What Data Can Do: A Typology of Mechanisms

Christin, Angèle (2020)

In: International Journal of Communication 14, pp. 1115-1134.

ABSTRACT

“This article offers an analytical framework for understanding the effects of data on the social world. Specifically, I ask: What happens when new data —digital or not—is introduced in a given context? Drawing on a mix of historical and contemporary examples, I provide a typology of 5 mechanisms: tracking, homogenizing, triaging, nudging, and valuating. I then demonstrate how this framework can change how we understand two empirical cases involving data-driven software programs, one in Web journalism and the other in criminal justice. Based on this analysis, the article makes three main points. First, at a time of rapid technological development, we should pay particular attention to what is not changing with digitization. Second, we need further theoretical integration in the rapidly growing field of critical data studies. Third, I suggest that the umbrella concept of “data” should be broken down into smaller and more manageable components depending on the mechanisms scholars are interested in studying.”

EXTRACT

“The trust we put in numbers as transparent and objective measurements of the “real” world has a long history (Espeland & Stevens, 1998; Porter, 1996). Broader cultural and institutional factors have legitimized data as a valued way of representing the world and making decisions about it. Historians of science have analyzed the emergence of widespread beliefs in the higher value of “mechanical objectivity” and the aura of rationality that have accompanied numbers over the past three centuries (Daston & Galison, 2007). They retraced the development of aesthetic and moral principles that make us see data as “valuable and beautiful” (Halpern, 2015, p. 5). Over time, these positive meanings attached to numbers and data moved beyond the realm of science and engineering, making their way into public administration, nonscientific institutions, and everyday life (Igo, 2008; Porter, 1996). A second and related thread of analysis ties the institutionalization of numbers and their growing legitimacy to economic production and to the cultural frames supporting the complexification of capitalism. Thus, social scientists have highlighted the longer arc of rationalization and quantification techniques. Key episodes in this long history include the rise of double-entry bookkeeping (Carruthers & Espeland, 1991; Weber, 1978), the birth of public statistics (Desrosières, 2002), the commodification and monetization of domains previously protected from quantitative appraisal (Marx, 1992; Simmel, 2011; Zelizer, 2010), the role of numbers in sustaining colonialism and slavery (Browne, 2015), the development of quantitative measurements designed to increase worker productivity during and after the industrial revolutions (Edwards, 1979; Kellogg, Valentine, & Christin, 2020), and the multiplication of data-driven standards to support complicated logistics and supply chains (Star & Bowker, 2000). More recently, economic sociologists have pointed to the role of economics and ideologies of market fundamentalism in promoting numbers as well as quantitative frameworks, including cost–benefit analysis and mathematical equations, as fair and efficient assessments of value (Espeland & Stevens, 1998; Fourcade, 2011).” (pp 1117-1118)

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Lebensführung im Alter(n)swandel. Impulse für eine interdisziplinäre Sozialstrukturanalyse des höheren Alters.

Bolze, Max (2020)

Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

ZUSAMMENFASSUNG

“Max Bolze entwickelt an der Schnittstelle zwischen Alter(n)s- und Lebensstilforschung ein interdisziplinäres Forschungsprogramm, das er als Sozialstrukturanalyse des höheren Alters charakterisiert. Den Kern bildet ein handlungstheoretisch fundiertes Mehrebenenmodell zur Analyse von Lebensführungen. Mit diesem gelingt es, die sozialwissenschaftliche Diskussion um eine soziale und kulturelle Differenzierung des Alter(n)s theoretisch-konzeptionell präziser zu erfassen und empirisch zugänglich zu machen. Hierfür werden methodologische und empirische Zugänge gelegt, über die durch Methodenintegration eine Verbesserung der in der Lebensstilforschung häufig problematisierten Typenbildung erreicht werden kann.”

AUSZUG

“Aus meiner Sicht ist die Angewandte Gerontologie als Forschungsfeld, das zur Verbesserung der Lebensqualität älterer Menschen beiträgt, grundsätzlich begrüßenswert. Die Modifikation des Alterns sollte jedoch erkennbarer von der wertfreien Beschreibung und Erklärung dessen, was alte Menschen tun, getrennt werden. Die verwendeten Konzepte und die ihnen unterliegenden Konventionen sollten bei allen Betrachtungsweisen stets observiert und in ihren Produktionsbedingungen und Auswirkungen kritisch hinterfragt werden. […] Hier bietet die aus Frankreich stammende Wissenschaftsbewegung der ‚Economie des conventions‘ spannende Ansatzpunkte. Aus einer pragmatischen Perspektive wird insbesondere der Blick auf die Konventionen (im Sinne von Weltsichten, Normativitäten, Koordinationslogiken) gerichtet, die bei der Herstellung und Organisation von Wissen, Handlungen und Prozessen eine Rolle spielen (Boltanski und Thévenot 2007). In jüngerer Zeit gewinnt die Economie des conventions auch im deutschsprachigen Raum an Bedeutung (Diaz-Bone 2018a). Eine Verknüpfung zur Alter(n)sforschung steht noch aus.” (S. 23/Fußnote 12)

Lifestyle in a changing age. Impulses for an interdisciplinary social structure analysis of old age/aging

ABSTRACT

“Max Bolze is developing an interdisciplinary research program at the interface between age(s) and lifestyle research, which he characterizes as a social structure analysis of old age. The core is a multi-level model based on action theory for the analysis of lifestyles. This model makes it possible to grasp the social science discussion on social and cultural differentiation of age/aging more precisely in theoretical and conceptual terms and to make it empirically accessible. For this purpose, methodological and empirical approaches are being developed, which, through the integration of methods, can lead to an improvement in the type formation that is often problematic in lifestyle research.”

EXTRACT

“In my view, applied gerontology is fundamentally welcome as a field of research that contributes to improving the quality of life of older people. However, the modification of ageing should be more clearly separated from the value-free description and explanation of what older people do. The concepts used and the conventions that underlie them should always be observed and their production conditions and effects critically questioned in all approaches. […] Here the French-born scientific movement of the ‘Economie des conventions’ offers exciting starting points. From a pragmatic perspective, it focuses in particular on the conventions (in the sense of world views, normativities, coordination logics) that play a role in the production and organization of knowledge, actions and processes (Boltanski and Thévenot 2007). More recently, the Economie des conventions has also gained importance in the German-speaking world (Diaz-Bone 2018a). A link to research on ageing/research on age is still pending.” (p. 23/footnote 12)

Unternehmerische Ernährungskommunikation und -verantwortung. Eine konstruktivistische Betrachtung im Kontext von Nachhaltigkeit

Bartelmeß, Tina (2020)

Wiesbaden: Springer VS

ZUSAMMENFASSUNG

“Tina Bartelmeß untersucht Ernährungskommunikation von Unternehmen der Lebensmittelwirtschaft aus einer sozialkonstruktivistischen Perspektive. Anhand einer empirischen Studie zeigt sie neue Rollen und Funktionen der Ernährungskommunikation vor dem Hintergrund der Ziele einer nachhaltigen Entwicklung des Ernährungssystems auf. Dabei beleuchtet die Autorin insbesondere das Verhältnis zwischen unternehmerischer Verantwortungswahrnehmung und Kommunikation in Bezug auf Nachhaltigkeit. Sie untermauert die Notwendigkeit einer kommunikativen Wende in der Ernährungskommunikationsforschung.”

AUSZUG

“Die Integration institutioneller Denkweisen ermöglicht es, die Kernfunktionen der Un- ternehmenskommunikation besser zu verstehen und den Einfluss der institutionellen Umwelt auf Unternehmen im Rahmen ihrer Nachhaltigkeits- und Verantwortungsausle- gung zu betonen (Sandhu, 2009, S. 72f.). Insbesondere die Metatheorie institutioneller Logiken bietet Ankerpunkte, die eine Orientierung bei der rekonstruktiven Analyse der Nachhaltigkeitsinterpretationen bietet. Es fehlen jedoch noch konkrete empirisch-theo-retische Diskussionen, welche die Verbindung zwischen institutionellen Ordnungen bzw. Logiken und Handeln näher beschreiben und erklären können. Ähnliche Ansätze verfolgt die Soziologie der Konventionen (Diaz-Bone, 2014, 2018a, 2018b), die in wei-teren Analysen möglicherweise als nützlicher Theorierahmen dienen kann und darüber hinaus konkrete rekonstruktive Analysekonzepte, wie bspw. ‚semantische Marker‘ für höherliegende Koordinationsstrukturen, bietet.” (S. 329-330)

Corporate nutrition communication and responsibility. A constructivist approach in the context of sustainability.

ABSTRACT

“Tina Bartelmeß examines food communication by companies in the food industry from a social constructivist perspective. On the basis of an empirical study, she shows new roles and functions of food communication against the background of the goals of sustainable development of the food system. In doing so, the author illuminates in particular the relationship between corporate responsibility and communication with regard to sustainability. She substantiates the necessity of a communicative turnaround in nutrition communication research.”

EXTRACT

“The integration of institutional ways of thinking makes it possible to better understand the core functions of corporate communication and to emphasize the influence of the institutional environment on companies in the context of their interpretation of sustainability and responsibility (Sandhu, 2009, p. 72f.). In particular, the meta-theory of institutional logics offers anchor points that provide orientation for the reconstructive analysis of sustainability interpretations. However, concrete empirical-theoretical discussions are still lacking which could describe and explain the connection between institutional orders or logics and action in more detail. The sociology of conventions (Diaz-Bone, 2014, 2018a, 2018b) pursues similar approaches, which may serve as a useful theoretical framework in further analyses and also offers concrete reconstructive analysis concepts, such as ‘semantic markers’ for higher-level coordination structures.” (S. 329-330)

Financialization as a Socio-technical Process

Chiapello, Eve (2020)

In: Mader, Philip/Mertens, Daniel/van der Zwan Natascha (eds.): The Routledge International Handbook of Financialization. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 81-91.

“Introduction

The purpose of this chapter is to propose a particular understanding financialization, connected with a special approach to studying it. Financialization is often defined as a process of morphological transformation of capitalism, entailing the capture of resources by finance in the broadest sense through expansion of the financial markets, and a rise in the number and variety of financial operators. I propose a different definition taking into account the socio-technical elements involved. Financialization is understood in this article as a specific process of transforming the world, objects, organizations and the problems we encounter, by the introduction of ‘financialized’ practices, theories and instruments. The first part examines this definition more closely, explaining its positioning in relation to other approaches to financialization. The second part proposes a series of concepts to guide any empirical research claiming to belong to the approach presented here.”

What we talk about when we talk about culture: a multi-facet approach.

Simko, Christina/Olick, Jeffrey K. (2020)

In: American Journal of Cultural Sociology. Online first, pp. 1-29.

ABSTRACT

“Though the cultural turn is well behind us, sociologists of culture have yet to agree upon a clear definition of their subject. Recent efforts in this direction have characterized culture as a meta-concept, identifying and disentangling its constituent parts. Building on the two- and three-dimensional models that have emerged of late, while also taking stock of the longer history of sociology’s struggle to reconceptualize culture after Parsons, we argue that culture is best understood via a four-facet model. Culture, we argue, consists of discourse, which is oriented toward meaning, and practice, which is oriented toward action. But both discourse and practice have implicit and explicit dimensions: they consist of underlying generative structures and concrete manifestations. To demonstrate the four-facet model’s value for empirical analysis, we use it to address the high-profile methodological debates that have recently roiled the field, pitting ethnography, interviewing, and survey research against one another as the ideal mode of accessing culture writ large. Rather than arbitrating among methods, we show, the four-facet model specifies how each approach contributes to cultural analysis, facilitating conversation in places where disagreements currently appear intractable and underwriting methodological pluralism.”

EXTRACT

“Rather than establishing the ends we pursue, Swidler (1986, p. 277) argued, culture instead provides the means for action in the form of a cultural ‘toolkit’: a set of habits, repertoires, and skills that actors arrange to form ‘strategies of action,’ sets of ‘pre-fabricated links’ that orient our behavior. For instance, among middle-class Americans, decisions about love and marriage are not guided by a coherent overarching value system; instead, people draw upon a wide, and often contradictory, array of cultural materials in order to justify their actions (Swidler 2001). Kindred perspectives include work by Michèle Lamont, Laurent Thévenot, and Luc Boltanski on ‘repertoires’ and ‘modes of justification’ or ‘evaluation,’ which may be used to repair or avert breakdowns in social interaction (Boltanski and Thévenot 1999), to draw boundaries around race, class, and gender (Lamont 1992, 2000; Lamont and Thévenot 2000), or to evaluate art and literature (Lamont and Thévenot 2000), among other issues. […] Practices take explicit form when actors reflect consciously on the reasons and motivations for their behavior. Explicit-practical culture includes accounts and justifications (Boltanski and Thévenot 1999; […].” (pp. 5-6/12)

Urban Wellbeing in the Contemporary City.

Biloria, Nimish/Reddy, Prasuna/Fatimah, Yuti Ariani/Mehta, Dhrumil (2020)

In: Biloria, Nimish (ed.): Data-driven Multivalence in the Built Environment. Cham: Springer, pp. 317-335.

ABSTRACT

“The concept of well-being in the contemporary city refers to people’s ability to live healthy, creative and fulfilling lives. In this chapter, the intent is to understand theoretical perspectives about well-being research, essentially objective and subjective health and well-being of individuals in modern urban society. The emphasis is given to “non-medical” factors to determine the term by complex interactions between social, cultural, physical environments and individual behaviours. The chapter further indicates the tools and techniques adopted by researchers for measuring well-being emphasising the capability approach by Amartya Sen and Luc Boltanski’s approach on critical capacity. As a conclusion, based on the views and measures, the chapter suggests that addition of citizen science methodologies have potential utility for bridging objective and subjective perspectives of health and well-being, and influencing urban planning and design.”

Civil Society Organizations: the Site of Legitimizing the Common Good—a Literature Review

Egholm, Liv/Heyse, Liesbet/Mourey, Damien (2020)

In: Voluntas  31, pp. 1-18.

ABSTRACT

“The concept of legitimacy—i.e., being regarded as “lawful, admissible, and justified” (Edwards in NGO rights and responsibilities: a new deal for global governance, The Foreign Policy Center, London, 2000)—is pivotal within civil society research. Recently, the concept has applied to wider notions concerning the civil sphere and civic action. The introductory article of this special issue aims to provide an overview of conceptualizations of legitimacy within civil society research and to point at new avenues for future research. We depart from Suddaby et al.’s (Acad Manag Ann 11(1):451–478, 2017) configurations of legitimacy within management literature: as property, perception, and process. While these configurations are also reflected in civil society literature, with legitimacy as property being prominent, they do not capture the full scope of civil society literature on legitimacy, given its multidisciplinary nature, its inclusion of multiple levels of analysis, and the presence of complementary conceptualizations of legitimacy. We posit that the legitimacy-as-relations-in-processes perspective is valuable for advancing research in civil society organizations.”

EXTRACT

“The concept of legitimacy within CSOs has been linked to a “lawful, admissible, and justified organization” (Edwards 2000) and more recently discussed in the context of Alexander’s division between the civil and uncivil sphere (2006) and Lichterman and Eliasoph’s (2014) identifications of civic action. Historically, the legitimation of CSOs’ actions and existence is intertwined with stakeholder accountability, contemporary “regimes” of justification (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006), and the range of available institutional and organizational forms. Indeed, the emergence of legitimacy as a pivotal and popular concept speaking to so many different empirical and theoretical fields within the field of CSOs has often caused confusion when it comes to its conceptualization and its following empirical and theoretical claims.” (p. 1/2)

Exploiting Ambiguity: A Moral Polysemy Approach to Variation in Economic Practices

Altomonte, Guillermina (2020)

In: American Sociological Review. Online first, pp. 1-30.

ABSTRACT

“Sociologists have shown that the relationships people establish between moral orientations and market practices vary considerably across historical, geographic, and institutional contexts. Less attention has been paid to situational variation in how the same actors moralize different economic goals, especially in their workplace. This article offers an account of situational variation by theorizing the implications of the ambiguity of moral values for economic activity. I draw on the case of a post-acute care unit, where reimbursement policies create the contradictory demands of discharging elderly patients quickly while ensuring their safety to avoid re-hospitalization. Using ethnography and interviews, I show that the same actors switched between different normative evaluations of “independent aging” to legitimize divergent organizational goals. A shared understanding of autonomy as synonymous with “home” moralized the organizational mission of discharging patients off the unit. Expectations that elderly people attain independence by acknowledging need for assistance moralized the extension of services. Conversely, interpreting independence as a constellation of duties to be self-reliant moralized practices that lead to fast discharge. Based on these findings, I develop a framework of moral polysemy to analyze ambiguity as a resource for cooperation in organizations and a tool to expand understanding of moral economies.”

EXTRACT

“Attention to institutionalized frameworks shaping economic activity and meanings is at the heart of theories of institutional logics and orders of worth (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006; Friedland and Alford 1991). This perspective can be leveraged to account for contextual variation in how people moralize economic practices, by emphasizing the existence of competing principles of valuation— professional, corporate, market, and state, among others—from which organizational actors draw […].” (p. 4)

The Moral Limits of Predictive Practices: The Case of Credit-Based Insurance Scores

Kiviat, Barbara (2019)

In: American Sociological Review 84(6), pp. 1134-1158.

ABSTRACT

“Corporations gather massive amounts of personal data to predict how individuals will behave so that they can profitably price goods and allocate resources. This article investigates the moral foundations of such increasingly prevalent market practices. I leverage the case of credit scores in car insurance pricing—an early and controversial use of algorithmic prediction in the U.S. consumer economy—to unpack the premise that predictive data are fair to use and to understand the conditions under which people are likely to challenge that moral logic. Policymaker resistance to credit-based insurance scores reveals that contention arises when predictions depend on mathematical distinctions that do not align with broader understandings of good and bad behavior, and when theories about why predictions work point to the market holding people accountable for actions that are not really their fault. Via a de-commensuration process, policymakers realign the market with their own notions of moral deservingness. This article thus demonstrates the importance of causal understanding and moral categorization for people accepting markets as fair. As data and analytics permeate markets of all sorts, as well as other domains of social life, these findings have implications for how social scientists understand the novel forms of stratification that result.”

EXCTRACT

“These new market arrangements embody particular moral understandings that can be used to justify the system as well as any inequality it produces. Key among these is the idea that algorithmic predictions help allocate economic resources in a manner that provides consumers with the right prices and opportunities (Mayer-Schönberger and Cukier 2013). Companies explain data mining and prediction as a way to customize what individuals get—a way to anticipate people’s preferences, needs, and wants, and present what is most relevant (Cohen 2013; Seaver 2015; Zwick and Knott 2009). Yet right means more than well-matched. The data fed into algorithms are tied to individuals and their “behavior,” a way of understanding action that implies deliberate decisions for which people can be legitimately held to account (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006). Fourcade and Healy (2017:24) argue that the mass use of personal data therefore inculcates an “economy of moral judgment” in which “outcomes are experienced as morally deserved positions based on prior good actions and good tastes.” An individual rightly reaps the rewards or suffers the ill effects of her data because it is her data. Moreover, the method of moving from data to decision—computation—“seems dispassionate, impartial and objective” (Fourcade and Healy 2017:17), bolstering the sense that predictions indicate not only what people will want, but also what they ought to get. […] In this article, I investigate the moral economy of algorithmic prediction by studying public policy debates. The value of studying such debates is that as social actors justify their actions and ideas and challenge those of others, they draw on taken-for-granted understandings, thus articulating assumptions and worldviews that otherwise might remain in the background (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006; Swidler 1986).” (p. 1137/1141)

Withdrawal as Dissident Politics

Wallmeier, Philip/Fielitz, Maik (2019)

In: Anderl, Felix/Daase, Christopher/Deitelhoff, Nicole/Kempf, Victor/Pfister, Jannik/Wallmeier, Philip (eds), Rule and Resistance Beyond the Nation State. Contestation, Escalation, Exit. Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 205-219.

EXCTRACT

“We aim to understand the 1960s communards’ practices as a radicalisation of critique by building on the sociology of critique, especially as articulated by Luc Boltanski (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006; Boltanski and Chiapello 2007). Following Boltanski, we understand the formation of critique as a process on two levels (Wallmeier 2017, 150–53). On the first, personal, level, critique is acted out bodily when actors’ lives can no longer continue as before. This shift is often prompted by indignation. In a second step, however, the individual must generalise her suffering, translate her personal sense of indignation into a problem of general concern. This means that the critic must refer to societal ideas, norms, and values of some kind in order to convince others that her particular indignation is not just an unfortunate private incident or tragedy, but rather part of a general social or political pattern. By referring to societal norms and values, actors can establish a collective capable of practicing resistance. In this framework, an ‘oppositional’ critique would reference norms and values that are institutionalised in the circumstances in a politically legitimate way. A radical critique, on the other hand, would criticise the situation with reference to norms that are foreign to those circumstances and perform this critique in an unconventional or seemingly illegitimate way. Radicalisation refers to a shift from one kind of critique to the other.” (p. 209)

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The Sign, Beyond the Signal: How the State, Small Businesses and a Frog Participated in Labelling in the Home Retrofit Market.

Mallard, Alexandre/Francès Jean/Tricoire Aurélie (2020)

In: Laurent, Brice/Mallard, Alexandre (eds.), Labelling the Economy. Qualities and Values in Contemporary Markets. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 151-183.

EXTRACT

“Spence showed that specific categories of information displayed in the market by suppliers are prone to generate a signal enabling the buyers to distinguish between products of different quality. Although these research works didn’t deal with labels properly speaking, they laid the basis for their later analysis in the frameworks of neo-institutional economics or the economics of convention: a label was conceived as a piece of information operating as a signal, that could be institutionalized in the market in order to explicitly guide all the actors in their transactions, help them to overcome information asymmetry and generate trust. This analytic orientation explains the plethora of research assuming that market signalling is the right framework to deal with labels (Caswell and Mojduszka 1996; Raynaud et al. 2002).” (p. 153-154)

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Labelling Agroecology: A Study of Valuation Processes in Developing Countries.

Allison, Marie Loconto (2020)

In: Laurent, Brice/Mallard, Alexandre (eds.), Labelling the Economy. Qualities and Values in Contemporary Markets. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 59-90.

EXTRACT

“In this sense, value is the result of a process of assessing and producing worth for the parties of the exchange (Vatin 2013), rather than a fixed attribute of a good or service that is exchanged (Muniesa 2011, 2014). Value is negotiated and is always a compromise between quality and worth (Fourcade 2011). Put differently, value is an achievement, the result of interactions within a socio-technical agencement (Callon et al. 2013) that enables it to be stabilized and have meaning for actors (Loconto 2015). Valuation processes are dynamic activities where a value is attached to a given item that turns it from an object without any declared value into a product that can be traded at an agreed-upon price or other equivalent means of exchange. Much like the process of attachment and detachment processes of singularization (Callon et al. 2002), this approach essentially ‘bring[s] order to mere differences’ or ‘classifies’ agroecology (Kjellberg et al. 2013). Conventions theory argues that a market exchange is only possible when there is some agreement about the ‘quality’ of the products to be traded and devices for quality assessment (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006 [1991]).” (p. 62)

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Contested Terrain: The Ongoing Struggles over Food Labels, Standards and Standards for Labels

Busch, Lawrence (2020)

In: Laurent, Brice/Mallard, Alexandre (eds.), Labelling the Economy. Qualities and Values in Contemporary Markets. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 33-58.

EXTRACT

“Importantly, only some of these actors are directly concerned with markets. More often, each appeals to different ‘worlds’ to support their actions. As Boltanski and Thévenot (2006 [1991]) and Walzer (1983) have shown, no single world can encompass all the accepted notions of justice that we humans employ. Instead, we find that clashes occur among these different worlds.” (p. 45)

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The Voinnet Affair: Testing the Norms of Scientific Image Management.

Guaspare-Cartron, Catherine/Didier, Emmanuel (2020)

In: Biagioli, Mario/Lippman, Alexandra (eds.), Gaming the metrics. Misconduct and Manipulation in Academic Research. Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 157‑167. Open Access.

EXTRACT

“The literature offers some explanations for the apparent increase of misconduct cases (Steen, Casadevall, and Fang, 2013). One could argue that the barriers to publication have been lowered in the last twenty years or so, thus letting more scientists publish fraudulent articles. But this argument has limitations. First, it does not explain why the barriers to publications have been lowered. Second, over the same period, we have witnessed a series of public scandals triggered by findings of misconduct. Given that one of the social functions of scandal is precisely to enforce norms (Dampierre, 1954; Molotch and Lester, 1973; Boltanski, Claverie, and Offenstadt, 2007; Adut, 2008), we should not expect to find scandals if there was a simple lowering of the quality requirements in science. A different explanation is offered by the scientists themselves who often complain that they are under pressure, which may tempt them to produce subquality science. But the problem with the word “pressure” (which, by the way, is shared with many other professions from the police to medical doctors [Bruno and Didier, 2013]) is that it is mainly a complaint, a denunciation. It is not analytical. Our hypothesis is that certain dimensions of the practice of science have experienced important transformations in the last twenty years, caused in part by the performative effects of metrics. These innovations have blurred the previous norms regulating scientific practices. At the same time, a new ecology (Star, 1995) of watchdogs and fraud detection has emerged that gives increased visibility to cases of misconduct, which in turn stir public controversies or “affairs” through which norms are re-instantiated.” (p. 157/158)

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Training for Work at the Margins of the Projective City

Marhuenda-Fluixá, Fernando/Molpeceres-Pastor, Ángeles (2020)

In Rachwał, Tadeusz/Hepp, Rolf/Kergel, David (eds.), Precarious Places. Social, Cultural and Economic Aspects of Uncertainty and Anxiety in Everyday Life. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp. 51-71.

ABSTRACT

“Drawing upon the work by Boltanski and Chiapello and Boltanski and Thévenot, the training provision that is offered in Spain both to vulnerable youth and to socially excluded adults is analyzed here. It is too often the case that trainers in those programs work under temporary contracts. The reason for this is that the institutions they work for, often Non Governmental Organizations but also municipalities or trade unions, work under the so called projective city—i.e., a connectionist rationale. This fact has an impact upon the notion of work that these trainers portray to trainees attending their vocational training schemes, on-the-job training as well as guidance support. It is also the case that multiple and competing demands placed upon such institutions and trainers result in a fragile balance that seriously threatens their effectiveness. If transition programs and processes from education into work for vulnerable people are settled upon precarious conditions, they may be questioned for attempting control rather than transformative or emancipatory practices. The role of work as an axis for integration policies and for social inclusion is therefore under scrutiny, particularly when the trainees occupy the lowest levels of qualification and their employability will hardly compete with that of people that have not undergone processes of social exclusion. Precarity affects both the youth and adult themselves as the trainers and institutions trying to foster their employability. Raising consciousness about these issues might allow those providing vocational training in the margins of the educational and training system to those in the margins of society to perform their work in alternative ways.”

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