroom and highlighted the urgent need for more comparative analysis adopting a materialistic and pragmatist vision of domain specific educational processes to better understand the stabilization and justification of the “social” in the social scientific classroom.

This Franco-German workshop was co-financed by the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst), Bureau Paris

Reinhold Hedtke, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Claude Proeschl & Henning Middelschulte


Hanna Helena Sonkajärvi (2017)

Revista de História (São Paulo), n°176

Abstract. The Brazilian Commercial Code entered in vigour in 1850, but this did not radically alter the manner how bankruptcy cases were handled by the law courts. Legal procedure continued heavily conditioned by local agents and by the actions taken early in the bankruptcy proceedings (conciliation and arbitration). In this situation, the task of determining the value of debt of insolvent merchants and establishing evidence against these individuals to be able to prove the existence of a fraudulent bankruptcy turned extremely complicated. Based on cases of insolvency in the second half of the nineteenth century we will identify factors that might explain why the tribunals struggled to establish evidence in merchants’ records and how they would, faced with this situation, try to reach a decision.

Version online (in Spanish)

Costs, risks and responsibility. Negotiating the value of disabled workers between disability insurance and employers

Eva Nadai, Anna Gonon & Fabienne Rotzetter (2018)

Swiss Journal of Sociology, 44(3), in press

Abstract: Drawing on the theoretical framework of the Economics of Convention this paper analyses the employment of people with disabilities as a valuation process. Based on case studies and interviews in business companies and disability insurance offices it explores how employers and disability insurance determine the value of disabled workers. Since employers are not willing to alter performance standards, job design and work organisation disability insurance attains individual exceptions for its clients at best, while disabling standards remain intact.
Keywords: occupational integration, disability insurance, disability policy, sociology of conventions, valuation

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From accuracy to accountability: subjecting global indicators to the rule of law

Benoit Frydman (2017)

International Journal of Law in Context, Volume 13, Special Issue 4 (Global Social Indicators: Constructing Transnational Legitimacy), December, pp. 450-464

Abstract. This paper presents a double genealogy of indicators as instruments of governance. These have their roots both in the use of statistical tools for normative purposes by states and in the development of indicators within firms as preferred instruments of ‘new management’. The paper argues that social indicators not only convey information, but are genuine tools of global governance and that, for this reason, their legitimacy depends not only on their accuracy, but also on their accountability. If indicators are intended to produce or effectively produce regulatory effects, they should be subjected to the rule of law and to judicial review. The essay ends by formulating four main principles that these indicators should comply with.

Link to the review