The self-presentation of «Ethical banks». A hybrid discursive and narrative identity
Andrea Catellani & Amaia Errecart (2021)
Communication & langages, 207, pp. 129-147.
Résumé. Cet article propose une exploration, basée sur l’analyse du discours et la sémiotique, du discours institutionnel de « présentation de soi » de deux banques « éthiques et alternatives », le Crédit Coopératif et la banque Triodos. Notre analyse vise à approfondir la compréhension des dispositifs discursifs de construction d’une identité « différente », où la dimension financière et la rentabilité sont présentées comme étant au service de l’éthique et de la durabilité. Nous explorons ainsi la mise en scène d’identités qui empruntent à la fois au mouvement coopératif et au monde financier, à la « cité civique » et à la « cité marchande », à l’intérêt général et à l’intérêt particulier et, en termes wébériens, à l’éthique de conviction et à l’éthique de responsabilité.
Abstract. This article proposes an exploration, based on discourse analysis and semiotics, of the institutional discourse of “self-presentation” of two “ethical and alternative” banks, the Crédit Coopératif and the Triodos bank. Our analysis aims to deepen the understanding of the discursive devices aimed at constructing a “different” identity, where the financial dimension and profitability are presented as being at the service of ethics and sustainability. We thus explore the staging of identities that borrow from both the cooperative movement and the financial world, the “civic city” and the “market city”, the general interest and the particular interest and, in Weberian terms, the ethics of conviction and the ethics of responsibility.
Statistical Journal of the IAOS, 37(2), pp. 701–711.
Extract: “1.Introduction (Along came COVID1) At the end of 2019, when the contribution “Governing-by-the-numbers/Statistical governance”  was intended to initiate a reflection and discussion on the www.officialstatistics.com discussion platform on the future of official statistics in a digital and globalised society, it could not yet be foreseen how much the world would change in 2020. Eighteen months later, the COVID pandemic has taught us painfully how urgent the availability of reliable statistical information is. […] This reduction to physical objects and their ‘measurement’ does not, of course, meet the typical target of observation in (official) statistics, as Theodore Porter , Heinz Grohmann  or Alain Desrosières  have clearly pointed out in their works. Imagine, for example, approaching the well-known indicators of statistics, such as GDP or the Consumer Price Index, with such an inadequate scientific toolkit. Desrosières’ work is closely linked to the scientific movement of the so-called “economics of convention” (in French ‘économie des conventions’) . Here, the name of this movement already contains the core of the message that statistics (at least in the field of social or economic phenomena) has to deal with facts that cannot be measured directly, such as a tree, but which first require a qualitative description (or as Grohmann put it “theoretisches Konstrukt”) and subsequently its translation into a corresponding statistical concept.” (p. 701/706)
Organization and boundary from a convention theoretical perspective
Matthias Alke (2021)
In: Schröer, Andreas/Köngeter, Stefan/Manhart, Sebastian/Schröder, Christian/Wendt, Thomas (eds.): Organisation über Grenzen. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp. 109-122.
Zusammenfassung. Anknüpfend an theoretische Konzepte aus der Soziologie der Konventionen beleuchtet der Beitrag das Verhältnis von Organisation und Grenze aus konventionentheoretischer Sicht. Damit ist das Ziel verbunden, das analytische Potential für die Organisationspädagogik herauszuarbeiten, für die Fragen der Grenzen von, in und über Organisationen bedeutsam sind. Zunächst werden einige zentrale konventionentheoretische Prämissen skizziert. Darauf aufbauend wird das theoretische Verständnis von Organisationen in der Soziologie der Konventionen dargelegt. Anschließend wird auf Basis einer Fallanalyse aus einer Studie zum Steuerungswandel von Volkshochschulen das Potential der Soziologie der Konventionen für die Untersuchung von Grenzfragen in der organisationspädagogischen Forschung aufgezeigt. Das letzte Kapitel widmet sich offenen Fragen und weiterführenden Perspektiven.
Abstract. Drawing on theoretical concepts from the sociology of conventions, this contribution illuminates the relationship between organization and boundary from the perspective of convention theory. This is connected with the goal of elaborating the analytical potential for organizational pedagogy, for which questions of boundaries of, in, and about organizations are significant. First, some central premises of convention theory are outlined. Building on this, the theoretical understanding of organizations in the sociology of conventions is outlined. Then, on the basis of a case analysis from a study on the governance change of adult education centers, the potential of the sociology of conventions for the investigation of boundary issues in organizational pedagogical research is demonstrated. The final chapter is devoted to open questions and further perspectives.
Abstract. Beveridge’s wartime proposals to eliminate idleness relied on the precepts of Keynesian economics and substantial extensions in the powers of central government to regulate industry and labour. Using convention theory, this paper demonstrates how these stipulations proved politically untenable. With the disappearance of full employment in the 1980s, the labour market problems Beveridge encountered in his youth have re-emerged accompanied by old problems of working poverty. Established forms of labour market analysis are obsolescent and employment rights disappear. The paper suggests a more decentralized and variable analysis of relations between work and idleness may offer a way forward.
The experimental card game method for studying ordinary penal representations in Germany and France
Bénédicte Laumond (2020)
Bulletin of Sociological Methodology/Bulletin de Méthodologie Sociologique, 147-148, pp. 169-199.
Résumé. Si les travaux s’interrogeant sur les perceptions ordinaires du pénal se sont historiquement intéressés à la technique de la vignette (vignette research), ceux-ci ne reposent que rarement sur des dispositifs comparés et continuent de faire un large usage des questionnaires amputant l’analyse des représentations pénales profanes d’une exploration de leurs raisonnements. Afin de remédier à cette limite méthodologique, cet article présente une démarche expérimentale adossée à un jeu de cartes et menée en France et en Allemagne entre 2017 et 2019. Le jeu est composé de 23 cartes présentant des cas criminels fictifs et de 10 cartes-peines ; il est attendu des joueur/ses qu’ils/elles attribuent à chaque carte une peine tout en justifiant les choix effectués. Nous présenterons dans cet article les étapes de la conception et les conditions d’administration, dans un contexte franco-allemand, de ce jeu qui se caractérise par un dispositif relativement directif allié à un mode de passation souple inspiré des enquêtes non-directives. Cet article met en évidence la flexibilité du jeu de cartes qui interroge différents aspects du crime en mettant les enquêté.es en situation de faire. Nous montrons enfin la robustesse de ce dispositif méthodologique dans des études comparées pour faire émerger les spécificités nationales des représentations pénales.
Extrait: “Cet article s’intéresse à une méthode encore peu répandue en sociologie, le ‘jeu de cartes’. Nous présenterons ses avantages pour une recherche comparative tout en proposant une opérationnalisation à l’aune d’une enquête de sociologie pénale menée en Allemagne et en France et portant sur les représentations ordinaires des peines et des délits. La méthode présentée est une articulation de la tradition de la vignette research (Rossi et Anderson, 1982), de l’expérience du jeu de cartes initiée par Boltanski et Thévenot (1983) et des enquêtes en sociologie pénale utilisant la technique des cas simulés.” (p. 170)
Abstract. Empirical studies that explore the ordinary perceptions of the criminal justice system often engaged with the vignette research. These studies, however, rather used surveys and hardly developed comparative research designs. Therefore, in-depth analyses exploring and comparing how ordinary persons reason and make decisions on crime remain rare. In order to address this methodological shortcoming, this article presents an explorative research based on an innovative card game and conducted in France and Germany (2017-2019). The game consists of 23 vignettes that describe various fictive criminal cases and 10 other cards that depict criminal sanctions. Respondents are expected to assign a sanction to each criminal case and to justify their decision. In this article, I present the design and the implementation stages of the game but also insist on the specificities of the comparative design. The use of the card game method, a passably directive procedure, was guided by the non-directive interviewing method. This article insists on the flexibility offered by the card game methodology which addresses various dimensions of criminality and puts the respondents in the position of dispensing justice. I finally bring to light the potential of using this explorative method for comparative research designs, as it permits the emergence of national specificities regarding criminal representations.
Extract: “This article focuses on a method that is still not widely used in sociology, the ‘card game’. We will present its advantages for a comparative research while proposing an operationalization in the light of a penal sociology survey carried out in Germany and in France and dealing with the ordinary representations of sentences and offences. The method presented is an articulation of the tradition of vignette research (Rossi and Anderson, 1982), of the card game experiment initiated by Boltanski and Thévenot (1983), and of criminal sociology surveys using the simulated case technique. » (p. 170)
Abstract. In this study, we examine the conflicts and unintended consequences that arise from the diverse social conventions constituting a transformative service. We draw on convention theory and an ethnographic study to interpret a community-based palliative care initiative in Kerala (India) as a transformative service system. We contribute to transformative service research by developing a dialectical transformative service system framework that is a synthesis of the calculative conflict-ridden regime of justice and the noncalculative regime of agape based on love. In this framework, the calculative regime of justice has civic conventions at its core and industrial, inspired, market, domestic, and fame conventions as ancillaries. While the regime of justice is associated with the undesired, unintended consequence of conflicts, the regime of agape constitutes a desirable unintended consequence. Our framework provides a microlevel understanding of disputes and their reconciliation, advances a diffused understanding of worth that ruptures the binary of legitimate or illegitimate actions, and delineates the significance of morality. Our study also contributes by explaining agape’s role in transformative service, particularly in health and caregiving.
Abstract. The Belarusian protest movement that started in August 2020 has been discussed from the point of view of strategy and objectives, and as the cradle of a new subjectivity. This essay goes beyond those two perspectives by looking at the regimes of engagement, developing in interaction with the material and technological environment, that have given the protests their distinctive style. The first part looks at coordination and representation at protest events and in producing protest symbols such as flags. The second part discusses the role of Telegram and the emergence of local protest groups. Even though the movement did not grow organically out of everyday concerns, there are some signs that it has begun to reassemble local communities from above. Yet there are also indications that politics continues to be seen as distinct from everyday life, making it uncertain that the movement will lead to a deeper transformation of society.
Revista Pós Ciências Sociais, 18(2), pp. 289-310. Open access.
Resumo. Este artigo analisa algumas transformações que vêm ocorrendo na cadeia produtiva do leite no Maranhão, a partir de dois níveis da relação entre produtores de leite e laticínios e da inserção desses laticínios no mercado nacional de produtos lácteos. A pesquisa foi realizada na região de Imperatriz, que concentra a maior bacia leiteira do estado do Maranhão e o maior número de laticínios do estado. Os dados utilizados para a análise, envolvem entrevistas feitas com dirigentes de laticínios, bem como informações secundárias levantadas no Censo Agropecuário de 2017 (IBGE) e nas agências estatais responsáveis pelas ações de vigilância sanitária. Os resultados obtidos apontam: a) para uma modificação importante na relação entre produtores de leite e laticínios, que, a partir dos resultados obtidos pela campanha contra o leite clandestino, diminui a participação dos laticínios informais – as chamadas “queijeiras” – na cadeia produtiva, o que significou o de uma convenção de qualidade de tipo industrial (BOISARD; LETABLIER, 1987) no processo de produção, coleta e beneficiamento do leite; e b) para a identificação de um processo de aprimoramento (upgrading) da indústria de laticínio regional, com o desenvolvimento de novos produtos e ampliação da capacidade produtiva.
Abstract. This article analyzes some transformations that have been occurring in the milk production chain in Maranhão, from two levels of the relationship between milk producers and dairies and the insertion of these dairies in the national market for dairy products. The research was carried out in the region of Imperatriz, which concentrates the largest dairy basin in the state of Maranhão and the largest number of dairies in the state. The data used for the analysis involves interviews with dairy product managers, as well as secondary information gathered from the 2017 Agricultural Census (IBGE) and from state agencies responsible for health surveillance actions. The results obtained point: (a) to an important modification in the relationship between milk producers and dairies, which, from the results obtained by the campaign against clandestine milk, decreases the participation of informal dairies – the so-called « cheese makers » – in the production chain, which has meant that of an industrial-type quality convention (BOISARD; LETABLIER, 1987) in the process of production, collection and beneficiation of milk; and b) for the identification of an upgrading process of the regional dairy industry, with the development of new products and expansion of productive capacity.
Abstract. This article examines the justifications that a group of prosecutors employs when coordinating human trafficking investigations in the Amazon. The study is based on interviews with officials who work in Madre de Dios, Peru, a region affected by small-scale gold mining, whose demand for labour has increased the incidence of human trafficking. I draw from Boltanski and Thévenot’s polity model to elucidate three moral principles regularly endorsed by prosecutors in the course of criminal investigations: efficiency, civic and domestic values. Together these comprise a moral cartography of prosecution. This study from the Global South contributes to a more holistic—and pragmatic—understanding of prosecutors’ charging decisions, complementing research approaching this topic from the perspective of bounded rationality.
Abstract. First, it was just tech people. Now, literally everyone is interested in bitcoin’, said CNN News while reporting on the bitcoin mania that haunted South Korean society in the winter of 2017–2018. This study takes that speculative frenzy as an entry point for exploring lay bitcoin investors’ experiences and the ‘magical’ features of contemporary financial capitalism. It first situates the bitcoin investment boom in the contexts of South Korea’s post-developmental transition and the rise of mass investment culture. Drawing upon participant observation of online communities for South Korea’s bitcoin investors, this study then demonstrates how lay bitcoin investors’ daily beliefs and practices are distinguished from more traditional economic subjectivities – namely, disciplined workers and rational investors. Lay bitcoin investors present themselves not simply as calculative investors but also as enchanted gamblers who often rely upon magical formulas and rituals that express their hopes and despairs in the face of an uncertain future. Instead of dismissing their beliefs and rituals as ‘irrational exuberance’, this study argues that their cultural practices should be understood as a reflexive response to the ‘magical’ mechanisms of the financial market based on self-referential valuation and self-fulfilling performativity. In examining how the logics of uncertainty and magic are returned at the heart of contemporary capitalism, this study consequently seeks to situate the lay investors’ struggles in dealing with the ambiguous future within the broader transformation of the human condition during the triumphant rise of financial capitalism.”
Extract: “In a word, without any consensual objective value, the price of bitcoin is determined and swayed by what market participants think about the value of bitcoin. As André Orléan (2014) argues, this self-referential condition – in which the prices/values of financial commodities are determined self-referentially by the market’s estimation without any external standard – is not an exception but a rule in all financial markets. Keynes once deftly described the financial market’s self-referential condition through his famous example of a newspaper beauty contest in which the readers are asked to guess the future winner of a beauty contest from pictures: ‘Professional investment may be likened to those newspaper competitions in which the competitors have to pick out the six prettiest faces from a hundred photographs, the prize being awarded to the competitor whose choice most nearly corresponds to the average preferences of the competitors as a whole; so that each competitor has to pick, not those faces which he himself finds the prettiest, but those which he thinks likeliest to catch the fancy of the other competitors.” (Keynes 1936, p. 156) That is to say, in this type of self-referential game, what matters is neither individual preferences nor the ‘intrinsic’ beauty of the beauty-contest participants. Players instead have to work out which participant (or commodity) might be perceived as the most beautiful (most valuable) by the majority of the other players. The correct answer that players seek to find is then determined not by ‘objective’ criteria or external references but by the other players’ choices. Orléan (2014, p. 224) argues that, by the same token, in the self-referential financial market, ‘one does not act in accordance with what one believes, but with his expectation of what the market believes’. To thrive in financial markets, investors must anticipate the opinions of other market participants. What determines the price of a financial commodity is thus people’s beliefs about what other people believe, or collective belief on collective belief (Orléan 2004, 2014, LiPuma 2016).” (p. 16)
Abstract.This article examines a frequent assumption of sociological accounts of knowledge: the idea that knowledge acts. The performativity of knowledge claims is here analysed through the prism of ‘sociological excuses’: the idea that sociological explanations can act as ‘excuses’ for otherwise unacceptable behaviour. The article builds on Austin’s distinction between illocutionary and perlocutionary effects to discuss the relationship between sociological explanation, sociological justification and sociological critique. It argues that understanding how (and if) sociological explanations can act requires paying attention to social and political conditions of performativity and their transformation in late liberalism.
Abstract. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the value and the limit of the sociology of critique as a form of post-Bourdieusian critical sociology, especially where moral values play a crucial role in explaining actions – as they do in the solidarity economy, the field analyzed here. Contrary to interpretations of justifications as moral toolkits unconsciously mobilized by actors about practices whose real reasons lie elsewhere, I suggest that the sociology of critique’s notion of « grammar » is useful for articulating the normative moral elements that motivate specific actions and justifications. We will see how taking the actors themselves seriously – the sociology of critique’s motto – can yield important insights for sociology. But then we face a problem within the field that the sociology of critique can’t resolve alone: there sometimes appears to be a contradiction between actors’ actions and their justifications. Phenomenology can help us to understand these justifications at a deeper level as expressions of fundamental ways of relating to the world. In this sense phenomenology is useful to a moral sociology of critique because it helps us find a solution to the « contradiction » that the sociology of critique left unsolved.
Abstract. The word crisis comes from Ancient Greek κρίσις which can be translated as ‘power of distinguishing’ and is related to modern κρίνω which means ‘to pick out’. This is apt, because the pandemic of 2020 has exposed the limitation of approaches to social governance premised on calculation. The – some would argue false – choice between either saving lives or the economy, is the highest profile example of the necessity to ‘pick’ between different qualitative options. This has brought into relief something suppressed by the calculation approach, namely the need to adjudicate between multiple and competing value orientations in public life. With this, an alternative way of decision making in the public domain is needed, one that does not revert back to mere politics and subjective decisions. This article turns to the writings of John Dewey to look for alternatives. It shows that the model of deliberative inquiry found in Dewey, even though not without its own challenges, presents a viable option to replace metrics-based valuation approaches, without falling back on the whimsy of political judgement. This suggests that Dewey is not just contemporaneous, but that translating his insights into action could not be more urgent.
Anna Schneider, Dilip Subramanian, Jean-Baptiste Suquet & Pascal Ughetto (2021)
International Journal of Management Reviews, Online first
Abstract. Research on interactive service work has paid close attention to how organizations and frontline employees deal with the inherent complexity of the customer–employee–employer triangle. This raises questions about the agency of interactive service workers with respect to the indeterminacy of service interactions. Our meta-narrative review finds that the theorization of worker agency in service interactions remains underdeveloped in the two dominant research streams of mainstream management and labour process theory studies. Implicitly or explicitly, these streams either subsume agency under managerial prescription or view it through the binary polar of control and resistance. There has been less focus on service workers’ efforts to overcome practical difficulties in everyday service interactions. To address this lacuna, we offer a conceptual framework that draws on a less prominent, third research stream, which we label pragmatist. This stream includes scholarship largely unfamiliar to the international English-speaking community, published mainly in French and German academic journals. We propose three contributions in this paper. First, we contribute to the interactive service work literature by mapping the theoretical plurality within and beyond the English-speaking community. Second, we problematize established streams of research by articulating the intellectual axes of the field; this allows us to present a new research area to account for the concrete dynamics of service interaction and to capture frontline employee agency. Third, we propose a pragmatist research framework coupled with a future research agenda more attentive to the embeddedness and materiality of frontline workers’ situated actions. This way, we address the indeterminacy of interactive situations.
Extract: “More generally, the intellectual climate in France during the 1990s witnessed a shift from Marxism and Bourdieu’s thinking towards theories acknowledging the significance of individual and collective actions. The pragmatic turn (Schatzki et al., 2001) was embodied in the French context by emerging theoretical currents, such as the economics of conventions (Boltanski & Thévenot,  2006; Salais, 2001), also referred to as ‘French Pragmatism’ (Brandl et al., 2014; Cloutier et al., 2017). It addresses questions related to action and coordination and the underlying sociomaterial conditions.” (p. 10)
An Institutional Ethnography of Activation Work in Action
Stephan Dahmen (2021)
PhD thesis. Bielefeld: Transcript. Open access.
About this book. How are activation programs for the young unemployed implemented? How do street-level bureaucrats deal with competing rationalities and demands for action? Transition policies increasingly aim at promoting self-regulation and constructing employable subjects. Stephan Dahmen explores the practical regulation of biographical transitions in activation programs for the young unemployed by focusing on the interactive accomplishment of activation work. The study reveals how the critical tensions of activation policies are continually re-interpreted and adapted to local contingencies and describes the various organisational technologies used for creating employable subjects.
Extract: “4.1.6. From Institutional Logics to Competing Orders of Worth: The Sociology of Conventions Despite the strong drive of the institutional logics literature to develop a theoretical framework that integrates at the same time supraorganizational logics and human agency, most research conducted within the institutional logics framework remains on the level of sectors, organizational fields or specific subpopulations of organizations. The current work highlights the need for analyzing the role of competing logics and rationalities at the frontline level of organizations of welfare state, and more particularly, the ways in which human agents ignore, comply, resist and or compromise different institutional logics. For doing so a third theoretical approach to the analysis of organizations will be presented, which allows better integration of the situated and localized arrangement of compromises between different institutional logics. In addition, several authors point to continuities and similarities between a conception of ”institutional logics” and the approach to be presented within the next pages, that is the ”economy of conventions”, particularly when it comes to the analysis of organizations (Thornton/Occasio 2008: 102; Cloutier/Langley 2012; Jagd 2012) and professional practices. This framework of the “economy of conventions” is usually described as ”French pragmatic sociology” (Jagd 2012, Bénatouïl 1999) and is strongly connected with the scholarship of Luc Boltanski, Laurent Thévenot, Francois Eymard-Duvernay and others. While the economy of conventions has its roots in economic sociology and is initially born from a diagnosis of problems associated with the application of the theoretical frame of neoclassical economics to economic actions that cannot be restricted to pure competitive markets (Dupuy/Eymard-Duvernay/Favereau/Orléan/ Salais/Thévenot 1989), it has evolved to an overarching school of thought in French sociology. Initially, the approach highlighted the role of conventions as a non-economic form of coordination that is ignored by neoclassical economics trough reducing a market exchange relationship between two persons to the form of a contract (ibid.: 141). Subsequently, conventionalists extended their analysis to the qualification of labor through the application of laws, rules norms and conventions (Salais/Thévenot 1986), the study of different forms of evaluation in recruitment decisions (Eymard-Duvernay 2008) or non-market criteria as quality conventions in production firms (Eymard-Duvernay 1994) and different world of production (Storper/Salais 1997). As an overarching school of thought, the ”economy of conventions” attempted to combine three aspects that have been dissociated in the disciplines of economics and sociology: “the characterization of the agent and his/her reasons for acting, the modalities of coordination of actions, and the role of values and common goods” (Eymard-Duvernay/Favreau/Orléan/Salais/Thévenot 2003).” (p. 133)