Archives par étiquette : Justification

Perspectives on the sustainability promise of alternative food networks, by Sini Forssell

 PhD thesis defended, with the permission of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry of the University of Helsinki,  on 15 September 2017, under the supervision of Dr. Leena Lankoski.

Abstract. This doctoral dissertation examines the phenomenon of alternative food networks (AFNs) from the perspective of food system sustainability. AFNs are seen as a promising response to the sustainability issues associated with the conventional food system, but have also attracted criticism. Criticisms include uncertainty over AFNs’ actual sustainability impacts; arguments that many AFNs are hybrid rather than purely alternative; and that their impact on food system sustainability is limited, due to their marginal position. In this dissertation, comprising three original research articles and an introductory section, I explore the above-mentioned criticisms to advance understanding of AFNs’ sustainability. I seek to i) understand what sustainability claims we can make for AFNs based on their characteristics, ii) to develop understanding of AFNs’ hybrid nature and their complex relationship to the conventional food system through empirically examining the negotiation of acceptable practice in AFNs; and iii) understand how this negotiation can be understood to drive wider food  system sustainability transitions by shaping norms. The main theoretical framework used is convention theory. This theory examines the deployment of different notions of worth in coordinating economic activity, as actors navigate in different situations, and shape these situations through their negotiation of acceptable practices. I also apply convention theory to the framework of sustainability transitions, to frame the examination of norm-shaping within the niche of AFNs. The empirical focus of this study is an often-overlooked AFN  actor, alternative food retailers, involving a qualitative, multiple case study research covering nine cases of alternative food retail in Finland and the UK.  My findings suggest that AFNs may potentially contribute to sustainability, but their sustainability should be critically assessed on a caseby-case basis. The findings also suggest a plurality of shared ideals in the domain of AFNs and several areas of tension in AFN practice that AFN actors  must navigate. In doing this, the actors may also shape the norms and ideals in the sector. The conceptual examination contributes a clarified overview of AFNs’ potential sustainability impacts and limitations, and provides a practical framework to assess different food networks’ sustainability. The empirical analysis challenges certain underlying assumptions in the previous literature, and contributes a new understanding of AFNs’ hybridity, its causes and consequences, and the challenges involved in adopting sustainable practices. The analysis can help practitioners understand consumer considerations, and opportunities and obstacles to more sustainable practices. It also deepens the understanding of how new norms are negotiated in the sector, and suggests an alternative view of AFNs’ potential to drive change, besides scaling up and gaining a larger share of the food market. It uncovers the deeper ideals that the alternative food retailers promote, and how these are different from or similar to conventional food system norms and ideals. This understanding can also help practitioners in their norm-shaping work. Theoretically, the study contributes a more dynamic application of convention theory to agri-food studies. The use of convention theory contributes a new understanding of the human and cultural aspect of sustainability transitions. AFNs are ultimately both more and less than their promise. They are not automatically sustainable, or always purely alternative, but can challenge the conventional food system. Their indirect impact on the wider food system may be greater than suggested by their small size and reach. AFNs operate in a dialogue between different parties, and the general direction of this dialogue is instrumental in shaping what AFNs might be or become, and the achievement of sustainability in AFNs.

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Understanding discrimination in hiring apprentices: how training companies use ethnicity to avoid organisational trouble

Christian Imdorf (2017)

Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 69(3), 405-423. 

Abstract. Children of immigrants from non-EU countries face particular problems to access apprenticeship training in German-speaking countries. In this context this article asks how recruiters in small and medium sized companies (SME) make sense of national and ethnic origin when hiring new apprentices. The author proposes Boltanski and Thévenot’s theory of justification in order to conceptualise ethnic discrimination in hiring. Accordingly, the social body of a company consists of multiple interweaved (industrial, domestic, market) ‘worlds’ of social coordination and justification. In order to avoid organisational trouble and to guarantee the further existence of the company, these worlds claim different principle of personnel assessment, some of them penalising applicants of specific ethnic origin. Empirically, the article refers to apprentice recruitment in Switzerland and Germany. It illustrates that employers in SME expect trouble in the domestic and in the market world of the company when hiring school leavers they perceive as foreigners. Hence, discriminatory categories such as ethnicity are used as symbolic and organisational resources for trouble avoidance in hiring apprentices.

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Accounting Values, Controversies, and Compromises in Tests of Worth

Marcia Annisette, Gillian Vesty & Thierry Amslem (2017)

In Charlotte Cloutier, Jean-Pascal Gond & Bernard Leca (ed.), Justification, Evaluation and Critique in the Study of Organizations (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Volume 52) Emerald Publishing Limited, pp.209 – 239.

Abstract. This article will consider the various ways in which accounting can be conceptualized within Boltanski and Thévenot’s economies of worth theoretic. Drawing on two case illustrations, a not-for-profit welfare agency and a government-owned water utility, we follow the unfolding of disputes and the variety of outcomes in which accounting is implicated. We illustrate the role of accounting in justificatory actions and the ways in which it “holds things together” in compromise arrangements. We also illustrate the situations which challenge the “test” of worth and the innovative accounting responses that either facilitate coordination and agreement or become controversial and be the object of organizational and institutional dispute.



Marketing and compromising for sustainability. Competing orders of worth in the North Atlantic

John H. Finch, Susi Geiger & Rachel Joy Harkness (2017)

Marketing Theory, 17(1), pp. 71-93.

Abstract. The purpose of our article is to propose that compromising is a constitutive characteristic of those marketing systems that entail matters of public interest or concern. In such markets, actors design compromises as they encounter criticisms of and contending justifications for the market’s products, as these refer to price, efficiency in production and use, regulatory compliance or ecological sustainability. Tests and justifications are vital in order to determine what is valuable and by which measure. As a theory framework, the economic sociology of conventions provides a basis for assessing these contests, compromises, and justifications over the issue of worth in a marketing context. Through an ethnographic study of the regulated activities of chemicals service companies supporting the upstream petroleum industry, we assess how actors evaluate and justify the market’s products and services in this environmentally sensitive setting by means of tests drawing from different orders of worth: the green, the industrial and the market order. Our contributions show that by artful and pragmatic compromising around exchanges, actors in marketing systems can balance several conflicting orders of worth over the question of worth without needing to converge on an overriding institutional logic.

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Trying the unemployed. Justification and critique, emancipation and coercion towards society. A study of contemporary reform in France and Denmark

Magnus Paulsen Hansen  (2017)

Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School, PhD Series 10.2017

Abstract. Since the late 1980s, European welfare states and labour market regulation have gradually but radically been transformed into ways of underpinning a more “active society” where active usually entails paid work or activities, such as training and qualification, that aim towards work. The thesis investigates the transformation towards the ‘active society’ through the spectre of unemployment and how it is governed. Two puzzles in the transformations have motivated the inquiry: firstly, the co-existence of a plurality of different, and often contradictory, conceptions of who the unemployed are and why they are unemployed; and secondly, the co-existence of wills to emancipate the unemployed alongside the justification of using coercive measures towards them.
This thesis argues that if we want to understand the varieties within the transformations, the “what?” question, it is necessary to address the “how?”; i.e., how transformations are legitimised. Here, ideas and morality are pivotal. Inspired by French pragmatic sociology (Boltanski and Thévenot), the ideas are approached as cities of unemployment that are mobilised to justify and criticise policies related to the governing of unemployment. In these situations where the question of what is the best way to govern unemployment is put to the test, cities of unemployment enable actors to prepare and qualify the reality of the situation for critique and justification.
Each city of unemployment is founded on a principle with specific principles to try or test both those who govern and the subjects inhabiting each city, thus entailing a specific understanding of what emancipating the unemployed involves, i.e., what kind of moral subject the unemployed person is with what kind of needs and characteristics. The thesis thus asks which cities of unemployment are mobilised in contemporary reform processes of the governing of unemployment, how are the cities mobilised to justify and criticise, and how do the cities sediment into instruments and institutions governing the unemployed?
The questions are operationalised through an in-depth comparative study of four key contemporary reform processes: two in Denmark and two in France. The thesis is the first systematic investigation into the test situations that unfold in the public debates with a focus on the plurality of ideas that are mobilised to qualify and evaluate existing policies and justify changes.
The thesis shows how the governing of unemployment is the result of an ongoing sedimentation in the cities tied together in compromises. This makes the governing inherently composite and unstable. The thesis identifies and maps seven distinct cities of unemployment that are mobilised in all debates surrounding all four reforms: the cities of Demand, Redistribution, Insurance, Incentives, Mobility, Investment and the Paternal city. Regardless of differences between the four cases, all analyses show that reforms are particularly driven by justifications from the Paternal, Mobility, Investment and Incentives cities, which are all tied together in multiple ways. The other three cities do not vanish completely, but in the qualification of the unemployed they are increasingly put to the margins.
Finally, the thesis shows how the tensions between the cities that are mobilised for justificatory purposes are mitigated in categorisations and various institutionalised tests that continuously evaluate the behaviour of the unemployed. The tests, such as triage, screening, interviews and contracts, thus question and settle what kind of subject the unemployed person is, i.e., what city he lives in, how worthy he is, and what instruments will bring him closer to emancipation (i.e., the ‘active society’). In this way, the possibility of requalifying the unemployed is made permanent. A similar experimentalist dynamic is identifiable in the public debates concerning justification and critique. Here unemployment is increasingly seen as a multi-causal phenomenon that, in the end, is a matter of how to make the unemployed act in certain ways. The result is a constant uncertainty as to how to attach particular causes to particular categories of unemployment. Hence, the demand for targeting or “personalising” the governing in order to make the unemployed respond to it results in increasingly intimate and often coercive instruments.

Résumé. Depuis la fin des années 1980, les États-providence et les marchés du travail au sein de l’Europe connaissent des transformations radicales quoique graduelles, les amenant à privilégier une société plus « active », où actif a généralement le sens de travail rémunéré ou d’activités rémunérées comme px la formation sur le tas ou la formation professionnelle. Cette thèse étudie ce virage vers la ”société active” à travers le phénomène du chômage et sa gestion, la motivation étant d’arriver à une meilleure compréhension de deux tendances : Premièrement, la coprésence d’une pluralité de conceptions différentes et souvent contradictoires sur le chômeur et les circonstances ayant causé sa situation. Deuxièmement, la coprésence d’intentions visant à émanciper le chômeur, d’une part, et de justifications de mesures coercitives à l’encontre du chômeur, d’autre part.
La méthodologie proposée pour étudier et comprendre ces deux tendances suppose que pour savoir en quoi consistent ces transformations, il est nécessaire d’étudier comment les acteurs essaient de les justifier. À cette fin, une étude des idées et de leurs fondements moraux s’impose. S’inspirant de l’école française de la sociologie pragmatique (Boltanski et Thévenot), cette thèse propose une déclinaison du concept de cité du chômage pour rendre compte des idées mobilisées dans la justification et la critique des politiques de chômage. Dans de telles situations où la question de savoir comment gérer au mieux le chômage est mise à l’épreuve, des ‘cités du chômage’ permettent aux acteurs de préparer et qualifier la réalité afin de la critiquer et de la justifier.
Chaque cité du chômage est fondée sur un principe particulier se référant à une conception spécifique de l’émancipation du chômeur, et à partir de ce principe tant la gestion que les êtres présents qui y sont soumis peuvent être évalués ou mis à l’épreuve. Chaque cité attribue à chacun des chômeurs un sujet moral défini par des besoins et caractéristiques spécifiques. D’où la problématique suivante : Quelles cités de chômage sont mobilisées dans les processus de réforme contemporains de la gestion du chômage ? Comment les cités sont-elles mobilisées pour nourrir la justification et la critique ? Et enfin, comment se sédimentent-elles sous formes de dispositifs et d’institutions de gestion du chômeur ?
Ces questions sont traitées à travers une étude comparative détaillée de quatre processus de réforme importants – deux au Danemark et deux en France. Cette thèse est la première à étudier d’une manière systématique les ‘situations d’épreuve’ du débat public, et cela dans le but de mettre en évidence la pluralité des idées mobilisées pour qualifier et évaluer les politiques existantes et pour justifier des changements.
L’analyse montre comment la gestion du problème du chômage est le résultat d’une sédimentation continue de cités de chômage agencées par voie d’arbitrages. Cela rend la gestion du chômage hétéroclite et instable. Cette thèse révèle sept cités de chômage différentes, toutes mobilisées dans chacun des quatre débats : une cité de la demande, une cité de la redistribution, une cité des assurances, une cité des mesures incitatives, une cité des investissements, une cité de la mobilité, une cité paternaliste. Malgré les différences entre les cas étudiés, ceux-ci se caractérisent par étant fondés surtout sur la cité paternaliste et les cités de la mobilité, des mesures incitatives et des investissements. Les trois autres cités ne disparaissent pas complètement, mais elles sont de plus en plus marginalisées dans la qualification du chômeur.
Enfin ce travail de thèse montre comment les tensions décelées entre les cités mobilisées et au sein de celles-ci sont apaisées à l’aide de catégorisations et diverses épreuves institutionnalisées soumettant le comportement du chômeur à une évaluation continue. Des épreuves comme le triage, le dépistage, des interviews et des contrats questionnent et fixent le sujet du chômeur, à savoir sa cité de ‘domicile’ ou d’appartenance, sa valeur, et les instruments les plus indiqués pour l’amener vers son émancipation, c’est-à-dire vers ‘la société active’. Ainsi la possibilité de requalifier le chômeur est rendue permanente. Une dynamique d’expérimentation similaire se manifeste à travers la justification et la critique véhiculés par le débat public, où le chômage est considéré de plus en plus comme un phénomène à causes multiples et dont la solution consiste à découvrir, en fin de compte, comment amener le chômeur à agir d’une façon spécifique. Le résultat en est une incertitude constante concernant l’attribution de certaines causes à certaines catégories de chômeurs. D’où le besoin d’une gestion plus ciblée et personnalisée pour motiver le chômeur à agir ainsi que le besoin de dispositifs plus intimes et souvent coercitifs.


Headquarters-Subsidiary Relationships from a Convention Theory Perspective: Plural Orders of Worth, Arrangements and Form-Giving Activities

Julia Bandl and Anna Schneider (2017)

In: Dörrenbächer, Christoph/Geppert, Mike (eds.): Multinational Corporations and Organization Theory: Post Millennium Perspectives (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Volume 49). Emerald Publishing, pp. 295-324.

Abstract. How headquarter (HQ) and subsidiary actors end conflicts and reach agreements is an important but still under-researched question in multinational corporations (MNC) literature. This conceptual article approaches these conflict dynamics from the Convention Theory perspective. Convention Theory draws attention to justice principles (known as “order of worth”) and to the material aspects in relations between MNC actors. We offer a framework that contributes to HQ-subsidiary relations research in three ways: (1) it links conflicts to justice principles, (2) it enriches the understanding of the stability of agreements, and (3) it sheds light on the activities needed for realizing preferred arrangements.


Long-Term Goals and Shifting Power Structures: A Convention-Based View

Francois Duhamel, Sergio Picazo-Vela, Isis Gutiérrez-Martínez, Luis F. Luna-Reyes (2016)

In: Holly Jarman, Luis F. Luna-Reyes (eds.), Private Data and Public Value Governance, Green Consumption, and Sustainable Supply Chains. Heidelberg: Springer, pp. 129-146

Abstract. Sharing information in supply chains may prompt conflicts of interest among stakeholders, presenting a challenge for achieving the long-term goals associated with platforms such as I-Choose. In this chapter, we analyze such potential conflicts and possible ways to overcome them, on the basis of convention theory and as a result of case studies. Through semistructured interviews with stakeholders of the coffee supply chain in the NAFTA region, we found the presence of four worlds, or “orders of worth”: the domestic, civic, market, and industrial worlds, according to the terminology of convention theory. Our empirical work shows that in practice, supply chain participants can be characterized by a combination of at least two of such views. We also specify the conditions that make different supply chain configurations and set of values more or less amenable to the changes implied in the disclosure of private information that the I-Choose platform requires. In the conclusion of this chapter, we draw policy implications to design the right incentives to the private sector to enhance public value.

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