Archives de catégorie : Séminaires & conférences / Seminars & workshops

The 11th EC / Sociology of Conventions Workshop (virtual)

Report by Mario Steinberg (Basel)

For the first time in a virtual format, the annual EC workshop took place from 06-07 May 2021. This year the event was organized by Regula Julia Leemann (FHNW Basel-Muttenz) and her team. The 11th EC / Sociology of Conventions Workshop was held under the working title « Quantification and Conventions ». However, contributions not explicitly related to the conference theme were also welcome.

Thursday 06 May 2021

After a welcome to the participants by the organizer, Lisa Knoll (University of Paderborn) introduced Eve Chiapello (École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris/Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin) for her keynote speech.

Eve Chiapello’s keynote was entitled « Impact and the fight against financialized conventions of quantification ». She presented a convention-based interpretation of the financialization of economy. With an analytical focus on the concept of « impact », Eve Chiapello showed how financial decisions come about, what role different actors (such as financial investors) play, and how the concept of « impact » can be framed in terms of conventionalist theory.

After Eve Chiapello’s keynote and a short coffee break, the program moved to the first slot in the plenary, « Quantification, digitization and convention research studies ». Regula Leemann, Sandra Hafner and Raffaella Simona Esposito (FHNW Basel-Muttenz) gave a speech about « Quantification and conventions in the governance of educational transitions (in Switzerland) ». They introduced into the topic of their ongoing SNSF-project and presented first conceptual questions on the relevance of numbers in governing transitions: What is the role of quantification in these processes of governance? In which situations numbers are important? Which instruments and technologies are applied? What forms of strategies and policies are enabled by quantification? What are the effects of quantification? Regarding convention theory they pointed to important theoretical concepts and methodological approaches as e.g. the statistical panopticism, statistical chains and the convention-based foundations of indicators.

After a short break, the program moved on to the next slot, « Show and Tell ». Valeska Cappel (University of Lucerne) and Carolin Kappler (FernUniversität Hagen) presented their current publication project « Gesundheit – Konventionen – Digitalisierung », which will be published by Springer VS, Book Series Soziologie der Konventionen (Eds. Rainer Diaz-Bone & Lisa Knoll). The publication has the significance of opening up a field of research for convention theorists that has hardly been transferred in German-language research on the sociology of convention: the field of health research. Valesca Capell and Karolin Kappler deliver a volume that connects the sociology of conventions and the plurality of conventions with digital transformation processes, which can be considered a novelty so far.

In the continued slot « Quantification, Digitization and convention research Studies », Kenneth Horvath (University of Lucerne) and Mario Steinberg (PH FHNW/University of Basel) first presented their planned research project « The politics and pedagogies of algorithmic sorting in education ». In their presentation, the authors trace the role that conventions play in the implementation of artificial intelligence and digitization, especially regarding the question of what impact the so-called technological transformation will have on concrete school practices.

In the last slot of the first day, « Comments and Reflection« , Rainer Diaz Bone (University of Lucerne) spoke about quantification from a conventionalist perspective. He gave an overview of fundamental principles of EC when considering quantification. Fundamental to understanding quantification processes is the EC’s view that measurements themselves are convention-related. Consequently, quantification as a black box can only be understood if not only the consequences, benefits and effects of quantification are considered, but also their origin and distribution. In addition, measurements create new realities. Only because measurements are based on conventions, they become a social practice and are tested, justified and challenged in collective actions. The plurality of data worlds allows for different ways of taking measurements – but (from a neopragmatist point of view) no measurement can claim universal validity. At the end of his talk Rainer Diaz-Bone presented the concept of analytical axes for the convention-based analysis of quantification-processes as a heuristic for the analysis of quantification processes (see screenshot below).

The first day of the conference ended with a virtual apéro at the meeting-platform wonder me. Here, the participants had the opportunity to exchange ideas about specific topics of the conference and about topics beyond the conference itself.

Friday 7 May 2021

Friday started with parallel sessions. In the session « Education Research Studies », Philipp Gonon (University of Zürich), Lorenzo Bonoli (Eidgenössisches Hochschulinstitut für Weiterbildung), Jackie Vorpe (Eidgenössisches Hochschulinstitut für Weiterbildung) and Lena Freidorfer-Kabashi (University of Zürich) started with their presentation on regional differences in the justification of Swiss VET education. Colleagues ask how and why regional differences in Switzerland’s VET system are possible. They identify different education regimes in dual VET that can explain cantonal differences. Following Eric Verdier, they describe a neo-comparativist regime for the canton of Zurich, a hybrid of market and academic regimes for the canton of Ticino and a universal regime for the canton of Geneva.

After a short coffee break, Leonie Bisang (University of Lucerne/FHNW Olten) talked about her dissertation project on the reproduction of social inequalities in the tertiary education market. In her lecture, she also wanted to find out how the sociology of conventions can help to understand social inequalities in the swiss university landscape in her dissertation project.

Afterwards, Matthias Alke (HU Berlin) presented on the formation and historical change of job profiles in public adult education. The focus of Matthias Alke’s lecture was the public discourse on adult education and questions of its professionalization. Professional action in adult education as a young phenomenon, Matthias Alke explains from the perspective of the EC how job advertisements (understood as formal investments) describe conventionally formed requirements for quality, activity and occupation.

In the parallel session « Labor Market Intermediaries /HR Practices / PHD Presentations » Julia Brandl (University of Innsbruck) reported on the role of the labor market in shaping wage expectations – using the example of job advertisements. The research project she presented asks to what extent mandatory salary information in job advertisements can reduce gender-specific, different salary expectations. From a conventional sociological perspective, job advertisements can be seen as mediators between employers and job seekers. Job advertisements as such not only present information, but also have a transformative influence on the recipients.

Dominik Zellhofer (Vienna University of Economics and Business) presented his paper based on his dissertation entitled « The people problem of information security: A CISO’s quest for compromise ». In his lecture, he asks how actors in organizations negotiate policies and how technology information security policies are influenced by them. To answer these questions, he draws on the concept of form investment, which comes from EC. Empirically, he takes look at key figures like the CISO (Chief Information Security Officer).

Afterwards Eva Nadai (HSA FHNW) spoke about the role of labor market intermediaries from a conventionalist perspective. She described forms of recruitment of the low-employed from a conventional sociological perspective with a focus on intermediaries. Her presentation focuses on labor market intermediaries as human actors, organizations and dispositives, the evaluation of the quality of labor, and the significance of form investment from an EC perspective.

After the lunch break, the parallel sessions « Methodology » and « Health – Mental Distress Research Study /Paper Presentation » started. In the first sessions (Methodology), Simon Schrör (University of Lucerne/Weizenbaum Institut Berlin) gave a talk on methodological implications of artifacts in pragmatist research. Simon Schrör’s lecture is about making artefacts fearful for the pragmatic analysis of situations in the Sociology of Conventions and also proposing them as an independent epistemological unit. According to this, artefacts represent an extension of the empirical view, which, however, does not dissolve the reference to the object. Using the example of changes in the Deign furniture industry, he shows how the artefact-based identification of situations is made empirical.

Later on, in the same session, Simon Weingärtner (HSU Hamburg) presented on « On the Micro- and Macro-Politics of Work and Employment ». His lecture takes as its starting point whether the effects of the current COVID-19 situation will lead to a situation similar to what Polanyi described as the « Great Transformation » in 1944. Guided by the theoretical focus of boundary work, he investigates the transformation of political fields. In order to derive the historical change, he concludes his lecture by presenting a heuristic of employment regimes and socio-political change, which ranges from the mid-20th century (mass production) through the late 20th century (collaborative production) to the end of the 21st century (platformization).

Meanwhile in the parallel session (Health – Mental Distress Research Study /Paper Presentation) Miriam Kutt (University of Lucerne) spoke about the conflict potential of damaged identities and the connection between practices of silence and conflict avoidance and stigmatization of mental illness. Her presentation was entitled « Das Konfliktkapital beschädigter Identitäten – Praktiken des Schweigens und der Konfliktvermeidung im Zusammenhang mit der Stigmatisierung psychischer Krankheiten » [« The Conflict Capital of Damaged Identities – Practices of Silence and Conflict Avoidance in the Context of Mental Illness Stigma. »]. She focused on the extent to which social structural conditions in situations of stigmatization and discrimination lead those affected to remain silent and avoid conflict. She also asked how these conditions need to be changed so that those affected can be normative, stand up for themselves and their peers, and thus engage for the common good. From the perspective of the sociology of conventions, she works with regime theory and the concept of conflict avoidance « closing ones eyes », following Thévenot.

Anna Gonon (FHNW Olten) then reports in her presentation, entitled « Integration as justification work: a conventionalist perspective on the occupational reintegration of employees with mental distress » on recent findings of her doctoral project in which she investigates the processes of interpretation and the logic of justification of mentally ill employees in companies. She takes a particular look at collective processes of interpretation and justification. From the perspective of the sociology of conventions, Anna Gonon looks at justifications as problems of action in integration work. The aim of her lecture was therefore to show the principles of the assessment of reintegration and the decision on continued employment from an EC perspective.

A coffee break later, the last program item of the conference « Show and Tell » began. Here, authors presented current publications around the sociology of conventions. Arne Böker (University of Halle-Wittenberg) started off by presenting his completed dissertation project « Über die Rechtfertigung von Begabtenförderung. Eine Diskursanalyse am Beispiel der Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes » [On Justification of gifted education programs. A discourse analysis using the example of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation]. From the perspective of historical educational research, he examined how the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes [German Academic Scholarship Foundation] defined the criteria for the selection of its scholarship holders in terms of selection, promotion and social composition. Based on this, he empirically reconstructed the central used conventions, their stability and instability over time, as well as their relationship to problematizations and audits of the foundation itself.

In the following, Esther Berner (HSU Hamburg) reported on her research on the historical transformation of conventions in the shoe industry using the example of Bally and Bata in the period 1870-1940 (published in Journal of Vocational Education & Training, online). Esther Berner examines two large shoe companies in Switzerland, Bally and Bata, with regard to the constructions and changes of shoe quality in production worlds from a historical perspective. She particularly focuses on quality conventions (e.g. individuals, techniques, information) in her analysis. By examining the change in manufacturing processes and the qualification of employees, she is able to show the change, criticism and conflict of conventions in a period from 1870 to 1940.

The last contribution of the event was made by Julia Brandl (University of Innsbruck) and Arjan Kozica (University of Applied Science Reutlingen). They presented their forthcoming book, which will be published in the series Soziologie der Konventionen. The book will be published with the title « Betriebliche Personalpolitik. Eine konventionensoziologische Perspektive » [Workplace Human Resource Policies. A Sociology of Conventions Perspective.] In their work the authors apply the sociology of conventions-approach to human resource policies in economic companies. Julia Brandl reports (also on behalf of the excused Arjan Kozica) on their planned publication. It is aimed at students of economics and at practitioners of company personnel work and the structuring of company employment relationships. In doing so, they make the sociology of conventions fruitful for an understanding of business personnel policy. To this end, the book aims to establish practical links to the practice of business administration throughout, highlighting the significance of EC for company personnel policy as an alternative to established theories such as the Rational choice theory or social psychology.

At the end of the conference, all participants gathered again and looked ahead to the upcoming EC workshop which Christian Imdorf (Leibniz University of Hannover) will organize at Hannover. In summary we all look back on an instructive workshop, with new and exciting insights into current research on the sociology of conventions.

Many thanks to Regula Julia Leemann and her team for the organization of the 11th Sociology of Conventions Workshop!!!

The un/making of forms. Formographic inquiries into practice, accountability, and infra-critique

International workshop organized by Ingmar Lippert (IT University Copenhagen) and Susann Wagenknecht (Technical University Dresden)
at Technical University of Dresden 2-3 September 2021

Program Extract: “[…] As formality is made and unmade (Smart et al. 2017), forms help organize far-flung coordination and gain salience as prerequisite of accountability. They furnish the yardsticks of critique. With this workshop, we draw attention to the situated relation of form and critique that emerges from the ever changing tangle of practice. We suggest exploring « infra-critiques »—critiques ‘from within’ shifting forms of life (Verran 2014, Jaeggi 2018). Analyses of critique ‘from within’ emphasize the multiplicity and limitations of formal assessment. They help examining how in/form/alities boost and marginalize different modes of benchmarking and evaluation, denunciation and appraisal, determination and indetermination (Boltanski & Thévenot 1999). Requirements for specific in/form/ation, e.g., can feed authoritative regimes of control while effectively undermining accountability and attenuating critique (Lippert 2018). Against this backdrop, we are interested in formographic inquiries that problematize the enactment of form as a fixed, detached point of reference. […]
The workshop will take place at the Technical University Dresden, Germany, September 2-3, 2021. The workshop is designed as collective learning process, focusing on submissions that rely upon ethnographic materials to engage in the nexus of form, practice, critique, and accountability. To this end, we ask participants to circulate workshop papers (2,000w), accompanied by a digitally reproducible object (with permissions), prior to the workshop.

Link to the complete presentation

Congress of the Swiss Sociological Association (SSA) “Social justice in times of uncertainty”

Online, hosted at Geneva 28-30 June 2021.


Events related to EC:

Organizers: Jean-Michel Bonvin (University of Geneva), Diaz-Bone Rainer (University of Lucerne)

Wednesday 30 June, 09:00 – 10:30

  • Peter Wagner (University of Barcelona)
  • Philipp Batifoulier (University of Paris Sorbonne Nord)
  • Jean-Michel Bonvin (University of Geneva)
  • Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne)

Organizers: Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne), Valeska Cappel (University of Lucerne)

Monday 28 June, 15:00 – 16:30

  • Karolin Kappler (FernUniversität Hagen), Valeska Cappel (University of Lucerne): Trade-offs and conflicting goals in the digitization of health – Presentation of the anthology « Health – Conventions – Digitization”.
  • Stefan Janković (University of Belgrade), Milica Resanović (University of Belgrade): Breaking through the Pandemic Incertitudes: From Hazy Health Care Instruction to Commensuration of Worths among Serbia’s Young Professionals.
  • Giovanni Matera (EHESP French School of Public Health): Hospitality, Migration and Mental Health. Engaging a pluralist perspective to study the treatment of migrant persons suffering from mental illness.

1c) Paper-Session C.7 ENGAGING PLURALIST PERSPECTIVES IN CIVIC INTERVENTIONS: NEOPRAGMATISM AND SOCIAL RESEARCH», Organizers: Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne), Kenneth Horvath (University of Lucerne), Guy Schwegler (University of Lucerne), Simon Schrör (Weizenbaum Institute,  Humboldt University Berlin)

Tuesday 29 June, 10:45 – 12:15 (Session 1 of 2)

  • Kenneth Horvath (University of Lucerne): Invoking controversy, deciphering normativities: the method of “qualitative experiments” and the objectives of critical social research after the pragmatic turn
  • Anke Schad-Spindler (University of Vienna), Stefanie Fridrik (University of Vienna), Oliver Marchart (University of Vienna), Friederike Landau (Radboud University Nijmegen): Venturing into pandemic cultural policy conflicts.
  • Guy Schwegler (University of Lucerne): A different theory, a different culture? Considering ontologies of cultural production in light of performativity

Tuesday 29 June, 15:00 – 16:30 (Session 2 of 2)

  • Simon Schrör (Weizenbaum Institute, Humboldt University Berlin): Scientific Investigations as Part of Practical Discourses? Pluralities of engagement in professional debates on copyright reform.
  • Sinisa Hadziabdic (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne): Living and Dying with Your Own Ideas? Generational Replacement vs. Within-Individual Paradigm Change among Economists


Congress program

De la co-détermination à l’éco-détermination

Conférence d’Olivier Favereau, 15/01/2021, Science Po Alumni. YouTube

Même si loi PACTE vient de faire évoluer substantiellement la gouvernance des entreprises, les réflexions se poursuivent pour transformer le cadre de gouvernement des entreprises afin de résoudre les crises profondes actuelles. Olivier Favereau y contribue en plaidant dans son rapport à l’Organisation Internationale du Travail pour que la co-détermination déjà présente dans d’autres pays comme l’Allemagne ou la Suède fasse plus largement « descendre l’exigence démocratique au sein des entreprises », condition du succès selon lui de la transition écologique. Il apparaît en effet que les stratégies de « soft law » ne sont pas à la hauteur des mutations aujourd’hui nécessaires pour résoudre les crises. En effet la puissance des forces économiques, sociales ou politiques déclenchées mondialement par les bouleversements en cours nécessite que le cadre légal de gouvernance des entreprises soit revu en profondeur.
C’est à cette prise de recul et à ce débat que nous invite Olivier Favereau.

Even if the PACTE law has just substantially changed corporate governance, discussions are continuing to transform the corporate governance framework in order to resolve the current deep crises. Olivier Favereau contributes to this by pleading in his report to the International Labor Organization for the co-determination already present in other countries such as Germany and Sweden to « lower the democratic requirement within companies », a condition for the success of the ecological transition, according to him. In fact, it appears that « soft law » strategies are not equal to the changes that are now necessary to resolve crises. Indeed, the economic, social and political forces unleashed worldwide by the current upheavals require that the legal framework of corporate governance be thoroughly reviewed.
Olivier Favereau invites us to take a step back and to engage in this debate.

Lien vers la vidéo YouTube/ Link to YouTube video

Les statistiques des empires

Compter, classer, connaître et dominer

Journée d’études par visioconférence – Vendredi 18 décembre 2020, 9 h – 17 h 30

La journée vise à éclairer la fabrication, les usages et les finalités des statistiques des empires à travers des situations et des époques distinctes. Centrée sur les statistiques publiques, celles qui sont fabriquées par et pour des Autorités politiques, elle interroge plus particulièrement la relation entre statistiques et pouvoirs et entre statistiques et domination.

ORGANISATION : Emmanuelle Sibeud | université Paris 8, IDHE.S
Béatrice Touchelay | université de Lille, IRHiS

Cette journée d’études a pour objet l’étude des circulations d’idées et de pratiques statistiques dans et hors des empires, mais également la formation des statisticiens, de leurs relations avec les autorités territoriales, avec les colons et avec les populations locales. Il s’agit également de comprendre comment, en dénombrant, en classant, en normalisant les statistiques « officielles » créent du lien, intègrent, marginalisent ou excluent, et s’imposent parmi les attributs essentiels du pouvoir. Le cadre des empires paraît propice pour expliquer et analyser les effets de leur généralisation à l’échelle du monde depuis deux siècles.
Pourquoi les statistiques ont été imposées parmi les critères essentiels de la hiérarchie des nations et en quoi influencent-elles leur développement ? Comment les statistiques participent à la formation, à l’affirmation puis à la transformation (dislocation?) des empires ? Enfin, comment les statistiques accompagnent, préparent, soutiennent et s’adaptent aux transitions politiques et économiques contemporaines?


Rationalité autoréférentielle et mimétisme

André Orléan

Séminaire le 9 octobre 2020 – 12:00 – 13:30 – Pacte
Sciences Po Grenoble – Amphi F

Lors des crises financières, la panique prend brutalement le pas sur l’euphorie. L’économie casino conduit alors à des situations a priori incohérentes. Cette exubérance des marchés n’est pourtant pas irrationnelle. Bien au contraire, elle révèle la nature autoréférentielle des anticipations sur les marchés financiers. La prise en considération du mimétisme des comportements permet ainsi d’appréhender la déconnexion de la finance avec l’économie réelle et souligne l’impérieuse nécessité de la réguler.

Visioconférence disponible sur / Videoconferencing available on
Google Meet :

Critical research of critique in an age of uncertainty, neoliberalism, and populism: insights from pragmatic sociology in dialogue with other critical perspectives

PhD course – Roskilde University, Denmark
28 – 30 October 2020

The focus of this Ph.D. course is set on how we can analyse and understand how actors live with, shape, and sometimes question and fight modern forms of power and government. Current challenges in welfare societies, such as developments of rising inequality in wealth and health, technological trends of artificial intelligence and automation, health, climate and biodiversity crises as well as the challenge to democracies that form populist and authoritarian currents, re-actualize the old but still highly relevant and interrelated questions of what is, and ought to be, critical research and what is the role and forms of critique in contemporary societies.

Through the theoretical and crosscurrent lenses of the French pragmatic sociology in dialogue with other critical approaches, we propose an interdisciplinary forum where Ph.D. scholars can exchange theoretical and methodological perspectives on their research material. The French pragmatic sociology is often presented in terms of ‘sociology of critique’. It thus provides tools to help us to understand various practices and formats of critique, in other words how critique is both an essential element in forms of power as well as challenging them. On the one hand new forms of governing that uses critique are emerging, such as instruments using algorithms to test human behaviour, bench marking, and participatory forms of management. On the other hand, new forms of critique, from populism and climate-scepticism to social media, are emerging ignoring hitherto accepted requirements to legitimate critique (based on facts, evidence). This challenges the critical role of research in social science and humanities.

The current debate is often pictured as a choice between, on the one hand, rational thought, science, enlightenment and relativism and postmodernism on the other in which the latter is sometimes blamed for rise of populism. The question is whether it is possible, and indeed needed, to carve out critical positions within social sciences and humanities that do not accept this dichotomy. Based on developments within pragmatic sociology and other strands such as Foucauldian studies, the course will discuss such positions and how they can contribute to critical interventions in society and academia. The objective of this course is two-fold. It aims at giving Ph.D. students the opportunity to address how to conduct research on current challenges in welfare societies through the theoretical lenses of French pragmatic sociology, Foucauldian-inspired analyses, and other critical approaches. Secondly, to give the Ph.D. students the opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary reflections on how to conduct critical research.

Following this two-folded objective, the Ph.D. course last for three days. Around half of the time will be composed by lectures and the other half of discussing the work of participants.

Guest lecturers: Tom Boland, Lecturer in Sociology at University College of Cork, Ireland and Laurent Thévenot, Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris).

Link to the IMT-Phd-course page

Sozialforschung in der Kritik und in der Krise – Soziologische Perspektiven auf und für Methodologien im Wandel

Session at the coming sociology congress «Gesellschaft unter Spannung»
19 September 2020 via Zoom

  • Rainer Diaz-Bone: «Krise der Sozialforschung und pragmatische Normativität ‒ konventionentheoretische Perspektiven für eine Soziologie der Sozialforschung» [The crisis of social research and pragmatic normativity – conventionalists perspectives for a sociology of social research.]
  • Guy Schwegler: «Theorie-informierte Akteur*innen als Herausforderung für qualitative Verfahren» [Theory-informed actors as a challenge for qualitative procedures]
  • Andreas Schmitz & Christian Schmidt-Wellenburg: «Sozio-Logiken der Methoden- und Theorien“wahl“ im deutschen Feld der Soziologie» [Socio-logics of method and theory « choice » in the German field of sociology]
  • Kenneth Horvath: «Neue Datenallianzen und ihre Implikationen für Sozialforschung und Methodenlehre» [New data alliances and their implications for social research and methodology]

Taxonomien für eine digitalisierte Nachhaltigkeitsgesellschaft: die Genese umweltbezogener Bewertungspraktiken am Beispiel der grünen Konvention

Karolin Eva Kappler (2020)

Presentation at the coming sociology congress «Gesellschaft unter Spannung»
16 September 2020 via Zoom

Zusammenfassung. Im Hauptgutachten „Unsere gemeinsame digitale Zukunft“ (2019) des WGBUs wird das Konzept einer „digitalisierten Nachhaltigkeitsgesellschaft“ skizziert, das zwei zentrale Themen der Gegenwartsgesellschaft mit jeweils pluralen und konfligierenden moralischen Bewertungen miteinander verbindet. In diesem Vortrag wird es deshalb aus dem Blickwinkel der Bewertungssoziologie um wissenschaftlich und technisch vermittelte Formen der gesellschaftlichen Datafizierung, Berechnung und Rechtfertigung gehen. Ausgehend von der Ökonomie der Konventionen als wissenschaftstheoretischem und methodologischem Ansatz und deren Konzept der grünen Konvention fragt der Vortrag konkret nach der Genese solcher Bewertungspraktiken, mittels derer Digitalisierung und Nachhaltigkeit vermessen werden (können). Dafür werden die Ergebnisse zweier abgeschlossener interdisziplinärer Studien vorgestellt. (1) In einem interdisziplinären Projekt wurde ein auf maschinellem Lernen beruhender Algorithmus darauf trainiert, die der Ökonomie der Konventionen zugrundeliegenden Konventionen in großen Textdatenmengen zu erkennen. Die daraus gewonnenen Ergebnisse und Erkenntnisse, aber auch das methodische Vorgehen und die Entwicklung eines automatisierten Analysewerkzeuges werden im Rahmen des Vortrages kritisch reflektiert. (2) Das Zusammenspiel, die Spannungen und Konflikte der grünen Konvention mit weiteren Konventionen im Feld der Digitalisierung wurden in einer qualitativen wirtschafts- und arbeitssoziologischen Feldstudie untersucht, um die Wertsetzungen der Unternehmen mit denen der Mitarbeiter – auch in Bezug auf die grüne Konvention –zu vergleichen und zu erörtern. Theoretisch und methodisch hat dieser Vortrag somit zum Ziel, die grüne Konvention als mögliche Taxonomie in Bezug auf Nachhaltigkeit und Digitalisierung zu diskutieren, um damit Dynamiken und Spannungen einer digitalisierten Nachhaltigkeitsgesellschaft zu konturieren und im Zuge dessen Prozesse der Wertzuweisung im Hinblick zentraler Phänomene, wie z.B. der Herstellung von Standards, Marktwerten, Innovationsgraden und letztendlich Nachhaltigkeit selbst, in den Blick zu bekommen.

Abstract. The WGBU’s main report « Our Common Digital Future » (2019) outlines the concept of a « digitalised sustainability society », which combines two central themes of contemporary society, each with pluralistic and conflicting moral evaluations. From the perspective of the sociology of valuation, this lecture will therefore deal with scientifically and technically mediated forms of social data validation, calculation and justification. Starting from the economics of convention as a scientific theoretical and methodological approach and their concept of the green convention, the lecture will ask specifically about the genesis of such valuation practices, by means of which digitization and sustainability (can) be measured. To this end, the results of two completed interdisciplinary studies will be presented. (1) In an interdisciplinary project, an algorithm based on machine learning was trained to recognize the conventions underlying the economy of conventions in large amounts of text data. The results and insights gained from this, but also the methodological procedure and the development of an automated analysis tool will be critically reflected in the lecture. (2) The interplay, tensions and conflicts between the Green Convention and other conventions in the field of digitisation were examined in a qualitative economic and work sociological field study in order to compare and discuss the values of companies with those of their employees – also with regard to the Green Convention. Theoretically and methodologically, this lecture thus aims to discuss the green convention as a possible taxonomy in relation to sustainability and digitization, in order to contour the dynamics and tensions of a digitized sustainability society and, in the course of this, to focus on processes of value assignment with regard to central phenomena such as the production of standards, market values, degrees of innovation and, ultimately, sustainability itself.

« Why Convention Theory? »

Report by Taizo Yamamoto (Osaka Sangyo University, Japan)

On May 23, a session entitled « Why Convention Theory? » ( was held at the 24th Conference of Japan Society for Evolutionary Economics, JAFEE (at Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan. ). The conference was scheduled for March, but was postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic and held online.

Convention Theory or Economics of Convention (EC), which is one of the French institutionalist approaches, was introduced to Japan after the 2000s by translated books and articles. In 2012, Olivier Favereau (University of Paris Nanterre, France), in 2015, Christian Bessy (École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay, France), and in 2018, Guillemette de Larquier (University of Lille, France) visited Japan and gave lectures. However, while the second generation and their students have developed EC, the recent movements have not been systematically introduced to Japan. Also, the advantages of the developed theory have been not clearly shown to Japanese evolutionary and institutional economists. Therefore, this session was organized to notice the recent development of EC and answer to the question why we dare to learn and to apply EC. The session consisted of the following three presentations:

  • Masafumi Yokemoto (Osaka City University, Japan)
    Quality Tests in an Alternative Food Network: A Case Study of Organic Farming by Minamata Disease Patients and Their Supporters
  • Kota Kitagawa (Kansai University) and Mihoko Morisaki (Osaka City University, Japan): Wagashi Crafting as a Service: A Place of Materials in the Immaterialization of Capitalism from the Perspective of Convention Theory
  • Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne, Switzerland): Convention Theory and Big Data
  • Moderator: Yuji Harada (Setsunan University, Japan)

Masafumi Yokemoto’s presented a case study of organic farming in Minamata supported by urban consumers. Minamata is well-known as the site of devastating health damage (Minamata Disease) caused by a chemical company’s (Chisso) methylmercury emissions. The linkage of producers and consumers can be seen as an example of alternative food networks (AFNs), which provide foods having characteristics differing from mass-distribution products by linking producers and consumers.

As such, the “quality” of goods is an important point, and in that respect AFN researchers have consulted convention theory. Certification systems enabled businesses to incorporate new types of worth (the environment and food safety) into the process of capital accumulation. On the other hand a strategy of AFN is to switch away from focusing on product qualities those are proved by means of a certification system, and instead use the criterion of “relationships” among producers and with consumers. In the case of Minamata, such relationships are especially important. Also, his analysis traces the emergence of cité of green in Japan.

Kota Kitagawa and Mihoko Morisaki’s presented a case study of new developments in wagashi confectionery industry of Japan as an example of the immaterialization of capitalism. In order to consider immaterialization as a way of creation or transformation of an arrangement, Kitagawa and Morisaki employed convention theory to analyze a valuation world by focusing on humans, things, discourses and their relationships. The typical case for wagashi-crafting as a service (as a performance), in the novel movement in the wagashi segment, was analyzed in the context of forming a « collection » for economic « enrichment » (cf. Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre, 2020: Enrichment).

Evaluating service as performance has been constructed by mobilizing not only the intangibles (new valuation criteria with the popularization of SNS, photogenic collection in SNS, and the unique skill and spirit of the performer) but also the tangibles (various equipment; the wagashi and its delicate shades; resonance between the performer and the audiences). From the perspective of the plurality of cités, beneficiaries of services need to be embedded with the cité of inspiration in the novel valuation world.

Rainer Diaz-Bone’s presentation was, first, a clear commentary on EC, and second, a critical review of the digital economy in the age of “big data” from the perspective of EC. Conventions are logics of coordination, interpretation and evaluation.

Conventions offer a link to a common good, therefore conventions are also the basis for the social construction and evaluation of quality. Here we reaffirm the importance of Alain Desrosières’s work. Data is not a mirror of pre-given facts. Categorization and quantification are the result of different steps of convention-based practices. When measurement is based on adequate conventions, data can be regarded as useful for collective actions.

Big data is seen as an innovation in economy today. But from the perspective of EC, big data also troubles economies, because many data generating infrastructures are private property and are not used to pursue a common good but to exploit data information asymmetry. The conventions for these data production and measurement are invisible. EC’s claim on big data is to bring the public back in and to implement public ownership into the data infrastructures or develop new public data infrastructures.

In this session, discussions on the floor were actively held, and it was a good opportunity for Japanese researchers to learn more about the significance of Convention Theory.

Les pratiques de recrutement des entreprises: un pouvoir de segmentation et de valorisation

Rieucau, Géraldine/Larquier, Guillemette de (2020)

Recruitment practices of companies: a power of segmentation and valorization

Online-Presentation at seminar “Pratiques d’entreprise et segmentations” of Employment and Labour Research Centre (Centre d’Etudes de l’Emploi et du Travail, CEET) Paris 26 May 202015-17.30.

Program and online access

Wie die Materialität der Waren die Organisation des Online-Handel beeinflusst

Hering, Linda (2020)

Short paper on the 3rd workshop of the working group « Digitisation and Organisation ». Technische Universität Berlin March 2020


Das Paper setzt sich aus soziologischer Perspektive mit den Herausforderungen und Chancen auseinander, die beim Onlinelebensmittelhandel (OLH) mit Obst und Gemüse in Deutschland eine Rolle spielen. Anhand des Vergleichs zweier sehr unterschiedlicher Anbieter wird argumentiert, dass die besondere Materialität von frischen Lebensmitteln – ihre Lebendigkeit – die Organisation des Marktes beeinflusst.


« Digitaler Handel zeichnet sich, im Gegensatz zum stationären Handel, allgemein durch eine höhere Anonymität unter den Marktakteuren aus. Dies resultiert aus vorrangig einmaligen Transaktionen, über zum Teil große Entfernungen hinweg, und vergrößert die Unsicherheit und damit allgemein das Vertrauensproblem (Diekmann & Przepiorka 2017, 249). Um möglichst viele Stammkund*innen zu gewinnen, was sowohl für den stationären Lebensmitteleinzelhandel (LEH) als auch den OLH mit Lebensmitteln zentral ist, muss daher eine besondere Vertrauensbasis aufgebaut werden, die mit diesen Charakteristiken bricht. Was „gutes Essen“ eigentlich bedeutet und wie sich dies bewerten lässt, kann unter Bezug auf verschiedene Konventionen, die Rechtfertigungs- und Verhaltensweisen verzahnen, eingeteilt werden (Ermann, Langthaler, Penker und Schermer 2018, 180 ff.) In den letzten Jahren fand in der Agrar- und Ernährungsforschung für die Erklärung solcher Qualitätszuschreibung und -bewertung insbesondere der Ansatz der Economie des Conventions (EC) großen Anklang (Diaz-Bone 2018, Ponte 2016). Verschiedene Studien zeigen, dass die an einer spezifischen Warenkette beteiligten Akteure der Produktionskette das Problem der Koordination (Beckert 2009) lösen, indem sie gemeinsam geteilte Wissensbestände (Konventionen1) ausbilden. Die Akteure handeln also eine gemeinsame Qualitätsdefinition (Bewertung) aus und richten umfassend die Organisation der Warenkette daran aus. Die so entstehenden branchenübergeifenden Qualitätsstandards schaffen einen gemeinsamen Referenzrahmen, der über die jeweilige Systemlogik hinausreicht. Motive und Erwartungen der Produktions- und Konsumkontexte werden somit miteinander verbunden (Ermann et al 2018, 180), und für den Tausch der Waren eine Vertrauensbasis geschaffen. » (p. 3)

How the materiality of the goods influences the organization of online trade


The paper deals from a sociological perspective with the challenges and opportunities that play a role in the online food trade (OLH) with fruit and vegetables in Germany. By comparing two very different suppliers, it is argued that the particular materiality of fresh food – its liveliness – influences the organisation of the market.


« Digital trade, in contrast to stationary trade, is generally characterised by a higher degree of anonymity among market players. This results from primarily one-off transactions, in some cases over long distances, and increases uncertainty and thus the general trust problem (Diekmann & Przepiorka 2017, 249). In order to win as many regular customers as possible, which is central to both stationary food retail trade (LEH) and the OLH with food, a special basis of trust must therefore be built up which breaks with these characteristics. What « good food » actually means and how this can be evaluated can be classified with reference to various conventions that interlock modes of justification and behaviour (Ermann, Langthaler, Penker and Schermer 2018, 180 ff.). In recent years, the approach of the Economie des Conventions (EC) in particular has met with great approval in agricultural and food research for the explanation of such quality attribution and evaluation (Diaz-Bone 2018, Ponte 2016). Various studies show that the actors in the production chain involved in a specific commodity chain solve the problem of coordination (Beckert 2009) by building shared knowledge stocks (Conventions1). The actors thus negotiate a common definition of quality (evaluation) and comprehensively align the organisation of the commodity chain with it. The cross-industry quality standards thus created create a common frame of reference that extends beyond the respective system logic. Motives and expectations of production and consumption contexts are thus linked (Ermann et al 2018, 180), and a basis of trust is created for the exchange of goods. » (p. 3)


Algorithmen = Rankings + x? Impulse der Soziologie der Quantifizierung für die Digitalisierungsforschung

Grieser, Christopher/Egbert, Simon (2020)

Short Paper for the 3rd Workshop of the Working Group « Digitisation and Organisation » on 05. and 06. March 2020 in Berlin


Die zunehmende Verbreitung und Nutzung von Algorithmen, seien es Such-, Bewertungs- oder Empfehlungs-Algorithmen, ist ein zentrales Thema der Digitalisierungsforschung. Während Algorithmen in der deutschsprachigen Techniksoziologie seit den 1990ern in Anlehnung an Turing allen voran als formalisierte und schematisierte Regelabläufe definiert werden […], beschäftigt sich der Großteil der gegenwärtigen Digitalisierungs- und Algorithmen-Forschung meist nur mit (computer-)algorithmischen Rankings. Diese zeichnen sich dadurch aus, dass sie genauso wie „analoge“ Rankings numerische Ordinalisierungen darstellen, die auf Bewertungen basieren und eine hierarchische Ordnung implementieren; im Gegensatz zu analogen Rankings vollzieht sich die algorithmische Ranking-Erzeugung jedoch automatisiert. Angesichts der Verengung des Untersuchungsgegen-standes gegenwärtiger digitalisierungssoziologischer Forschung auf ranking-produzierende Algorithmen erscheint es umso bemerkenswerter, dass die Digitalisierungsforschung dabei die soziologische Forschung zu Quantifizierung und Rankings bisher kaum berücksichtigt hat.
Diese Lücke wollen wir schließen, indem wir demonstrieren, wie sich die Erkenntnisse soziologischer Ranking-Forschung, die vor allem auf Arbeiten der Wissenschafts- und Wirtschaftssoziologie zurückgeht, fruchtbar zur Untersuchung von Digitalisierungsphänomenen verarbeiten lassen. Die verschiedenen, in der Digitalisierungsforschung untersuchten Algorithmen lassen sich dabei analytisch jedoch nicht vollständig auf analoge Rankings reduzieren, da die software-technische Automatisierung der Ranking-Erzeugung zu relevanten Differenzen führt, die es ebenfalls herauszuarbeiten gilt. Unsere Überlegungen münden deshalb in einem Analyse-Raster, das die systematische Untersuchung von algorithmisch erzeugten Rankings sowie den Vergleich mit analog erzeugten Rankings erlaubt. Somit wird es möglich, digitalisierungsbedingte Veränderungen gesellschaftlicher Praktiken soziologisch fundiert zu erfassen. Das Analyse-Raster wird abschließend an zwei empirischen Beispielen schlaglichtartig illustriert, der algorithmischen Kriminalitätsvorhersage im Predictive Policing und der algorithmischen Marktregulierung in App Stores.


„Bei der Soziologie der Quantifizierung handelt es sich um ein immer noch wenig institutionalisiertes Forschungsfeld (Berman/Hirschman 2018: 258; Mennicken/Espeland 2019: 224f.), dass sich mit Praktiken des Quantifizierens, also der Produktion und Kommunikationen von Zahlen, samt ihrer gesellschaftlichen Effekte, befasst (Espeland/Stevens 2008, Diaz-Bone/Didier 2016, Esposito/Stark 2019). Aufgrund der geringen Institutionalisierung des Forschungsfeldes sind verschiedene quantifizierungssoziologisch relevante Erkenntnisse meist in Publikationen der Wirtschafts- und Wissenschaftssoziologie (z.B. Espeland & Sauder, 2007; Fourcade & Healy, 2013) sowie der Soziologie der Bewertung (z.B. Lamont 2012) zu finden. Der Einfachheit halber fassen wir alle diese Forschungen unter das Rubrum der Soziologie der Quantifizierung, auch wenn dies nicht unbedingt der Selbstbeschreibung der Forschenden entspricht. Das für uns dabei relevante Kriterium ist, ob sich soziologisch mit der numerisch-quantitativen Dimension und den daran anschließenden Praktiken und Diskursen auseinandergesetzt wird. […] Ein weiterer Strang der Quantifizierungs-Forschung beschäftigt sich mit der durch Quantifizierung ermöglichten Ressourcen-Allokation (Miller 2001), also der Konstitution politischer Steuerbarkeit mittels Statistiken, sodass die Statistik als Geburt des modernen Staates angesehen werden kann (Desrosières 1998, 2001).“ (p. 3/6)

Algorithms = Rankings + x? Impulses of the sociology of quantification for research on digitisation


The increasing dissemination and use of algorithms, whether search, evaluation or recommendation algorithms, is a central topic of research on digitisation. While algorithms have been defined in the German-speaking sociology of technology since the 1990s, following Turing, as formalized and schematized rule sequences […], the majority of current research on digitization and algorithms is mostly concerned with (computer) algorithmic rankings. These are characterized by the fact that, just like « analog » rankings, they are numerical ordinalizations based on evaluations and implement a hierarchical order; in contrast to analog rankings, however, algorithmic ranking generation is automated. In view of the narrowing of the object of study of current research in the sociology of digitisation to ranking-producing algorithms, it seems all the more remarkable that research on digitisation has so far hardly taken into account sociological research on quantification and rankings.
We would like to close this gap by demonstrating how the findings of sociological ranking research, which can be traced back primarily to work in the sociology of science and economic sociology, can be fruitfully processed to investigate digitisation phenomena. However, the various algorithms investigated in digitization research cannot be reduced analytically to analog rankings completely, since the software-technical automation of ranking generation leads to relevant differences that also need to be worked out. Our considerations therefore result in an analysis grid that allows the systematic investigation of algorithmically generated rankings and the comparison with analog rankings. In this way, it becomes possible to record changes in social practices caused by digitisation in a sociologically sound way. Finally, the analysis grid is illustrated by two empirical examples, the algorithmic prediction of crime in predictive policing and algorithmic market regulation in app stores.


« The sociology of quantification is still a little institutionalised field of research (Berman/Hirschman 2018: 258; Mennicken/Espeland 2019: 224f.), which deals with practices of quantification, i.e. the production and communication of numbers, including their social effects (Espeland/Stevens 2008, Diaz-Bone/Didier 2016, Esposito/Stark 2019). Due to the low level of institutionalisation of the research field, various findings relevant to the sociology of quantification can usually be found in publications of the sociology of economics and the sociology of science (e.g. Espeland & Sauder, 2007; Fourcade & Healy, 2013) and the sociology of valuation (e.g. Lamont 2012). For the sake of simplicity, we group all these researches under the rubric of the sociology of quantification, even if this does not necessarily correspond to the researchers’ self-description. The relevant criterion for us here is whether sociological research deals with the numerical-quantitative dimension and the practices and discourses that follow. …] Another strand of quantification research deals with the allocation of resources made possible by quantification (Miller 2001), i.e. the constitution of political controllability by means of statistics, so that statistics can be regarded as the birth of the modern state (Desrosières 1998, 2001). » (p. 3/6)