Life Out of Sequence: Data-Driving Life and Science Studies

John Weaver & Thiago Ranniery (2019)

Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies. Online first

Abstract. This article focuses on Hallem Stevens’ work Life out of Sequence: A Data-Driven History of Bioinformatics and stresses the important process of data generation and how this process has now become an issue, in some fields, beyond human control. We suggest the best way to approach the proliferation of data is to adopt an onto-epistemic position. We further explore the rise of an algorithmic society and the problem “gaps” created in date generation. We finish the article by exploring the fruitful ways Mark B. N. Hansen’s latest work, Feed Forward, plays in helping researchers understand the proliferation of data generation.

Excerpt. “Alain Desrosières (2009, p. 312) raises a similar question to St. Pierre’s when he asks “what is the purpose of the very act of quantification and whom does it serve?” Like St. Pierre, Desrosières’ question raises the issues of power. To what power structure does data owe its allegiance? Of course, if data are meaningless, as Rosenberg and Bowker suggest, then data owe its loyalty to no one and nothing, but this cannot explain the obvious power plays surrounding the manipulation of data in the name of profits. In fact, Desrosières question may demonstrate that Rosenberg and Bowker’s approaches to data are at best amoral and apolitical. From the beginning of the development of statistics and numerical data, state powers understood the importance of these tools for meaning construction. The word statistics itself refers to state officials who collected information to control and govern the populace (Hacking, 1990). Desrosières (2009) points out that “political unification and statistical unification go hand in hand”(p. 318). From the beginning then, statistics and numerical data were connected to governing powers. “Quantification serves to provide tools for comparisons,” Desrosières (2009) suggests, “to coordinate them by standardizing them, and to control and stimulate players by ranking their performances on normative scales” (p. 312). What areas of the kingdom are more likely to be filled with crime; where should the police force be located; which units in the military are more effective and combat ready; where are the suicide rates higher and why; what government officials are more efficient in carrying out their duties; and which schools are better performing schools to get students ready for the job market? All of these are questions raised by institutions of power, in which each question can be quantified to give a streamlined account of who and what performs best. Data serve state powers to evaluate, judge, condemn, deploy, honor, disgrace, monitor, regulate, and promote its population. Data remind us all that we live in a society as points on graphs, tables, reports, and numerical markings of all kinds. These power configurations highlight the strange human and non-human environments data have constructed and the power players behind the databanks and algorithms hiding in the open.”

Link to the review

Qualitätskonventionen in der Lehrer*innenbildung. Quereinstiegsprogramme aus konventionensoziologischer Sicht

Sandra Hafner (2019)

Journal für LehrerInnenbildung, 02/2019, pp. 84-90

Zusammenfassung. Die Frage, wie Lehrpersonen am besten ausgebildet werden sollen, führt immer wieder zu Diskussionen. Gerade in Situationen des erhöhten Lehrkräftebedarfs wie zurzeit erleben Quereinstiegsprogramme für berufserfahrene Personen Hochkonjunktur. Positiv beurteilt werden sie als zielführende Maßnahme zur Deckung des Lehrkräftemangels, oder weil die berufliche Praxiserfahrung von Quereinsteigenden eine wertvolle Ressource für die Ausbildung darstelle. Die Institutionen der Lehrer*innenbildung hingegen befürchten durch die Einführung dieser Programme Niveau- und Qualitätsverluste in der Ausbildung. Für sie misst sich qualitativ hochwertige Lehrer*innenbildung vor allem an wissenschaftlich-evidenzbasierten Kriterien, welche derzeit beispielsweise in Form kompetenztheoretischer Modelle (etwa Baumert & Kunter, 2006) als Grundlage für die Konzeption von Lehrer*innenbildungsprogrammen dienen. Angesichts dieses Spannungsfelds erscheint die Frage nach der ‚richtigen‘ Ausbildung von Lehrpersonen und der ‚Qualität‘ von Quereinstiegsprogrammen als eine normative, für die es im Sinne eines ‚entweder-oder‘ nur eine zutreffende Antwort gäbe. Dieser Beitrag schlägt einen Perspektivenwechsel vor und nimmt Quereinstiegsprogramme als Kompromiss unterschiedlicher Vorstellungen und Zuschreibungen von Qualität in den Blick.

Abstract. The question of how best to train teachers is a constant source of discussion. Particularly in situations of increased demand for teachers, such as the current one, cross-entry programs for people with professional experience are experiencing a boom. They are judged positively as a target-oriented measure to cover the shortage of teaching staff, or because the practical professional experience of lateral entrants represents a valuable resource for training. The institutions of teachers education, on the other hand, fear that the introduction of these programs will lead to a loss of level and quality in training. For them, high-quality teachers education is measured primarily by scientific evidence-based criteria, which currently serve as the basis for the conception of teachers education programs, for example in the form of competence-theoretical models (such as Baumert & Kunter, 2006). In view of this area of tension, the question of the ‘right’ training of teachers and the ‘quality’ of cross-entry programs appears to be a normative one for which there would only be an appropriate answer in the sense of an ‘either-or’. This article proposes a change of perspective and looks at crossentry programs as a compromise between different ideas and attributions of quality.

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Lokale Konventionen in der Vermittlung von Gegenwartskunst by Svea Hallemann

Eine Studie zu Wirtschaftspraktiken unter Berücksichtigung des
eigenlogischen Forschungsansatzes

PhD, Technische Universität Berlin 04. July 2019

https://depositonce.tu-berlin.de/handle/11303/9734

AUSSCHNITT

„Die Dissertation verknüpft das Konzept der „Eigenlogik der Städte“ mit dem der „Soziologie der Konventionen“, um aufzuzeigen, ob und wie ökonomische Handlungsabläufe über lokale Konventionen sinnhaft organisiert werden. Während das erstgenannte die Stadt als Untersuchungsgegenstand und Wissensobjekt konzeptualisiert, werden bei der Theorie der Economies des conventions (EC) die lokal vorherrschenden Konventionen thematisiert. Dieser theoretische Ansatz verortet sich im Bereich der neuen Wirtschaftssoziologie und thematisiert u. a. die „Notwendigkeit von Konventionen zur Überbrückung von Unsicherheit im wirtschaftlichen Handeln (…)“ […]. Ausgangspunkt ist hier die Annahme, dass Rationalität als interpretativ gerahmt wird und daher auf Märkten das Ziel und die Mittel der Zielerreichung kollektiv, interaktiv und gestaltend ausgehandelt werden. Ähnlich wie die EC legt auch der Ansatz der Eigenlogik der Städte „die Existenz lokaler Wertigkeitsordnungen nahe“ […]. Die Kombination beider Ansätze wurde für die Analyse des DFG-Teilprojekts „Lokale Konventionen des Friseurwesens“ […] erprobt und hat sich als fruchtbar erwiesen. Aus der Kombination der beiden theoretischen Ansätze ergeben sich zwei zentrale Fragestellungen: Werden über lokale Konventionen ökonomische Handlungsabläufe organisiert und lassen sich diese (sofern auffindbar) in lokalspezifische Eigenlogiken zusammenfassen? Sind die gefundenen städtischen Eigenschaften im Galeriewesen kompatibel bzw. vergleichbar mit denen des DFG-Teilprojekts bezüglich des Friseurwesens.”  (p. 3)

EXCERPT

„The dissertation combines the concept of the “inherent logic of cities” with that of the “sociology of conventions” in order to show whether and how economic courses of action are organised meaningfully via local conventions. While the former conceptualizes the city as an object of investigation and knowledge, the theory of economics of convention (EC) focuses on the locally prevailing conventions. This theoretical approach is located in the field of the new economic sociology and deals, among other things, with the “necessity of conventions for bridging uncertainty in economic action (…)” […]. The starting point here is the assumption that rationality is framed as interpretative and that the goal and means of achieving it are therefore negotiated collectively, interactively and creatively on markets. Similar to the EC, the approach of the cities’ own logic also suggests “the existence of local value systems” […]. The combination of both approaches was tested for the analysis of the DFG subproject “Local Conventions of Hairdressing” […] and has proved fruitful. The combination of the two theoretical approaches raises two central questions: Are economic courses of action organised via local conventions and can these (if they can be found) be summarised in local specific logics? Are the urban characteristics found in the gallery system compatible or comparable with those found in the DFG subproject regarding hairdressing? (p. 3)

Promotionsausschuss (jury):
Vorsitzende: Prof. Dr. Martina Löw
Gutachterin: Prof. Dr. Nina Baur
Gutachter: Prof. Dr. Elmar Kulke

Download link: https://depositonce.tu-berlin.de/bitstream/11303/9734/4/hallemann_svea.pdf

Reality and its twin: The thematic of conspiracy in political metaphysics

Luc Boltanski (2019)

Working Paper Series 7 – Universität Siegen: SFB 1187 Medien der Kooperation

Abstract. This paper will focus on the thematics of mystery, conspiracy and inquiry, a subject area explored in one of my more recent books, where I sought to understand the prominent place these thematics have occupied in the representation of reality since around the turn of the 20th century. It has also long been my aim to analyse the role that these thematics may have played in the formation of political metaphysics. Although not necessarily one of the canonical forms of political philosophy, political metaphysics left its mark on the last century and, in all probability, continues to haunt the present one. It can be seen as a kind of mythology that is equipped with a formidable practical effectiveness, which gives it the power to shape the contours of reality. The thematics of mystery, conspiracy and inquiry have constantly flipped back and forth between the representation of reality in literature, particularly in so-called ‘popular’ literature, and the most disturbing and sometimes most dramatic aspects of reality itself.

Excerpt. “Conversely, reality is stabilised by preestablished formats that are supported by institutions, which are often legal or paralegal in nature, at least in Western societies. These formats compose a semantics that is tasked with stating the whatness of what is. They establish qualifications, define entities and tests (in the sense that the term is used in On Justification,4 the book I co-wrote with Laurent Thévenot) and determine the relationships that entities and tests must maintain to be acceptable. Reality thus presents itself as a network of causal relationships that bind together the events with which experience is confronted. Referencing these relationships allows us to give meaning to events by determining which entities they should be attributed to (the term ‘attribution’ is used here in the sense of the theory of attribution, which was initially formulated in the field of social psychology and then incorporated into cognitive research).”

p. 3

Link to download the WP

Valeur, prix et politique

Séminaire de l’IDHES ENS-Paris-Saclay, 2019-2020

Organisé par Christian Bessy, bessy@idhe.ens-cachan.fr

Présentation du séminaire (année précédente)

Le séminaire donne lieu à des présentations de chercheurs du laboratoire IDHES et d’invités extérieurs. Il est ouvert aux doctorants et aux étudiants de master.

Horaire et lieu : Jeudi 14h30-16h30, à l’IDHES Ens-Paris-Saclay, à Cachan (61 avenue du Président Wilson), Bâtiment Laplace, 2ème étage, Salle Pollak. Dans nos nouveaux locaux après le déménagement à Saclay au printemps.

Programme 2019-2020

Jeudi 10 octobre

Intervention de Jean-Christophe Scilien sur « Les fermetures d’usines ».

Jeudi 14 novembre

Intervention de Guillemette de Larquier sur « Les conventions d’évaluation des salariés à l’embauche ».

Jeudi 12 décembre

Intervention de Michel Margairaz sur « Le prix du travail dans une perspective historique »

Jeudi 16 janvier

Intervention de Noé Wagener sur « Les revendications en matière de patrimoine »

Jeudi 27 février

Intervention de Laurent Dalmas sur « La valeur du paysage »

Jeudi 19 mars

Intervention de Raphaël Porcherot sur « La valeur de la monnaie entre travail et confiance »

Jeudi 23 avril

Intervention de Guillaume Dupéret sur « La manipulation du LIBOR, une convention entre acteurs financiers »

Jeudi 14 mai

Intervention de Sarah Kolopp sur « L’origine des conflits d’intérêts »

The Modern Political Imaginary and the Problem of Hierarchy

Craig Browne (2019)

Social Epistemology, Online first

Abstract. Hierarchy has been a central concern of work on the modern political imaginary. The need to elucidate hierarchy’s deeper sources and its legitimations were some of the motivations behind Cornelius Castoriadis’ development of the notion of the imaginary. The work of Claude Lefort on the political imaginary similarly commences from a critical analysis of the hierarchical form of bureaucracy and its place in the constitution of totalitarian political regimes. In a different vein, Charles Taylor’s conception of the imaginary details a long-term process of the erosion of preceding forms of hierarchy and their justifications. In the contemporary period, the opposition to hierarchy has penetrated organisations and institutions that had previously been shaped by it, like the family, the capitalist firm, the school, and the political movement. Despite the potentials that these initiatives suggest of a change in the political imaginary, it will be argued that forms of hierarchy have, to varying degrees, been reconstituted and that the problem of hierarchy appears in new ideological forms, both with respect to institutionalised power and the legitimating justifications for how things are organised. The critique of hierarchy was once associated with the radical democratic imaginary, however, there have recently been perverse mobilisations.

Keywords: Hierarchy, political imaginary, control, Cornelius Castoriadis

Excerpt. “Of course, the dominant tendency of modern political theory and political institutions has been the reordering of hierarchy according to different principles to those that structured premodern hierarchy. Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot’s book On Justification effectively illustrates the latter process in describing how the six different polities that they explicate with reference to exemplars from the history of modern political philosophy each involve two processes that are constitutive of their regimes of justification. First, there is the polities application of a principle of ‘equivalence’ in the categorising of people and things. Second, there is the institution of a principle of difference in order to rank people and things into a hierarchical arrangement. The latter relates to a primary value of that polity, like that of ‘utility’ in the ‘industrial polity’ or ‘fame’ in the ‘inspired polity’, and then serves to constitute a ‘higher common good’ that is necessary for the resolution of conflict. Boltanski and Thévenot demonstrate the incorporation of a non-hierarchical principle into the modern political construction of hierarchy. The ordering according to the principle of difference leads to the reconstruction of hierarchy around the principle of ‘worth’ or justice.”

Link to the review

Les classes sociales et leurs mesures

L’Année sociologique 2019/2 (Vol. 69)

Jacques Lautman : « In memoriam Jean-Daniel Reynaud (1926-2019) », p. 295-301

Thomas Amossé & Etienne Penissat : « Entre ordonnancement hiérarchisé des professions et regroupement des métiers par domaine d’activité. La double asymétrie des représentations ordinaires », p. 511-539.

Résumé. À partir d’un dispositif d’enquête sur tablette numérique, cet article étudie les représentations ordinaires de l’espace social. Comment les individus délimitent‑ils deux milieux sociaux dans un ensemble fermé de 11 professions appartenant à une fraction limitée de l’espace social ? Réalisés successivement sur des professions classiquement considérées comme relevant du « haut » et du « bas » de l’espace social, les classements des enquêtés démontrent en premier lieu la force toujours actuelle de l’opposition entre les professions d’employés et d’ouvriers : comme point saillant, elle délimite le principal clivage interne aux classes populaires. Pour les professions de cadres et de chefs d’entreprise ensuite, trois représentations (positionnelle, statutaire et fonctionnelle) se dégagent des classements réalisés, dont la première est clairement hiérarchisée. L’opposition selon le secteur public ou privé se retrouve dans les deux séquences de façon transversale. L’article conclut à une double asymétrie des représentations ordinaires : les hiérarchies professionnelles et sociales sont plus souvent évoquées pour et par les individus occupant une position élevée dans la société, alors que ce sont davantage des oppositions transversales (statutaires ou fonctionnelles) qui sont utilisées pour et par ceux situés plus bas dans l’échelle des emplois et des positions sociales.

Abstract. Based on a digital tablet survey system, this article investigates the ordinary representations of social space. How do individuals delimit two social groups among a closed set of 11 occupations to a limited fraction of the social space ? The respondents’ classifications, carried out successively on occupations classically considered as belonging to the “top” and “bottom” of the social space, demonstrate first of all the ever-present strength of the opposition between the occupations of “employés” (clerical or public) and of “ouvriers” (manual) : they function as salient points that delimit the main internal cleavage between the working classes. For the executives and business managers occupations, three representations (positional, statutory and functional) emerge of the classifications, the first of which is clearly hierarchical. The opposition between the public and private sector plays a transversal role in both games. The article concludes that there is a double asymmetry in ordinary representations : professional and social hierarchies are more often mentioned for and by individuals occupying a higher position in society, while transversal oppositions (statutory or functional) are more often used for and by those who are at a lower level in the scale of occupations and social positions.

Extrait. “Au début des années 1980, dans le cadre de la refonte de la nomenclature des Catégories socioprofessionnelles (CSP), Luc Boltanski et Laurent Thévenot (2015 [1983]) conçoivent un ensemble de dispositifs ludiques et expérimentaux pour enquêter sur les manières dont est perçue la société française. Leurs résultats mettent en lumière une convergence des représentations ordinaires avec les catégories statistiques, juridiques et politiques de division du monde social. Ils soulignent toutefois que l’espace social, tel que se le représentent les enquêtés, ne s’organise pas de façon homogène, segmentée et orientée. Il s’apparente à une classification « naturelle », non à une classification « logique » telle celle du botaniste Carl von Linné qui, au xviiie siècle, a élaboré un système classificatoire des végétaux en croisant strictement les critères utilisés pour leur identification. Les classifications naturelles tiennent quant à elles davantage du bricolage : elles reprennent les catégories sociales, les images issues de l’expérience sensible, de la vie quotidienne. Mises en évidence dans les jeux de L. Boltanski et L. Thévenot, les représentations ordinaires s’organisent ainsi autour de « points saillants » qui, durcis par un travail politique de représentation des univers professionnels et sociaux, servent d’appuis cognitifs, de passerelles vers les catégories instituées : l’« ouvrière d’usine emballeuse » fait largement consensus entre enquêtés pour désigner les « travailleurs non qualifiés » ; le « fraiseur P2 » est le représentant paradigmatique des « ouvriers qualifiés », de même que l’« ingénieur travaux publics » l’est pour les « cadres » (Ibid., p. 11). À côté de ces points saillants, de larges « zones floues » regroupent des professions perçues comme à la frontière des catégories instituées, là où certains critères perdent de leur pertinence, parfois au profit d’autres, ou entrent en contradiction.”

Cédric Hugrée & Laure de Verdalle :  « Les mots pour (ne pas) le dire. L’expression des hiérarchies et des différences sociales », p. 479-509.

Résumé. Nous analysons les univers lexicaux mobilisés pour catégoriser l’espace socioprofessionnel aujourd’hui en France à partir des matériaux originaux issus d’un dispositif expérimental confrontant 547 enquêtés à un « jeu de cartes ». Il leur était demandé de classer des professions puis de formuler librement des noms pour désigner les groupes ainsi constitués. Dans une première partie, nous décrivons la grande diversité des lexiques utilisés par les enquêtés. L’identification des lexiques les plus courants permet d’interroger la proximité et les écarts qui existent entre les deux activités (classement et dénomination). Dans un second temps, nous analysons l’espace des dénominations des groupes socioprofessionnels en interrogeant les manières dont ont été dites ou tues les hiérarchies. Cela nous conduit à discuter la permanence du vocable des groupes professionnels pour exprimer ces différenciations sociales et à analyser les rapports entre les taxinomies pratiques mobilisées par les individus et les nomenclatures officielles, au premier rang desquelles les PCS. Nous mettons alors en évidence l’émergence d’un vocable de la responsabilité et de l’encadrement, et discutons de la présence de registres moraux ou critiques, moins normés, mobilisés par certains de nos enquêtés.

Abstract. We analyze the lexical universes used to categorize the socio-professional space in France today on the basis of original materials resulting from an experimental survey confronting the respondents with a “card game”. We asked 547 respondents to classify professions and then to freely formulate names to designate the groups they had constituted. In a first part, we describe the great diversity of lexicons used by the surveyed. The analyze of the most common lexicons underlines the strong link that exists between the way respondents have classified these “cards” and the way they have named groups of cards. In a second part, we analyze the space of denominations of socioprofessional groups by questioning the ways social hierarchies have been said or not. In a third part, we discuss the permanence of the “professional groups’ names” to express these social differentiations and we analyze the relationships between the practical taxonomies and the official classifications. We then highlight the emergence of other terms, such as a lexicon of responsibility and supervision, and discuss the presence of moral or critical registers, less standardized, used by some of our respondents.

Extrait. “Dans les années 1970, s’appuyant sur un dispositif expérimental et inédit (Deauvieau et al., 2014), Luc Boltanski et Laurent Thévenot (2015 [1983]) avancent pourtant l’idée que les catégories de la statistique publique constituent de puissants repères symboliques qui aident les agents sociaux à s’orienter dans le monde social.”

Lien vers la revue (Cairn.info)

Bedingte Un/Verfügbarkeit. Zur Kritik des praxeologischen Körpers

Thomas Alkemeyer (2019)

Österreichsiche Zeitschrift für Soziologie 44(3), pp. 289–312

Zusammenfassung. Der Beitrag setzt sich kritisch mit dem funktionalistischen „Ordnungs-“ und „Gelingensbias“ einer Auffassung von Praktiken in der gegenwärtigen soziologischen Praxistheorie auseinander, die Praktiken als ein weitgehend vorgefasstes, selbstläufiges Geschehen konzipiert, das seine Teilnehmer*innen ohne Reibungsverluste zu rekrutieren scheint. Diese theoretische Perspektive behandelt Dinge und Körper als einen bloßen Rohstoff oder als bereits praktikengerecht „zubereitete“ Träger der Praxis und blendet damit systematisch Momente und Situationen ihrer Unverfügbarkeit und Entfähigung aus. In dem Beitrag werden deshalb theoretische Konzepte und Methoden vorgeschlagen, die diesen Bias überwinden helfen können. Dies hat, so wird am Schluss angedeutet, auch politische Konsequenzen: Wenn sich Praxistheorie nicht nur für gelingende Praxisvollzüge interessiert, sondern auch die den Alltag vielfältig durchziehenden Momente einer der Ordnung sich entziehenden Unverfügbarkeit beobachtbar macht, aufsammelt und beschreibt, positioniert sie sich selbst als eine kritische Kraft in der gesellschaftlichen Praxis.

Schlüsselwörter: Praxis/Praktiken, Praxistheorie Körper Ordnungsbias/ Gelingensbias Unverfügbarkeit Entfähigung Kritik

Conditional in/accessibility.
On the critique of the praxeological body

Abstract. The article critically examines the functionalist ‘order-’ and ‘success-bias’ of a conception of practices as put forward by current sociological practice theory which conceives of practices as largely preconceived, autonomous processes that seemingly recruit their participants without the slightest hiccup. Accordingly, this theoretical perspective considers things and bodies as mere raw materials or as readily available and already ‘practice-ready’ carriers of practices. Consequently, this theoretical view systematically ignores moments and situations of the inaccessibility of things and especially bodies and their ‘dis-ablement.’ In this light, the article proposes theoretical concepts and methods to help combat this bias. As I will eventually argue, this also has political consequences: If practice theory is not only interested in the study of successful executions of practices, but also wishes to make observable, collate, and describe the various moments of the inaccessibility of bodies, which permeate everyday life and escape its order, it then positions itself as a critical force of and within societal practice.

Keywords: Practice-as-Performance/Practice-as-Entities Practice theory Body Order-bias/Success-bias Inaccessibility Dis-abling Critique 

Excerpt. „Zwar sind im praxistheoretischen Diskursuniversum durchaus methodologische und theoretische Ansätze vertreten, die auf die Kontingenz, Uneindeutigkeit und Fragilität der Praxis pochen wie ethnomethodologische, phänomenologische oder (neo-)pragmatistische Zugänge, jedoch gilt auch deren Forschungsinteresse letztlich der Ordnungsbildung, nämlich den Methoden, die Teilnehmer*innen überwiegend routiniert und traumwandlerisch handhaben, um eine erwartete Ordnung zu vollziehen, oder in bestimmten Situationen einsetzen, um eine in der Praxis sich ergebende Ungewissheit zu verringern, zu beheben und eine Situation nicht entgleisen zu lassen, sondern „wieder in Ordnung zu bringen und sie auf diese Weise zu stabilisieren“ (Boltanski und Thévenot 2007, S. 61).“

p. 305

Link to the review

Qualitätspolitiken und Konventionen. Die Qualität der Produkte in historischer Perspektive

Robert Salais & Marcel Streng & Jakob Vogel (eds.)(2019)

Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

Zusammenfassung. Die wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Standardtheorie interessiert sich selten für etwas anderes als Preise und Mengen. Die hier versammelten Beiträge behandeln dagegen die Qualität von Produkten und Dienstleistungen als konstitutives Prinzip der ökonomischen Beziehungen aus einer historischen Perspektive. Sie gehen davon aus, dass es ohne eine Konvention zwischen den Marktakteuren über die Qualität der gehandelten Ware gar keinen Markt geben kann. Qualitätskonventionen sind deshalb zentrale Elemente der soziohistorischen Dynamik von Ökonomien, die aus spezifischen sozialen.
Konstellationen entstehen. Dies macht eine enge Zusammenarbeit von Historikern und Konventionenökonomen notwendig. Heutzutage wird mit den Umweltfragen eine neue Dimension der Produktqualität zentral, die auch eine neue Lektüre der Konventionenökonomie notwendig macht, die sich auf die Unterscheidung von Objekt und Ding stützt.

Quality policies and conventions. The quality of products from a historical perspective

Abstract. “Standard economic theory is rarely interested in anything other than prices and quantities. In contrast, the contributions collected here deal with the quality of products and services as a constitutive principle of economic relations from a historical perspective. They assume that there can be no market at all without a convention between the market actors about the quality of the traded goods. Quality conventions are therefore central elements of the socio-historical dynamics of economies, which are based on specific social constellations arise. This requires close cooperation between historians and economists of the approach of economics of convention. Nowadays, with environmental issues, a new dimension of product quality becomes central, which also necessitates a new reading of the convention economy, based on the distinction between object and thing.”

Keywords: Economics of convention, social sciences, product quality, history, history of products

CONTENT

  • Robert Salais, Marcel Streng und Jakob Vogel: Einleitung: Qualitätspolitiken und Konventionen. Die Qualität der Produkte in historischer Perspektive (18.‒20. Jahrhundert)
  • Anne-Françoise Garçon: Ein außerordentliches Metall? Die Topiken der Stahldefinition vom 11. bis zum 19. Jahrhundert
  • Alexander Engel: „Commodities may not be nominall but substantiall & reall in all their kinde“: Die Konstruktion von Farbstoffvarietäten, 1700–1900
  • Jakob Vogel: „Buntes Steinsalz“ oder „Kali“? Die Erfindung eines Rohstoffes im 19. Jahrhundert
  • Alain Dewerpe: Die Praxis der Konventionen. Der Fall des französischen Schiffbaus um 1900
  • Marcel Streng: Konventionen der Brotqualität in der Bäckereigewerbereform des Zweiten Kaiserreichs
  • Dominique Margairaz: Qualität und Fiskalität. Die Definition der Produkte durch den Binnenzoll im Ancien Regime (Frankreich, 18. Jahrhundert)
  • Philippe Minard: Vertrauensproduktion. Märkte, Normen und Konventionen im 18. Jahrhundert
  • Alessandro Stanziani: Produktinformation: Disziplinierung des Wettbewerbs oder Schutz des Verbrauchers? Ein Vergleich zwischen Frankreich, Großbritannien, Deutschland und den USA im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert
  • Vera Hierholzer: Die Suche nach der „Normalbeschaffenheit“. Nahrungsmittelqualität im Deutschen Kaiserreich
  • Manuel Schramm: Konstruktionen von Qualität in der DDR-Wirtschaft
  • Robert Salais: Konventionen und Normen der Produktqualität
  • Robert Salais: Das Produkt: Objekt und/oder Ding? Neue Dimensionen einer Pragmatik der Konventionen

Link to the book

Public, private and the appeal to common good: practices of justification in a peer‐to‐peer economy

Regan Koch (2019)

Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Online first.

Abstract. Relations between public and private are implicit within much of everyday life, yet public/private distinctions are often invoked when there is a need to justify or critique a set of social arrangements. This paper attends to such moments, demonstrating how practices of justification can provide insights into the values and reasoning through which different forms of collective life are negotiated and managed. It does so through a theoretically pragmatist approach that responds to recent calls for researchers to engage more closely with ordinary forms of normativity and builds on an emerging geographical interest in everyday talk. The case study in focus is a popular yet illegal food trend in New York City where established and aspiring chefs welcome strangers into their homes for a meal in exchange for payment. Underground restaurants and secret supper clubs, as these events are known, fit within a much broader trend of peer‐to‐peer ‘sharing economy’ business models that open up resources and relations normally considered private to a provisionally public audience. Often celebrated for facilitating cooperation, efficiency and empowerment, they can also be deeply unsettling to existing social and economic orders. Participation in, and governance of, peer‐to‐peer activities demands navigating tensions between freedom and collective obligation, managing risk, establishing trust and delegating responsibility when problems arise. Our capacity as geographers to analyse and weigh in on these issues can be enhanced by attending to the justifications through which public, private and other concepts for organising collective life are being upheld, transgressed or actively transformed.

Excerpt. “The categorical and conceptual manoeuvring on the part of these hosts does not mean we should dismiss them as relativist schemers. Rather, as the French pragmatist scholars Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot (2006) demonstrate, when people are faced with the need to
justify (or challenge) a set of actions or arrangements, it is perfectly common for their reasoning to shift according to the particularities of the situation. Abstract theories and principles cannot encompass the complex materialities and affective forces in a given situation. However, a consistent rule across all societies, they argue, is that in moments of dispute, people are expected to appeal to higher principles beyond their own individual concerns for their
arguments to have social legitimacy.”

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Initiatives locales: entre territorialisation et administration des enjeux alimentaires, par Marlène Feyereisen

Thèse de doctorat en Sciences du vivant : Sciences de l’environnement & écologie, soutenue le 6 septembre 2019 à l’Université de Liège
Promoteurs : Pierre M. Stassart & Claire Lamine
Président du jury : Nathalie Semal, Secrétaire : Christine de Sainte Marie, Membre du jury : Tom Bauler, Kévin Marechal & Ronan Le Velly

Résumé. Depuis les années 1980, une série d’évènements remet en question le modèle alimentaire productiviste et sa capacité à construire la durabilité. Ces enjeux stimulent la construction d’initiatives alimentaires qui focalisent sur la qualité des produits (par ex. agriculture biologique, commerce équitable, slow food, circuits courts, local). Parmi ces initiatives alimentaires, l’alimentation locale construit la qualité sur base de la proximité. Mais ces initiatives, si elles tentent de construire un système alimentaire durable, font aussi face à certaines limites. De nombreux travaux montrent notamment comment les initiatives locales reproduisent certaines inégalités qui remettent en question leur capacité à construire des relations entre les acteurs du système alimentaire qui soient à la fois justes pour l’environnement et pour les humains.
Dans le sillon de ces travaux, cette thèse tente de mieux comprendre de quelle manière les initiatives de production, commercialisation et distribution alimentaires locales participent à construire la durabilité du système alimentaire. Pour ce faire, deux initiatives locales sont analysées avec une approche de sociologie pragmatique (théorie de l’acteur-réseau et économie des conventions), combinée avec une approche territoriale : les Grosses légumes et la Coopérative fermière de la Gaume. Ces deux initiatives qui évoluent sur le même territoire rendent compte de deux processus de construction du territoire et des enjeux alimentaires : un processus de territorialisation et un processus d’administration. L’analyse rend compte de rapports de force entre ces deux manières de se lier au territoire, et montre que les réseaux qui adoptent un processus d’administration tendent à limiter la capacité d’action de ceux qui adoptent un processus de territorialisation. Le rôle des pouvoirs publics et de leurs instruments est ici déterminant. Ces dynamiques ont pour conséquence de réduire la capacité du territoire à construire un système alimentaire durable et à répondre aux enjeux de justice sociale. Les résultats de cette thèse invitent à déplacer le regard et penser la durabilité non plus au niveau des initiatives locales, mais à celui du territoire. Plusieurs pistes construites sur base des apprentissages de cette thèse sont alors esquissées.

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The “Quality Turn” Agenda in Agribusiness: Challenging the hegemonial status of the standard quality convention in the Norwegian grocery market, by Sabina Kuraj

Master thesis in Development, Environment and Cultural Change, Centre for Development and Environment, University of Oslo, June 2019

Supervisors : Gunnar Vittersø (SIFO) and Ulrikke Bryn Wethal (SUM)

Abstract. The purpose of this thesis has been to produce insights on the agendas on sustainability that are empowered by social actors as a result of a “quality turn” in food practices in the Norwegian context. I described the quality turn process consisting in a shift towards more sustainable food practices where food products embody traditional values, ecological worth, and animal welfare standards. The food qualities resulting from a quality turn are framed as “novel” food qualities and discussed in opposition to the “standardised” food qualities concerned with efficiency and low price. Norwegian authorities have invested considerable economic resources in the last 30 years to promote niche products in the domestic market with little success of seeing their market share increasing through the years. I argued that one of the reasons for such a slow development was attributed to the hegemonial status that standard quality convention covers in the Norwegian grocery market which frames conventionally produced food as “good enough” and Norwegian agriculture as almost organic. Nevertheless, I pointed out that the quality turn in agribusiness carries great relevance for the rural development, environmental sustainability and the sustainment of local food economies. Hence, the idea to look at actors that are trying to implement the quality turn in their business provided insights about more concrete constraints derived from establishing quality production as a successful practice of food production and food consumption. Therefore, I focused on organic farmers and some of their strategic partners’ who are subject of this study, such as food retailers and chefs, to see how they have tried to varying degrees to challenge the hegemonic status of the standard quality convention. I used Social Practice Theory and Convention Theory for developing an actor-sensitive analytical framework where actors aim to challenge social structures. The insights provided from this formwork led to argue for major policy interventions that aim at improving the market infrastructure for innovation to take place that will make more feasible for non-standard products to effectively challenge the hegemonic status of the standard quality convention in the Norwegian food market.

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A Model of Justice as a Platform: A Case Study of Open Data Disclosure

Giulio Michetti, Arianna Toniolo, Simone Rossi & Alessandro Pirani (2019)

In: Ginevra Peruginelli & Sebastiano Faro (eds.): Knowledge of the Law in the Big Data Age. Amsterdam: IOS Press, pp. 262 -271, Open Access

Abstract. Digital technologies influence operations and managerial processes in Courts of Justice. Notwithstanding peculiarities, Courts are incrementing the amount of available data that represent a huge opportunity. Proposing an exploratory case study, this Chapter aims to connect the reflection on new policy making models to the reflection on digital practices in the judiciary offices. An open data disclosure process is a case proposed to reflect about a shift in public administrations’ model of interaction with organizational environment: from revising processes to face operational emergencies (extractive interaction model) to revising processes to provide knowledge and interpretative tools to its environment (platform interaction model). Judiciary services produce a platform providing a deep understanding of social and economic systems. Enabling justice to become a platform, where different subjects can acquire information and data, is a goal of primary importance for the elaboration of public policies, but also to empower social innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Excerpt. “Organizational Culture and Institutional Logics
More than this, discussion can be carried on the ground of institutional logics and organizational culture. Institutional logics have been defined as socially constructed values, beliefs, and rules, by which individuals constantly provide meaning to their reality, ordering material and social context. Institutional logics operate at a macro-societal level but strongly influence organizational cultures: in the same organization there can be multiple institutional logics leaving space to diachronic processes of cultural change, to individual agency [Boltanski & Thévenot 2006] triggered by institutional entrepreneurs or competing logics.”

p. 268

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Imagining Modernization: The Symbolic Embrace of GDP in China

Joan van Heijster (2019)

Chinese Political Science Review. Online first.

Abstract. In China, economic development has been almost exclusively defined through the lens of gross domestic product (GDP). Additionally, the indicator is deeply ingrained in national and local policymaking. Despite its power, we know almost nothing about how GDP gained such a politically prominent position in China. This paper therefore asks: how was GDP embraced politically and integrated into the Chinese governance system in the mid-1980s and 1990s? The paper argues that in China GDP appropriated a symbolic function. Chinese politicians used the indicator as an ‘instrument of imagination’ and conceptualized the political goal of achieving modernization in terms of GDP. GDP improved the practical applicability and persuasiveness of the modernization narrative by reducing uncertainty and strengthening China’s socialist identity. Furthermore, the symbolic appropriation shaped the adoption of GDP targets in Five-Year Plans as well as the uptake of GDP in the local performance assessment system as a control tool. The Chinese case shows that macroeconomic indicators have different social functions, which make them dynamic tools that can be adjusted to a diverse range of societies. The empirical analysis is based on personal interviews with statisticians in China and the World Bank and extensive document analysis.

Excerpt. “2. The Competing Functions of Indicators
Macroeconomic indicators such as GDP are political tools, which can shape the world in which we live and are constituted by it (Espeland and Stevens 2008; Diaz-Bone and Didier 2016). They are not static technical–objective instruments detached from social reality, but always have a socio-political basis and are produced and used with a purpose. Indicators are dynamic tools that exercise power and can be consequential in their use (Espeland 2012: 60). To analyse how GDP gained power in the Chinese context we have to know how the indicator became embedded in Chinese society. Therefore, the paper must analyse who used the indicator, in which form, and for what purpose. This approach builds on the idea that statistics and indicators are objects of politics. It acknowledges that in different political contexts indicators can appropriate various functions. To make this approach applicable to a wide variety of cases, the paper extends the array of functions beyond the information function GDP fulfilled in the West. It develops a conceptual framework that distinguishes between the: (1) symbolic function and (2) control function.

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Sozio-materielle Praktiken in irritierenden Situationen

Jörg Potthast (2019)

In: Sebastian Gieß-mann, Tobias Röhl & Ronja Trischler (eds.): Materialität der Kooperation. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp. 387-412.

Abstract. Vor gut zwanzig Jahren haben Klaus Amann und Stefan Hirschauer (1997) die Ethnografie in die Pflicht genommen, die eigene Kultur zu befremden. Sie möge systematisch daran arbeiten, unsere modernen und stark differenzierten Wissensgesellschaften exotisch erscheinen zu lassen. Wie Hirschauer (2008) später erneut bekräftigt hat, richtet sich dieses Projekt gegen ein doppeltes Muster verfehlter innerdisziplinärer Arbeitsteilung.

Excerpt.
„4 Irritation als Beruf
Der Alltag in Warteschlangen und auch in Fahrstühlen ist durch Alterationen gekennzeichnet, zu deren Analyse die Ethnografie, seit sie nach Europa zurückgeholt wurde, beitragen kann. Sie bringt anspruchsvolle Beschreibungen darüber hervor, wie Situationen kippen, und kommt nicht umhin, ein analytisches Instrumentarium zu entwickeln, das diesen Umschlägen gerecht wird. Bahnbrechend sind in dieser Hinsicht die von Luc Boltanski und Laurent Thévenot initiierten und dann immer weiterentwickelten Versuche, Wechsel zwischen Rechtfertigungsordnungen (Boltanski und Thévenot 2007 [1991]) und zwischen Handlungs-regimen (Thévenot 2006) zu konzeptualisieren. Wenn ich dieses Forschungsprogramm nun unvermittelt und erst am Schluss erwähne, dann gerade nicht, weil es schon fertig ausgearbeitet wäre. Eine Traditionslinie, die darin eingearbeitet ist und der Denomination als „Soziologie der Kritik“ weit vorausgeht, lässt sich auf Erving Goffmans Beschäftigung mit irritierenden Situationen zurückführen (Boltanski 1973).“

p. 405-406

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