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Justifying the Elephant in the Growth Machine: Urban and Planning Theory Understood Through Convention Theory

Meg Holden (2024)

In Rainer Diaz-Bone & Guillemette de Larquier (eds.), Handbook of economics and sociology of conventions. Cham: Springer, Online first

Abstract. This contribution introduces the tenets and approach of convention theory in terms of its potential, use, and appeal in the overlapping fields of urban and planning studies. The conceptual framing and interpretive method of convention theory are discussed as they have been applied to urban and planning research, and in terms of the value the theory offers when compared with certain other theories in use in the field, namely, advocacy planning, communicative action, the critique of neoliberalism, and the urban growth machine. Key thematic interpretive aspects of convention theory are discussed, demonstrating its potential to present case studies of urban disputes, rich with the detail of diverse perspectives and arguments, recognition of critical capacities of actors to intervene in dynamics of inequality and power asymmetries, and an analytical eye toward compromise as a more likely resolution than pure victory of certain ideas or values over others. The potential is illustrated through a prototypical case of a contentious public hearing at City Hall about a proposed urban redevelopment project. The chapter concludes by considering three shortcomings that can be encountered when using convention theory in urban and planning research.

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Music and Conventions: Grasping Qualities of an Elusive and Changing Object

Guy Schwegler & Jonathan Kropf (2024)

In Rainer Diaz-Bone & Guillemette de Larquier (eds.), Handbook of economics and sociology of conventions. Cham: Springer, Online first

Abstract. Cultural production and music in particular have become burgeoning subjects for researchers applying the approach of economics and sociology of conventions (EC/SC). This chapter aims to provide an overview of the literature that analyzes different aspects of music through EC/SC concepts. The two notions of conventions and intermediation and their application to the subject offer an entry point for this overview. They represent both established concepts within the neopragmatist approach and are common in two theoretical positions regularly featured in research on music (the actor-network theory and Howard Becker’s art worlds perspective). Then, the chapter moves beyond these two notions to introduce studies that are characterized by the use of a combination of different EC/SC concepts. Ultimately, the discussion in this chapter shows a large scope of work on the subject. However, the different authors still do not represent a “field” of EC/SC music scholars. While some reasons for the absence of such a field are brought forward, the chapter also argues that there may be no necessity to move toward one.

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Theater and Convention Theory: Achievements and Perspectives

Daniel Urrutiaguer (2024)

In Rainer Diaz-Bone & Guillemette de Larquier (eds.), Handbook of economics and sociology of conventions. Cham: Springer, Online first

Abstract. The chapter discusses the contribution of the political and social grammar of orders of worth to analyze the coordination issues of theatrical activities with their frictions and disputes in a highly unequal chain value, with significant differences in reputation. The regimes of engagement propose a complementary view on some stabilized coordination devices. The different logics of action, evaluation, and interpretation are intertwined around fluctuating compromises. Economics and sociology of conventions (EC/SC) distinguish three theater worlds according to their composite higher common principle of justice. The theatrical public service world is based on subsidy distribution according to professional experts’ assessments of artistic quality and has to face the increasing weight of the market and industry valuation. The private theater world is entrenched in personal risk-taking for artistic entertainment, and their model is questioned by over-competition and financialization. The emerging sustainable cultural development world is orientated toward preserving cultural diversity, inter-organizational solidarity, and attention to decreasing the environmental footprint. Socio-ecological issues run up against systemic obstacles in production valorization. Last, the governance stakes have to deal with the artistic critics of management, growing questions about the meaning of work, and storytelling on heritage value.

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Investments in Forms: Background and Continuing Developments

Laurent Thévenot (2024)

In Rainer Diaz-Bone & Guillemette de Larquier (eds.), Handbook of economics and sociology of conventions. Cham: Springer, Online first

Abstract. Implementing conventions does not only result from shared mental references (representations, values, beliefs). The power to coordinate uncertain actions is supported by the environment, once the agent takes it in a form made convenient by “investments in forms” [IF] such as classifications, labels, standards, benchmarks, good practices, instructions, etc. The costs and sacrifices required to give form result, as “returns on investment”, in the benefits of coordination from one situation to another, between human beings and their environment. IFs are characterized by the spatial and temporal extension of their validity and by their material solidity. IFs give a significant materialist impetus to the program of economics and sociology of conventions (EC/SC) by an environmental decentering of agency.
Once defined (1), IF is contextualized within the contested heritage of “symbolic forms” recast by Durkheim, Bourdieu, Foucault, Latour and Callon’s Actor-Network-Theory [ANT] (2). IF is then (3) situated at the crossroads of Thévenot’s sociology of “social coding” and Eymard-Duvernay’s economics of “specific investments”. Initial reception and critical discussion first focused on labor studies, industrial relations, and organizational theory. Subsequent developments (4) have integrated the concept into a broader analytical framework. They offer an environmental perspective on the architectures of communities and selves. Investments in standardized and certified forms govern across national boundaries while the new formatting of human beings in education and health care comes ever closer to living bodies. Lessons are drawn in conclusion (5) about the critical tension that is inherent in the investment and engagement of forms.

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Services, Products, and Values: Perspectives of the Economics and Sociology of Conventions

Kota Kitagawa (2024)

In Rainer Diaz-Bone & Guillemette de Larquier (eds.), Handbook of economics and sociology of conventions. Cham: Springer, Online first

Abstract. This chapter presents research on the application of economics and sociology of conventions (EC/SC) to service work, which has two advantages. First, by focusing on social interaction, EC/SC can examine the dynamics of conventions through the negotiation of meaning between the agents involved in services. The construction of conventions makes services possible and integrates various service work in different industrial classifications, heterogeneous service agents, products, and other things into a single service, increasingly observed in current trends toward a service economy and an “enrichment economy.” This chapter demonstrates that this advantage has been proven in various case studies of services such as tourism, restaurants, and care, overcoming the limitations of theoretical perspectives observed in service research in management and organization studies. EC/SC has a broad perspective on the plurality of values, capturing even non-computational values that are outside the orders of justification. Additionally, by focusing on services as a social interaction, EC/SC service research relativizes the “valuation power of the intermediary.” The second advantage is that it allows for an analysis of the social construction of agencies through the service process, which is useful in analyzing service work offering social reconstruction of beneficiaries as an aim of the service, such as in care, education, and consulting.

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Value, Conventions, and Finance

Dave Elder-Vass (2024)

In Rainer Diaz-Bone & Guillemette de Larquier (eds.), Handbook of economics and sociology of conventions. Cham: Springer, Online first

Abstract. Scholars of economics and sociology of conventions (in short EC/SC or convention theory) have taken an increasing interest in the question of how things are valued in monetary terms. How do social actors decide on the values of commodities and assets? How do their valuations affect the prices that they exchange at? And how does that impact on societies more widely? This chapter provides an overview of conventions-oriented work on monetary valuation in general but also focuses more specifically on the valuation of financial assets. Here the issues are if anything even more momentous. Financial assets, unlike most commodities, do not even exist as such unless and until they are valued. How financial valuation is achieved is thus fundamental to the financial sector. The chapter discusses work on the role of financial value entrepreneurs and the power they deploy, both in support of conventions and in order to build audiences prepared to accept their application to specific types of asset.

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Valuation conflicts in Madagascar’s mining reform: A pragmatic inquiry into surplus distribution from strategic transition minerals

Nicolas Hercelin & Sabine Dörry (2024)

Environment and Planning (serie F), Online first

Abstract. Lithium-ion battery (LIB) production as a central part of decarbonisation strategies is driving mineral extraction in countries of the global South, where they exacerbate existing conflicts over the creation and distribution of value. Value, however, is a contested concept. Following the pragmatic sociology of values, we argue that the analysis of value creation and distribution cannot be separated from the intersubjective and normative conflicts over valuation. We examine valuation controversies in Madagascar as a mining dispute by describing the grammar of values on the example of taxation design in Madagascar’s mining reform influenced by LIB production. Empirical evidence from ethnographic fieldwork and expert interviews on negotiations between stakeholders’ different principles of value helped identify conflicting value justifications and finding local compromises. Here, the pervasive nature of neoliberal economisation is monopolised by a specific interpretation of value wired to investors’ expectations and complicated by path-dependent legacies. Our analysis illustrates how asymmetric economic power favours particular economic and operating registers of a ‘green capitalism’ valuation system. Building on the analytical gain of Heinich’s novel pragmatic value approach, we show how the recent mining reform in Madagascar is contested and that compromise around value remains fragile (or impossible) in the current institutional context.

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Quantifier la GRH, un enfermement dans le déterminisme technique? L’exemple de l’égalité professionnelle entre femmes et hommes

Quantifying HRM: locked into technical determinism? The example of gender equality in the workplace

Clotilde Coron (2024)

Quebec: Presses de l’Université Laval

Sur le livre. L’usage des chiffres et des données en gestion des ressources humaines (GRH) a fait l’objet d’une littérature abondante. Dans le même temps, l’usage de méthodes quantitatives est devenu prégnant dans la recherche en GRH. Or, ces deux domaines sont dominés par un paradigme positiviste et par le mythe d’une quantification objectivante obéissant avant tout à des règles techniques. Cet ouvrage remet en cause ce mythe et montre, en s’appuyant sur le cas de la quantification de l’égalité professionnelle entre les femmes et les hommes, que les processus de quantification sont le fruit de bricolages et d’arrangements sociaux et non pas uniquement techniques. Finalement, l’ouvrage appelle à une approche moins normative des usages de la quantification, à la fois dans les pratiques et dans la recherche en GRH.

Introduction: “Le croisement des deux objets que sont la quantification et la gestion des ressources humaines (GRH) ne va sans doute pas de soi. La notion de quantification renvoie aux travaux issus de la sociologie de la quantification, autour notamment de Desrosières et d’Espeland (Desrosières, 1993; Espeland et Stevens, 2008). Plus précisément, cette notion correspond aufait d’«exprimer et faire exister sous une forme numérique ce qui, auparavant, était exprimé par des mots et non par des nombres» (Desrosières,2019, p. 35). Cette définition large recouvre d’autres notions ou concepts plus précis: mesure, données, statistiques, méthodes quantitatives, etc. Ainsi, la notion de quantification a le mérite de recouvrir l’ensemble du processus permettant la mobilisation de chiffres, depuis la définition des phénomènes à quantifier jusqu’à la production et l’utilisation des résultats, en passant par la sélection des données (Desrosières, 2008a). Elle peut donc qualifier à la fois un dispositif de reporting (Christin, 2018), le chiffrage du temps nécessaire pour effectuer une tâche (Ranganathan et Benson, 2020), mais aussi l’usage de méthodes quantitatives et statistiques (Chiapello et Walter, 2016). Elle sera donc privilégiée dans ce livre.” (p. 1)

About the book. The use of figures and data in human resource management (HRM) has been the subject of an abundant literature. At the same time, the use of quantitative methods has become prevalent in HRM research. Yet both fields are dominated by a positivist paradigm and by the myth of objectivizing quantification that obeys, above all, technical rules. This book challenges this myth and shows, based on the case of quantifying gender equality in the workplace, that quantification processes are the fruit of social tinkering and arrangements, not just technical ones. Finally, the book calls for a less prescriptive approach to the uses of quantification, both in practice and in HRM research.

Introduction: “The intersection of quantification and human resource management (HRM) is probably not self-evident. The notion of quantification refers to the work of the sociologists of quantification, notably Desrosières and Espeland (Desrosières, 1993; Espeland and Stevens, 2008). More precisely, this notion corresponds to the fact of “expressing and making exist in a numerical form what, previously, was ex-pressed by words and not by numbers” (Desrosières,2019, p. 35). This broad definition covers other more precise notions or concepts: measurement, data, statistics, quantitative methods, etc. Thus, the notion of quantification has the merit of covering the entire process of mobilizing numbers, from the definition of the phenomena to be quantified to the production and use of the results, via the selection of data (Desrosières, 2008a). It can therefore qualify both a reporting system (Christin, 2018), the quantification of the time needed to perform a task (Ranganathan and Benson, 2020), but also the use of quantitative and statistical methods (Chiapello and Walter, 2016). It will therefore be privileged in this book.” (p. 1)

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Brazil’s multiple coffee markets: an ethnographic study of coffee production from family growers to coffee gourmets

Paulo Augusto Franco de Alcântara & Igor Mayworm Perrut (2024)

Consumption Markets and Culture, Online first

Abstract. The article contributes to the studies of “multiple markets” based on ethnographic reflections on the process of singularization of the coffee market in southeastern Brazil. Our discussion is based on two different in-field investigations that happened separately and at different times and places, compared here with the purpose of mapping the multiple coffee markets in terms of the valuation frameworks that are used by a family-based agriculture production and by tasting specialists of specialty coffee. Looking at these instances of coffee valuation, we investigate different attempts to increase the coffee value in the marketplace by emphasizing local traditions and values or by producing an objectively refined value coffee. Nevertheless, we argue that both sites produce frameworks to construct coffee value through future projections of commercialization, defined here as an analytical mechanism for the identification of “multiple markets” that have not been noticed by the current specialized literature yet.

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How you value shapes whom you value: The contribution of apprenticeships to sustainable development goals

Julia Brandl, Laverne Iminza Chore & Mario Junker (2024)

German Journal of Human Resource Management, Online first, open access

Abstract. Apprenticeships are crucial in the ILO’s decent work agenda and align with sustainable development goals. While existing scholarship underscores the relevance of specific programme features for stakeholders’ outcomes, scant attention has been paid to the HR actors’ agency in shaping the programmes. Our process study delves into a customised apprenticeship programme for temporary workers in an Austrian manufacturing firm, aiming to uncover how HR actors influence apprenticeship outcomes. Adopting a convention theory approach, we examine HR actors’ evaluations during the programmes’ realisation and their implications for consolidation or conversion of programme features. The findings reveal a range of gains and unfulfilled aspirations, particularly for employee representatives. We attribute these outcomes to HR actors’ commitment to convention-based practices, which are more salient during the recruitment and training phase than after the exam. We conclude that how HR actors value apprenticeship shapes for whom an apprenticeship programme is valuable.

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The standard form under pressure? On the ecological reconfiguration of product presentation using the example of consumables

Eltje Gajewski & Simon Schrör (2024)

Socio-Economic Review, Online first

Abstract. This article provides a framework for analyzing valorizations and justifications for ecologically sustainable everyday products. By drawing on theoretical arguments from the French neo pragmatist approach of economics of conventions, especially the idea of enrichment, we develop a typology of valorizations that distinguishes between analytic and narrative presentations. A qualitative empirical analysis of green alternatives to standard consumables, such as coffee, textiles or hygiene products, is used to help explain the strategies by which sustainable products are placed and marketed. We state that sustainable product presentations use a range of established forms of valorization that also affects the justification of their often-higher prices. We conclude that the standard form of consumables comes under pressure while capitalist actors appear to incorporate the growing ecologic critique with a set of ecologic enrichments.

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Les règles de tarification des mutuelles : point d’appui à une représentation marchande de l’assurance santé ?

The pricing rules of mutual insurance companies: a basis for a commercial representation of health insurance?

Cécile Vasseur (2023)

Journal de gestion et d’économie de la santé, 4(4), p. 253-273

Résumé. L’article apporte des éléments explicatifs sur les règles de tarification des contrats individuels proposés par les mutuelles. Les mutuelles de santé sont des organismes particuliers dans le secteur de l’assurance maladie complémentaire ; ce sont des organismes non lucratifs qui revendiquent la présence de valeurs de solidarité dans leurs pratiques.
La littérature existante en économie sur la tarification en assurance santé montre que les mutuelles ont tendance à proposer davantage de contrats ayant des mécanismes de redistribution. L’objectif de l’article est de comprendre pourquoi et comment les mutuelles peuvent faire vivre une politique de redistribution dans leur contrat via leur mode de tarification. Pour ce faire, l’article s’inscrit dans la lignée des travaux en économie des conventions et considère que les règles de tarification révèlent des tensions et des arbitrages internes dans les mutuelles de santé. Une méthode mixte est utilisée, associant démarche quantitative et qualitative. Mobilisant une enquête de la DREES sur les contrats les plus souscrits auprès des organismes complémentaires, le traitement statistique consiste à construire une classification des contrats individuels à partir de leurs modes de tarification. L’analyse qualitative prend la forme d’un traitement d’entretiens semi-directifs réalisés auprès d’acteurs mutualistes.
L’article présente trois résultats principaux. D’abord, les règles de tarification les plus redistributives dans les contrats individuels sont introduites dans des segments particuliers (fonction publique et anciens salariés d’entreprises). Ensuite, dans un contexte de rapprochement des pratiques tarifaires des mutuelles avec celles des sociétés d’assurance, l’article montre une diversité des règles tarifaires dans ces organisations. Enfin, la solidarité est un principe constitutif des mutuelles avant d’être un mécanisme de redistribution. Il existe une pluralité de représentations associées à la solidarité : assistance, redistribution et participation à un collectif. L’argument de solidarité peut alors être mobilisé pour justifier à la fois des règles de tarification redistributive et une pratique d’assistance.

Abstract. The article provides explanations on the pricing rules for individual contracts offered by mutual insurance companies. Mutual health insurance companies are special organizations in the supplementary health insurance sector; they are not-for-profit organizations that claim the presence of solidarity values in their practices.
The existing literature in economics on health insurance pricing shows that mutuals tend to offer more contracts with redistribution mechanisms. The objective of the article is to understand why and how mutuals can implement a redistribution policy in their contracts via their pricing system. To do so, the article follows the work in economics of conventions and considers that pricing rules reveal tensions in mutual health insurance. A mixed methodology is used, combining quantitative and qualitative approaches. Based on a DREES survey of the most popular contracts taken out with supplementary health insurance organizations, the statistical treatment consists of constructing a classification of individual contracts based on their pricing methods. The qualitative analysis takes the form of semi-directive interviews with mutual insurance companies.
The article presents three main results. Firstly, the most redistributive pricing rules are introduced in specific segments (civil servants and former company employees). Secondly, as the pricing practices of mutual health insurers converge with those of insurance companies, the article shows the diversity of pricing rules in these organizations. Finally, solidarity is a constitutive principle of mutuals before being a redistribution mechanism. There is a plurality of representations associated with solidarity: assistance, redistribution and participation in a collective. The solidarity argument is used to justify both redistributive pricing rules and assistance practices.

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Offre de contrat doctoral en sciences sociales / Offer of a doctoral contract in social sciences

Co-détermination des ressources et de la valeur dans les communautés énergétiques multi-acteurs
Co-determination of resources and value in multi-stakeholder energy communities

Directeur de thèse : Amélie Artis (PACTE, Université Grenoble Alpes)
Co-encadrement de thèse : Lise Desvallées (TREE, Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour)
École doctorale : SE Université Grenoble Alpes / Ecole doctorale SSH université de Pau
Laboratoire principal : PACTE, laboratoire secondaire : TREE
Date de début (souhaitée) : à partir de septembre 2024
Durée : 36 mois (contrat doctoral universitaire)
Mots-clés : Communautés énergétiques, Économie institutionnaliste, Développement territorial,
Justice énergétique, Définition de la valeur, Économie conventionnaliste
Candidature : d’ici au 29 avril 2024

Metamorfosis de la autoridad y ‘gobierno por estándares’: aportes de la sociología pragmática de las grandezas, las convenciones y los involucramientos

Metamorphoses of authority and ‘government by standards’: contributions from the pragmatic sociology of bigness, conventions and engagements

Laurent Thévenot & Gabriel Nardacchione (2024)

Antropolítica 56(1). Open acces

Resumen. El artículo desmonta el funcionamiento de un nuevo modelo transnacional de “gobierno por estándares”, cuya autoridad va más allá de los Estados-nación y se extiende a los campos más diversos, desde el agro-ambiente al desarrollo urbano, la educación y la política. El análisis empírico se basa, en particular, en una encuesta internacional a gran escala dedicada a la certificación mundial del aceite de palma “sostenible”. El marco teórico adoptado para analizar esta metamorfosis contemporánea de la autoridad es el de la sociología pragmática de las convenciones comunes y los involucramientos personales. El análisis distingue entre formas más o menos instituidas de convenciones comunes, que revisten de autoridad a los seres humanos, y sus dependencias medioambientales que las ponen en valor. Este enfoque sobre la autoridad se introduce y discute a través del comentario de un cuento que tiene múltiples orígenes culturales, “Las nuevas vestimentas del emperador”. En él aparece la duda radical sobre las formas convencionales (“el rey está desnudo”) que se encuentra en el centro de la crítica contemporánea. El gobierno por estándares, muestra el artículo, amplía la gramática liberal acerca de lo común, que se basa en el formato de individuos autónomos que eligen entre opciones conocidas por todos. Este gobierno pretende integrar una amplia gama de bienes políticos y morales mediante la certificación de las opciones ofrecidas para la elección. El resultado de nuestro análisis es ampliar el dominio de la crítica exponiendo las diversas opresiones que este gobierno y sus formas investidas imponen sobre los involucramientos personales y las construcciones de lo común.

Abstract. The article unravels the workings of a new transnational “government by standards”, whose authority extends beyond that of nation-states and into the most diverse fields, from agri-environment to urban development, education and politics. The empirical analysis is based in particular on a large-scale international survey devoted to the worldwide certification of “sustainable” palm oil. The theoretical framework adopted to address this contemporary metamorphosis of authority is the pragmatic sociology of shared conventions and personal commitments. The analysis distinguishes common conventional forms, more or less instituted, that clothe with authority human beings, and their environmental dependencies that enhance their value. This approach to authority is introduced and discussed through a commentary on a tale of multiple cultural origins, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. It features the radical doubt about conventional forms (“the king is naked”) that lies at the heart of contemporary criticism Government by standards, the article shows, extends the liberal grammar of the commons, which relies on the format of autonomous individuals choosing from options known to all. This government claims to integrate a wide range of political and moral goods by certifying the options offered for choice. The result of our analysis is to expand the realm of critique by exposing the various oppressions that this government and its invested forms impose on personal commitments and the construction of the common.

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De la politique des scientifiques à l’administration de la recherche : bureaucratisation des relations sciences industrie en France (1959-1965)

From science policy to research administration: The bureaucratization of science-industry relations in France (1959–1965)

Jean-Baptiste Devaux (2023)

Revue française de socio-économie, 31, pp. 111-130

Résumé. Cet article porte sur la genèse des politiques de soutien à l’innovation en France et l’émergence de savoirs de gouvernement de types économiques consacrés au gouvernement des activités liant la science et l’industrie. En observant les recompositions de l’État et de l’espace bureaucratique entre 1959 et 1965, nous souhaitons faire apparaître le fait que ces deux processus procèdent de la même dynamique. La construction des relations science-industrie comme un objet savant par les économistes rend en effet possibles la mise en administration des relations science industrie et le pilotage par le centre des politiques technologiques. L’extension des capacités d’action de l’État central procède de la mobilisation de savoirs économiques. Il accompagne par ailleurs le développement de l’économie de la recherche comme sous-discipline autonome au sein des sciences économiques.

Abstract. This paper focuses on the genesis of innovation policies in France and on the emergence of economic knowledge devoted to governing activities linking science and industry. By examining the reconfiguration of the state and that of the bureaucratic space between 1956 and 1965, we seek to show that these two processes proceed from the same dynamic. The construction of science-industry relations as an object by economists made it possible for science-industry relations to be administered and for technological policies to be governed from the “centre.” Economic knowledge thus created new state capacities. It also led to the development of the economics of research as an autonomous sub-discipline within the economic sciences.

Extrait: “4.2. Administrer un territoire de nomenclatures et de chiffres
Tout au long de la décennie 1960, la DGRST va entretenir la dynamique de « mise en forme économique » de la science et de la technique. Elle transforme la « science et la technologie » en un territoire rationalisable, fait de chiffres, de nomenclatures ou de « conventions » économiques [Eymard-Duvernay, 2013].” (p. 126)

Extract: “4.2. Administering a territory of nomenclatures and figures
Throughout the 1960s, the DGRST maintained the momentum of the “economic shaping” of science and technology. It transformed “science and technology” into a rationalizable territory, made up of figures, nomenclatures or economic “conventions” [Eymard-Duvernay, 2013].” (p. 126)

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