Abstract. Tie dissolution in non-romantic relations is commonly understood as a structural process. This article challenges this prevailing view by tracing agency behind dynamics of disassociation. It distinguishes between “natural” and “moral” tie dissolution and explores the “broken tie”, as a former positive tie turned negative, theoretically and empirically. Data comes from an interview and survey study with 41 respondents with first-hand experience of network change during the transformation from Communist-ruled East Germany to reunified German market society after 1989. A key finding is that accounts of broken ties may be a vehicle to express beliefs about justice in society. Examining breaks in strong ties allows to integrate culture and networks in fruitful ways.
Extract: “4.3. Content of conflict: justice orientations The content of the conflict is an important element of the broken tie. It is necessarily specific to the case studied here. However, examining how individuals assign meaning to broken ties also reveals a theoretically pertinent insight: The broken tie is not only about interpersonal conflict, but also, potentially, charged with broader, societal grammars of justice (Boltanski & Thévenot 2006; Hegtvedt & Johnson 2000). In this material, a semiotic and affective charging of the broken tie can be found on two levels: in political, and in economic accounts of tie dissolution. Their dynamics are assortative (Rivera et al. 2010), as they are concerned with tolerating or rejecting another person’s beliefs and attitudes.”
About this book. Inflation should no longer be a politically sensitive indicator. Indeed, since the early 1980s, macroeconomic policies have managed to contain it. Yet the consumer price index (CPI), which is the main indicator for measuring inflation, remains very frequently consulted by citizens, due to its multiple uses. The CPI is used for indexing wages, pensions, but also various contracts such as food pensions. It is also used by National Accounts to deflate macroeconomic values and to provide data in “real” terms. But how is this CPI measured? index? What reforms have happened to give shape to the XXIst century CPI? This book presents the CPI based on the study of the controversies that have marked its history. Set in both the socio-economic and ideas contexts, these controversies show the eminently conventional and political nature of the CPI and, therefore, of many other macroeconomic indicators, such as growth or productivity.
Abstract.The rise of big data and ongoing political and social transformations confront official statistics with important questions regarding its self-understanding and its role in public debates. These questions imply serious tensions that will very likely increase in the foreseeable future. This article introduces a specific sociological perspective for thinking and talking about these developments. Building on the “economics of convention”, this perspective challenges currently dominant conceptions of official statistics which do not adequately mirror the plurality of possible representations of the social world and the variety of justifiable ways of assessing the quality of these representations. Taking these pluralities into account allows to develop a fuller picture of the actual practices and institutions involved in the production of statistical knowledge and, especially, of their unavoidable entanglement with normative orders, epistemic values, and political formations. The notion of “data worlds” is presented as a means for tackling this problem of pluralities. On this conceptual basis, it becomes possible to link methodological questions to analyses of how statistical data and knowledge are embedded in wider political, economic, and social contexts. Problems of “data quality” thus appear in a different light: their reflection involves more than the usually discussed issues of the institutional independence (secured by public funding and by law) and the high scientific standards of official statistics. Instead, an institutionalist theoretical approach is needed that offers blueprints for linking the production of “official statistical facts” to (always contested and contextual) conceptions of the common good. Such a conception would allow to conceive new forms of public participation and democratic control of processes of quantification, measurement, and datafication. In sum, we believe that the specifically sociological approach outlined in this article would support official statistics in dealing with the variety of critical interventions and challenges it currently faces in a proactive and coherent manner.
Frédérique Jankowski, Selim Louafi, N. A. Kane, M. Diol, A. Diao Camara, Jean-Louis Pham, Cécile Berthouly‑Salazar & Adeline Barnaud (2020)
Agriculture and Human Values, 37, pp. 1083-1094.
Abstract. Collaborative research practices in the field of plant genetic resources must follow the principles of fairness and equity as defined in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). In this context the concepts of fairness and equity generally refer to the substantive and procedural dimensions associated with sharing the benefits of this research. But neither term is clearly defined by these international treaties, and the meanings attributed to the concepts vary among different societies. This paper looks at the question of how to account for the diversity among value systems when conducting research that implicates diverse stakeholders and respects the requirements of fairness and equity. We incorporated an auto-ethnography method developed as part of a multi-stakeholder network involved in research projects on plant genetic resources in West Africa. A theatrical device was used as a framework for testing the principles of fairness and equity, helping us to collectively identify feelings of injustice, and explore the conditions for making collaborative research practices more ethical in ways that respect the perspectives of different stakeholders. In an environment of extensive political and socio-cognitive inequality, this approach makes it possible to explain the criteria relating to interactional justice and expectations in terms of socio-political and socio-emotional benefits. It also invites us to consider the principles of fairness and equity in a framework of ethical competence that goes beyond international directives.
Extract: “The forum puts the audience members in a reflective posture, where they are called upon to judge the different characters of the play. Members of the audience are asked to justify their conclusion and clarify the criteria used to evaluate the character’s behavior. In this context, the spect-actors submit their qualifications and interpretations in terms of the elements of tension dramatized in the play. The audience is therefore obligated to participate in the explanation of the justification criteria. Thus, the forum theater offers a methodological framework that responds to the theoretical postulates of the French pragmatic sociology (Bréviglieri and Stavo-Debauge 1999; Barthe et al. 2013). A key notion of this sociology is that of test (Latour 1988; Thévenot 2001; Boltanski and Chiapello 2007; Hennion 2017). A test is any situation in which actors experience the vulnerability of the social order, because they have doubts about what reality is. The test constitutes a moment that engenders an activity of judgement and a dynamic of reaffirmation or readjustment, of institutions and initial conceptions. The pragmatic sociology favors the analysis of situated action where uncertainty and the forms of adjustment of actors among themselves can be observed. It is more particularly concerned with the justification practices of social actors to denounce an offence or injustice (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006). It underlines the way in which operations of justification mobilize a plurality of principles of justice according to the situation. By offering participants the opportunity to express themselves from concrete interactional situations and to engage in the exploration for overcoming feelings of injustice, forum theater provides spaces for testing participants’ representations. It allows to understand the notions of justice as an ongoing practical process in which individuals participate through their justified actions rather than as an ideology or a shared belief. […] The reference to tradition when judging the farmers’ actions is consistent with the notion of a justification of the domestic order as defined by Boltanski and Thévenot (2006). According to the authors, the reference to the domestic world appears “each time that research on fairness emphasizes personal relations between people…human beings are immediately qualified by the relationship that they maintain with their own kind” (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006, p. 206). The criteria mobilized to judge the correctness of the farmer’s behavior are primarily based on his respect for the norms and values defined by his community.” (p. 1086/1087-1088)
Résumé. La reconnaissance en 1934 du diplôme d’ingénieur en France par la Commission des titres d’ingénieurs continue de faire débat. Faut-il y voir une manifestation du retard du capitalisme français ou à l’inverse considérer que cette chronologie témoigne de sa spécificité ? La communauté des ingénieurs semble marquée par une grande hétérogénéité. Comment expliquer la place spécifique du diplôme dans l’émergence visiblement inaboutie d’un groupe intégré ? Le texte propose trois pistes de réflexions. Premièrement, cette histoire peut être comprise via un premier axe centré sur les « questions de gouvernance ». Deuxièmement, la mise en place d’un diplôme résulte d’un ensemble de choix en termes de contenus et de méthodes de formation. Troisièmement, la mise en place progressive d’un diplôme à partir du xixe siècle paraît pouvoir être appréhendée comme une forme de consécration d’une identité ou d’une culture qui distingue une catégorie sociale, les ingénieurs, en pleine croissance dans ce nouveau capitalisme industriel.
Extrait: “Pour conclure, pas à pas, le diplôme d’ingénieur devient un marqueur d’un marché – régional puis national – de l’emploi des ingénieurs en phase de croissance tout au long du xixe siècle. Il permet sa structuration et sa coordination y compris en créant de la concurrence entre écoles. En investissant à des degrés divers, sur la mise en place d’un diplôme, les écoles en tant qu’acteurs sociaux construisent des catégories d’évaluation et d’action. Ces « investissements de forme » permettent la mise en place d’outils de comparaison (certification, validation, standards, qualification, etc.). Ces opérations de justification sont soumises au jugement public et validées ou invalidées par le monde environnant. À partir du xixe siècle, en relation étroite avec l’industrialisation du pays, c’est donc une référence générale et collective qui se construit. Elle pose les bases d’un mécanisme de coordination.” (Paragraphe 11)
The engineering degree. Questions of governance, legitimacy scientific and technical or identity?
Abstract. The recognition in 1934 of the engineering degree in France by the Commission des titres d’ingénieurs continues to be discussed. Should it be seen as a manifestation of the backwardness of French capitalism or, on the contrary, should this particular chronology be seen as a testimony of its specificity? The community of graduated engineers seems to be marked by great heterogeneity. How can we explain the specific place of the diploma in the visibly unfulfilled emergence of an integrated group? The text raises three set of explanations. Firstly, this story can be understood via a first axis centered on “governance issues.” Secondly, the establishment of a diploma is the result of a set of choices in terms of training contents and methods. Thirdly, the gradual introduction of a diploma from the 19th century onwards seems to be understandable as a form of consecration of an identity or a culture that distinguishes a social category, engineers, which is growing rapidly among this new industrial capitalism.
Extract: “To conclude, step by step, the engineering degree becomes a marker of a market – regional then national – for the employment of engineers in a phase of growth throughout the 19th century. It enabled its structuring and coordination, including the creation of competition between schools. By investing to varying degrees in the establishment of a diploma, the schools as social actors construct categories for evaluation and action. These « investments in form » enable the implementation of comparison tools (certification, validation, standards, qualification, etc.). These operations of justification are subject to public judgment and validated or invalidated by the surrounding world. From the 19th century onwards, in close relation with the industrialization of the country, a general and collective reference was therefore built. It laid the foundations for a coordination mechanism.” (Paragraph 11)
In: Šimić, Anđelko (ed.), 1st Croatian-Japanese Conference: Contemporary Problems in Economics: Mate, Zagreb, pp. 59-79. Open access
Abstract. This article aims to grasp the direction of current movements in the Japanese confectionary (wagashi) industry, which have deviated from the traditional wagashi world. To provide an understanding on the direction, the study uses the following concepts for comprehending the creations, pluralities, and dynamism of values; “cité” that represents common goods prevailing in the socioeconomic context, an “evaluation model” representing a unique value criterion defined by a service community, and “service as a struggle” that encompasses coopetition between a provider and beneficiaries to create greater value. We characterize the movements in relation to the modern normative capitalistic trend, which comprises the projective and inspiration cité (Morisaki and Suda 2016; Suda and Morisaki 2018). We also analyze a typical case depicting the movement from the perspective of the plurality of cité; the results confirm the existence of asymmetry (within the community) between the cité to which the provider conforms and the one to which the beneficiaries conform. We characterize this asymmetric state (the beneficiaries’ weak conformance to the inspiration cité) as the weak degree of “struggle” for greater authenticity. It implies the weak inclination of the community toward driving its autonomous and continuous development. It might not only be an issue for this community but also for the growing number of “wagashi artists,” who undertake wagashi-crafting as a service. In order to drive the autonomous and continuous development of the skills of the wagashi artists and attitudes of both the artists and beneficiaries, there is a need to train beneficiaries to be more demanding ones who can strive for more authentic service. Then, the continuous development of the novel communities, which have deviated from the traditional valuation world of wagashi, would reactivate the whole wagashi industry. In this regard, it should be noted that although service beneficiaries’ weak degree of conformance to the inspiration cité persists, preliminary movements and activities are being conducted for imbedding the inspiration cité into the service beneficiaries.
International Studies in Sociology of Education. Online first, pp. 1-20.
Abstract. This article argues for using French pragmatic sociology to explore tensions regarding teachers’ work, by studying critique formulated by teachers themselves. Based on interviews with teachers in Swedish adult education it shows how teachers labour to reconcile ‘what is’ with ‘what should be’ by voicing critique. The findings suggest that, while some critique echoes institutionalised conventions without questioning them, formulating critique is also a way of resisting, where teachers tap into alternative conventions, or disengage from established practices. Some choose to ignore institutional rules, while others change jobs. These findings establish that some critique can serve to maintain the status quo and its institutionalised truths. However, pushing at reality through acts of critique can also fracture reality, which in turn allows other conventions to take root in the cracks. Identifying the various types of critique employed to question institutionalised conventions highlights the work that teachers do to shape reality.
Résumé. Face aux bouleversements qui affectent gravement la sociologie et menacent sa survie, l’auteur propose une intégration de ces renversements en les concevant comme autant de forces de décentration au regard des définition et méthode classiques de la discipline. Ces décentrations exigent toutes de prendre en compte des dépendances sous-estimées, voire méconnues, du social à l’égard de multiples laissé(e)s-pour compte que les « studies » ont notamment contribué à mettre sur le devant de la scène. Le mouvement de l’article suit une décentration affectant à la fois le sujet, agent ou acteur social qui ne peut plus servir de pivot, et les formes du commun et de communauté qui sont excentrées au regard des sociétés et collectifs. Loin de la société (1), le parcours conduit tout contre l’étrangeté (2) d’une extériorité désormais à intégrer dans l’appréhension de l’humain par ses dépendances (3). Être ensemble avec ce, celles et ceux auparavant minorés (4) requiert des déplacements dans la mise en commun appelée à se soucier davantage d’attachements dans le proche et à ouvrir en outre la cohabitation au-delà de l’humain, au prix de remaniements qui ne laissent pas indemne la normativité sous-jacente des sciences sociales. Des modes de gouvernement affranchissent de la cité (5) en passant, au-delà de l’économie de marché, par des choses qui soutiennent des alliages d’économie politique plus profonds que les alliances versatiles entre oligarques et autorités politiques.
The Great Decentration
Abstract. Given the upheavals that seriously affect sociology and threaten its survival, the author proposes to integrate these upheavals by conceiving them as forces of decentering with regard to the classical definitions and methods of the discipline. All of them require taking into account underestimated, or even unrecognized, dependencies of the « social » on the many beings that have been left behind and that « studies » have helped to bring to the forefront. The movement of the article follows a decentering of the subject, agent or social actor who can no longer keep his/her pivotal role, and the forms of the common and the community which are off-center with respect to societies and collectives. Far from society (1), the movement leads against the strangeness (2) of an exteriority now to be integrated into the apprehension of the human being through his or her dependencies (3). To be together with these and those that were previously under-represented (4), requires a shift in making commonality. Commonality has to be more concerned with close attachments and to open up cohabitation beyond the human, at the cost of changes that do not leave the underlying normativity of the social sciences untouched. Modes of government emancipate from the city (5) by moving beyond the market economy to things that support deeper political economy assemblages than the versatile alliances between oligarchs and political authorities.
Abstract. We examine contemporary game-theoretic accounts of ownership as a convention. New results from dynamic networks complicate matters, suggesting that if ownership is conventional, it should not be as prevalent as it seems to be. In fact, such models reveal a tendency toward antiownership norms. The value of resources may be crucial: low stakes lead to conventional ownership, but ownership norms rarely evolve; high stakes lead to a predominance of ownership at the cost of its conventionality. We argue that conventional ownership norms can originate in nonconventional ways and discuss some philosophical implications.
Bakhtiniana: Revista de Estudos do Discurso 15(4), pp. 173-192. Open access
Resumo. Neste artigo, analiso um conjunto de seis cartões comerciais pertencentes a uma duradoura campanha de marketing da Liebig Extract of Meat Co. A análise crítica dos textos promocionais produzidos na virada do século XX oferece insights significativos sobre os mecanismos discursivos que contribuíram para a hegemonização do capitalismo burguês. Diferentemente de outras formas de publicidade, os cartões comerciais não são rapidamente descartados e esquecidos; pelo contrário, eles podem se distanciar dos produtos anunciados para se tornar parte dos discursos populares de instrução em massa. Como produtos e produtores de ideologias capitalistas, os anúncios são um local privilegiado de inscrição do capitalismo e, portanto, se prestam a uma análise crítica. Minha análise mostra como os textos selecionados se baseiam e texturizam os discursos do progresso, impregnados como crenças colonialistas e desencadeando uma cadeia de ações pela qual, mesmo antes de realmente obterem os cartões, são promulgadas ações e crenças capitalistas.
Advertising Capitalism: A Critical Analysis of Early 20th Century LEMCO Trading Cards
Abstract. In this paper, I analyze a set of six trading cards belonging to Liebig’s Extract of Meat Co. long-standing marketing campaign. The critical analysis of promotional texts produced at the turn of the 20th century offer meaningful insights on the discursive mechanisms that contributed to the hegemonization of bourgeois capitalism. Unlike other forms of advertising, trading cards are not rapidly discarded and forgotten; on the contrary, they can detach themselves from the advertised products to become part of popular discourses of mass instruction. As both products and producers of capitalist ideologies, ads are a privileged site of inscription of capitalism, and thus lend themselves to a critical analysis. My analysis shows how the selected texts draws on and textures the discourses of progress, inculcated as colonialist beliefs and triggering an actional chain whereby, even before they actually obtained the cards, capitalist actions and beliefs are enacted.
Extract (EC-Blog translation). “Despite the growth enjoyed by advanced economies towards the end of the 19th century (FRIEDMAN, 2012, p.23), the contradictions of capitalism as an economic system present a challenge for all involved participants: wage-earners, alienated from the fruits of their labour, face a working life of subordination; capitalists “find themselves yoked to an interminable, insatiable process, which is utterly abstract and dissociated from the satisfaction of consumption needs, even of a luxury kind” (BOLTANSKI & CHIAPELLO, 1999, p.7). In order to make the system tenable, it must be grounded on a set of beliefs that would support compatible actions and predispositions; Boltanski & Chiapello (1999), following Max Weber, call this system a “spirit of capitalism.” A spirit of capitalism legitimizes the brand of capitalism of a particular epoch to those committing to the capitalist process of accumulation, answering why: 1) it is a source of enthusiasm and stimulation, leading to a more enlightened, healthier and prosperous life; 2) it offers security for them and their children; and 3) it contributes to the common good and can be defended from accusations of injustice.” (p. 176-177)
Julia Bannwart, Anna Laura Ludwig, Nora Moser & Robert Schäfer (2020)
Swiss Journal of Sociology. Online first, pp. 1-40. Open acess.
Zusammenfassung. Boltanski und Chiapello formulieren die These, dass sich der Geist des Kapitalismus im Verlauf des 20. Jahrhunderts gewandelt habe. Im Zentrum des neuen Geistes würden nicht mehr Fleiss, Disziplin und Ordentlichkeit stehen, sondern Passion, Authentizität oder Kreativität. Dieser Beitrag widmet sich der Frage, ob die Qualifikationsanforderungen in Deutschschweizer Stellenanzeigen auf die Existenz eines neuen Geistes schliessen lassen. Die Resultate verweisen auf ein Revival der disziplinbezogenen Qualifikationen und zeigen, dass passionsbezogene Qualifikationen nicht substituierend, sondern ergänzend nachgefragt werden.
A New Spirit of Capitalism? Quantitative Analysis of Swiss-German Print Job Advertisements (1955–2005) and Their Time Diagnostic Relevance
Abstract. Boltanski and Chiapello put forward the thesis that the spirit of capitalism has fundamentally changed in the course of the 20th century. According to them, diligence, discipline and orderliness are no longer at the core of the new spirit, but values such as passion, authenticity or creativity. Following this line of thought, this contribution analyzes whether the qualifications required in Swiss-German job advertisements suggest the existence of such a new spirit. The results point to a revival of discipline-related qualifications and show that passion-related qualifications are not demanded as their substitutes, but rather in addition.
Christopher Smith Ochoa, Frank Gadinger & Taylan Yildiz (2020)
European Journal of International Security. Online first
Abstract. Current debates about surveillance demonstrate the complexity of political controversies whose uncertainty and moral ambiguities render normative consensus difficult to achieve. The question of how to study political controversies remains a challenge for IR scholars. Critical security studies scholars have begun to examine political controversies around surveillance by exploring changing security practices in the everyday. Yet, (de)legitimation practices have hitherto not been the focus of analysis. Following recent practice-oriented research, we develop a conceptual framework based on the notion of ‘narrative legitimation politics’. We first introduce the concept of ‘tests’ from Boltanski’s pragmatic sociology to categorise the discursive context and different moral reference points (truth, reality, existence). Second, we combine pragmatic sociology with narrative analysis to enable the study of dominant justificatory practices. Third, we develop the framework through a practice-oriented exploration of the Snowden controversy with a focus on the US and Germany. We identify distinct justificatory practices in each test format linked to narrative devices (for example, plots, roles, metaphors) whose fluid, contested dynamics have the potential to effect change. The framework is particularly relevant for IR scholars interested in legitimacy issues, the normativity of practices, and the power of narratives.
An Ethnography of the International Disaster Community
Sandrine Revet (2010)
Cham: Palgrave Macmillan/Springer.
This book analyses the making of the international world of ‘natural’ disasters by its professionals. Through a long-term ethnographic study of this arena, the author unveils the various elements that are necessary for the construction of an international world: a collective narrative, a shared language, and standardized practices. The book analyses the two main framings that these professionals use to situate themselves with regards to a disaster: preparedness and resilience, arguing that the making of the world of ‘natural’ disasters reveals how heterogeneous, conflicting, and sometimes competing elements are put together.
Extract. « This book does not focus on how disaster victim populations explain and seek meaning in the upheaval they have experienced. It instead trains its attention on “natural” disaster professionals and the way in which they analyze, interpret, and understand these events. It also seeks to show what these people mobilize to deal with disasters or diminish their impacts. In this regard, it draws on pragmatic sociology (Boltanski and Thévenot 1995) and its concepts of “regimes of action” or “regimes of engagement” (Thévenot 2006), to examine the relationship between the apparatuses utilized by these professionals faced with brutal events they are expected to mitigate and the explanatory frameworks, or their way of attributing causes to such events. » (p. 8)
Extract. “It is striking that many sociologists observe that their discipline has failed to establish an adequate intellectual framework for the systematic analysis of money. […] How is such a deficiency of sociological thought to be explained— that is, the absence of a general conception of money which would be ‘coherent’ and ‘systematic’? Let us begin by dismissing the notion that this discipline should have intentionally removed this object from its field of study because it was ‘insufficiently sociological’. This proposition is quite simply absurd. To be convinced of its absurdity, one need only read the important work of some contemporary sociologists. If there is such a deficiency, it relates to sociology in general. The existence of notable exceptions leaves no doubt as to the relevance and originality of the sociological perspective in monetary matters.” (239/240)
Conférence de Florence Padovani. Conference 8 December 2020, Bejing, China. Conference report.
Le 8 décembre 2020, Florence Padovani, directrice du CFC, a donné une conférence à l’Université normale de Pékin (BNU) pour une classe d’étudiants en master de sociologie sur le thème de la sociologie pragmatique française. Cette conférence fait suite aux échanges organisés en mai 2019 à BNU par le CFC et l’Ecole de sociologie de BNU. Le CFC avait alors accueilli les sociologues Laurent Thévenot, Romuald Normand, Marc Breviglieri et Camille Salgues pour présenter leurs travaux.
On December 8, 2020, Florence Padovani, director of the CFC, gave a lecture at the Beijing Normal University (BNU) for a class of master’s students in sociology on the theme of French pragmatic sociology. This conference follows the exchanges organized in May 2019 at BNU by the CFC and the School of Sociology of BNU. The CFC had then welcomed sociologists Laurent Thévenot, Romuald Normand, Marc Breviglieri and Camille Salgues to present their work.