Archives de catégorie : Comptes rendus / Reports

Remise de la Légion d’honneur à André Orléan

Nicolas Da Silva & Guillemette de Larquier

Le mercredi 4 octobre 2017 s’est déroulé à Paris la remise de la Légion d’honneur à André Orléan, une des grandes figures de la pensée économique française, qui a profondément transformé la compréhension que nous avons de la monnaie et de la valeur. Pour l’école des conventions, il est en particulier un des auteurs du numéro spécial de la Revue économique (1989) « Économie des conventions ».

La cérémonie a eu lieu après le Conseil d’administration de l’Association Française d’Économie Politique (AFEP), organisation professionnelle destinée à défendre le pluralisme des approches en économie, dans un contexte difficile où certains collègues en appellent ouvertement à se « débarrasser » des hétérodoxes. La proximité des deux évènements n’est pas un hasard puisqu’après avoir été président de l’association entre 2009 et 2017 André Orléan a demandé à recevoir cette distinction auprès de ses amis de l’AFEP. Notons au passage que la présidence de l’association reste très proche de l’école des conventions dans la mesure où une spécialiste des conventions de quantification, Florence Jany-Catrice, a succédé à un spécialiste des conventions financières.

La remise de la Légion d’honneur a été l’occasion pour Florence Jany-Catrice de rappeler le parcours exceptionnel d’André Orléan, raconté telle une longue fresque faite de rencontres et d’engagements. Par ses travaux, il est l’un des plus grands contributeurs du rapprochement des deux grandes écoles hétérodoxes françaises, l’économie des convention et l’école de la régulation, ce qui a été rappelé à travers les discours émouvants de Michel Aglietta, Robert Boyer et Jean-Pierre Dupuy. Ce rôle structurant dans l’institutionnalisme français est également empreint d’une volonté de transmission dont témoigne sa contribution à la création et au développement du master « Économie des institutions ». La place d’André Orléan dans le champ académique français est difficile à résumer en peu de mots mais elle s’est vue à travers le rassemblement des chercheurs présents, de tout âge, universitaires ou non, et membres des différentes écoles de l’institutionnalisme économique.

Textes téléchargeables sur le site de l’AFEP

Merci à Bruno Tinel pour le reportage photo.

Governing by numbers: Key indicators and the politics of expectations

Lisa Knoll (University of Hamburg & University of Halle)

From 5 to 7 October the workshop “Governing by numbers: Key indicators and the politics of expectations” – organized by Walter Bartl and Audrey Terracher-Lipinski (both Halle) – took place in the beautiful city of “Mitteldeutschland” Halle an der Saale. For all the guests from abroad, but also for some German scholars who have never been in Halle before, it was a pleasurable surprise to get in touch with the history and culture of this old German city. And, not because of that, but it helps me to find a nice bridge passage to the conference theme, historicity and culture, became the pivotal access points to the phenomenon governing by numbers during the conference. The organizers choose to have a Conventionalist framing, by inviting Laurent Thévenot (from EHESS and CREST, the Centre for Research in Economics and Statistics in Paris) and by giving Rainer Diaz-Bone (Lucerne) the possibility to present the Conventionalist perspective on Quantification outlined in the Special Issue “Conventions and Quantification – Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Statistics and Classifications”, edited by Rainer Diaz-Bone & Emmanuel Didier (Historical Social Research Vol. 41(2) 2016). The intellectual starting point of Conventionalism, being first developed in a working group with Alain Desrosières at the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE), became a major theoretical and methodological focus point of the discussion.

The presented themes ranged from the historicity of macro-economic models (Tom Kayzel, Amsterdam) over the changing term structure of the interest rate (Timo Walter, Erfurt). Oliver Geden (Berlin) talked about the 2-degree-scenario in climate politics, which is kept up scientifically in the light of its political crisis. Christina Boswell (Edinburgh) presented her work (to be published in January 2018 at Cambridge University Press) on “Targets and the Production of Political Trust”, were she showed how much British politicians bind themselves to the achievement of targets as a legitimatory device. Ingo Bode (Kassel) made a broad argument on the economization in late modern welfare states, which is accomplished by the management by numbers in diverse fields. Thomas Heinze & Arlette Jappe (Wuppertal) presented a quantitative network analysis on the historical formation of the professional field of performance evaluation of and in universities. Michael Huber & Maarten Hillebrandt (Bielefeld) showed how payment schemes at German universities changed from a “pay for performer”, over a “pay by performance” to a “pay for promise”. Anne Piezunka (Berlin) studies German federal school inspections after the German “PISA shock” and their resistance at the school level. Oscar J. Maldonado & Tiago Moreira (Linköping) presented the emergence of global health metrics such as the Disability Adjusted Life Year (DALY) used by the World Bank to monitor and assess “health” across territories and populations. The push for impact data in global health was also at the heart of the presentation of Sara L.M. Davis (New York & Geneva). She nicely showed how the lack of H.I.V. data corresponds with cultural taboos on issues of sexuality. Félicien Pagnon (Paris) presented his study on the reform of New Wealth Indicators, being developed as a critique of the GDP indicator. He studies two regions in France that make use of these alternative wealth indicators. Konstanze Senge & Lisa Knoll (Halle) presented a study on the ambiguity of German national public dept accounting under the reform process of the European system of national and regional accounts (ESA). Clear-cut public or private sector classifications become more and more difficult when public-private-partnerships and other forms of financial engineering are pushed as attractive tools to reduce (hide) public costs.

Laurent Thévenot

The conference showed (a) that convention theory offers an important “analytical framework of the politics of statistics” (Thévenot) to study the plurality and the historicity of various forms of governing by numbers, and it showed (b) that the growing and developing empirical phenomenon “governing by numbers” in the era of digitalization and “big data” challenges an approach that starts from the assumption of public deliberation (justice and justesse) and the normative foundation of measurement. Conventionalism plays an important role in rendering the historical divers statistical models visible (a). As Rainer Diaz-Bone highlighted, for Alain Desrosières “quantification is to implement a convention and then to measure”, which leads us to a huge diversity of quantified and potentially conflicted measurement procedures. Desrosières emphasized the interconnectedness of statistics, markets and states. The engineer state, the liberal state, the welfare state, the Keynesian State, and the neoliberal state embrace different statistical methods and constructions – different ways of governing by numbers.  Laurent Thévenot highlighted that studying governance by numbers involves two kinds of processes: “the upstream side … going back from quantification to valuations that turn numbers into key figures for actions and their government”. Here, we study processes of “reduction of the pluralism of valuations”. In the second process, “we pay attention to the downstream side”, where measurement unfolds “an executive power” – the performativity-side of governing by numbers. Governing by numbers involves a process of “closing one’s eyes” vis-à-vis the plurality of the world, and it may unfold a not “compromising”, but a “compromitting” way of combining a plurality of orders of worth (Thévenot citing Ricœur). An example for a “compromission” of plural values may be the “blended value proposition” in economics.  We are today observing forms of governing by numbers, which mostly unfold undebated and silent. This seems to be a challenge for conventionalism (b). Rainer Diaz-Bone therefore suggests to consider “conventions without semantic content”. Laurent Thévenot sees a “biological kind of capital”, a captured normative foundation of statistics, harking back on eugenics at play, referring to “surveillance“.He states that statistics and algorithms applied on data mining, however tacit or opaque they may be processed for those to be unconsciously tracked – or consciously self-tracked – “cannot operate without some formatting for equivalence”. The responsibility of the researcher lies in determining the “codified format of information”, but also the “critical openness” of each form of quantification and measurement.

Workshop Sociology of Conventions: The Format of « Bildung » or how research shapes Convention

Raffaella Esposito & Sandra Hafner (School of Education Basel, Switzerland)

On September 14 and 15, the biannual workshop ‘Sociology of Conventions’ took place in  Zurich, hosted by Philipp Gonon and Lea Zehnder from the chair of Vocational Education at the University of Zurich. It was the 8th meeting after prior workshops in Innsbruck, Basel, Vienna, Lucerne, Hamburg and Reutlingen.

Having discussed EC concepts and their appliance mostly in the economic field in former meetings, this workshop was specifically dedicated to the issue and format of ‘Bildung’ (education) as well as to methodological questions concerning the EC approach. Eric Verdier was attending as a special guest and keynote speaker as he works with the concept of conventions for comparative analysis of different national educational systems.

On Thursday morning, Philipp and Lea welcomed the audience and introduced into the topic. As usual, the workshop audience was as interdisciplinary as the EC approach itself and consisted of Sociologists, Economists and Historians as well as researchers from Educational Sciences and Social Work. This year, also a remarkable amount of PhDs was attending the workshop.

Katharina Pernkopf from the Vienna University of Economics and Business held the first talk. She presented a working paper based on an ongoing study on the implementation process of a law to reduce the work time of hospital doctors to comply with the European Work Time Directive. Trying to understand organizational change, the research team investigated the emerging conflicts and challenges for the hospitals as organizations and the doctors as professions from an EC perspective. Thereby she strived to inspire traditional strands of theory that usually deal with this research objective: new instutionalism, sociology of professions and human resource management literature. She could show that different organizations response and react differently to institutional pressure and that institutions in the sense of rules are interpreted differently. Especially highlighted was the explanatory power of EC concepts like regimes of engagement (Thévenot), investments in forms and actors’ competences.

Kenneth Horvath from the University of Lucerne shared thoughts and considerations about the applicability of interview research from an EC perspective. He presented snippets from his study on how teachers classify their students along different categories. He raised the question about the validity of the data, as the answers of the teachers could rather be seen as a reaction to the coordination situation in the interview situation than what they really do in the classroom on an everyday basis (teaching practices). As Horvath argued, teachers thus rather use classifications to communicate with outsiders than in the classroom – here, ethnography would come into play. It followed a discussion about the interview situation and how to use interviews as a tool for EC research, especially if methodic holism is strived for.

After the coffee break, Henning Middelschulte from the University of Bielefeld talked about methodological possibilities and limitations of computer based semantic EC-analyses (lexicon method). With this method, he and his research team tried to get a grasp of the question, whether economization of social sciences education in upper secondary education in Germany took place in the curricula. He presented some first results, which triggered a lively discussion about the appropriate use, operationalization and explanatory power of EC concepts in quantitative text analysis.

After lunch, Regula Julia Leemann from the School of Education in Basel presented some preliminary results from her ongoing research project on the positioning and profiling of the Specialized Middle School as a third educational track on upper secondary level in Switzerland. Applying concepts like valuation practices (Kornberger 2017), the power of conventions and investments in form, she could show how the Specialized Middle School was established as a new category on upper secondary level between 1970 and 1980. In this process, she could identify different valuation practices. The new school type was established in a process of assigning existing schools to a programmatic idea of that school type, based on a compromise of the domestic and civic convention. This compromise was later criticized and led to the integration of more market-industry based elements in the recent past.

Karin Büchel from the University of Zurich presented her PhD project. Her research was guided by the question, in how far the development of dual VET in Switzerland in 1954-1980 might be connected to the notion of educational expansion. She focused on the Canton of Lucerne and showed the benefits of a situational (yet historical) EC approach for explaining educational governance processes. Her presentation triggered a discussion about concepts of educational expansion and the explanatory power of EC.

In the later afternoon, the first round table of the workshop took place. Eric Verdier, Philipp Gonon and Esther Berner opened the discussion with their individual statements on the added value of EC concepts within the field of educational research.

All three highlighted the concept of investments in form as one of the most innovative and promising ideas of EC and especially suitable for educational research. In this field, many cognitive and materialized forms like classifications, rules, instruments, routines and devices can be found e.g. in certifications, school programs, curricula, diplomas, regulations etc. The concept of quality conventions was discussed as equally suitable for research on education, as it allows grasping and explaining different forms and ideas of evaluation and evaluation practices, quality constructions and ideas of the common good that are observable in this highly moralized, highly public sphere of society. Here, norms and justifications play a crucial role. As a third benefit, the discussants highlighted the suitability of an EC approach to educational research because of its dynamic view of social phenomena. As a re-combination of the mega paradigms of structuralism and pragmatism, EC analyses help to conceive social processes as way of mobilizing entities and stabilizing conventions at the same time. In addition, the explanatory power and limitations of EC concepts in historical research were discussed. Overall, the conclusion of the roundtable was that EC is very fruitful to apply in the field of educational research, e.g. of organizations and organizational change, analyses of law, concepts of work, classifications and more.

To close the first day, Eric Verdier held a keynote speech about education and training regimes from an international and comparative perspective. He showed how in Europe, various compromises between conventions remain country-specific. The same reform will take on a different meaning depending on the concerned societal (historical and political) context. He proceeded to present Morocco as an interesting case of an unstable social compromise, source of non-quality in Education and Training and cause of conventional crisis.

The first workshop day then came to a happy end with a yummy dinner at the restaurant Commihalle.

On Friday morning, Eva Nadai and Anna Gonon from the School of Social Work in Olten went back to a traditional field of EC research – the analysis of labour market and employment. They presented findings from their study about the valuation of disabled labour, respectively formats and employment of ‘non-standard’ workers. Similar to Pernkopf, they could show how organizations or firms react differently when faced with challenges – in this case the valuation of disabled work. Based on a multi-data design they could show how the value of disabled workers is assessed along two models of compromise between the market, industrial, civic or domestic convention. The operational and state forms structure which conventions become relevant when evaluating a worker. Nevertheless, these formats function as dispositives for coordination, and have to be mobilized.

Katharina Pernkopf presented a conceptual paper concerning the fruitfulness and applicability of the EC approach for HRM research. She and her co-authors Julia Brandl, Arjan Kozica and Anna Schneider criticized that mainstream HRM research isn’t yet aware enough of the different logics or the co-presence of market (hiring ‘the best’ from outside) and bureaucracy-based (making use of employees within the organization) managing models in real organizations. Therefore, they proposed the EC approach with its situational stance and its pragmatist approach as more suitable to grasp the complexity of actual decision making employment issues.

Before and after lunch, the method and research question spaces took place. This format was introduced back in January in Reutlingen, and offers (especially for PhDs) the possibility to discuss particular questions concerning EC concepts’ applicability in one’s own research project. Reinhold Hedtke, Andrea Szukala and Claude Proeschel discussed the construction of the ‘Good Citizen’ in French and German schools, while Valeska Cappel presented first considerations about her PhD investigating discourses, classifications and conventions in the field of health apps. Michael Steurer discussed his PhD Project, where he analyzes conventions for critical work practices in inter-firm relationships. At the same time, Raffaella Esposito, Lea Zehnder and Sandra Hafner raised questions about analyzing investments in forms in the field of education.

The two workshop days closed with a final round table on investments in forms, power and pragmatism. The statements by Rainer Diaz-Bone, Patrick Bühler and Philipp Gonon triggered a discussion about the position of EC between pragmatism and structuralism. Again, the importance and explanatory power of concepts like investments in form and the plurality of quality conventions were highlighted, and the exertion of power from an EC perspective was discussed. Different discussants voiced the need to discuss, clarify and conceptualize the notion of actors’ competences in future workshops.

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Quelques communications conventionnalistes au congrès de l’Afep à Rennes

Du 5 au 7 juillet 2017 s’est tenu le 7e congrès de l’Association française d’économie politique à l’université de Rennes 2. Deux cents personnes ont participé à ce très beau congrès. Nous listons ici, de manière non exhaustive, quelques communications mobilisant une approche par les conventions.

Une analyse conventionnaliste de la pauvreté énergétique à partir de l’action publique sénégalaise dans l’énergie communication de Pierre Robert (Clersé, Centre Lillois d’Etudes et de Recherches Sociologiques et Économiques). L’objet de cette communication est de dépasser les écueils des mesures standard de la pauvreté énergétique, fondées sur une vision universaliste des besoins en énergie. Le cadre d’analyse mobilise l’Économie des Conventions afin de montrer que ces besoins sont situés et se formalisent dans une convention de service énergétique. Pierre Robert étudie cette convention à partir de l’action publique dans le secteur énergétique au Sénégal, en admettant que cette action se déploie en construisant une image des besoins, qu’elle tente ensuite de satisfaire. Il mobilise pour cela des archives, la littérature grise et des entretiens auprès d’acteurs du secteur. L’analyse permet d’interroger la manière dont la société sénégalaise formule politiquement ses besoins en énergie. Lors de ce processus, les populations rurales sont laissées de côté, ce qui conduit à une représentation de besoins limités dans la convention de service énergétique.

Compter sans connaître. La construction des statistiques pénitentiaires françaises. Communication d’Anaïs Henneguelle (IDHE, Institutions et Dynamiques Historiques de l’Économie et de la Société). La communication porte sur à la production ordinaire du chiffre dans le milieu carcéral. L’administration pénitentiaire publie régulièrement des statistiques concernant les personnes incarcérées. Comment ces données sont-elles construites quotidiennement au sein des établissements ? Pour répondre à cette question, Anaïs Henneguelle s’appuie sur des observations ethnographiques menées dans deux établissements de la région parisienne. L’article montre qu’il existe une différence importante entre les informations juridiques, au cœur de la gestion des prisons et donc très surveillées, et les informations sociodémographiques, laissées de côté au cours du processus de codage.

Conventions de valorisation des brevets et intermédiaires du droit communication de Christian Bessy (IDHE, Institutions et Dynamiques Historiques de l’Économie et de la Société). Le système de brevet n’a jamais autant eu le vent en poupe et, en même temps, on assiste à une critique assez acerbe de ce système avec la remise en cause du modèle dit « propriétaire » et le retour aux « communs ». Dans cette contribution, Christian Bessy montre que cette hypervalorisation du brevet que l’on constate au niveau « macro » est liée à la multiplication de ces usages au niveau « micro » : protection et diffusion des innovations, pouvoir de marché et valorisation du patrimoine technologique, instrument de signalement et de négociation, outil d’évaluation et de capitalisation. Ces usages viendraient d’une certaine façon s’empiler depuis la genèse du système à la fin du XVIIIème siècle, sans annuler les usages antérieurs. L’idée centrale défendue est que l’institution du brevet repose à chaque époque sur différentes conventions de valorisation du brevet, même si on peut associer à chaque configuration une convention dominante qui contient les autres en germe.

La manipulation du Libor, une convention entre acteurs financiers de Guillaume Dupéret (Cerna, Mines ParisTech). Taux de référence pour de nombreux produits financiers, le Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) est depuis 2008 au centre d’un scandale de grande ampleur du fait de la manipulation dont il a fait l’objet. La communication vise à analyser cette manipulation à l’aide d’une approche conventionnaliste. Guillaume Dupéret définit d’abord la convention à la manière de Sugden (1986) : une régularité de comportement au sein d’une population telle que tous les membres de la population se conforment à la norme conventionnelle même si une autre convention aurait pu prévaloir. L’analyse conventionnaliste apporte une meilleure compréhension des dynamiques de groupe qui peuvent exister sur les marchés financiers, à partir des phénomènes réputationnels induits par une situation d’interactions répétées. À partir de la grammaire des cités de Boltanski et Thévenot (1991), l’analyse montre inversement les conditions du désengagement relationnel des traders dès lors que la convention est délégitimée par l’intérêt public des médias et de la justice.

Do really markets come from quality conventions? Dynamique et recomposition du « marché » (de proximité) des fruits et légumes à Montpellier communication de Sarah Millet Amrani (INRA, Institut national de la recherche agronomique). L’essor récent des circuits courts alimentaires traduit l’émergence d’un « marché de la proximité » pour lequel l’évaluation de la qualité porte moins sur les caractéristiques du produit que sur la transaction en elle-même. Pour décrire la structuration de ce marché, Sarah Millet Amrani (en collaboration avec Yuna Chiffoleau et Jean-Marc Touzard) propose une analyse du réseau de la distribution des fruits et légumes en circuits courts sur Montpellier, réalisé à partir d’enquêtes producteurs. En s’appuyant sur la théorie des marchés d’Harrison White (1981, 2002), -et son interprétation en termes conventionnalistes par Favereau et al. (2002), – la communication : (i) révèle un marché structuré en niches, mais au sein desquels les conventions de qualité ne sont pas encore stabilisées, (ii) souligne le rôle des intermédiaires dans la structuration des marchés et la construction d’accords autour de la qualité.

The peculiar connection between common good and self-interest

Valeska Cappel (University of Lucerne)

The question about the relationship between the common good and self-interest was the frame of plenary sessions, panel discussions and keynote-speeches at this year’s Congress of the Swiss Sociological Association (SSA), June 21 – 23th 2017 at the University of Zurich.

Relating to this topic Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne) and Luca Pattaroni (EPFL Lausanne) organized the plenary session “Experience, conventions and the common good”.

It was a great opportunity to give space and attention to different conventionalist researches in various fields of social science relating to the topic of common good and self-interest. Regula Leemann (School for education Basel) and Jean-Michel Bonvin (University of Geneva) talked about convention theory in the field of education and social welfare, before special guest Laurent Thévenot (EHESS Paris) shared his thoughts about convention theory (CT) in the urban studies.

The aim of Regula Leemann’s presentation was to show the explanatory power of the theoretical framework of the convention theory in the research field of education. First, she referred on post-compulsory education in Switzerland. Her concern was to show how different orders of worth in the public sphere (“compound communities”) are constitutive for supplying the post-compulsory education as a common good.

Secondly, she talked about the different modes of coordination of individuals with their environment (“compound personalities”). She investigated how individual academics in Europe coordinate themselves with their professional academic and private environment. By focusing on a situation, constructing the EU as a political project of establishing a common market with the fundamental treatments of free movement of people and capital, she pointed out how a dispositive of transnational academic mobility is shaping the individual coordination between professional status and the private conduct of life.

Referring to the main topic of the congress, Jean-Michel Bonvin highlighted in his speech the theoretical challenges to bring social welfare into social actions. Relating to the capability approach (CA), he depicts the need to understand that social politics is not just a technical matter that can be defined and implemented. He claimed that there are different normativities and rationalities depending on the level of interaction (parliamentary areas, street-level bureaucrats, beneficiaries), which have to be considered. In combining the CA and the convention theory (CT) he proposes a solution for this problem: The concepts of CT, like the “economies of worth” (Thévenot) or “pragmatic regimes of engagements”, allow to understand the situation and what matters in social action. The additional benefit of consulting the CT could be to understand, why sometimes the implemented social welfare, constructed from a specific point of view, in particular situations is not receiving.

The highlight of the session was the input of the cofounder of the convention theory, Laurent Thévenot. Besides his inspiring comments on the other lectures he presented his thoughts on newer developments in the convention theory and the recent pragmatic turn of urban studies.

In particular, he focused on three main issues: First he pleaded to abandon the comparison of a public and private sphere in urban environments and focus instead on the various ways how city dwellers engage with their environment. Building commonality in the end is a result of “orders of worth backed by conceptions of the common good and the “realism” of individual interest” (Thévenot).

Secondly, in considering this point, he developed the idea of an extended view on constructions of commonality in the plural. By doing that, he identified three grammars of communality in the plural:  1) the grammar of plural orders of worth, 2) the grammar of interested individuals choosing among options in a liberal public, 3) the grammar of personal affinities to multiple common-places.

Thirdly, he spoke about his transcultural comparative research in urban studies (Europe, Russia, America), where he discovered, that the grammar of personal affinities to multiple common-places is characterized by familiar, personal and local engagement but simultaneous instrumental by authoritarian populism.

Altogether, the session was a short but impressive proof to see how convention theory is growing forward in different fields of social science and develops its explanatory power. Of course, there remain some mutual reception issues based on language barriers – but what, if not at an inspiring congress like this one, would be a decent step to overcome these problems?

The potential of the « Économie des conventions » for socio-scientific educational research

Session at the SSRE 2017 conference in Fribourg

These days, from 26-28 of June 2017, at the University of Fribourg the annual congress of the Swiss Society for Research in Education took place. Numerous workshops and symposia dealt with educational aspects like early childhood education, competence measurement in schools, school-to-work transitions, education policy and professional identities of teachers. The overall topic was the aspect of time and learning. The congress attracted 400 researchers and practitioners from the German-speaking, French-speaking and Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, as well as some international researchers.

One of the workshops was dedicated to the potential of the „Économie des conventions“ and the phenomenon of Education. In this meeting, chaired by Prof. Philipp Gonon (University of Zurich) three presentations were held and discussed. One by Dr. Hauke Straehler-Pohl (Freie Universität Berlin), another by Prof. Regula Leemann (FHNW School of Education) and a third one by Prof. Esther Berner (Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg).

Hauke highlighted the situation in a Berlin social focus area, where teachers are in a dilemma, between furthering immigrant children (coming mainly from Middle East Countries) and selecting them for further advancement in the educational system or bringing them closer to the world of work. These educational aims can be conflicting and the EC approach is very helpful to identify conflicts and consensus possibilities. Out of the axiom of common mankind, diversity and accountability to values, as it was developed in Boltanski/Thévenot (1999), there is a ground for legitimation and critique. The situational aspect of referring to different possible conventions is decisive for pedagogical orders, which can be stipulated or criticised. Analysing one interview (out of several ones which are the basis of his post-doc thesis) with a female teacher in Wedding-Berlin, Hauke referred to project-based, industrial and household-based conventions, which highlighted this back-and-forth approach between supporting and oppressing youngsters in their learning attitudes.

Regula was asking herself and the audience why in Switzerland, in contrast to Norway, training circles – networks of apprenticeship-providers who are organizing the apprenticeship in different training companies and who are in charge of the wages for apprentices – are such a minor model in the Swiss Vocational Education and Training system, although the law is encouraging such formats. With the EC-approach she states only a small reachability of such a format of training provision, due to the dominant orientation towards the market convention of small firms. Since the times of economic crisis in the 1990s, when the claim for the civic convention in order to surrender market failures (and a lack of apprenticeship opportunities) prevailed, the topical situation has changed and the conventions of the market and of networks have pushed aside the industrial and civic conventions.

Esther used the EC-approach for a historical account of written apprenticeship contracts that have replaced oral contracts in the period from 1874-1930 in Switzerland. Her theoretical framing was also a critique of functional and system-theoretical approaches. The concept of an apprentice is in her view the result of negotiations: is she or he more a learner, or a person, who has to be protected as minor (not an adult person), or is she or he a worker. In Swiss history this question was debated around the legislation of industry, trade and civic regulation, which was also based on quality claims, referring to the respective conventions. The result of this long-standing debate was really a far-reaching compromise, which defined an apprentice as a person, who has to be protected in his or her learning aspirations and thus needs a written contract.

All these shortly presented arguments were developed further in the discussion, which found a resonance in the audience who partly was first time confronted and challenged with the EC-approach.

The workshop activists warming up with a Fondue Fribourgeoise on the eve of the conference

Surveys as a social process: A workshop dedicated to the roots of the Economics of conventions

Caroline Näther & Raphael Vogel (University of Lucerne, Switzerland)

From 01.06 to 02.06 we co-organized a Workshop about surveys as a social process hosted by the Technical University of Berlin. The fundamental idea of this workshop was to refine the understanding of surveys first, as a product of a wide distributed process and second, as an entity that enacts itself social processes. It is a continuation of a discussion group organized by us at the Congress of sociology held in Bamberg in September 2017. The workshop was organized by the two initiates as well as Prof. Nina Baur (Technische Universität Berlin), Dr. Andreas Schmitz and Alice Barth (both University of Bonn). The workshop was addressed to three different group of survey-interested, such as survey-methodologists, survey-users, but also researchers that examines the survey-process itself. The goal was to critically analyze surveys as a social process from different angles. Therefore it was a well ambitioned project, whose success was ambivalent. On the one hand, the workshop enabled different researchers affiliated to survey-research to come together and share their perspectives. In times of more and more specialized sciences, this alone is a noteworthy accomplishment. Additionally, it was an ideal opportunity for us two doctoral students to present our research to a public outside the well-established network of researchers in the field of economics of convention (EC) in the German speaking countries. It was therefore a test to check if our EC-informed perspectives on surveys make sense to a broader, survey-interested public. All in all, different participants of the workshop mentioned the friendly and constructive atmosphere. This was enhanced by the different workshop lunches and dinners. On the other hand it was maybe exactly this atmosphere, which didn’t lead to intensive discussions about the difference and conflicts of the different perspectives on the survey-process. In the aftermath of the workshop, it would have been a good idea to focus on several stations of the survey-process and then determine and discuss the different perspectives on it. But probably this is a task for a following workshop, as it is clear that the different participants of the workshop needed first to have an insight into the perspectives of the other participants. A well-defined agenda setting for the workshop without this prerequisite is probably difficult.

All in all, the workshop was a nice opportunity for us to have a broad insight into different perspectives and disciplines in survey-methodology and to get comments and feedback to our own work about coordination in survey-projects. Additionally, the workshop showed that the perspective of EC is more and more outgrowing in the German speaking countries from a sole perspective in the economic-sociology to a broad paradigm in sociological research.

In this place, a big thank you to the other organizers, especially Nina Baur, who organized the place for this workshop. It would not have been possible, to connect a broad mix of survey-researchers without her. Last but not least, a big thank you also to the staff of Nina Baur, who looked for the well-being of the survey-participants.

Some of the participants of the workshop enjoying discussions and superb Spanish Tapas at the Restaurant Mar y Sol in Berlin.

Création d’un nouveau blog consacré à l’Économie des conventions !!

L’objet de ce carnet est de constituer une plateforme d’informations pour les chercheurs appartenant à l’école de l’Économie des conventions.

Ce courant de pensée est apparu en France au milieu des années 1980, sous l’impulsion d’économistes (dont beaucoup travaillaient à l’Insee et réfléchissaient aux conventions statistiques sur lesquelles reposent quantification et évaluation) et de sociologues (questionnant la capacité des acteurs à juger ce qui vaut ou ne vaut pas, ce qui est équivalent).


Les conventions correspondent à des représentations collectives, des références partagées qui résolvent des problèmes de coordination en environnement incertain. Ces représentations sont conventionnelles au sens où il s’agit d’une solution parmi plusieurs envisageables et qu’elles peuvent toujours être remises en cause.


L’analyse conventionnaliste est donc nécessairement dynamique. L’objectif n’est « pas tant d’offrir une théorie meilleure que de rouvrir le langage de la théorie économique » qui accorde trop de poids à la rationalité et pas assez aux institutions, comme l’indique Olivier Favereau, l’un des principaux fondateurs et animateurs de l’Économie des conventions. Cette conception des conventions est présente dans les travaux de Keynes qui l’emploie pour désigner ce qui guide les anticipations et interprétations des opérateurs sur les marchés financiers. Mais il y a bien d’autres domaines où il y a de l’incertitude et un besoin de conventions pour y faire face : l’activité de production (conventions de qualité des biens et modèles d’entreprise), le recrutement, le système de santé, etc.


La visée du carnet est avant tout la diffusion d’informations sur l’actualité des recherches conventionnalistes en France et à l’étranger : publications, séminaires, colloques, appels à communiquer, résumés de travaux (masters, thèses, habilitations à diriger des recherches), comptes rendus de journées d’études ou de conférences. Le public de lecteurs attendu est constitué de chercheurs (économistes et sociologues, jeunes ou confirmés) appartenant à (ou proches de) ce programme de recherche.


Les auteurs sont : Franck Bessis, Nicolas Da Silva, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Guillemette de Larquier, Kevin Mellet & Delphine Remillon

Contact pour diffuser une information :

Compte Twitter lié : @ecoconv

Creation of a new blog devoted to Economics of conventions!!

The purpose of this academic blog is to provide an information platform for researchers belonging to the Economics of Conventions. Information will be published in French and/or in English.

The Economics of Conventions is a research program that emerged in France in the mid-1980s, led by economists (many of whom worked at INSEE) and sociologists (questioning the capacity of the actors to judge what is worth or is not worth). Conventions correspond to collective representations, shared references that solve problems of coordination in an uncertain environment. These representations are conventional in the sense that they are one of several possible solutions and can always be called into question. Conventional analysis is therefore necessarily dynamic.

The aim is « not so much to offer a better theory than to reopen the language of economic theory » which gives too much weight to rationality and not enough to institutions, as Olivier Favereau, one of the main founders and leaders of the Economics of Conventions. This conception of conventions is present in the work of Keynes who uses it to designate what guides the expectations and interpretations of operators in the financial markets. But there are many other areas where there is uncertainty and a need for conventions to deal with it: production activity (quality conventions of goods and business models), recruitment, the system Health, etc.

The autors are : Franck Bessis, Nicolas Da Silva, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Guillemette de Larquier, Kevin Mellet & Delphine Remillon

To share an information, please write to:

Twitter count linked to the blog: @ecoconv

29 janvier 2016 : Un dictionnaire non standard autour d’un homme non-ordinaire

Hommage à Olivier Favereau

Olivier Favereau est l’un des fondateurs d’une école de pensée l’Économie des conventions qui s’est développée à Paris Ouest et son principal animateur. Figure intellectuelle majeure en sciences économiques mais aussi dans les autres disciplines notamment en sciences de gestion et en sociologie, il a animé plusieurs réseaux de recherche et est membre de nombreuses institutions académiques. Professeur émérite membre d’EconomiX, il a créé à Paris Ouest, l’école doctorale EOS, le M2 recherche Économie des institutions et dirigé le laboratoire FORUM.

Il est de ces universitaires auquel la communauté souhaite rendre hommage. Cet hommage a été organisé le vendredi 29 janvier 2016 sans que le principal intéressé n’en ait été informé. Il a fait suite à une séance exceptionnelle du séminaire Conventions pendant laquelle Olivier Favereau a présenté des « Repère(s) pour l’Économie des conventions » dans une salle des conférences comble. 150 personnes étaient présentes pour écouter les allocutions de Bernadette Madeuf (EconomiX, ancienne Présidente de l’Université Paris Ouest Nanterre), Christophe Benavent (Directeur de l’école doctorale EOS) et André Orléan (Président de l’Association Française d’Économie Politique) et pour assister à la remise à Olivier Favereau du Dictionnaire des conventions. Autour des travaux d’Olivier Favereau, (sous la direction de Philippe Batifoulier, Franck Bessis, Ariane Ghirardello, Guillemette de Larquier et Delphine Remillon,), publié par les éditions Septentrion avec le soutien financier d’EconomiX, de l’UFR Segmi, du CEPN (CNRS UMR 7234 – Université Paris 13) et de Triangle (CNRS UMR 5206 – ENS Lyon).

Les différentes entrées de ce dictionnaire fournissent un panorama sans équivalent de l’économie politique portée par le courant de l’Économie des conventions à laquelle Olivier Favereau a œuvré durant toute sa carrière. 75 auteurs réunis pour l’occasion discutent, utilisent ou prolongent plusieurs dimensions de sa pensée offrant ainsi une clé d’entrée originale dans les principaux débats qui animent aujourd’hui les sciences économiques et sociales.

Né en 1945, Olivier Favereau, diplômé de l’Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, réussit le concours du Sénat et entre en septembre 1970 à la commission des affaires sociales. Poussé par l’envie de faire de la recherche et d’enseigner, il n’y restera toutefois que 9 mois ayant l’opportunité d’être recruté à Nanterre comme collaborateur technique. Tout en assurant des TD à Paris 1, il commence alors sa thèse sans se douter que celle-ci ne se terminera que douze ans plus tard. C’était sans doute le temps qu’il fallait pour concevoir une approche alternative. Rattrapant ce retard, il réussit brillamment, dès l’année suivante (1983), le concours d’agrégation d’économie. Après avoir passé quatre années au Mans, il est nommé à l’Université Paris X Nanterre en 1988 et se consacre à l’édition d’un numéro spécial de la Revue économique (1989), créant ainsi, avec d’autres chercheurs, l’Économie des conventions.

Au fond, qu’est-ce que l’Économie des conventions ? Bien plus que l’approche économique d’un objet, les conventions, pour Olivier Favereau, l’Économie des conventions désigne d’une « méthode générale d’approche des coordinations organisationnelles » ou encore un « programme de recherche en sciences sociales ». Elle s’inspire de John M. Keynes mais aussi de Herbert Simon, David Lewis et de Peter Doeringer et Michael Piore. Les comparaisons/confrontations avec d’autres programmes auxquelles Olivier Favereau s’est livré à maintes reprises ont certainement contribué à donner à l’Économie des conventions l’image d’une théorie (non standard), d’un courant ou d’une école de pensée, au même titre que l’école de la régulation par exemple. Toutefois, l’Économie des conventions n’a jamais eu vocation à remplacer la théorie néoclassique aux yeux d’Olivier Favereau : l’objectif n’était « pas tant d’offrir une théorie meilleure que de réouvrir le langage de la théorie économique » (2004, p. 143) pour renouer avec cette « figure caché du keynésianisme : une pensée de l’économie à partir de l’entreprise » plutôt qu’une pensée de l’économie à partir du marché. Un signe de la réussite du projet serait que l’on ne soit pas obligé de se réclamer explicitement de l’Économie des conventions pour développer cette pensée alternative, à l’image des travaux menés autour de l’entreprise depuis 2009 par un collectif de chercheurs d’horizons divers dans le cadre du collège des Bernardins.

En tant qu’enseignant, Olivier Favereau s’est beaucoup investi dans la création (en 1991) et la direction du diplôme d’études approfondie (DEA) « Économie des institutions » qui deviendra le point focal de l’enseignement de la pensée institutionnaliste dans toute sa diversité (Économie des conventions, théorie de la régulation, socio-économie, etc.). Il donnera envie à beaucoup de ces étudiants de poursuivre en thèse, puis de se lancer dans une carrière académique. L’insertion académique des étudiants de ce DEA est d’ailleurs l’une des grandes préoccupations d’Olivier Favereau et l’une de ses grandes fiertés. Au dernier décompte, ce DEA a en effet « produit » pas moins de 21 maîtres de conférences, 5 professeurs d’université, 8 chargés de recherche, et de nombreux chercheurs dans d’autres institutions académiques et administratives, nationales et internationales. Nombre des contributeurs au Dictionnaire des conventions sont d’ailleurs issus de cette formation.

Liste des 75 auteurs : Tristan Auvray, Philippe Batifoulier, Charlotte Bellon, Irène Berthonnet, Arnaud Berthoud, Franck Bessis, Christian Bessy, Luc Boltanski, Robert Boyer, Jean Cartelier, Aurore Chaigneau, Camille Chaserant, Ève Chiapello, Nicolas Da Silva, Thomas Dallery, Jean De Munck, Hervé Defalvard, David Dequech, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Jean-Paul Domin, Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Arnaud Esquerre, François Eymard-Duvernay, Judith Favereau, Marie Favereau, Peggy Favereau, Bernard Friot, Maryse Gadreau, Bernard Gazier, Ariane Ghirardello, Sophie Harnay, Armand Hatchuel, Philippe Hugon, Christophe Jamin, Florence Jany-Catrice, Rouslan Koumakhov, Thomas Lamarche, Guillemette de Larquier, Christian Laval, Emmanuel Lazega, Jean-Marc Le Gall, Arnaud Le Marchand, Jean-François Lejeune, Nadine Levratto, Helena Lopes, Antoine Lyon-Caen, Bénédicte Martin, Fabian Muniesa, Kenkichi Nagao, André Orléan, Michael J. Piore, Gaël Plumecocq, Nicolas Postel, Christophe Ramaux, Gilles Raveaud, Antoine Rebérioux, Delphine Remillon, Géraldine Rieucau, Sandra Rigot, Jean-Philippe Robé, Baudoin Roger, Tatiana Sachs, Laurence Scialom, Blanche Segrestin, Tiana Smadja-Rakotondramanitra, Richard Sobel, Yamina Tadjeddine, Junya Tatemi, Olivier Thévenon, Laurent Thévenot, Fabrice Tricou, Daniel Urrutiaguer, François Vatin, Stéphane Vernac et Hélène Zajdela.