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The Substance of Conventions in the Economy (of Convention)

Online-Lecture given by Guillemette de Larquier (via Zoom) at the Social Research Colloquium (University of Lucerne, Switzerland). 05 October from 16:15-17:00 (afterwards discussion).

Economics of convention (EC) became visible with the special issue of la Revue économique published in 1989, entitled “Économie des conventions.” It is remarkable that all the authors, Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Olivier Favereau, André Orléan, Robert Salais, and Laurent Thévenot, except François Eymard-Duvernay, cited in their respective articles the notions of convention developed by the philosopher David Lewis in 1969 and the economist John Maynard Keynes in 1936. These are clearly the economic references of EC. They have in common to study situations characterized by an infinite specularity of individual reasoning, and confronting the two approaches lead to question the hypothesis of rationality that was best suited to the plurality of coordination studied by EC (Diaz-Bone and Larquier, 2022).

The communication will follow this economic entry of EC. Actually, the concept of conventions leads economists to ask themselves three questions: 1/ What type of uncertainty (of the coordination)? 2/ What type of rationality (of the individuals)? What type of normativity (of the conventions)? The answers to these three questions reveal what the substance of a convention is for David Lewis (and Robert Sugden), for John Maynard Keynes and for EC. Also, it will be of great interest to understand what each approach can say about the dynamics of conventions.

”Maskipakko ja vähän äkkiä ” : Kasvomaskit Helsingin Sanomien mielipidekirjoituksissa vuonna 2020

“Make face masks mandatory, now” : Face masks as a topic in letters to the editor in Helsingin Sanomat during 2020

Riikka Elina Pasanen (2022)

MA thesis. Helsinki: University of Helsinki

Abstract. Tutkielma tarkastelee kasvomaskikeskustelua Helsingin Sanomissa julkaistuissa mielipidekirjoituksissa vuonna 2020. Sen tavoitteena on selvittää, miten kansalaiset argumentoivat kasvomaskien ja niihin liittyvien politiikkatoimivaihtoehtojen puolesta ja niitä vastaan. Covid-19-pandemia on ajankohtainen ja tärkeä tutkimuskohde. Suun ja nenän alueen peittävät henkilökohtaiset suojaimet eli maskit ovat pandemian keskeisiä symboleja. Tutkimuksen teoreettinen viitekehys on Luc Boltanskin ja Laurent Thévenot’n kehittämä julkisen oikeuttamisen teoria ja siihen kuuluvat seitsemän oikeuttamisen maailmaa. Tutkimuksen aineisto koostuu 66 mielipidekirjoituksesta, joita on analysoitu laadullisen sisällönanalyysin keinoin. Analyysissa on selvitetty, mitä oikeuttamisen maailmoja ja argumentteja kansalaiset käyttävät esittäessään kannatusta ja kritiikkiä kasvomaskin käyttöä kohtaan sekä sitä, miten kirjoittajat tuovat esille Suomen maskisuosituksen ja mahdollisen maskipakon etuja ja haasteita oikeuttamisen maailmojen valossa. Helsingin Sanomien mielipidekirjoitukset ovat olleet pääosin maskien käytön kannalla jo ennen virallista maskisuositusta. Helsingin Sanomiin kirjoittaville mielipidekirjoitus on yhteiskunnallisen vaikuttamisen kanava, jonka kautta kirjoittajat yrittävät vaikuttaa päättäjiin. Päättäjille viestivät lehdessä aktiivisesti niin asiantuntijat, edustajat kuin yksilötkin. Analyysin perusteella asiantuntijat kirjoittivat aktiivisemmin kasvomaskeista päättäjille kuin yksityishenkilöt. Kansalaisille osoitetut kirjoitukset tulivat useimmiten toisilta kansalaisilta. Asiantuntijoiden ja yksityishenkilöiden repertuaareissa ovat osin eri oikeutusmaailmat. Aineiston perusteella moni kirjoittaja on kokenut elokuun puolessa välissä voimaan tulleen virallisen maskisuosituksen riittämättömäksi. Solidaarisuuden puutteen tai maskittomien itsekkyyden narratiivi johtaa kansalaisuuden maailman perusteluihin nojaavat kirjoittajat kritisoimaan suosituksia ja kannattamaan kansalaiset tasa-arvoistavaa maskipakkoa. Viranomaisten ristiriitainen viestintä ja muuttuvat linjaukset kasvomaskeista ovat luoneet poikkeustilanteessa otollisen areenan kansalaiskeskustelulle, johon myös asiantuntijat osallistuvat. Tämä poliittisen sosiologian alalle sijoittuva tapaustutkimus on siis myös demokratian toteutumisen tutkimusta ja maskin käyttöön liittyneiden politiikkatoimien vaikutusten arviointia. Kasvomaskeja yhteiskuntatieteellisestä näkökulmasta käsitteleviä tutkimuksia on julkaistu toistaiseksi hyvin vähän Suomessa ja maailmalla. Tämä tutkimus valottaa toistaiseksi erittäin vähän tutkittua aihetta ja lisää tietoa Covid-19-pandemian yhteiskunnallisista vaikutuksista tarjoten kiinnostavia lähtökohtia jatkotutkimukselle.

Abstract. The study examines the face mask debate in opinion pieces published in Helsingin Sanomat in 2020. It aims to explore how citizens argue for and against face masks and related policy options. The Covid-19 pandemic is a timely and important research topic. Personal protective masks covering the mouth and nose are key symbols of the pandemic. The theoretical framework of the study is the theory of public justification developed by Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot and its seven worlds of justification. The data consists of 66 opinion pieces analyzed using qualitative content analysis. The analysis has explored which worlds of justification and arguments are used by citizens to express support and criticism of the use of face masks, and how the authors present the advantages and challenges of the Finnish mask recommendation and a possible mask ban in the light of the worlds of justification. Helsingin Sanomat’s male-bias articles have been largely in favor of mask use even before the official mask recommendation. For those writing for Helsingin Sanomat, opinion writing is a channel of social influence through which writers try to influence decision-makers. Experts, representatives and individuals alike actively communicate with decision-makers in the paper. Based on the analysis, experts were more active in writing about growth issues to decision-makers than individuals. Writing to citizens was most often from other citizens. The repertoires of experts and private individuals are in part based on different worlds of legitimacy. The material suggests that many authors felt that the official mask recommendation, which came into force in mid-August, was inadequate. The narrative of a lack of solidarity or the selfishness of the masked leads authors who rely on the arguments of the world of citizenship to criticize the recommendations and to advocate a masquerade that equates citizens. The contradictory communication and changing policies of the authorities on growth masks have created an exceptional arena for civil debate, in which experts are also involved. This case study in the field of political sociology is thus also a study of the implementation of democracy and an evaluation of the effects of policy measures associated with the use of the mask. So far, very few studies on growth masks from a social science perspective have been published in Finland and abroad. This study sheds light on a topic that has been very little studied so far and adds to the knowledge on the social impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, providing interesting starting points for further research.

Lien / Link

CfP: Economic Organizations, Uncertainty, and Risk: Sociological Analyses of Economic Organizations in Times of Crises

The past 15 years represent an era of capitalism in crises. Phenomena like the global financial crisis (2007-2009), followed by the European sovereign debt crisis in 2010, major political occurrences such as the Brexit referendum (2016), or Covid-19 have challenged economic and political reality that likewise engendered critics towards it. Furthermore, the danger of an ecological collapse is omnipresent. And with respect to the ongoing war in Ukraine it is currently impossible to foresee what humanitarian and social catastrophe is looming.

We are looking for papers dealing with different coping modes of organizations such as conventions, translation processes or how techniques of quantification might have an impact on organizational behavior in risk management.

Submission of abstracts: 31 October 2022

For the full call and timeline please visit: https://www.journals.elsevier.com/scandinavian-journal-of-management/forthcoming-special-issues/economic-organizations-uncertainty-and-risk-sociological-analyses-of-economic-organizations-in-times-of-crises

Organizers: Konstanze Senge, Alberto Cevolini, Bernadette Hof, Markus Lange and Audrey Terracher-Lipinski

Seminar “Soziologie der Konventionen – Einführung in den neopragmatischen Institutionalismus”

Sociology of conventions – Introduction to neopragmatic institutionalism

(BA/MA level) at University of Lucerne, autumn semester 2022, (weekly) from Thursday 22.09.2022 on, at 10:15 – 12:00, Room 4.B54. Lucerne: University of Lucerne

Ankündigung. Die Soziologie der Konventionen steht im Zentrum der neuen pragmatischen Soziologie. Insbesondere durch die Arbeiten von Luc Boltanski, Laurent Thévenot, Eve Chiapello, Alain Desrosières oder Robert Salais ist diese Wissenschaftsbewegung heute international und transdisziplinär einflussreich geworden. Konventionen sind institutionelle Logiken, die Akteure handlungspraktisch heranziehen für die Interpretation, Evaluation und Valorisierung von Personen, Objekten und Praktiken in Situationen. Konventionen werden für die Produktion, Distribution und Konsumption von Gütern und Dienstleistungen genauso herangezogen wie für die Beurteilung kultureller Praktiken, politischer Engagements oder massenmedialer Inhalte. Im Zentrum der Soziologie der Konventionen steht die institutionentheoretische Analyse von Qualitäten, Bewertungen und Qualifikationen, welche in institutionellen Settings und basierend auf Konventionen generiert werden. Damit liegt mit der Soziologie der Konventionen auch eine Soziologie der Quantifizierung und Kategorisierung vor. Zugleich fokussiert diese die pragmatischen Bedingungen für Kritik und Rechtfertigung in Situationen, die durch eine Pluralität an Konventionen gekennzeichnet sind. Damit ist die Soziologie der Konventionen auch eine politische Soziologie der Konflikte und Kompromisse. Das Seminar bietet einmal eine Einführung in die Soziologie der Konventionen. Dann gibt es die Möglichkeit, die Anwendungen in Bereichen wie Wirtschaft, Politik, Kultur, Gesundheit, Recht sowie Sozialforschung im Seminar kennen zu lernen. Weiter werden methodologische Grundlagen dieser pragmatischen Soziologie vermittelt.

Announcement. The sociology of conventions is at the center of the new pragmatic sociology. Especially through the work of Luc Boltanski, Laurent Thévenot, Eve Chiapello, Alain Desrosières or Robert Salais, this scientific movement has become internationally and transdisciplinarily influential today. Conventions are institutional logics that acteurs invoke for the interpretation, evaluation and valorization of persons, objects and practices in situations. Conventions are used for the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services as well as for the evaluation of cultural practices, political engagements, or mass media content. At the center of the sociology of conventions is the institution-theoretical analysis of qualities, evaluations, and qualifications that are generated in institutional settings and based on conventions. Thus, the sociology of conventions is also a sociology of quantification and categorization. At the same time, it focuses on the pragmatic conditions for critique and justification in situations characterized by a plurality of conventions. The sociology of conventions is also a political sociology of conflicts and compromises. The seminar offers an introduction to the sociology of conventions. Then there is the possibility to get to know the applications in areas like economy, politics, culture, health, law as well as social research in the seminar. Furthermore, methodological basics of this pragmatic sociology will be taught.

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Journée “Valeur, valeurs”

Lundi 19 septembre 2022, 13h45 / 18h, Amphi Max Weber (bâtiment Max Weber), Université Paris Nanterre
Journée organisée par l’équipe du séminaire RESPIR (EconomiX / Université Paris Nanterre).

Workshop “Valeur, valeurs”. 19 Septembre 13:45 – 18:00. Building Bâtiment Max Weber (amphitéâtre) University Paris Nanterre
Organisers: Fabrice Tricou, Sophie Harnay and Laurence Scialom

PROGRAMME

Accueil des participants (13h45 / 14h).
Introduction : Fabrice Tricou (14h / 14h10).

A) Contributions sur le thème : « Valeurs et Prix »
Présidence : Sophie Harnay
– Jean Cartelier (14h10 / 14h30) : Contre la théorie de la valeur
– Sylvain Piron (14h30 / 14h50) : La normativité de la valeur
– Luc Boltanski et Arnaud Esquerre (14h50 / 15h10) : De la valeur comme justification du prix
Discussion générale (15h10 / 15h50) introduite par Jérôme Deyris et Maxime Duval

B) Table ronde : « De quoi la valeur est-elle le nom ? »
Présidence : Nathalie Berta
– Claire Pignol (16h10 / 16h30) : « L’omnipotence, l’omniscience, l’omniconvenance de l’argent »
– André Orléan (16h30 / 16h50) : « Toutes les valeurs sont des espèces d’un même genre »
– Pierre Zaoui (16h50 / 17h10) : Les trois grandes conceptions philosophiques de la valeur : poids d’être (platonisme), relation (de l’empirisme à Marx) et nouveauté (cynisme et nihilisme)
Discussion générale (17h10 / 17h50) introduite par Baptiste Bridonneau et Thibault Mirabel

Synthèse finale : Gaëtan Le Quang (17h50 / 18h)

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Sociology/Economy of Conventions: An Interdisciplinary Conference for Methods and Theory Development (with Special Focus on Education)

International workshop, 15th/16th September 2022 at Leibniz Universität Hannover.

Organisers: Christian Imdorf, Arne Böker and Christian Schneijderberg.

The aims of the workshop are to promote networking between convention scholars, to facilitate dialogue across disciplines, to support and network young researchers, and to advance the further development of the research program of the sociology of conventions. If you are interested in taking part in the in-person workshop at short notice, please contact Charlotte Hattenbach (charlotte.hattenbach@stud.uni-hannover.de).

Bildung und Konventionen: Herausforderungen, Befunde, Desiderate

Education and conventions: Challenges, findings, desiderata

Panel at the upcoming congress of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie (DGS, German Sociological Association)
University of Bielefeld, Germany, 28 September 2022, 9:00 – 11:45.
Organizers: Christian Imdorf and Kenneth Horvath

Präsentation. Der Beitrag bietet in einem ersten Teil einen Forschungsüberblick über Schwerpunkte und Entwicklungslinien in aktuellen Anwendungen der Ökonomie und Soziologie von Konventionen (EC/SC) im Bereich der Bildung. Das innovative Potenzial dieser Ansätze ist zum Teil ihrer Diversität zu verdanken: Konventionentheoretische Forschung zu Bildungspolitik und Bildungspraxis erfolgte in verschiedenen Disziplinen wie Soziologie, Erziehungswissenschaft, Wissenschaftsforschung, Politikwissenschaft und Sozialarbeit. Die bisherigen empirischen Studien befassen sich mit Institutionen wie Schule, Berufsbildung, Hochschulbildung oder Erwachsenenbildung, mit Themen wie dem Übergang von der Schule in den Beruf, mit Lehrplänen oder Berufspraktiken, mit Herausforderungen wie Ungleichheit oder Digitalisierung oder mit Phänomenen wie Governance und Reformen im Bildungswesen. Es lassen sich drei komplementäre und vielfältig miteinander verzahnte Schwerpunkte konventionentheoretischer Arbeiten im Bildungsbereich ausmachen. Die erste Perspektive fokussiert Konventionen als Rechtfertigungsordnungen und Prinzipien der Gerechtigkeit und analysiert auf dieser Grundlage, wie Bildungsungleichheiten hergestellt und begründet bzw. wie Ungerechtigkeit thematisiert und kritisiert wird. Der zweite Ansatz rückt Konventionen als Grammatiken von Handlungen und Formen der Koordination in den Blickpunkt, um zu untersuchen, wie Akteure in ungewissen und spannungsreichen Situationen des pädagogischen Alltags Koordination und Kooperation sicherstellen, indem sie etwa Praktiken und Routinen hinterfragen und neu ausrichten. Die dritte Sichtweise hebt den Charakter von Konventionen als Wertordnungen und Qualitätsprinzipien (auch als Grundlage sozialer Klassifikationen) hervor. Sie hilft zu verstehen, wie Qualität durch Prozesse und Praktiken der (E-)Valuierung entsteht und wirksam wird, wenn beispielsweise Studierende selektiert, bewertet oder für spätere Berufslaufbahnen positioniert werden. Der Beitrag umfasst darüber hinaus in einem zweiten Teil einen Kommentar zu den vier weiteren Einzelbeiträgen der Veranstaltung im Hinblick auf empirische, theoretische und methodologische Forschungsdesiderate.

Presentation. In a first part, this contribution offers a research overview of foci and lines of development in current applications of the economics and sociology of conventions (EC/SC) in education. The innovative potential of these approaches is due in part to their diversity: convention theory research on educational policy and practice has occurred in a variety of disciplines, including sociology, education, science studies, political science, and social work. Empirical studies to date have focused on institutions such as schools, vocational training, higher education, or adult education; on issues such as the transition from school to work; on curricula or professional practices; on challenges such as inequality or digitalization; or on phenomena such as governance and reforms in education. Three complementary and variously intertwined foci of convention-theoretical work in education can be identified. The first perspective focuses on conventions as justificatory orders and principles of justice and, on this basis, analyzes how educational inequalities are produced and justified and how injustice is thematized and criticized. The second approach focuses on conventions as grammars of action and forms of coordination in order to examine how actors ensure coordination and cooperation in uncertain and tense situations of everyday pedagogical life, for instance by questioning and realigning practices and routines. The third perspective emphasizes the character of conventions as value systems and quality principles (also as the basis of social classifications). It helps to understand how quality emerges and becomes effective through processes and practices of (e-)valorization, for example, when students are selected, evaluated, or positioned for later careers. The paper also includes, in a second part, a commentary on the four other individual papers in the course in terms of empirical, theoretical, and methodological research desiderata.

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Analyzing Realities Trough Conventions – The use of Pragmatic sociology for Understanding Education in the Nordics

Paper session, 11 August 2022, University of Iceland, Room Lögberg – 205
Chair: Christian Imdorf, Leibniz University Hannover
30th Nordic Sociological Association Conference 2022
10-12 August 2022, Reykjavik, Island

Education policy is considered an important instrument for equal opportunities and social mobility as well as a prerequisite for high productivity and high employment. Hence, it is a significant instrument of social policy to implement some of the core elements of the Nordic welfare model. Rather than to contrast myths and realities of this model, this session proposes to distinguish conflicting justification orders, notions of justice and moralities in education which require compromises in order to consolidate reality claims of plural educational worlds. The emergence of New French Pragmatism and the sociology of conventions offer promising analytical tools to analyze the different aims and facets of post-secondary education at the intersection of the educational system and the labor market. Beyond orders of justification, conventions in education also refer to value orders and plural notions of educational quality, as well as to logics of action for the analysis of governance, transformations and reforms of educational institutions and organizations. The application of convention theory in education thereby represents an alternative to structuralist traditions which tend to focus on rules that act outside of individuals (Durkheim) or the role of incorporated class-dispositions (Bourdieu), as well as rational choice theory, which advocates a more individualist and utility-maximizing model of actors and society (Boudon). Rather, the new pragmatic approach emphasizes the agency of individuals (e.g. students, teachers, headmasters) when coordinating their social actions in the context of situational cultural orders. While convention theory has been applied in France since the late 1980, and for some time in the German-speaking countries, it has only more recently received serious scholarly attention in the Nordics. This session brings together ongoing research on post-secondary education (folk high schools, higher vocational education, municipal adult education), which serves societal aims at the crossroads of the different priorities of the welfare state, civil society, and the demands for labor market. Paper 1 looks at the plural worth of education, justificatory regimes and forms of student engagement in Arts Education programs at Swedish Folk High Schools (Fürst & Nylander), a type of school which has a long-standing and strong association with Nordic culture and civil society. Paper 2 analyses different justificatory logics of skilling in the plural worlds of higher vocational education, a more recent educational institution in Sweden which is supposed to serve local labor market demands (Ye & Nylander). Paper 3 investigates how tendering-based procurement as a management tool shapes the very nature and value of Swedish municipal adult education between welfare service and market good (Holmqvist). Paper 4 presents a book-project which will show how pragmatism as a theoretical analytical viewpoint can contribute to new takes on both the micro level and macro level processes in the Norwegian educational setting (Haugseth & Smeplass). The session ends with some concluding remarks against the background of previous European research on education and conventions by the session chair (Imdorf). In sum, this session offers an in-depth introduction to the usefulness of pragmatic sociology for analyzing the plural realities of post-compulsory education in the Nordics through a variation of different cases and examples.

  • Henrik Fürst, Uppsala University & Erik Nylander, Linköping University: Variety of Values in Arts Education: Engaging in Music, Creative Writing, and the Visual Arts at the
    Folk High School
  • Erik Nylander, Linköping University & Rebecca Ye, Stockholm University: Justificatory logics of skilling: the plural worlds of higher vocational education participation
  • Diana Holmqvist, Linköping University: Between welfare service and market good – how tendering-based procurement as management tool shapes the value of Swedish municipal adult education
  • Jan Frode Haugseth, Eli Smeplass, Norwegian University of Science and Technology: Social Pragmatism in Education – New Directions in Educational Research and Practice

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CFP: Luc Boltanski und die Literatursoziologie

Luc Boltanski and the Sociology of Literature

Konzept und Organisation: David-Christopher Assmann
Institut für deutsche Literatur und ihre Didaktik, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt

Deadline: 15 July 2022

Die Rezeption der Arbeiten Luc Boltanskis steht in literatursoziologischen Zusammenhängen zu großen Teilen aus. Zwar werden einzelne Ergebnisse und theoretische Konzepte des französischen Soziologen und Forschungsdirektors an der Pariser École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales hier und da aufgegriffen. Zum tragfähigen literatursoziologischen Referenzpunkt hat es jedoch bisher allenfalls der zusammen mit Ève Chiapello veröffentlichte Band mit dem mittlerweile zum Schlagwort geronnenen Titel „Der neue Geist des Kapitalismus“ geschafft. In einschlägigen literatursoziologischen oder -theoretischen Überblicksbänden, Lexika und Handbüchern sucht man den Namen Boltanski vergeblich. Überraschend ist diese Leerstelle nicht zuletzt, weil Boltanski sich in seinen Arbeiten immer wieder und nicht nur nebenbei, sondern dezidiert mit kulturellen und künstlerischen, schließlich literarischen Phänomenen beschäftigt.
Der geplante Band setzt an diesem Befund an. In explorativer Ausrichtung soll die Anschlussfähigkeit von Boltanskis Studien für die Generierung und Schärfung literatursoziologischer Fragestellungen und Analysen eruiert werden. Die Beiträge des Bandes fragen erstens in theoretischer Hinsicht nach der Brauchbarkeit der Arbeiten Boltanskis für die literatursoziologische Begriffsbildung, Entwicklung von Fragerichtungen und Perspektivierung von Untersuchungsergebnissen. Zweitens soll in konkreten Fallstudien die Tragweite der Konzepte Boltanskis für literatursoziologisches Arbeiten exemplarisch erprobt werden.

The reception of Luc Boltanski’s work in the sociology of literature is largely lacking. It is true that individual results and theoretical concepts of the French sociologist and research director at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris are taken up here and there. However, the volume published together with Ève Chiapello with the title “Der neue Geist des Kapitalismus” (The New Spirit of Capitalism), which has meanwhile become a buzzword, has so far only managed to become a viable point of reference in the sociology of literature. One searches in vain for the name Boltanski in relevant volumes on the sociology or theory of literature, encyclopedias, and handbooks. This is a surprising omission, not least because Boltanski’s work repeatedly deals with cultural, artistic, and ultimately literary phenomena, and not just in passing.
The planned volume takes this finding as its starting point. In an explorative orientation, the connectivity of Boltanski’s studies for the generation and sharpening of literary-sociological questions and analyses is to be investigated. The contributions of the volume ask firstly from a theoretical point of view about the usefulness of Boltanski’s work for the formation of concepts in the sociology of literature, the development of lines of questioning, and the perspective of research results. Second, the scope of Boltanski’s concepts for literary sociological work will be tested in concrete case studies by way of example.

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Von “Kritik” zu “Engagement durch Experimentalismus” – Ungewissheit als epistemische Grundlage einer alternativen Kritikform

From “critique” to “engagement through experimentalism”. Uncertainty as the epistemic basis of an alternative form of critique

Damaris Lehmann (2022)

Master thesis. Siegen: University of Siegen

Auszug: “Einleitung
[…] Das Verhältnis Soziologie-Kritik ist keins, welches ein für alle Mal bestimmt werden könnte, hier ist die eigene Position der Soziologin maßgebend für ihr Verständnis von der Aufgabe der Soziologie. Den Ausführungen auf den kommenden Seiten liegt die Annahme zugrunde, dass die Soziologie, ob nun intendiert oder nicht. durch ihre Theorien und Forschung, auch wenn einige davon betont deskriptiv sind, an der Konstruktion gesellschaftlicher Wirklichkeit maßgeblich mitwirkt und nicht nur als Zaungast am gesellschaftlichen Leben teilnimmt. Sobald dieser relativ neutrale Boden verlassen wird, in der die Einflussnahme der Soziologie nicht intendiert ist und der Weg zu einer kritischen und intervenierenden Soziologie bewusst beschritten wird, sieht sich die Soziologie ihrerseits mit kritischen Fragen konfrontiert, die ihre epistemologische Befugnis, ihre normativen Bezüge und deren Rechtfertigungen betreffen. Denn weder können normative Maßstäbe im wissenschaftlichen Kontext letztgültig begründet werden, noch kann sich Sozialkritik durch eine „wissenschaftliche Neutralität“ legitimieren (Boltanski und Thévenot 2007: 26).” (S. 2/3)

Extract: “Introduction
[…] The relationship sociology-criticism is not one that could be determined once and for all; here the sociologist’s own position is decisive for her understanding of the task of sociology. The explanations on the following pages are based on the assumption that sociology, whether intentional or not, through its theories and research, even if some of them are emphatically descriptive, plays a decisive role in the construction of social reality and does not merely participate in social life as an onlooker. As soon as this relatively neutral ground is left, in which sociology’s influence is not intended and the path to a critical and intervening sociology is consciously taken, sociology for its part is confronted with critical questions concerning its epistemological authority, its normative references and their justifications. For neither can normative standards be ultimately justified in a scientific context, nor can social criticism legitimize itself through a “scientific neutrality” (Boltanski and Thévenot 2007: 26).” (p. 2/3)

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Doctoral researcher (80-100%) in the project “Algorithmic Sorting in Education” at Zurich University of Teachers Education

Job offer
Start: September 1st, 4 years fixed term contract.
The position is affiliated to the convention theorist Kenneth Horvath

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Unravelling the interplay of pedagogical imaginaries & technological visions in the shaping of AI-based EdTech. The potential employment of AI-based technologies in school education has yielded considerable debate regarding their social consequences. Against this background, this study asks how actors from two key fields of practice – teaching and technology – envision and shape the role of algorithmic sorting in education. Building on French pragmatic sociology, the project employs a qualitative research strategy that combines focus groups (to unravel normative, pedagogical, and technological visions and assumptions that guide how actors reason about algorithmic sorting in education) with in-depth case studies (to investigate how these visions and assumptions relate to everyday professional practices). On this basis, the study promises to significantly further understanding of how AI-based tools might transform social sorting in education and will allow to identify key points to be considered for designing and using algorithmic sorting in an equitable and sustainable manner.

Research objective. One of the crucial trends in the digital transformation concerns the uses of artificial intelligence (AI). Although mostly still in a development stage, AI-based technologies have already yielded considerable debate regarding their social consequences. While proponents argue that AI-based sorting will enhance educational equity by radically personalizing teaching and learning, critical scholarship argues that algorithmic black-boxes might actually reinforce rather than abolish educational disadvantages. Whether or not AI-based technologies will ever develop into equitable and practicable pedagogical tools will depend on many choices made during their development and implementation. The problem that motivates the proposed project is that we know little about how these various decisions are made, negotiated, and justified. Against this background, this study asks how actors from two key fields of practice – teaching and technology – envision and shape the role of algorithmic sorting in education. Although the relations, intersections, and tensions between these two fields are crucial for understanding how educational technologies function as pedagogical and social devices, they have so far hardly ever been studied in their interplay.

Methodology. The project builds on French pragmatic sociology to grasp the complexity of normative considerations, socio-technical visions, institutional settings, technologies, and everyday work situations at play in these processes. The project employs a qualitative research strategy that combines two components: (A) Focus groups („qualitative experiments“) are organized to unravel normative, pedagogical, and technological visions and assumptions that guide how actors reason about algorithmic sorting in education. (B) In-depth case studies are conducted with participants from both fields to investigate how these visions and assumptions relate to everyday professional practices. On this basis, the study promises to significantly further understanding of how AI-based tools might transform social sorting in education and will allow to identify key points to be considered for designing and using algorithmic sorting in an equitable and sustainable manner.

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Verteilte Zurechenbarkeit. Die Bearbeitung von Störungen im Öffentlichen Verkehr

Distributed Accountability. The processing of disruptions in public transport

Tobias Röhl (2022)

Habilitation thesis. Frankfurt: Campus

Über das Buch. Störungen des öffentlichen Verkehrs sind nervenaufreibend. Doch wo beschwert man sich, wenn der Zug ausfällt? Beim Personal vor Ort oder gleich beim Unternehmen? Der ethnographische Blick ins Störungsmanagement der Verkehrsbetriebe zeigt: Jeweils für sich genommen ist keine der beiden Strategien hilfreich. Mit Rückgriff auf Forschungen zu Accountability und technischen Infrastrukturen zeichnet die organisationsethnographische Studie nach, wie Fragen der Verantwortlichkeit technisch vermittelt und zwischen verschiedenen Akteuren hin- und hergeschoben werden. Diese “verteilte Zurechenbarkeit” lässt sich nicht in einzelnen Individuen verorten, sondern findet sich im Zusammenspiel unterschiedlicher Akteure, in den Prozessen und Praktiken des Störungsmanagements.

Auszug: “Accounts sind Rechtfertigungen, die antizipierend oder retrospektiv auf die Abweichung von einer erwarteten Relevanztegel reagieren (Robinson 2016). Für Marvin B. Scott und Stanford M. Lyman (1968) liegt hierin ein Bindeglied zwischen der mikrosoziologischen Beobachtung von Gesprächen und grundlegend makrosoziologischen Fragen. Wofür und mit welchen Argumenten wir unser Handeln rechtfertigen, zeigt grundsätzlich, welchen gesellschaftlichen Sinn wir unserem Tun beimessen — und zwar jenseits lokaler Idiosynkrasien, denn die Argumente müssen sich nicht nur vor alter ego, sondern auch vor einem Tertius bewähren, um gesellschaftliche Geltung beanspruchen zu können (siehe hierzu Lindemann 2010). Damit sind auch hier Abweichungen dankbare Einfallstore für die soziologische Analyse gesellschaftlicher Seibstverständlichkeiten, die oft »seen but unnoticed« (Garfinkel 1967b, 36) bleiben. Einen bekannten Versuch, diese Repertoires des accounting za systematisieten, findet sich in Luc Boltanskis und Laurent Thevenots Überlegungen zur Rechtfertigung als soziale Praxis (Boltanski und Thévenot 2007). Die dort entwickelte Soziologie der Konventionen findet — mit reichlich zeitlicher Verzögerung — seit einigen Jahren auch in der deutschsprachigen Soziologie einigen Nachhall (siehe etwa Diaz-Bone 2011; Bogusz 2018). Zentrales Merkmal dieses Programms ist die Rehabilitierung der Kritikfähigkeit aller Akteure (Boltanski und Thévenot 2007). Im Rückgriff auf Ethnomethodologie und Pragmatismus begegnen uns hier kompetente Akteure, die in der Lage sind, die eigenen Handlungen zu rechtfertigen und die Handlungen Dritter zu kritisieren. Damit verfolgen Boltanski und Thévenot eine Soziologie der Kritik, die sich von einer kritischen Soziologie im Sinne Pierre Bourdieus abgrenzt (siehe hierzu Potthast 2004). Statt der Kritik der Soziologinnen steht nun die Kritik durch alle sozialen Akteure gleichermaßen im Mittelpunkt.” (S. 47/48) 

About the book. Public transportation disruptions are nerve-wracking. But where do you complain when the train is cancelled? To the staff on the spot or straight to the company? An ethnographic look at the disruption management of public transport companies shows: Neither strategy is helpful on its own. Drawing on research on accountability and technical infrastructures, the organizational ethnographic study traces how questions of responsibility are technically mediated and shifted back and forth between different actors. This “distributed accountability” cannot be located in single individuals, but is found in the interplay of different actors, in the processes and practices of incident management.

Extract: “Accounts are justifications that respond anticipatively or retrospectively to deviation from an expected rule of relevance (Robinson 2016). For Marvin B. Scott and Stanford M. Lyman (1968), this is a link between the micro-sociological observation of conversations and fundamentally macro-sociological questions. What we justify our actions for and with which arguments fundamentally shows what social meaning we ascribe to our actions – and this beyond local idiosyncrasies, because the arguments must prove themselves not only before alter ego but also before a tertius in order to be able to claim social validity (on this, see Lindemann 2010). Thus, here too, deviations are grateful gateways for the sociological analysis of social self evidences, which often remain “seen but unnoticed” (Garfinkel 1967b, 36). A well-known attempt to systematize these repertoires of accounting can be found in Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot’s reflections on justification as social practice (Boltanski and Thévenot 2007). The sociology of conventions developed there has also found some resonance – with ample delay – in German-language sociology in recent years (see, for example, Diaz-Bone 2011; Bogusz 2018). The central feature of this program is the rehabilitation of the critical capacity of all actors (Boltanski and Thévenot 2007). Drawing on ethnomethodology and pragmatism, we encounter here competent actors who are able to justify their own actions and criticize the actions of others. In this way, Boltanski and Thévenot pursue a sociology of critique that is distinct from a critical sociology in the sense of Pierre Bourdieu (on this, see Potthast 2004). Instead of criticism by sociologists, the focus is now on criticism by all social actors alike.” (p. 47/48) 

Lien / Link

Adult Education at Auction: On Tendering-Based Procurement and Valuation in Swedish Municipal Adult Education

Diana Holmqvist (2022)

PhD thesis. Linköping: University of Linkööping. Open access.

Abstract. Our understanding of adult education’s purpose and value is linked to how we think ‘good’ education should be organised and provided. This thesis explores the interplay between organisation and values by looking at how conceptualisations and valuations of adult education are affected when private providers become involved in public education.

For this purpose, the study draws on the example of Swedish municipal adult education (MAE). On the one hand, Swedish adult education is organised to compensate for structural inequalities and mitigate barriers to participation in education for citizens. On the other hand, private providers are allowed to make profits from their involvement in public education. Sweden’s combined commitment to universal welfare and the market make this a particularly interesting case to examine. Mainly contracted through tendering-based procurement, for-profit companies (and to a lesser extent non-public organisations) now service almost half of all MAE course participants. The thesis explores how municipalities construct the value and purpose of MAE when placing orders with private providers, and how teachers working in MAE reflect upon the purpose and value of MAE.

Drawing on empirical data from both procurements and interviews, the study shows that municipalities use tendering-based procurement to shape the public-private partnership and promote different values. On a national level, this creates a heterogenous landscape of adult education provision and valuations. Furthermore, the study shows that there are tensions between MAE teachers’ professional self-conceptualisations and the realities put forth by policy or constructed in the procurement process. Analysing how teachers navigate these tensions, the study shows that teachers work to resist reformation, while they also become complicit in enforcing values promoted through policy and procurement.

Lien / Link

Production, Retailing and Consumption of Food. Commodity Chains before and after Covid-19

Conference 16./17.06.2022, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany

Organizers: Elmar Kulke, Linda Hering and Jakob Engel (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany), Nina Baur and Lara Espeter (Technische Universität Berlin, Germany)

Aims of the Conference

During the last decades, global economic interactions have been strongly influenced by the development of global commodity chains (GCC) which are linking different steps of production, transportation/logistics, retailing and consumption at different places all over the world. In the beginning, only manufacturing industries were organized on a global level. Today more and more fresh food, vegetables or flowers are coming from new-established export-oriented farming in countries of the Global South. All in all, in a globalizing world, how these global commodity chains are organized and develop is of great importance for the functioning of the economy and society. This is especially true for agricultural production in general and the production of fresh produce in particular which are especially sensitive sectors both for producers and consumers: While agriculture is only a minor economic sector in highly industrialized countries, in the Global South, agricultural production remains an important sector. Agriculture thus remains an important source of the livelihoods for large parts of the world population. Regional-, supra-regional and export-linkages open farmer reliable incomes and enable them to invest in improving the production; but they also have to obey social and ecological standards defined by retailing and consumption. However, the system also makes farmers vulnerable, if they face sudden changes through competition with new developing production clusters or external shocks like Corona. For highbrow consumers in the Global North, fresh produce such as flowers or exotic fresh fruit served out of season have been a source of distinction for a long time. More importantly, for not-so-well-off consumers, food is especially sensitive because eating is not only a necessity but in many parts of the world, poverty is still linked to lack of food. Even in Europe, the experience and fear of starvation is deeply engrained in cultural memory, as for long periods of European history, everyday lives were characterized by lack of food and famines. Before the Corona crisis, this seemed a thing of the past: Modern-day consumers experienced food and other fresh produce as a commodity like any other to be bought securely on a regular basis all over the year in the local stores without having to worry about their origins and availability. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought this seeming security to an immediate end: The sudden and ongoing lock-downs and restrictions of transport have shown how fragile and vulnerable global commodity chains in general and commodity chains of fresh agricultural products in particular are. Understanding how commodity chains, logistics, transport and communication for agricultural fresh products are organized and have been re-organized during the last decades, as well as comprehending the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on commodity chains thus is of utmost importance. Such analyses of should not only be based on theoretical considerations but also on empirical evidence and more detailed analyses. The conference will provide this empirical evidence. The main objective of the conference is to analyze how production, retailing and consumption of food interlock as well as how external shocks induce the (re-)organization of the commodity chains for agricultural fresh-products. We will particularly analyze the Covid-19 -down-induced) and the long-term (induced by attempts to establish of reliable and robust chains) positive and negative effects both on 2 the organization of commodity chains and the individual actors of the chain. We will inspect how the spatial distribution of commodity chains interacts with actors on the actor levels by combining the economic geography approaches of global value chains (GVC) and global production networks (GPN) with the economic sociological approaches of convention theory and world systems analysis. The Papers address one of the following questions:

  1. How were commodity chains organized and spatially structured before the Covid-19 crisis and what challenges did they face during the crisis?
  2. What are the driving forces of these changes? That is: Who are powerful actors in the chain(consumers, retailers, intermediaries, agricultural producers, policy-makers) and where are they located? Who acted when, why and with what effects as a consequence of the Covid-19 crisis?
  3. What short-term effects (during the crisis) and long-term effects (after the crisis) does this have on the spatial organization of the chain and on the actors of the chain? What effect does the organization?

Please register until 10.06.22. Contact: linda.hering@hu-berlin.de