“From the beginning, capitalism needed a non-economic idealistic driving force. In his study The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, the sociologist Max Weber attributed its spread to an elective affinity of religious ethics and the associated professional view and lifestyle. This perspective was taken up again a century later by Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello. In the digital age – according to the main thesis of the lecture – a new, polytheistic spirit of capitalism has now emerged, born in Silicon Valley. This spirit is a transnational phenomenon that drives the digital transformation of economy and lifestyle and has a local impact. The digital spirit is based on an ethic of solution that claims to improve the world and underpins a metric lifestyle.”
Location/time: Collegium Helveticum, Schmelzbergstrasse 25, 8006 Zürich, 18:15-20:00.
Session “Why convention theory?” at the upcoming JAFEE (Japan Society for Evolutionary Economics) conference in Sendai, Japan. 28 March 2020. Organized by Kota Kitagawa (Kansai University Osaka, Japan.)
企画：Why Convention Theory?
第1報告：Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne）
第2報告：Masafumi Yokemoto (Osaka City University)
第3報告：Kota Kitagawa (Kansai University) / Mihoko Morisaki (Osaka City University）
Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria 17-18 April 2020.
Organized by Dominik Zellhofer and Katharina Pernkopf (Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria)
“The workshop will focus on the use and usefulness of different theoretical ideas developed within the French pragmatic sociology – with a particular emphasis on developments and potential challenges in the age of digital transformation. As always, presentations will cover a variety of projects in differents fields of research.”
For a preliminary version of the program see pdf at this download link
Economics of convention as a neopragmatist institutionalism
“In his lecture ‘Economics of Convention as a neopragmatist Institutionalism’, this institutionalism is first introduced and its methodology and contributions to economic sociology are outlined. The focus is on conventions as logics for economic coordination and valorization, and a pragmatic concept of ‘quality’. The basic position of the ‘Economics of convention’ is the radical coexistence of many quality conventions in the economy, resulting in a plurality of economic coordination logics.”
“Kolloquium Sozialforschung” at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland (Autumn 2019)
Guy Schwegler (University of Lucerne)
During the autumn semester 2019, the bi-weekly colloquium at the University of Lucerne took place, which was organized by Rainer Diaz-Bone and Kenneth Horvath. The format features speakers from both academia as well as private and public research institutions to deal with the methodological challenges of social science in a broad way. The various presentations given this past autumn dealt with subjects such as bibliometric reviews (Isabel Steinhardt, University of Kassel), large data sets and maps (Timo Ohnmacht, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts), or the question of representativeness in surveys (Stephanie Steinmetz, University of Lausanne). Furthermore, two researchers were also part of this semester’s program that relied heavily on convention theory (EC). For the very first presentation of the colloquium, Valeska Cappel (University of Lucerne) presented her PHD project’s perspective on the think-aloud-method. And for the very last one of the semester, Simon Schrör (Weizenbaum Institute Berlin) focused on the furniture industry. For his newly started PHD, he examines the role of conventions in the digital transformation of this industry.
These two latter presentations and their subsequent discussions will be summarized in this blog post.
Valeska Cappel: “Die Think-Aloud-Methode: lautes Denken zur Erfassung impliziter kognitiver Wissensvorgänge” [Using the Think-Aloud Method to Grasp Implicit Cognitive Knowledge-Processes]
In her PHD project, Valeska Cappel focuses on the digital classifications of health within software applications on smartphones (i.e. apps). She has been presenting her project in numerous forums already (see here for some reports on her presentation on this very blog). For her most recent presentation on the subject, she focused on a very specific part of her empirical work, namely the possible application of the think-aloud-method.
As Cappel put it, her project has three aims when it comes to health classifications in apps. First, there is a (more historical and general) side to the establishment of these digital classifications that she looks into. Here, she hopes to identify the equivalences and form-investments present. Second, she also will look at tensions, conflicts and non-intended consequences that result from the implementations of the classifications within and through the helath apps. Third, Cappel wants to examine closely the actual handling of the apps within specific situations, where users interact with the objects, the software and therefore the classifications. Although her three goals co-constitute each other and are somehow inseparable, she approaches each part with a different methodological emphasis. For her third aim—the handling of the apps within situations—Cappel sees the think-aloud-method fit to capture data about the cognitive processes the users bring forward in interaction with the apps.
After these introductory remarks, Cappel went on to introduce the method and different approaches to it. These approaches of the think-aloud-technique range from an “introspective” and immediate verbalization of the participants during process over to “retro-“ or post-process verbalizations, that can happen either just after a respective action or in a delayed manner. For Cappel, all of these approaches to the method promise ways to approach the peculiarities of people dealing with classifications in situations. The more immediate verbalizations, for example, seem to relate better to the ideas present in the regimes of engagement concept while the delayed approach seems more fit for justifications. The main challenge of the method, however, lies in the fact that its basic assumption lead to a psychological explanation of the underlying processes all too fast. A path to use the method in the context of EC concepts, in relation to the ideas of technologies of the self by Foucault, or with the symbolic interactionism in mind, as Cappel intends to, does not present itself easily.
The challenge was also at the heart of the discussion that followed the presentation. Here, however, participants stressed that a similar tension as in the method also lies in Cappel’s very subject, i.e. the knowledge category “health”. The idea of “cognition” with and through the category as a psychological process is connected to the sociological issue of the “handling” of the category. Various approaches to this tension then were discussed. One proposed solution was the idea to re-focus the method on the situation as only accessed by the talking participant (instead of focusing on the thinking participant). Another proposal was to apply the method in sessions with couples (and therefore two participants) or to create some sort of “crisis” experiments, and not just observe daily routines.
Simon Schrör: “Digital-basierte Konventionen und Designmöbel. Transformation einer Industrie” [Digital based conventions and Design Furniture. Transformations of an Industry]
Simon Schrör only recently started with his PhD project that focuses on the digital transformation of the furniture industry and its related implications for modes of productions, justifications, and the likes. In Lucerne, he began his presentation with a little introduction of the Weizenbaum Institute, a joint venture project of Berlin’s universities that focuses on the digital transformation of the society, where Schrör is engaged as researcher. As part of one of the twenty research groups of the interdisciplinary institution, he especially focuses on the new governance forms and norms that result from digitalization.
After this introduction of the institute and its focus, Schrör went on to present design furniture and the changes that present themselves with the digitalization of this field. For him, the furniture objects resemble an interesting case for the digital changes. Consequences in legal, technical, as well as social norms and regulation here find their way into a specific and material object—the ways to coordinate in the digital realm are present in the furniture. Taking a step back further, Schrör then went on to present the wider societal change since 70ties as described by Andreas Reckwitz with the term late-modernity (“Spätmoderne”, see Reckwitz 2017/2020) again as mirrored in the design furniture field. Here, the former idea of design as a process inherent to mass production has been flipped on its head and the changes resulted in a questionable new role of the once standardized furniture. Now, design furniture are presented as luxury objects and a form of singularity. At the same time, however, they are being copied and cheaply manufactured by a mass market with instant and global availability.
To grasp these changes in a more systematic way, Schrör presented the concepts of the four commodity structures respectively forms of valorization that Boltanski and Esquerre introduced in Enrichment (“les formes de mise en valeur”, 2017/2020). With these four characteristics alongside the quality conventions, he went on to describe the differentiated practices to produce furniture present in the industry today. According to Schrör, furniture producers can be grouped with regard to three licensing regimes, each with respective (but non-exclusive) characteristics of goods and valorization. First, a license-based furniture production focuses on luxurious “design” furniture. Here, especially the collection form (“forme collection”) is present while a justification follows the convention of inspiration. Although emblematic of the current societal situation (singularities, enrichment), the licensed-based regime is especially challenged by processes of digitalization—and by the second type of furniture manufacturers. In this second regime type, companies have become specialized in an unlicensed production of the former regime’s products, e.g. “copying” the design products. Here, the digitalization enabled the companies to access the global distribution chains of Amazon and the likes that guarantee a certain amount of safety due to globalization (and lack of regulation). And, of course, this resulted into more and more difficulties for the license-based companies to track down their “copy-cat” counterparts. The companies under the unlicensed regime operate with the standard as well as the trend form (“forme standard/tendance”) for their goods, and justify their actions with the grammar of the civic regime. The second regime type seems to be profiting from the changes made possible through digitalization in an unapologetic manner. The third way of producing furniture, on the other hand, resemble a genuine “post-digital solution”. This regime is based on the Open Source idea, where licenses are available publicly on various online channels. These licenses then are forwarded to local producers (again, via specific channels or “platforms”). Here again the standard form becomes present, with promises to an asset form (“forme actif”), while a domestic justification organizes the production.
For Schrör, the approach of value setting in Enrichment as well as the EC in general enables the researcher to look at processes like the ones happening in digitalization from a more structural viewpoint while at the same time never losing sight of actual practices—and their possible contradictory effects (see also Boltanski and Esquerre 2017:495ff). As a first empirical idea, Schrör presented a possible chain of production that he’d like to follow and where the respective conventions should be identified. According to Schrör, an artefact analysis becomes central in following this chain of production.
During the discussion that followed his presentation, the participants of this last colloquium of the semester talked about three distinctive issues. First, the idea of following the design furniture as artefacts was discussed. Schrör presented the fabrication process in an ideal type model. Participants then pointed out that the situations of “production”—and their respective qualities and justification—shouldn’t be pre-fixed, but rather emerge in empirical work. What the actual “furniture” as an artefact is then should be questioned within various situations. The second subject discussed was the issue of digitalization. In a similar manner as with the first issue of the production process and its “artefacts,” participants pointed out that digitalization as a process also need to be specified empirically: in what function and form does the digital manifest itself, and what are the problems actors try to solve with these novelties? As a third discussion point, some weaknesses of convention theory were addressed. On the one hand, the commodity structures introduced by Boltanski and Esquerre seems to be focusing primarily on actual goods and their consumptions. Non-productive industries, the service sector and their respective “goods,” however, are not yet easily placed within the framework. On the other hand, it was pointed out, that the exact identification of a certain convention or justification in a systematic way has never been laid out—and remains a challenge both in Schrör’s project as well as in EC research in general.
Boltanski, Luc and Arnaud Esquerre (2017) Enrichissement. Une critique de la marchandise. Paris: Gallimard.
Boltanski, Luc and Arnaud Esquerre (2020, forthcoming) Enrichment. A Critique of Commodities. Cambridge, UK; Medford, MA: Polity.
Reckwitz, Andreas (2017) Die Gesellschaft Der Singularitäten: Zum Strukturwandel Der Moderne. Berlin: Suhrkamp.
Reckwitz, Andreas (2020, forthcoming) Society of Singularities. Cambridge, UK; Medford, MA: Polity.
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.
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 »
Katharina Zangerle (University of Innsbruck) & Bianca Schönherr (University of Innsbruck)
University of Innsbruck, Austria 26-27 April 2019.
In the evening of 25 April, a proper dinner constitutes the unofficial start – as it is occasionally the case with fruitful encounters – of the workshop. For the second time, the EC family gathers in Innsbruck, after prior workshops in Basel, Vienna, Lucerne, Hamburg and Reutlingen.
The next day, the host and an expert of this year’s workshop topic, Julia Brandl (University of Innsbruck), introduced into “Conventions@Work”, and warmly welcomed all Economie des conventions (EC) long-time representants, veteran performers and newcomers as well as the keynote speaker Emmanuelle Marchal (Sciences Po, Paris), well known for her intense sociological engagement with labor markets and recruitment practices. Besides her, Guillemette de Larquier (University of Lille) allowed to learn first-hand from central representatives of EC about current developments in labor market research. This year’s general focus indeed was – as the title indicates – on labor markets and personal policy work, for example understanding sources of inequalities in the labor markets by looking at recruiting practices. Also, our dear sponsor French Focus (of the University of Innsbruck) got a word in this opening session. Useful side note for researcher in financial need with a link to France: the French Focus financially supports academic exchange between academics from France and Innsbruck https://www.uibk.ac.at/frankreichschwerpunkt/index.html.de
Variety in regard to disciplines (e.g., Sociologist, Economists, Historians), origin (e.g., France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria), empirical interests (e.g., from migration, health, the digital, social policy, science, farming, to intellectual property regulations and information security…), but connected through the common theoretical perspective, characterized the audience composed of about 35 scientists. Besides, it was the workshops format, which allowed the presenters adequate time (45 minutes) to make clear their arguments and respond to the assigned discussants’ and audiences’ responses of different sorts, that triggered the discussion. The following overview serves to communicate current developments in the community, but makes no account to be complete. If some of the following issues awake your interest and if you want to learn more about it, consider to personally contact the authors (they are all quite friendly). This opportunity should also serve to honor Qamar Ali’s organizational efforts behind the event!
On the first morning, discussions were based on four presentations:
In the first session, Bernadette Bullinger (IE Business School Madrid) presented her work about mediating employment opportunities for migrants. Together with her co-authors Anna Schneider and Jean-Pascal Gond she thereby encounters the phenomenon of “Placing the Displaced”.
Eva Nadai (FHNW Olten, Switzerland) talked in the second session about the encounter of “High Tech, Low Skills” by investigating quality conventions for unskilled workers in an upskilled economy.
After the first coffee break, Esther Berner (Helmut-Schmidt-University / University of Federal Armed Forces Hamburg) centers in her work “Between Violence and Love, the Public and the Intimate. The “Citizen in Uniform” in the Perspective of the Sociology of Engagement” from a historical perspective the changing role of military officer.
Katharina Zangerle (University of Innsbruck) applies together with the co-authors Konstantin Hondros and Sigrid Quack, the EC to prominent court trials where actors litigate Intellectual Property claims in the music and pharmaceutical industry.
After lunch in the canteen of the University of Innsbruck, Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne), Kenneth Horvath (University of Lucerne), Lisa Knoll (University of Hamburg), Guillemette de Larquier (University ofLille) and Julia Brandl (University of Innsbruck), long standing representants of EC, discussed on the panel “Big Data, Methods, Value Chains – Conventionalists’ Perspectives on Research Practices”.
Finally, Emmanuelle Marchal (Sciences Po, Paris) gave her keynote about “Hiring Practices as (De)valorization”. Based on the sociology of markets, she critically encounters recruiting processes and practically asks for example: How can we know what skills are necessary for a job and how to evaluate those skills? What does a recruiter do, when she reads a CV? What game is played at personal meetings between recruiter and job applicant? BTW: The keynote referred to her book Les Embarras des Recruteurs. Enquête sur le Marché du Travail (English: The Recruiters’ Embarrassment. A Labour Market Survey/Deutsch: Die Verlegenheit der Personalvermittler. Eine Arbeitsmarktuntersuchung, Paris, EHESS, 2015, ISBN: 9782713224911).
Even though “work” was central in every sense, conventionalists also know when it’s time to celebrate. At the end of the day Christian Imdorf (University of Hannover) and Regula Leemann (FHNW Basel-Muttenz) announced the publication of their upcoming book together with Gonon Philipp on “Bildung und Konventionen” (English: “Education and conventions”) available at Springer Verlag: https://www.springer.com/us/book/9783658233006 in the new book series “Soziologie der Konventionen” (https://www.springer.com/series/15571?detailsPage=titles). Therefore champagne was cheerfully raised, accentuated by honoring words from Rainer Diaz-Bone. Congratulation again!
After an intensive first day, the group enjoyed a dinner in Innsbruck’s old town.
The second day began with the presentation of Lisa Knoll (University of Hamburg), where she introduced her current paper with Eve Chiapello on “The Welfare Conventions Approach” illustrated by social impact bonds.
Markus Schermer from the University of Innsbruck engages, against the backdrop of changing roles of and expectations towards farming, with conventions in agriculture and food production, thereby showing how farmers (re)organize and qualify their work.
Karolin Kappler and Uwe Vormbusch (both from FernUniversität Hagen) presented Orders of Justification in the Field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and framed them as ‘Spaces of Negotiation’ in the Making.
Dominik Zellhofer from the Vienna University of Economic and Business presented an excerpt of a dissertation project on information security policies in organizations and focused on building a framework based on the sociology of conventions.
After a light lunch, a session and discussion on “Methods and Research Question Spaces” followed with input from Kenneth Horvath (University of Lucerne) and Regula Leemann (FHNW) on “Reality Test” in EC-Its Theoretical AND Empirical Dimensions.
Valeska Cappel (University of Lucerne), Karolin Kappler (FernUniversität Hagen) and Sarah Lenz (University of Basel) engage in the last session with an increasingly prominent topic: “EC in the Field of Digital Health and Artificial Intelligence (AI)”, by investigating how the complex, ambiguous and contradictory moral infrastructure of late modern societies is mirrored and eventually transformed by AI.
The event was shaped by the active participation of all its attendees. Hence, special thanks to the chairs – Dominik Zellhofer (Friday) and Bernadette Bullinger (Saturday) – as well as the discussants Guillemette de Larquier, Heike Jacobsen, Arjan Kozica and Qamar Ali, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Esther Berner, Nina Pohler and Christian Imdorf who contributed to their colleagues’ scientific development.
Closing words from Julia Brandl and an outlook constituted the formal end of the two-day workshop.
Short reminder: WU Vienna invites to the 11th SoC Meeting (preliminary dates 16-17 April 2020). The central topic will be “Capitalism without Spirit? Conventions in the Age of Digital Transformation”
Applicants must send their abstracts to the designated email address for each workshop. They must include their name, affiliation, and contact information in the message. The maximum length for abstracts is 2000 characters (including spaces) and the deadline for submission is April 20, 2019. Any inquiries, including references cited in the call for abstracts, must be addressed directly to workshop organizers and workshop organizers are solely responsible for the review and selection of the submissions they receive.
Seminar session given by Rainer Diaz-Bone at the University of Grenoble 12 February 9.30-11.30
Spécaliste de l’économie des conventions, et principal relais à l’international de cette école théorique, Rainer Diaz-Bone nous fera part des perspectives de cette approche théorique, en particulier sur la question des institutions et de la connaissance. Il présentera également certaines pistes sur la façon de mobiliser l’économie des conventions dans le domaine de l’économie territoriale
30 ans séparent la publication du numéro spécial de la Revue Économique consacré à l’économie des conventions de la prochaine conférence de l’Association Française d’Économie Politique. Cette conférence est l’occasion de faire le point sur l’actualité du programme de recherche conventionnaliste. En particulier, le présent appel vise à rassembler prioritairement (mais non exclusivement) des travaux de jeunes chercheur.e.s qui travaillent leurs problématiques à l’aide des cadres de pensée de l’économie des conventions. Il s’agit ainsi d’envisager la manière par laquelle le programme de recherche des conventions peut ou doit évoluer.
30 years have elapsed since the publication of the special issue of the Revue Économique devoted to the economics of conventions. The next conference of the French Associaton of Politcal Economy is an opportunity to review the current status of the conventional research agenda. In particular, this call aims to bring together as a mater of priority (but not exclusively) the work of young researchers who work on their problems using the conceptual frameworks of the economics of conventions. This means considering how the convention research programme can or should evolve.
On 15/16 November 2018, the annual meeting of the German Gesellschaft für Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung e.V. (Association of Science and Technology Research – GWTF) took place at the TU Berlin.
During the two days, about 40-50 participants discussed research on the topic “Verhalten und Vorhersage. Die techno‐sozialen Zukünfte algorithmischer Bewertungssysteme” (Behavior and prediction. The techno-social futures of algorithmic valuation systems) organized in thematic blocks on smart cities, predictive policing, the fluidity of algorithmic valuation, behavioral prediction and control, ascriptive inequality in machine learning and theoretical perspectives.
In the block on theoretical perspectives, Karolin Eva Kappler from the FernUniversität in Hagen presented the Economy of Conventions as a theoretical approach to explore socio-technical assemblages. Underlining the concepts of investments in forms, the statistical chain and intermediaries, she illustrated her presentation with empirical examples from genetic diagnostics and genetically induced training plans for athletes.
Gesa Lindemann and Katharina Block discussed different social theories to tackle predictive systems. On this behalf, they insisted on the important difference between property and possession and criticized that most of theoretical approaches – among them the EC – ignore that aspect.
In the session on predictive policing, Selma Lamprecht from the Weizenbaum-Institut in Berlin presented different theoretical perspectives to look at “predictive policing for all”. Apart from the ANT and the analysis of discourses and dispositives, she discussed the EC in order to explore not only practices regarding the development and design of such technologies, but also the disposition of people and end-users to adopt such a system of predictive policing.
In many interesting discussions during the conference, the EC was clearly considered to be a rather unknown theoretical approach in the field of science and technology studies, but its analytical value in identifying the plurality and conflictivity of orders of worth and conventions was highlighted and referred to during the whole conference.
Further, the development and the design of technology “for the good of the people” was discussed as an emergent field of research in many disciplines, such as in informatics, engineering and science and technology studies. In this context, the EC could evolve towards a major theoretical reference in this interdisciplinary field of research.
Seminar at University of Halle (Winter semester 2018-2019) offered by Audrey Terracher-Lipinski.
Die Économie des conventions (EC) bildet seit den frühen 1980er Jahren
die Basis der neuen Sozialwissenschaften in Frankreich. Soziologie und
Volkswirtschaftslehre orientieren sich an der von Luc Boltanski und
Laurent Thévenot (Über die
Rechtfertigung, 2007) angestoßenen soziologisch-pragmatischen Theorie,
wodurch auch zu trans- und interdisziplinärer Forschung gerade im
Bereich Arbeit, Wirtschaft, Organisation, Markt oder Geld zustande
kommt. Im Seminar werden wir uns daher zunächst mit
einleitenden Texten beschäftigen, um ein theoretisches Gerüst zu bilden
und im Anschluss mit empirisch geprägten Texten die Kenntnisse
vertiefen. Schließlich soll auch der Einzug der EC in die deutsche
Forschungslandschaft beleuchtet werden und inwiefern sich
diese Forschungsrichtung hier ebenfalls durchsetzt.
08.11.2018 Diaz-Bone, Thévenot: Die Soziologie der Konventionen. Die Theorie der Konventionen als ein zentraler Bestandteil der neuen französischen Sozialwissenschaften: Einleitung
22.11.2018 Garcia-Parpet: The Social Construction of a Perfect Market – The Strawberry Auction at Fontaines-en-Sologne
06.12.2018 Barthe et al.: Pragmatische Soziologie: Eine Anleitung & Schenk, Rössel: Identität und Qualität im Weinfeld
10.01.2019 Schneijderberg,Steinhardt: Accreditation of X Qualities Instead of Quality X: A Normative Analysis of Criteria of the German Higher Education Accreditation Regime
17.01.2019 Thévenot: From social coding to economics of convention: a thirty-year perspective on the analysis of qualification and quantification investments
31.01.2019 Didier: Globalization of Quantitative Policing: Between Management and Statactivism