Book review: Justification, Evaluation and Critique in the Study of Organizations: Contributions from French Pragmatist Sociology

Tim Edwards (2018)

Journal of Classical Sociology, 19(2), p. 213-219

Charlotte Cloutier, Jean-Pascal Gond & Bernard  Leca (eds.) Justification, evaluation and critique in the study of organizations. Contributions from French pragmatist sociology, Bingley: Emerald publishers (2017)

Excerpt. This volume of the series Research in the Sociology of Organizations is unabashed in celebrating the many notable advances in critical organization theory that are attributed to French pragmatist sociology (Boltanski and Thévenot, 2006; cf. Susen and Turner, 2014). Comprising 12 thought-provoking chapters, the editors invite the reader to reflect on the Economies of Worth (EW) framework in advancing knowledge of organizational processes. In doing so, they observe four lines of development in the volume that extends EW inspired critical analysis. First, they draw attention to the way EW is suited to unpack justification dynamics (understood as an essential ingredient of human reality) at an individual level of analysis. This enables pragmatist scholars to explain how actors “manage the contradictions and compromises inherent in organizational pluralism.” Second, they indicate how the volume adds explanatory weight to critical analysis through the evaluation of rhetoric and justification in shaping organizational action. Here again we see the value of the EW framework in establishing lines of investigation concerning the evaluative intent of actors. Third, the editors highlight how EW can contribute to theorizations of worth that go beyond simple economic formulations and in ways that shed new light on organizational life as eclectic and plural. Finally, the editors draw attention to work in the volume that pushes the boundaries and fine-tunes some of the “core assumptions” of EW that invites the emergence of new forms of pragmatic critical analysis from within (Cloutier et al., 2017: 3–5). Taken together, this new volume is a significant achievement in delivering work that surely celebrates and broadens the horizons of critical analysis. […] The many thoughts that flow from this brief piece of reflection confirms the significance of the French pragmatist project, which is amply captured in the array of works found in this volume.”

Link to the review