Des critiques populaires aux critiques populistes

Julien Charles (2018)

CriDIS Working Papers n°73

Cette étude prend pour point de départ les critiques émises par les ouvriers à l’égard de leur management au sein d’une usine du groupe Caterpillar. Elle s’intéresse aux types de communauté qui soutiennent différentes modalités d’expression du doute, en portant attention à leur articulation aux discours syndicaux.
Capitalisant sur cette analyse, l’auteur propose quelques comparaisons avec les critiques formulées par les plusieurs mouvements populistes (en Finlande, en Italie et aux Etats-Unis). Cette confrontation permet d’ouvrir des pistes de réflexion autour de la provocation comme forme commune aux critiques populaires et populistes, imposant par là un décalage important avec les analyses classiques du populisme en termes de comportements électoraux ou corpus idéologiques.

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Alternative-substitute business models and the provision of local infrastructure: Alterity as a solution to financialization and public-sector failure

John R. Bryson, Rachel A. Mulhall, Meng Song, Becky P.Y. Loo, Richard J. Dawson & Christopher D.F. Rogers (2018)

Geoforum, Vol. 95, p. 25-34

Abstract. Everyday living is supported by an array of services provided by a complex local infrastructure nexus that is financed and funded by the public, private and third sectors. The on-going debate on the financialization of infrastructure has neglected to explore the provision of local infrastructure in places experiencing infrastructural exclusion. This paper seeks to contribute toward filling this gap by exploring local infrastructure in the UK that has been provided by blending non-capitalist with capitalist activities. In other words, the provision of local infrastructure using an ‘alternative’ approach that attempts to address infrastructure exclusion by filling gaps in the provision of local infrastructure. The question is: how is infrastructure provided when it does not meet either a value for money calculation undertaken by the state or does not meet the investment criteria required by capital markets? This paper is the first to develop a dialogue between three unrelated literatures – financialization, business models and alterity – by developing a conceptual framework for exploring local infrastructure that is provided by alternative-substitute business models. The paper explores this approach through the analysis of two alternative infrastructure projects – Broadband 4 the Rural North and Malvern’s heritage gas lamps.

Keywords : Local infrastructure; Alterity; Business models; Alternatives; Non-monetized inputs; Financialization; Finance; Funding; Broadband; Street lighting

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SGBF / SGL (Swiss Society of Educational Research/ Swiss Society of Teacher Training) Annual Congress in Zurich 2018

The “Économie des Conventions” in Education Research

Lea Zehnder & Philipp Gonon (University of Zurich)

From 27 to 29 June 2018, the annual congress of the Swiss Society for Educational Research and the Swiss Society for Teacher Training took place at the University of Zurich, hosted by the Institute of Education. Two paper presentations, which depicted the rise and development of different types of baccalaureate schemes with weaker and stronger links to vocational education and training in Switzerland referred to conventions as unfolded in the “Justification”- Book of Boltanski and Thévenot (translated in German 2007). Furthermore, the key-note speech, held by Elisabeth Chatel, highlighted the struggle over the aims of economic and social topics as a subject in French high schools (lycées).

Regula Julia Leemann and Sandra Hafner from the School of Teacher Education Department of the University of Applied Sciences Basel (Switzerland) presented their work, which focused on positioning and profiling the upper-secondary specialized school (Fachmittelschule). The upper-secondary specialized school is a very young type of school in the Swiss educational system that imparts general education and provides its graduates access to Colleges of Professional Education and Training (Höhere Fachschulen), Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen) or Universities of Teacher Education (Pädagogische Hochschulen). Analyzing the genesis of this new type of school they presented three historical situations in detail. Back in the beginning of the 1970ies and during ten years, the main intention was to sum up the Helvetic Mosaic of 30 school types into one standard-model that focuses general interest (civic convention). They identified a tension between regional variation and national convergence. The standardization refers to the industrial convention and also to the civic convention. Back in the 1990ies a claim for more cantonal autonomy raised, in particular regarding admission to schools of education. Respecting regional tradition refers particularly more to domestic convention and in the logic of supply-demand to the market convention. Thus, the main arguments fit quite well to these different worlds of worth. The present structure is characterized by a plasticity that integrates plural rationalities, logics of action, and orders of worth.

Regula Leemann and Sandra Hafner listening to the presentation of Moritz Rosenmund (image: Manon Criblez)

Research on the linking of general education and vocational education was the focus of Lea Zehnder, University of Zurich (Switzerland). She presented her work on the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate (eidgenössische Berufsmaturität) that was introduced in the Swiss educational system in the early 1990ies. The certificate enables graduates to enter the world of work directly or to transfer to specific academic programs at Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen). Statistical data show disparate amounts of issuing this certificate in the cantons of Switzerland. Considering only vocational education tracks, French speaking cantons issue more certificates than German speaking cantons. Three case studies, focusing the process of attributing worth and quality to this certificate in the cantons of Zurich, Geneva, and Neuchâtel, gave a detailed insight into different understandings of the public educational mandate. Actors in the canton of Zurich emphasize an industry-related and performance-based interpretation of the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate and mobilize industrial and market conventions. While Actors in the French speaking cantons Geneva and Neuchâtel attach more importance to a collective claim that this Vocational Baccalaureate should simplify access to tertiary education (mobilizing civic convention).

Elisabeth Chatel holding her keynote speech at University of Zurich (image: Manon Criblez)

Within her keynote speech, Elisabeth Chatel from IDHES, Ecole Normale Supérieure Saclay, Paris (France) focused on curriculum development: “the economic and social sciences in French high schools (lycées) from 1966 to the present day”. Her historical reconstruction of the introduction of SES (Science of Economy and Social Sciences) in the 1960s in France depicted a remarkable change from the central aim of schooling to develop a critical personality, who is learning and reflecting social and economic knowledge towards a propaedeutic teaching for the study of economics at university. Whereas originally researchers in the spirit of the “Annales”-School designed a curriculum which stressed the topical and historically grown phenomena of our days the reform of 2011 driven by economic experts and prominent economic leaders replaced this approach by a methodological and instrumental oriented syllabus. Interestingly the teachers refuse this “official” new approach and still stick to a more pedagogical and critical access to this subject. Elisabeth Chatel referred to the new spirit of capitalism, and the hereby included conventions like industry, network and market, which were and are the orders of worth the different actors refer to.

All in all, the EC-approach was present and delivered a powerful framework in explaining developments in the education system which drifts towards a more neo-liberal model.

Philipp Gonon (co-organizer of the congress), Elisabeth Chatel, and Regula Leemann enjoying the panoramic view over the city of Zurich from Polyterrasse, Federal Institute of Technology and Zurich University (image: Philipp Gonon)

Upcoming publication (2018)

Imdorf, Christian, Leemann, Regula Julia & Gonon, Philipp (Eds.). Bildung und Konventionen. Die « Économie des Conventions » in der Bildungsforschung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

Workshop „Praktiken, Konventionen, Multinormativität. Historische Perspektiven“, Munich 21/22 June 2018

Rainer Diaz-Bone (Lucerne)

Thomas Duve (director at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, Frankfurt) and Marian Füssel (fellow at Historisches Kolleg, Munich) organized a workshop „Praktiken, Konventionen, Multinormativität. Historische Perspektiven“ which took place 21/22 June 2018 at Historisches Kolleg Munich. Marian Füssel presented the approach of practice theory, Thomas Duve introduced the notion of multinormativity and Rainer Diaz-Bone introduced economics of conventions. It was inspiring to realize that all three concepts could be easily related to ongoing research in the field especially of legal history, focusing on pluralism of legal reasoning, emphasizing the importance of social practices, materiality, objects and opening new research perspectives.

Round about a dozen scholars from history, legal history, law science, sociology and psychology were invited to present ongoing research and relate it to the three concepts of practices, conventions and multinormativity. (See Program Multinormativity)

From left to right: T. Duve, A. Brendecke, D. Erben, S. Rüther, T. Neu, H. Sonkajärvi, G. Bender, C. Behrmann, D. Damler, M. Füssel, A. Collin, R. Diaz-Bone

Stronger applications of EC were presented by Tim Neu (Bochum), who argued about the methodological advantages, using convention theory in the analysis of the emergence of a regional constitution (landständische Verfassung) in Hessen in the 17th and 18th century. Also Hanna Sönkarjärvi (Rio de Janeiro) applied convention theory in her study of the practices of commercial justice in the 19th century in Brazil. Participants critically evaluated convention theory as an approach in the field of legal history. It was interesting to attend to other research presentations in the intersection(s) of history, law science and legal history. The atmosphere at the Munich Kolleg was supporting this intense exchange.

L’industrialisation de la médecine libérale : une approche par l’Économie des conventions

Nicolas Da Silva (2018)

Management & Avenir Santé, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 13-30.

Résumé. Cet article propose d’analyser l’industrialisation de la médecine libérale à partir du cadre théorique de l’économie des conventions. L’industrialisation du secteur se donne à voir à travers les réformes visant à réguler les pratiques médicales autour du respect de standards quantifiés de qualité des soins. Tout se passe comme si le soin était un produit homogène facilement réplicable d’un patient à un autre, indépendamment de leurs singularités. Plutôt que de considérer ce mouvement comme une « rationalisation », nous montrons qu’il s’agit d’une modification de la convention de qualité des soins médicaux – d’une convention inspirée/domestique à une convention industrielle. Également légitimes, la délibération ou le compromis entre ces deux conventions devraient faire l’objet d’un débat politique, ce qui n’est pas le cas. Pis, dans le contexte actuel, il est fort probable que l’industrialisation des soins, qui est une réponse à des critiques légitimes de la convention inspirée/domestique, devienne un accélérateur de la marchandisation des soins – celle-ci étant néfaste tant pour les malades que pour les professionnels.

1 – Le paradigme de l’Économie des conventions et les conventions de qualité
2 – De la sociologie des professions à la convention de qualité des soins inspirée/domestique
3 – La convention de qualité des soins industrielle
4 – Convention de qualité des soins inspirée/domestique versus industrielle
5 – L’industrialisation, accélérateur de la marchandisation des soins de ville ?


Abstract. The aim of this article is to analyze the industrialization of physician private practice from the French convention theory framework. This industrialization can be illustrated by recent reforms seeking to regulate medical practice around the respect of quantified and standardized norms of quality of health care. Everything happens as if health care was a homogenous product easily reproducible from one patient to another – irrespective to their singularities. Rather than considering it to be a “rationalization”, we show that it is a modification of the health care convention of quality – from inspired/domestic convention to industrial convention. Equally legitimate, deliberation or compromise between theses conventions should be the subject of a political debate, which is not the case. Worst, in the actual context, it is likely that industrialization, which is a response to legitimates critics, become an accelerator of commodification – harmful for patients and for physicians.

Lien vers Cairn / Link to

Book review of « Schlüsselwerke der Wirtschaftssoziologie »

Andrea Mennicken (2018)

Economic Sociology – The European Electronic Newsletter 19(3), pp. 51-53

Review of Klaus Kraemer and Florian Brugger (eds) (2017): Schlüsselwerke der Wirtschaftssoziologie. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

Excerpt: « In the past forty years or so, economic sociology has flourished as a field of study in its own right. Stimulated by the birth of “the new economic sociology” in the United States in the 1980s, the rise of the “economy of conventions” approach in France, and various returns to classical German economic sociological approaches (Marx, Weber, Sombart, Simmel), economic sociology has matured into a vibrant, internationally established sub-discipline with its own sections, study programmes, journals, and newsletters […]. The handbook also contains essays on the French regulation school (Boyer and Saillard), Bourdieu’s study of the social structure of the economy, Boltanski and Chiapello’s “New Spirit of Capitalism,” and overviews of key works from the “economy of conventions” research programme (Storper and Salais, Boltanski and Thévenot, Orléans, Eymard-Duvernay). »

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Neo-structural economic sociology beyond embeddedness – Relational infrastructures and social processes in markets and market institutions

ORIO Network: Julien Brailly, Catherine Comet, Sébastien Delarre, Fabien Eloire, Guillaume Favre, Emmanuel Lazega, Lise Mounier, Jaime Montes-Lihn, Mohamed Oubenal, Elise Penalva-Icher, Alvaro Pina-Stranger (2018)

Economic Sociology – The European Electronic Newsletter, 19(3)

Introduction. In contemporary economies, a majority of individuals, organizations, and institutions participating in economic production, exchange, and consumption are thrust into open forms of competition imposed by contemporary capitalisms; in other words, neoliberal public authorities and global companies shaping the contexts and lives of smaller, less powerful actors. To dominate and/or survive, all have strong incentives to play complex games of cooperation among competitors. Along with capital, labor, and natural resources, cooperation among competitors is seen here as a “fourth factor of production.” The research program focusing on this phenomenon combines White’s (1981, 2001) perspective on production markets extended to the “Economie des Conventions” (Favereau, 1994, 2002) with a theory of collegiality as collective action among rival peers (Lazega, 2001), thus bringing together structure, culture, and agency (individual and collective) in a new way. In order to accomplish this, we define markets as both bureaucratic and collegial (Lazega and Mounier, 2002), and socio-economic relationships both as channels for heterogeneous resources and as symbolic commitments that have to build their credibility. These commitments are equivalent to a promise, an obligation, or a convention introducing time into the exchange of resources. They rely on social control and conflict resolution to make such commitments credible. […]

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Food safety, agro industries, and China’s international trade: A standard-based approach

Louis Augustin-Jean & Lei Xie (2018)

China information, Online first

Abstract. Economic sociology views markets as organizations characterized by power relations. In this framework, competition is not only for price or quality, but also for market structures, including norms and standards. Food standards, therefore, are not only public goods or tools to protect domestic markets, but they also aim to redesign the rules of the market and provide a competitive advantage to firms and national industries: they are part of the politicization of science. This article argues that China is participating in this form of competition. Since its WTO membership, it has gradually learnt the rules of globalization and has implemented many global standards to benefit from international trade. In recent years, however, it has assumed a more proactive role in reframing international standards of agro-food markets in general and food safety in particular, despite existing problems in its domestic food markets. Three case studies – milk imports; the diplomatic and trade competition for the implementation of a ractopamine (an additive in pig and cattle feed) standard; and the current negotiations for new international standards for cotton – show how China is using different strategies and methods to redesign the shape of international trade.

Keywords: food safety, regulatory standards, international trade, politicization of science, economics of convention, agro-food products

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9th Workshop Sociology of Conventions: Pluralities of Conventions

Sandra Hafner (School of Teacher Education Basel, Northwestern Switzerland)

On 14 and 15 June 2018, the workshop ‘Sociology of Conventions’ took place in Hamburg for the second time. This ninth edition was hosted by Esther Berner and her team from the chair of Educational Science at the Helmut-Schmidt University of the German Federal Armed Forces. Esther welcomed us warmly at the officers’ mess and introduced into this year’s workshop topic, “Pluralities of Conventions”. It was inspired by the observation, that since the original publication of On Justification by Boltanski & Thévenot in 1991, the areas of application of Convention Theory have multiplied. Hence, this year’s workshop specifically evolved around issues of the double complexity of orders of worth and regimes of engagement, the status of coordination principles with and without semantic content – especially in times of digitalization, and the possible emergence of a new bio(s)-convention. Tackling new and open questions right at the core of Convention Theory, the workshop group was very happy to welcome Laurent Thévenot as a keynote speaker and much valued contributor to all workshop discussions.

Esther Berner opened the workshop with the first sketch of a preliminary research plan about the qualification of the officer in Western Germany after World War II. As nowadays the German Armed Forces are under increased pressure to legitimate themselves as representatives of military forces in a democratic state, she strives to investigate pragmatic situations of negotiation in the highly conflicted field of the military. She assumed that in this highly equipped (e.g. clothing, badges, architecture, language) field, competent actors construct qualities in a discursive manner with reference to the material equipment as well as cognitive forms and classifications, which leads to a specific type of subjectification for the German soldier. Conceptualizing this constellation as a specific dispositive of education, training and leadership, Esther envisaged conducting a dispositive analysis by complementing a Foucauldian with a conventionalist perspective.

Esther Berner introducing the workshop group to the location

Nina Pohler (Humboldt University of Berlin) and Sam van Elk (King’s College London) presented findings about how management consultants handle the conflicting regimes of familiar engagement (creating local solutions, engaging in on-site networks, being ‘insiders’) and planned action (being ‘outside’ standardizers, perception as experts) in their everyday work. They identified five key practices how management consultants deal with the conflicting regimes of engagement: narrowing regime differences, rebalancing of regimes, creating & deploying mediating forms, precipitating blurred visions, and attacking conventional-particular links. In the discussion, questions about the distinction between conventions and regimes of engagements emerged, as well as how possible symptoms of the constant struggle to handle the conflicting regimes could look like.

After the coffee break, the first two Method and Research Question Spaces of the workshop took place. Katharina Pernkopf and Dominik Zellhofer (Vienna University of Economics and Business) raised questions about the interplay of EC concepts and how to capture them empirically, particularly grasping regimes of engagements in interview situations. They shared their considerations on the ‘how to’ of the interview itself (scene setting, interview partners, research bias) as well as identifying and reconstructing regimes of engagement on the basis of interview data.

The presented interview excerpts triggered a discussion about the interview itself as an appropriate tool to shed light on regimes of engagement, considering the format itself as a complex situation of double coordination. Hence, a more ethnographic research strategy was proposed, and questions about the status of language and discourse in different regimes emerged.

Dominik Zellhofer and Katharina Pernkopf

In her Method and Research Question Space, Anna Gonon (University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland) presented an ongoing research project about the employability of unskilled workers, which was initiated by Eva Nadai. She discussed employability as the result of evaluation of workers’ abilities by employers and intermediaries and raised the question whether it is possible to uncover and conceptualize workers’ skills that are not valued and remain hidden in the construction of employability. Although this question remained open, the discussion pointed to the EC framework as suitable for questions on how to frame ‘skills’, how skills are constructed through a situation, and how these situations match workers. Among the many interesting contributions in the discussion, the idea of different ‘power(s) of valorization’ emerged as a promising concept

The participants enjoying lunch at the officer’s refectory

After a hearty meal at the officer’s refectory, Sandra Hafner (School of Teacher Education Northwestern Switzerland) presented some preliminary results of her current PhD project about the valorization of two different school types on upper secondary level, that lead into teacher education studies at tertiary level. Looking a few decades back, one of the two educational tracks showed to be rather ‘unwanted’ in the political debate, but surprisingly, nevertheless was institutionalized. Sandra applied a conventionalist perspective on teacher education governance and showed that due to educational federalism, a plurality of historically relevant conventions had to be respected. Their integration into a materialized compromise in the form of regulations allowed the second pathway to get institutionalized in spite of being target to major critique.

Raffaella Esposito (School of Teacher Education Northwestern Switzerland) put up for discussion an issue that she struggled with during the analysis of empirical data from her PhD project. In that data, she found that different actors mutually critiqued each other on the basis of the same convention – the domestic order of worth. To be able to proceed in her analysis, she proposed a further differentiation of the domestic convention in the field of education, consisting of a school-based and a company-based dimension of the domestic convention. Her inspiring and demonstrative talk triggered a lively discussion, which led to the broad agreement that it might be worth it to have a closer look at compromises between different conventions and regimes of engagement in this case.

Raffaella Esposito illustrating the challenge with her empirical data

After another coffee break, Karolin Kappler (University of Hagen) and Valeska Cappel (University of Lucerne) opened the first Roundtable of the workshop, which was concerned with the issue of power in political economy of health and social insurance. As a result of their ongoing research on self-tracking via health apps, its effects on everyday practices and its role in social insurance, they shared their considerations from a conventionalist perspective. As former research on self-tracking had been mainly focused on the Foucauldian technologies of the self, health apps could also be seen as form of critique eroding power of dominant constellations by questioning its legitimacy. Further, it was discussed if the emergence of health apps and self-tracking could lead to a new bio(s)-convention, whose common good could be named as ”self-care”. Likewise, this development could also imply new characteristics for classifications through health apps, where questions of form-investments as standards with no semantic foundation, issues of scope in a digitalized world, and related practices by actors and algorithms would have to be tackled.

The first day ended with a very inspiring lecture of Laurent Thévenot (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales EHESS, Paris), which was open to public and attracted quite a few students and professors from the Helmut-Schmidt University and members of the general public. In his presentation titled Making the World Calculable and Valuable. The Power of Plural Conventions, Thévenot argued that in the example of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the political debate between disputing citizens engaging in favor of plural conceptions of the common good has been replaced by the individual consumers’ choice between certified market goods. To analyze the processes in question, he suggested a dual approach to the dynamics of a) personalities and b) communities. Whereas different regimes of engagement are perceived as components of a composite and conflicting personality and stabilize a dynamic personal identity, grammars of commonality characterize different ways of maintaining a composite community. According to Thévenot, these two analytical tools offer a dual view of the dynamics of complex personal identities and composite conflicting communities, which is needed to account for the current modes of governing selves and communities and the debate about the so-called neoliberal governance.

After this very intensive first day, everyone enjoyed a hearty dinner at the restaurant Zum Alten Lotsenhaus at the Harbor of Hamburg.

The workshop participants waiting for a well-deserved dinner

The second day began with Anna Schneider (University of Innsbruck) presenting her current research on employee’s evaluation of job quality in the tourism and hospitality sector, based on the empirical problem of the ”leisure time/ leisure work paradox” – who is actually willing to work at places where others pass their holidays. In contrast to existing models that perceive job attributes and qualities as inherently given, Anna and colleagues argue that employees are not only subject to valorization by market organizations, but themselves evaluate jobs drawing on different conventions.

Anna Schneider explaining the “leisure time / leisure work paradox”

Based on a conjoint based experiment and cluster analysis, they found that features of the civic, domestic and the green convention seem most important from the employee’s perspective. After discussing the possible impact of such findings for the field of tourism, the workshop participants shared their view about operationalizing EC concepts in quantitative research, methodological challenges of Convention Theory, and further analytical approaches that could be promising for EC research.

In the second Roundtable of the workshop, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Lisa Knoll, Katharina Pernkopf and Laurent Thévenot shared their view on the issue of plurality from a conventionalist perspective.

Roundtable II: Laurent Thévenot, Katharina Pernkopf, Lisa Knoll, Rainer Diaz-Bone

Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne) emphasized that from a conventionalist perspective, pluralism is to be understood as a co-existing reality of different worlds and ontologies rather than a single principle dominating a certain area of society (e.g. market convention in the market). He highlighted that a real pluralist perspective would necessarily have to take a closer look at combinations, constellations and different articulations of various conventions, where one principle could be shown as hegemonic but nevertheless be linked and intertwined with others. Further, he argued that in the context of plurality, there are also different kinds of coordination logics to consider – such with semantic and moral content like the orders of worth, but also other structuring and coordinating principles like standards without distinct semantics. Lisa Knoll (University of Hamburg) linked these considerations to the previous discussion about digitalization, and how the phenomenon of techniques and algorithms leave Convention Theory with a problem – that there are standards and classifications which detract from evaluation and critique. Regarding the rise of digitalization, the pluralism of conventions and standards, the presented research about self-tracking and the possible emergence of a new ”bio(s)-convention”, she also asked about the need to reconsider the eugenic body of thought as a part of the conventionalist framework again. Katharina Pernkopf noted that not only the theoretical framework of Convention Theory, but also the research community itself is becoming increasingly pluralist in the way EC concepts are used and tailored to one’s own research interest. From her perspective, this pluralism of concepts and areas of application on one hand are fruitful and liberating, on the other hand could hinder bringing across arguments to other research communities. Therefore, a more clear and structured (and for once more structuralist than pragmatist) overview over the different complexities and linkages between EC concepts could be worth striving for, integrating pluralities of conventions, regimes, grammars and the respective principles of critique and coordination. Answering to Lisa’s thoughts on eugenics, Laurent Thévenot explained that it originally was excluded from the orders of worth because of its contradiction to the principle of a common humanity. Nevertheless, the eugenic body of thought is still existing, and from a conventionalist and therefore pluralist perspective it is worth it to keep an eye on kinds of valuation that escape the common humanity based grammar. Further, he also shared his thoughts on power in the face of plural conventions, regimes and grammars. He argued that as soon as coordination takes place, there is some form of power involved – especially when the semantic content of the coordination principle is not obvious. The following discussion ended with the general agreement, that it would be interesting to have a closer look on ”empty signifiers” in the sense of coordination principles and/or standards without obvious semantic content and how they are de-semantisized in coordination situations.

After the round table, Qamar Ali (University of Innsbruck) presented his current research, in which he applies the conventionalist approach to explain how individual actors exert power in public negotiations and to what extent they were successful. After going through classical power paradigms, he shared his considerations on how Convention Theory could complement current approaches to power analysis. Drawing on data from negotiations on developing a teachers housing society in a Pakistani University, he showed how actors endowed with critical capacities were able to ‘open their eyes’ in a coordination situation. He illustrated how the situation was defined by a multitude of conventions, regimes of engagement, actors and objects, and how power as well as critique were reinforced due to this situations’ specific equipment.

Quamar Ali on power from a conventionalist perspective

In the parallel Method and Research Question Space, Guy Schwegler (University of Lucerne) presented a first draft and current state of his PhD project on extended performativity within music. After an introduction into the change happening within music from a bourgeois, to a modern and now a post-modern era, Schwegler went on to introduce the performative effects of social theory happening in music. As a result of this effects, Schwegler claimed, a new field of expertise for social science and music emerged where social theory is not only used, but also advanced. Artists and music critics lead this new field, whereas academic knowledge on social process for and in music is more and more left behind. So far, the PhD project mostly is informed by ideas of Actor Network Theory – like Callon’s performative effects –, while possible roles for EC were discussed after the presentation. Another major point introduced by Laurent Thévenot in the discussion was whether or not this new field is building up expertise and whether and how academic knowledge can still differ from that expertise.

Guy Schwegler receiving advice from Laurent Thévenot

After lunch, the workshop group again split up into two parallel sessions. Kenneth Horvath and Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne) presented Hilary Putnam’s concept of ”epistemic values” and discussed its relevance for Convention Theory. This concept’s goal is to analyze values underlying social science’s methodology. The values determine for example how research in itself should work and be done – independently of qualitative or quantitative approaches –, what results should be or what a good research questions is. Horvath and Diaz-Bone’s goal was to show the value-laden construction of empirical data through epistemic values and how these values are a starting point for all research. Furthermore, the idea is to look into conventions as a base for these values. This project, they claimed, is a necessary effect of pragmatist thinking. Following Putnam and his 2002 The Collapse Of The Fact Value Dichotomy they were trying to show a continuity between facts and values — and not a separation of the two. Their own empirical application of the concept will focus on law and judges’ decisions in courts. The discussion that followed the presentation mostly revolved around the clarification of what these epistemic values are and where they are visible although hardly discussed in general.

Matthias Alke (Humboldt University Berlin) and Doris Graß (German Institute for Adult Education Bonn) presented their current research on educational profiles in adult education. After an introduction to the research topic and research questions, they distributed excerpts from interviews with educational mangers from adult education centers. The group was invited to share thoughts about how to interpret the data with the aim of reconstructing the relevant conventions used to justify and organize educational work. After a first silent reading, a lively discussion about the data, possible interpretations and methodological challenges in EC research emerged. As the day before, the issue of how to conduct and analyze interviews from a conventionalist perspective showed to be a sticking point.

Doris Graß commenting on considerations concerning the analysis of her empirical data

Lisa Knoll (University of Hamburg) then provided the last talk of the workshop, sharing her theoretical considerations about the necessity to analyze sustainable markets from the perspective of the state. Caused by the multiple ways of constructing differences between state and market, welfare economists’ conceptual struggles could be resolved by applying a conventionalist view. Due to its pluralist approach, Convention Theory overcomes the state-versus-market divide and is able to grasp disputes and compromises between different conventional forms. Lisa presented an analytical grid displaying four logics of sustainable markets, and showed how the state is relevant in all four models – but in a different manner and with different relevance. Her inspiring talk was followed by a discussion about the consequences of her conceptualization and how this could imply different forms of agency. As one of the recurring themes of this workshops, the role and impact of digitalization in the different logics of relation between market and state was brought up again and provided an adequate close of the workshop.

Lisa Knoll on logics of sustainable markets

The next workshop Sociology of Conventions will take place on 25./26. April 2019 at the University of Innsbruck organized by Julia Brandl, Anna Schneider and Qamar Ali.

Laurent Thévenot at Hamburg beach looking at the Hamburg Harbor

Les journées d’étude du Clersé : « Enjeux socio-écologiques des mutations du capitalisme contemporain »

Anaïs Henneguelle (LiRIS, Université de Rennes 2)

Les 7 et 8 juin 2018 se sont tenues au Clersé (Université de Lille) deux journées d’étude autour des « Enjeux socio-écologiques des mutations du capitalisme contemporain » et des apports de l’économie des conventions à ce sujet. Ces journées, importantes puisque rassemblant de nombreux français.e.s se revendiquant d’une approche conventionnaliste, étaient organisées par Guillemette de Larquier (Clersé, Université de Lille), Nicolas Postel (Clersé, Université de Lille), Richard Sobel (Clersé, Université de Lille), Philippe Batifoulier (CEPN, Paris 13), Nicolas Da Silva (CEPN, Paris 13) et Ariane Ghirardello (CEPN, Paris 13).

La salle des conférences de la Faculté de Sciences économiques et sociales

Le programme, très riche, a vu se succéder une vingtaine de participant.e.s exposant leurs recherches en cours ou dressant un état des lieux des travaux existants dans cette perspective. En particulier, on notera la présence de doctorant.e.s ou jeunes docteur.e.s, ce qui semble indiquer que la relève est d’ores et déjà assurée. Sans revenir en détails sur chaque présentation, il est possible de revenir sur les principaux points communs ou divergences entre les approches, méthodologiques ou théoriques, des intervenant.e.s.

L’ouverture des journées par Guillemette de Larquier et Richard Sobel

Ainsi, la première difficulté rencontrée pour qui souhaite utiliser les outils de l’économie des conventions consiste d’abord à définir le terme « convention » lui-même et l’usage qu’il.elle en fait dans ses travaux.

Dans la première communication portant sur les acteurs.trices de l’aide à domicile, Sylvain Vatan (Triangle, Université Lumière Lyon-2) a insisté sur la convention non pas au sens d’un accord ou d’un compromis intentionnel mais au sens d’une représentation commune reposant sur une « logique de précédent », permettant de rendre opérationnelle la règle en vigueur imposée par un rapport de forces. Dans son cas, la tarification selon la nature des tâches dans l’aide à domicile, qui revient à quantifier des qualités selon l’expression souvent utilisée, donnerait lieu à une nouvelle convention de valorisation du travail. Ici, la convention permet avant tout la coordination des acteurs.trices. Cette perspective se retrouve dans le travail d’Anaïs Henneguelle (IDHES ENS-Paris-Saclay) sur le jugement pénal. Elle montre en effet que les décisions des juges de l’application des peines sont fondées sur différentes conventions de jugement, partagées par les magistrat.e.s et homogénéisant les décisions. Elle trace un parallèle avec les procédures de recrutement, qui correspondent également à des épreuves d’évaluation durant lesquelles il s’agit de se mettre d’accord sur la productivité à venir des salarié.e.s tandis que les juges cherchent, eux.elles, à établir la qualité d’un dossier en fonction de sa probabilité estimée de récidive et de réinsertion.

Sylvain Vatan, Daniel Urrutiaguer, Philippe Semenowicz, Nathalie Magne, Delphine Remillon, Richard Sobel
et Guillemette de Larquier

Dans une optique différente, Nathalie Magne (Université de Montpellier 3) s’est intéressée aux conventions en ce qu’elles renvoient à des principes de justice ou de légitimité. Revenant sur le passage des « entreprises classiques » aux coopératives, elle a présenté les différents types de légitimité mis en avant par les salarié.e.s justifiant leurs choix de gouvernance en reprenant la typologie de Suchman : légitimité normative ou morale, légitimité pragmatique, légitimité cognitive. Dans chaque cas, il existe des épreuves de légitimité distinctes. Leslie Carnoye (Ethics, FUPL) reprend cette approche des conventions en s’intéressant à la critique écologiste du capitalisme. Elle part de l’absence de grandeur verte (et donc de cité verte) dans le modèle de la justification de Luc Boltanski et Laurent Thévenot, pour montrer qu’il existe une pluralité de critiques écologistes allant de la croissance verte (critique endogénéisée par le capitalisme) à la décroissance (critique radicale) en passant par le développement durable (forme intermédiaire). Philippe Semenowicz (Université Paris-Est Créteil), dans son travail sur l’insertion par l’activité économique, se rattache également à cette définition des conventions comme principe de justice.

Victor Duchesne et Anaïs Henneguelle

Enfin, le travail de Nicolas Da Silva et de Victor Duchesne (CEPN, Paris 13) a mis l’accent sur l’histoire de la Sécurité sociale en utilisant une définition des conventions fondée sur des principes de justification mais sans recourir au modèle des cités. Ils distinguent ainsi trois « conventions de sécurité sociale », une convention anticapitaliste, une convention solidariste et une convention libérale. Ici, ils parlent de conventions au sens d’argumentaires arbitraires, vagues, qui n’ont pas force de loi et dont l’origine est floue (reprenant ainsi certains critères édictés par Christian Bessy et Olivier Favereau en 20031). Cette perspective permet de montrer que la formation des arguments par les différent.e.s acteurs.trices est conflictuelle et résultent d’un processus de négociation parfois violent entre  conceptions divergentes de l’institution de la Sécurité sociale.

Durant les discussions, certain.e.s ont pu demander s’il fallait nécessairement passer par la notion de « cités » pour se définir comme conventionnaliste. Le modèle des cités présente néanmoins l’intérêt de révéler les idéologies à l’œuvre derrière les institutions ainsi que de rappeler les conflits normatifs profonds qui traversent le monde social. La question de la transformation de ces dispositifs de justification en conventions au sens plus large s’est également posée. La convention comme support cognitif ou comme principe supérieur de justice ne doit pas faire oublier le « grand récit » structurant le capitalisme contemporain ; pour retrouver celui-ci, une piste pourrait être de reprendre le concept de « dispositif » mis en avant par Michel Foucault. Par ailleurs, il a été rappelé l’importance de ne pas occulter les rapports de force de l’analyse.

Rouslan Koumakhov, Richard Sobel, Guillemette de Larquier, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Gaël Plumecocq, Olivier Favereau et Philippe Batifoulier

Sur ce point de la montée en généralité, la communication de Christian Bessy (IDHES ENS-Paris-Saclay) s’est avérée précieuse. Pour expliquer les transformations du capitalisme, l’économie des conventions est passée d’une économie de la qualité ou des mondes de production à une réflexion sur la valeur et le pouvoir de valorisation de certains acteurs économiques. De ce point de vue, l’ouvrage Enrichissement de Luc Boltanski et Arnaud Esquerre (2017) peut amener les économistes des conventions à approfondir les formes de mise en valeur des choses en mettant plus l’accent sur les nouvelles sources de profit et d’accumulation du capital que sur des jugements moraux renvoyant à différentes façons de fonder le bien commun.

A l’instar de celle de Christian Bessy, les différentes présentations ont souvent souligné la pluralité des valeurs, des rationalités et des formes de valorisation (ou des conventions de qualité) caractérisant les différentes facettes du capitalisme contemporain.

En ce qui concerne d’abord le secteur de l’économie sociale et solidaire, Philippe Semenowicz a souligné les objectifs apparemment contradictoires poursuivis par les Structures d’insertion par l’activité économique (SIAE) : viabilité financière, accomplissement de la production, mais également accompagnement vers le retour à l’emploi de populations marginalisées du marché du travail. Reprenant le concept de « convention constitutive d’entreprise » mise en avant par François Eymard-Duvernay, il montre alors que les SIAE reposent sur une convention constitutive civique, en faisant preuve d’un certain « volontarisme social ». La difficulté réside dans son articulation avec les principes marchand et industriel auxquels les SIAE sont également confrontées, qu’un compromis « civique-connexionniste » permet d’atténuer. Daniel Urrutiaguer (Passages XX-XXI, Université Lumière Lyon 2) montre lui aussi qu’il existe une pluralité de logiques d’action et d’évaluation, cette fois-ci dans les mondes du théâtre. On peut ainsi pointer l’évaluation artistique, connexionniste, civique ou encore marchande. La logique marchande entre souvent en hybridation avec une logique plus artistique ou civique, selon des mécanismes de solidarité financière qui prennent des formes différentes dans le monde du théâtre privé et dans celui du théâtre public.

Leslie Carnoye, Gaël Plumecocq et Christian Bessy

Gaël Plumecocq (INRA, AGIR), dans son travail sur la théorie de la valeur de l’environnement, montre qu’il existe une pluralité de valeurs de l’environnement et non une seule telle que les économistes l’envisagent généralement sous la forme d’un prix2. Ici, la valeur est envisagée comme fondamentalement sociale (inséparable des processus d’évaluation) ; en particulier, l’évaluation a plusieurs effets politiques comme l’effacement de la nature au profit d’une « compensation financière » dans le cas où l’évaluation est monétaire. Camille Chaserant (CES, Université Paris 1) et Sophie Harnay (BETA, Université de Lorraine), dans leur présentation sur la déréglementation de la profession d’avocat, reviennent non pas sur la pluralité des valeurs mais sur la pluralité des conventions de qualité permettant de coordonner des activités de ces auxiliaires de justice. Elles s’appuient sur la théorie du cadrage de Lindenberg (1993) pour étudier les effets de l’ouverture à la concurrence des professions juridiques en Europe. Il apparaît alors que les régulations propres à chaque cabinet d’avocats conduisent à différents effets : on trouve par exemple un segment des cabinets « haute couture » où la logique prédominante est celle de l’innovation et où le renforcement de la logique marchande pourrait conduire à une hausse des prix comme effet de signal de la qualité. La diversité des conventions de qualité caractérisant les cabinets d’avocats a également été soulignée par Franck Bessis (Triangle, Université Lumière Lyon-2).

Nicolas Postel, Victor Duchesne et Anaïs Henneguelle

Durant les discussions, on a pu souligner notamment que l’économie des conventions s’avérait très heuristique pour comprendre les inégalités générées par le système économique contemporain et qui peuvent affecter certaines communautés partageant des expériences de dommage (ce qui rejoint la question des rapports de force mentionnée précédemment). Par exemple, certaines communautés affectées par des dégradations environnementales réussissent à faire la preuve d’impacts cumulatifs de polluants, en s’appuyant sur leurs savoirs locaux, et ainsi à faire respecter leurs droits individuels devant les tribunaux3.

Richard Sobel, Guillemette de Larquier, Christian Bessy, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Gaël Plumecocq, Arnaud Le Marchand, Franck Bessis et Philippe Batifoulier

Au premier plan : Arnaud Le Marchand et Franck Bessis

Ces deux journées d’étude ont aussi été l’occasion de poser des questions méthodologiques quant à l’économie des conventions, à un niveau à la fois concret mais également au niveau de l’organisation du champ économique lui-même. En ce qui concerne la mise en pratique de l’économie des conventions, la présentation de Franck Bessis s’est attardée sur la « théorisation ancrée » (Glaser et Strauss, 1967) pour traiter des entretiens qualitatifs. Il s’agit en effet d’éviter le travers de « plaquer » le modèle des cités sur tous les sujets (ce qu’il qualifie de « conventionnalisme routinier »), tout comme celui d’avoir une lecture partiale de nos données de terrain, fondée sur la confirmation d’idées que nous avions déjà. Concrètement, cette théorie permet de lire plus systématiquement le matériau en le codant d’abord sous la forme d’étiquettes, puis de propriétés et enfin de catégories. Il s’agit alors de produire une montée en abstraction à partir des entretiens initiaux en se fondant sur des recoupements conceptuels. C’est une démarche similaire qui a permis de dégager les axes de la typologie des cabinets d’avocats et d’expliciter des liens entre conventions de qualité, représentation des dynamiques de marché et formes de réflexivité.

Sophie Harnay et Franck Bessis

La table-tonde « Autour du Dictionnaire des conventions », réunissant Olivier Favereau (Université Paris Nanterre) et Rainer Diaz-Bone (Université de Lucerne), a quant à elle été concentrée sur la diffusion de l’économie des conventions. Ainsi, le manque de manuels en la matière a été souligné, malgré le livre de Rainer Diaz-Bone en allemand. Celui-ci marque le début d’une nouvelle série d’ouvrages, intitulée « Sociologie des conventions ». En français, le Dictionnaire des conventions est incontournable en la matière. Olivier Favereau a aussi dressé un panorama du paradigme conventionnaliste, en montrant comment ce dictionnaire vient prolonger deux essais de synthèse antérieurs (la première suite à l’article de la Revue économique de 1989 ; la seconde suite au livre collectif dirigé par François Eymard-Duvernay, L’économie des conventions. Méthodes et résultats de 2006).

Rainer Diaz-Bone, Philippe Batifoulier et Olivier Favereau

Les discussions ont permis de soulever l’idée de séminaires communs sur l’économie des conventions ou de notre participation à des revues de langue anglaise avec des dossiers sur la « French theory ».

Ces interrogations concernant l’avenir et la légitimité de l’économie des conventions dans le monde académique sont revenues à de nombreuses reprises lors des discussions. En particulier, il a souvent été question du rapport entre conventionnalistes et régulationnistes. Christian Bessy a par exemple pu insister lors de sa présentation sur l’approche spécifique de l’économie des conventions, qui raisonne à partir de la pluralité des conventions d’évaluation, contrairement à l’économie de la régulation.

Plus largement, la deuxième table ronde intitulée « Quel avenir pour l’école des conventions ? » (il y a eu un débat sur la notion même « d’école » qui est loin de faire consensus) a été l’occasion de faire le point sur cette question. Elle a réuni Thomas Lamarche (Ladyss, Université Paris 7), André Orléan (CNRS) et Nicolas Postel (Clersé, Université de Lille) pour clôturer ces deux journées d’étude.

Thomas Lamarche, André Orléan et Nicolas Postel

Thomas Lamarche a insisté sur l’importance de ne pas s’en tenir à la dimension macroéconomique, pour étudier également le niveau mésoéconomique et la façon dont celui-ci s’autonomise ou non. Il a aussi évoqué la possibilité d’étudier la « futurité », au sens de la projection dans l’avenir des acteurs.trices, qui peut notamment se traduire par des conventions, mais aussi des représentations, voire des confrontations (par exemple, qu’est-ce que recouvrira le terme « excellent » dans les universités d’excellence et qui le définira ?). Nicolas Postel de son côté a rappelé que l’avenir de l’économie des conventions n’était pas dans le mot « conventions », qui pose davantage de problèmes qu’il n’en résout. Il s’agit plutôt de parvenir à lier les problématiques de valeurs, de coordination, de reproduction et de rationalité pour comprendre les accords collectifs. En particulier, il nous faut désormais comprendre comment le capitalisme peut continuer et se réguler dans un contexte postérieur à celui de l’Etat nation. Pour clôturer ces journées, André Orléan a rappelé que l’économie des conventions s’intéressait à la question de la formation de collectifs hors du cadre de l’individualisme méthodologique. Suivant le philosophe John Searle, l’intentionnalité collective n’est pas réductible aux intentionnalités individuelles, ce qui confère une dimension conventionnelle aux faits institutionnels, au sens général d’un accord collectif. En cela, ce projet est au croisement de nombreuses disciplines (économie, philosophie, sociologie, anthropologie).


Soulignons enfin que ces journées d’étude ont également été l’occasion de nombreux moments de convivialité, formels ou informels, ce qui, à n’en pas douter, est essentiel à l’éclosion de nouvelles recherches futures.

A l’estaminet rue de Gand le jeudi soir, avec Philippe Batifoulier, Richard Sobel, Rouslan Koumakhov, Arnaud Le Marchand, Sophie Harnay, Christian Bessy, Sylvain Vatan et Victor Duchesne

A l’estaminet rue de Gand le jeudi soir, avec Rainer Diaz-Bone, Guillemette de Larquier, Olivier Favereau, Franck Bessis et Delphine Remillon

Thomas Lamarche, Olivier Favereau, Richard Sobel et Guillemette de Larquier

Philippe Batifoulier et Sophie Harnay

  1. Bessy Christian et Favereau Olivier, « Institutions et économie des conventions », Cahiers d’économie politique 2003/1, N°44, pp. 119-164 []
  2. Pour l’anecdote, rappelons que la valeur de l’environnement a été évaluée en 1997 à 33 000 milliards de dollars par an, ce qui représente 1,8 fois le PIB mondial. En 2011, une nouvelle évaluation a estimé la valeur du système écosystémique à 130 000 milliards de dollars par an (ces chiffres sont disponibles ici). []
  3. Sur la question du développement de la « justice environnementale » aux Etats-Unis, voir Francis Chateauraynaud et Josquin Debaz, Aux bords de l’irréversible. Sociologie pragmatique des transformations, Editions PETRA, 2017. []

Grammatiken, Regime, Ordnungen als Gegenstand der Organisationspädagogik

Inga Truschkat, Miriam Sitter, Luisa Peters   (2018)

In: Michael Göhlich, Andreas Schröer, Susanne Maria Weber  (eds.): Handbuch Organisationspädagogik. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp 455-466.

Abstract. The concepts of grammatics, regimes and orders found in organizational education serve as an explanation for the interrelationship between organizations and their environments. In this article three current theorems, the sociology of conventions (1), institutional logics (2) and critical organizational research (3) are presented and compared with their basic assumptions. Finally, they are discussed in their importance for organizational education.

Link to the chapter

Numéro spécial de Statistique et société en mémoire d’Alain Desrosières

Statistique et société, Vol. 6 No 1 (2018)

Le numéro que nous vous présentons aujourd’hui est d’abord composé d’un dossier comprenant des textes écrits par les lauréats de la première édition du prix Alain Desrosières décerné en 2016. L’introduction écrite par Michel Armatte, président du groupe Histoire des probabilités de la statistique et de leurs usages de la SFdS, rappelle que le prix récompense de jeunes auteurs utilisant les travaux de Desrosières dans leurs propres enquêtes. Pour cette première occurrence, ont été distingués Jean Marie Pillon pour un travail portant sur la mise en place de Pôle emploi ; Axel Pohn-Weidinger pour son article sur la catégorie du logement surpeuplé et enfin Emilien Ruiz pour son histoire des décomptes de fonctionnaires en France.

Sommaire du dossier

Michel Armatte : Actualité de la sociologie de la quantification d’Alain Desrosières, p. 9-10

Jean-Marie Pillon : Approcher les données de gestion au moyen de la sociologie historique de la quantification, p. 11-15

Axel Pohn-Weidinger : Une statistique de l’intimité, p. 17-19

Emilien Ruiz : Légitimer par les nombres, à propos d’une autre fonction des outils quantitatifs, p. 21-25

Lien vers la revue

Politics of Engagement in an Age of Differing Voices

European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology, Vol 5 No 1-2 (2018)

“This special issue on Politics of Engagement in an Age of Differing Voices is the result of a joint effort by the 16 authors whose texts create this selection, the authors of this introduction, and the three additional editors, Risto Alapuro, Markku Lonkila, and Tuomas Ylä-Anttila, who have greatly helped us in all the various steps that constructing such a publication requires. However, this compilation also has a prehistory that dates far further back and includes people who are not among the authors, but without whom this issue would not have seen the light of day. […] The title chosen to illustrate the overall theme of this special issue is Politics of Engagement in an Age of Differing Voices. With this title, we wanted to address a set of questions that are simultaneously empirical and theoretical. Human communities today struggle with old and new problems: disputes and dissonances over political projects, environmental crises, and even over everyday habits and routines are reaching unforeseen dimensions on multiple levels of social organisation. The resulting tendencies to radicalisation, polarisation, and tensions within and between nations and localities invite us to pose anew the question ‘how to build commonality’. In other words: how can we solve conflicts and adjust to different ways of relating to the world and to fellow humans in order to create and maintain mutual understanding? How can we build common ground while simultaneously acknowledging and reserving space for differing voices? These questions, we believe, open avenues for analysing key cultural trends in today’s societies, including processes of politicisation, participation, or marginalisation. Pragmatic sociology provides promising tools for addressing these issues both as empirical puzzles and as conceptual problems.” (Eeva Luhtakallio & Laurent Thévenot)


Eeva Luhtakallio & Laurent Thévenot: « Politics of engagement in an age of differing voices » Pages: 1-11

Marie Leth Meilvang, Hjalmar Bang Carlsen & Anders Blok: « Methods of engagement: On civic participation formats as composition devices in urban planning » Pages: 12-41

Veikko Eranti: « Engagements, grammars, and the public: From the liberal grammar to individual interests » Pages: 42-65

Jarkko Salminen: « The spatial logics of justification – the case of a dispute over a car-free street in Tampere, Finland » Pages: 66-89

Itamar Y. Shachar, Lesley Hustinx, Lonneke Roza & Lucas C. P. M. Meijs: « A new spirit across sectors: Constructing a common justification for corporate volunteering » Pages: 90-115

Taina Meriluoto: « Neutral experts or passionate participants? Renegotiating expertise and the right to act in Finnish participatory social policy » Pages: 116-139

Qamar Ali & Julia Brandl: « How complex domination enables selection: Academic hiring conventions in a Pakistani university » Pages: 140-164

Adam Gajdoš & Ivana Rapošová: « Juggling grammars, translating common-place: Justifying an anti-liberal referendum to a liberal public » Pages: 165-193

Victor Albert & Maria Davidenko: « Justification work: The homeless workers’ movement and the pragmatic sociology of dissent in Brazil’s crisis » Pages: 194-217

Link to the review

Unpacking the Routines of Hiring in Pakistan: A Conventionalist Perspective, by Qamar Ali

PhD project supervised by Julia Brandl, University of Innsbruck and Wolfgang Mayrhofer, WU Vienna (co-supervisor).

PhD exam will be 19 July 2018.


  • Julia Brandl, University of Innsbruck
  • Markus Helfen, University of Innsbruck (internal examiner)
  • Arjan Kozica, University of Reutlingen (external examiner)

Abstract. Wright Mills (1970) has famously noted that the study and analysis of employment relations lack sociological imagination. This dissertation analyses the micro-politics of structurally and culturally bound human resourcing activities within the organizational situational context. It addresses the question of coordination of HR work in practice; how actors interact with their environment while coordinating across organizational and societal settings. In order to understand the everyday human problems and preferences in a social scientific analytical manner, this dissertation puts individuals’ actions in the perspective of broader societal issues. The dissertation provides a conventionalist analysis of the sociology of human resourcing practices. Taking the case of Pakistan, a ‘developing’ South Asian country, it unearths the prevailing discourse of human resource management research in the country and examines in a social scientific analytic style the underlying mechanisms of decision-making behind HRM practices, mainly of recruitment and selection. In so doing, it signifies studying the sociological side of human resourcing practices. By adopting the pragmatic philosophy of social scientific analysis, the dissertation benefits from a variety of methodological approaches and methodical techniques including ethnography, in-depth interviews, and experiments. Based on Neuman (2000)’s paradigms of social science research, the dissertation first shows how HRM research in Pakistan comprises positivist, critical, and interpretivist studies, thereby explicating dominant research paradigms in the country. By zooming in on recruitment processes, it further unearths applicants’ and recruiters’ hitherto unexplained behaviors in the context of Pakistan. First, despite significant differences of the content, style and the channels of advertisements and consequent differences in job applicants’ perceptions about organizational attractiveness, there are no statistically significant differences in their intentions to apply for the job. Second, despite significant differences in recruitment channels’ potential of producing organizational attractiveness, recruiters, on the other hand, have no preferences in choosing between these channels. These findings are put into the perspective of broader societal issues, such as unemployment, lack of entrepreneurial orientation, etc. Using the theoretical notions developed within the French pragmatic sociology, also known as sociology of conventions, (Boltanski & Thévenot, 1991, 2006), namely, modes of engagements (Thévenot, 2001b) and structures of complex domination (Boltanski, 2011), the dissertation then explores the practices and processes of selection of academicians. To this end, it illustrates how top management in the south Asian context deploys coordinative power to maneuver rules and regulations, and interpret laws in their favor, but also in what ways participating actors may resist this. In so doing, the dissertation raises researchers’ awareness of factors that can contribute to inequalities in hiring, particularly in power-driven contexts.  The studies in this dissertation explicate everyday dilemmas of employment relationships by focusing upon HRM practices in situ, thereby intending to fill the theory-practice void in HRM research. Only a limited number of studies hitherto have concentrated upon the highly political and complex nature of employment relationships in practice, in contrast to the normative studies, which mostly tend to downplay the everyday human dilemmas. The dissertation particularly emphasizes the socio-political side of HR work. In doing so, it accentuates the need for the so- called ‘practice turn’ in HRM research. Using the pragmatic-realist ‘sociology of conventions’ in the study and analysis of human resourcing practices, specifically recruitment and selection practices, in Pakistan, the dissertation unfolds the potential of this approach for benefiting HRM research concerning investigating employment relationships and theorizing the dynamic nature of employment management practices.


Regional Innovation Transitions

Michael Storper (2018)

In: Johannes Glückler, Roy Suddaby & Regina Lenz (eds.): Knowledge and Institutions. Cham: Springer, pp. 197-225.

Abstract. As an economy undergoes structural change, the focus of innovation changes to different technologies and different industries. Innovation is uneven over time and over places, leading to a tendency for incomes to diverge between innovative places and less innovative places, and to selectivity or turbulence in the pattern of employment and income change from one period to the next. This is the problem of the “innovation transitions” of regional economies. The author carries out a detailed comparative study of two regions—Greater Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area—from 1970 forward, exploring why one region was more successful in its innovation transition than the other. He argues that the staples of urban and regional economics and economic geography offer only partial explanations, and that the divergent outcomes observed are better accounted for by different institutional factors that he labels the “relational infrastructure” of the two regions.

Keywords: Regional economic development, San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, innovation, networks of innovators, networks of leaders, regional economic divergence, economic specialization

Link to the article