Franco-German workshop on “Civic education and social integration, a Franco-German comparison: theoretical and methodological perspectives” in Paris, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (7 to 8 December 2017)

Lisa Schenkel (University of Münster)

School systems in France and Germany are very different in their historical development and institutional characteristics. Nevertheless, in times of growing pluralization, both systems must respond to similar challenges and contradictions. On the one hand, school is supposed to guarantee political integration and socio-economic insertion as well as creating cooperation in classrooms. On the other hand, teachers and students are exposed to a vast number of discourses about social challenges, held by society, economy, government and politics. How can school under these conditions still be the essence of what a nation wants to transmit culturally, and how can social integration take place? Consequently, teachers and students are constantly confronted with various expectations and dilemma-situations in the classroom. To stabilize their domain-specific acting, teachers have to make use of specific conventions and justifications. Especially in the domain of civic education, performative justifications regarding society, economy and politics are permanently demanded from the teachers. But, are these conventions and justifications they use the same in France and Germany? How do civic education teachers refer to the social scientific discourse? Do they use devices in a different manner?

Andrea Szukala (Münster University), Claude Proeschel (Université de Lorraine/ GSRL/EHESS) and Reinhold Hedtke (Bielefeld University) initiated a workshop from 7th to 8th December 2017 at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris that aimed to open new theoretical and methodological perspectives on civic education and social integration in France and Germany.

Claude Proeschl

Experts from France, Germany and Switzerland in the fields of Civic and Social Science Education, Sociology of Conventions, Methodology and Sociology of Education were brought into a scientific exchange to discuss new ways to carry out a comparative analysis that goes beyond a holistic description of citizenship models and school systems by making use of the Sociology of Conventions.

Claude Proeschel and Reinhold Hedtke opened the first session of the workshop by presenting and discussing the idea to make use of the Sociology of Conventions to compare citizenship education in France and Germany. They identified three research directions that would be interesting to follow in a comparative study of civic education in France and Germany: Situations, Practices and Professional Conventions.

Lisa Schenkel, Henning Middelschulte, Rainer Diaz-Bone & Reinhold Hedtke

Subsequently Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne) introduced the participants of the workshop into neopragmatism and explained pragmatist and neopragmatist perspectives on civic education and comparative studies. Furthermore, he elaborated on how methodological situationalism, which uses situations as analytic and interpretive unit, could be used in comparative studies.

Rainer Diaz-Bone & Géraldine Bozec

The first day of the workshop ended on a contribution from Jean-Louis Derouet (École Normale Supérieure de Lyon). He explained how, in the transition from the 20th to the 21st century, a certain number of “great divisions” that founded the modern age were called into question: the division between the normal and the pathological, between scientific, religious and indigenous knowledge, between man and nature, humans and non-humans. A certain number of these divisions are taken into consideration by the now prevailing idea of integrative societies. This also affected the education policy in France: many attempts were made to develop new conventional systems that would consider the differences of students, for example regarding handicaps, sex, culture, religion or talent.

Jean-Louis Derouet

The workshop session on Friday morning started with a talk by Tobias Röhl (Siegen University). He gave some practical methodological insights into how ethnographic research could be used for classroom studies and explained how material things (like chalk, books, an experimental toolkit or a blackboard) contribute to the formation of knowledge in the classroom.

Géraldine Bozec (Université Nice Sophia-Antipolis) pointed out in her talk that it would be interesting to look at the routines of civic education that are constantly take place in the classrooms. But she also expressed the objection that routines, which seem to stabilize civic education, might make it difficult to observe situations of crisis and conflict in which performative justifications of the teachers are inevitable. In this case, a binational perspective might help to identify, deconstruct and analyze situations and conventions that were not taken into consideration before because they seemed to be self-evident for the biased “local” researchers.

Tobias Röhl, Lisa Schenkel, Andrea Szukala, Géraldine Bozec (speaker), Anne-Claire Husser, & Jean-Luis Derouet

Anne-Claire Husser (École Supérieure du Professorat et de l’Éducation de Lyon) enriched the workshop by presenting the state of research on civic education in France. She explained that there is a lot of theoretical and historical research, but very little scientific insights on the process and the situations of teaching.

Anne-Claire Husser & Jean-Louis Derouet
Tobias Röhl

The workshop was closed by Andrea Szukala who gave a short introduction into the structures, traditions and challenges for citizenship education in schools and civic education research in Germany. During the past years, citizenship education in German schools has not only undergone a process of economization and globalization, but it has also been didactically over-stabilized. In the context of the new materialistic sociology of education, she raised questions about how professional actors and learners define critical classroom situations and how they use devices to enhance teacher-learner cooperation and communication about citizenship and belonging. The workshop gathered new perspectives on agency in the social scientific classroom and highlighted the urgent need for more comparative analysis adopting a materialistic and pragmatist vision of domain specific educational processes to better understand the stabilization and justification of the “social” in the social scientific classroom.

This Franco-German workshop was co-financed by the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst), Bureau Paris

Reinhold Hedtke, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Claude Proeschl & Henning Middelschulte

EC related presentations during the “Kolloquium Sozialforschung” at University of Lucerne (autumn 2017)

Guy Schwegler (University of Lucerne)

During last semester’s social research and methods lectures at the University of Lucerne, three presentations were given that relied heavily on convention theory (EC). Two of the researchers, who gave a speech, applied the theory in the realm of educational research—Leemann’s methodological considerations and Horvath’s presentation of his post-doc research—while Cappel is focusing on the subject of digitalisation and health in her PhD project.

Regula Leemann (FHNW Basel): “The Sociology of Conventions in Social Science’s Educational Research: Methodological Considerations and Experiences”

Regula Leemann presented her approach to EC in the educational research for the “Kolloquium Sozialforschung”, the social research and methods lecture series at University of Lucerne. The former primary school teacher and now professor for educational sociology has been one of the most visible EC theorists in Switzerland. Consistent with the focus of the lectures, Leeman talked about methodological issues related to a study she did a while ago. After a commissioned evaluation of a school gender day—a future career day intended to question/re-think gender-typical job images—, she used the collected data for a secondary study.

Regula Leemann

The establishing of this gender day, she argued, could be viewed as a critical moment with two situations to analyze. On one hand, there were the individual reactions of teachers and school representatives in the conducted group interviews. On the other hand, the specific situation the schools applied to establish the day could be analysed as well. Through this example study, Leemann presented various EC concepts as well as how she applied them, what methodological challenges arose and how she dealt with the challenges through formulating methodological rules for herself. Not least, Leemann also re-formulated a neoinstitutionalist isomorphism thesis of adopting such a gender day. She was able to locate the establishment of the gender day on the level of the actors as wells as their justifications—therefore living up to EC’s combination of pragmatism and structuralism. Leemann went on to present her methodological rules for the EC concepts she used in her secondary analysis of the gender day. With the idea of a plurality of the conventions, she put the role of the researcher itself into perspective, as also her judgments (within the evaluation) should use the justifications given—and not prior normative starting points. With the ideas of justice and justesse, she stressed the fact that not only intense moments during group discussions should be of interest, but also the ones, were sought-after reactions from the participants didn’t occur. With EC’s demand for an extended actor concept, Leemann also present the limits of her secondary analysis—as she was not able to go beyond a few central actors (teachers and school officials). The discussion that followed her presentation mostly centred on the connection between the domestic convention and questions of gender. Are certain justifications via the domestic convention outdated if it comes to gender? (A discussant pointed out this article for further insights: see Talahite 2011). Or are there possibilities to imagine different gender roles (e.g. non-binary and non-stereotypical) with the domestic convention? Another aspect of the discussion brought forward that within the educational sector especially, certain conventions seem to have unchallenged notions—be it always unproblematic (civic conventions), problematic (domestic convention) or for the most part never questioned (industrial convention) like with the example of the notion of ‘fit’ students shows. Leemann’s presentation not only showed the importance of such detailed conventional question, but also their very specific methodological relevance.

Kenneth Horvath (University of Lucerne): “Measuring Educational Classification Knowledge”

For the second EC related presentation in the “Kolloquium Sozialforschung”, Kenneth Horvath presented first ideas for his post-doc research projects. Since August 2017, Horvath is working at the University of Lucerne as a post-doc researcher at Sociology’s chair for qualitative and quantitative methods. Before that, he held a position at the Karlsruhe University of Education—where he extended his former studies on migration to education, which also will be the subject for his upcoming research. He’s move to Switzerland reflects this shift not least again, if one considering EC strong position in educational issues amongst Swiss researchers. In the lecture (see Horvath et al. 2017), Horvath first presented his own starting point, moving from issues of migration to education, as he has been dealing with research topics such as children with migration background and highly gifted children.

Kenneth Horvath

The connected questions to those two topics are related to educational inequality and educational classification knowledge. Horvath named the three major approaches to the question of inequality in education: competencies and educational research, ethnographic studies in education as well as the institutional discrimination theory. All of these three approaches, he summed up, are having troubles dealing with the relationship of structure and practice and argue from an inner-educational standpoint when explaining inequality. Educational classification knowledge as used by teachers themselves on the other hand, is very much an interface between such insider and more broader knowledge—and therefore connected to wider issues to answer inequality within education. With examples of transcripts from recent qualitative interviews (where teachers had to describe their classes), Horvath then went on to explain his idea of classification knowledge through the descriptions the teachers made of their pupils. These descriptions did not only evaluate the students and their respective skills in schools, but also tried to explain why each child acted and performed the way it did. All those descriptions were in term related to certain justifications and used certain categorisations—but they did not only relate to pedagogical realms. Especially when the teachers went beyond a mere reason of their evaluation and classification to an understanding of the child, a change from justification to a regime of familiarity took place. The question for Horvath is how to measure and to quantify the knowledge that teachers use, also in their own quantifications. Other approaches (mostly the competence paradigm) are using Likert-scales to measure such classification knowledge, while somewhat ignoring the scale’s background to measure political views and possible social desirability issues. Dissatisfied with Liker-scale measurements, Horvath tries to approach the classification from a more experimental-setting—following Boltanski’s and Thévenot’s study (1983). To finish his presentation, he introduced two ideas to measure educational classification knowledge that he is currently considering. Unlike Boltanski’s and Thévenot’s experiment, Horvath would like to work quantitative. He thus presented first the idea of factorial surveys, where participants need to choose between descriptions (vignettes) in somewhat dilemma like situations ( Horvath referred to MIT’s Moral Machine ( and wiki surveys as an inspiration for the factorial survey). Especially interesting for Horvath would be a way to give the teachers a possibility to re-integrate their own descriptions in the survey. This first idea was all about adding an experiment like quality to a quantitative survey. His second idea to measure educational classification knowledge would be to make use of the active community of teachers in online forums. In scraping these forums, he should be able to get a solid data foundation to quantify the teachers’ classification knowledge and therefore—as with the idea of the factorial survey—get insights into the way they not only justify their evaluation of the pupils but also their descriptions of and explanations for pupils. The discussion following Horvath’s presentation started with the issues of the teachers’ self-awareness (in theoretical topics related to their work) and possible self-portrayal—and which of the two methods would be more prone to this issues. As Horvath argued, he is also very much interested in these mechanisms—not the teacher as a private, but as professional person is the focus of the research. Further discussions were concerned with how to move away from a mere discovery approach (and therefore structuralism) to explaining the processes at hand in a different way. Within this discussing, Horvath referred to the category of migration and how it is applied within the teachers’ differentiating knowledge. The ideas Horvath presented were not only interesting for their use of EC as an alternative to existing approaches in pedagogic and school settings, but because of the fact how he is aiming at categorisations and quantifications as well as the way they are the established (within and outside of a pedagogical realm) and used. The methodological ideas he presented to approach this kind of meta-perspective on the process of educational classification knowledge added another interesting level to an already worthwhile idea and presentation.

Valeska Cappel (University of Lucerne): “Health Apps – An Investment in Form for a Digital Health Condition?”

Valeska Cappel

For the third EC-related (and final) presentation in the “Kolloquium Sozialforschung”, Valeska Cappel presented her project on health apps. Cappel started with her PHD this year at the University of Lucerne and for the lecture, she gave some first insights into the conceptual work she did so far. The health apps that are the focus of Cappel’s PhD project act as preventive data trackers (in contrast to certain programs for specific diseases)—such as “fitbit” or Swiss medical insurance CSS’ “myStep”. She described three particular developments related to the health trackers. First, the general usage of those apps seems to increase and they therefore gain social science’s interest more and more. However, a general focus of studies on those apps deals with motivation of usage, mostly ignoring wider consequences of such usage. Second, a new kind of interconnectedness related to (preventive) health issues takes place: between a scientific and a commercial field, individuals, welfare state and more. The recent law of the electronic patient dossier (“Gesetzgebung Elektronisches Patientendossier”) in Switzerland is an example of how also legislation needs to deal with such an interconnectedness. Finally yet importantly, the apps seem to introduce new preventive vital parameters that are quantifying every-day actions for health purposes. Against the background of those three developments and the emerged situations, Cappel wants to ask what categories and standardisations are introduced via the apps and what logics are at work. The reason she chose EC as her theoretical framework is that not an actors’ perspective is what is of interest, but how those apps are working in situations, how an interplay between physicalness and material is taking place. The central EC concept—as the title suggests—are investments in form and how apps achieve new investments and initiate coordination. In addition, the quality conventions are at play as Cappel exemplified by the “myStep” app. From the market convention, such an app is a unique feature for the health insurance company—while for its users it is a way to pay less for their insurance. Both sides are therefore primary concerned with other issues than health itself. Her empirical work as she outlined it during the presentation would include expert-interviews with health related actors (e.g. doctors, patients, developers of the apps …) accompanied by document analysis and a qualitative experiment. In the experiment, participants should develop/discuss a new health app or a new preventive health course and defend one option in a group setting. While the first approach would describe the general situation of the apps and the references being made in those situations, the experimental part would show in which situations the apps are actually working. Cappel ended her presentation with some open questions regarding her PHD project. Are those health apps just another example of a digitalisation of classification? Alternatively, is there something genuinely new happening on a cognitive level related to health? Also, the question of whether such a digitalisation is actually working and having consequences is one that needs to be addressed. The discussion that followed this last presentation of the colloquium was mainly concerned with a deepened understanding of Cappel’s research interest. In addition, some more specific issues such as how change (through the health apps) can be integrated and addressed in her methodological framework or whether health apps (as a health practice of quantification) are actually something new. Overall, Cappel’s PhD project promises already in its early stage interesting insights into digitalisation, classification and health—not at least through the application of EC.


Boltanski, Luc, and Laurent Thévenot. 1983. “Finding one’s way in social space” study. Social Science Information. 22(4/5), pp. 631- 680.

Boltanski, Luc, and Laurent Thévenot. 1999. “The Sociology of Critical Capacity.“ European Journal of Social Theory 2(3), pp. 359-377.

Horvath, Kenneth, Anna Amelina, and Karin Peters (eds.) (2017): Migration regimes in the spotlight: The politics of migration in an age of uncertainty. Special issue of Migration Studies 5(3).

Talahite, Fatiha. 2011. “L’engendrement chez Luc Boltanski et Pierre Legendre: lectures croisées.“ Enfances, Familles, Generations. 14, pp. 113-138. 

Seminar on “educational projects in a universe of multiple references” in Amiens (30 November to 01 December 2017)

Kenneth Horvath (University of Lucerne)

The educational field is heavily affected by the societal transformations that have marked the  past decades. Educational and training projects face complex and contested social constellations, marked by increasing diversity as well as intense political debates. The tension between an egalitarian perspective of democratic equality and a meritocratic focus on performance which dominated educational discourses after WWII is today accompanied by and linked to newly emerging definitions of the common good. New and old divisions and inequalities co-exist and seem to be permanently rearranged: migration and citizenship, religion and the divide between science and faith, the relations between humans and nature, the definition of sexual identities …

Jean-Emile Charlier (Catholic University of Louvain), Sarah Croché (Université de Picardie), and Jean-Louis Derouet (Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon) are currently running an international seminar that aims to  further our understanding of these developments. This seminar aims to bring specialists from different subjects and different disciplines into dialogue in order to identify important challenges and analyze current dynamics. The first meeting of this seminar took place from 30 November to 01 December 2017 at the University de Picardie in Amiens, with established and younger scholars from different backgrounds as well as around a dozen students taking part.

The focus of this first meeting was on inclusive education and systems of classification, i.e. on how differences are construed, acknowledged and dealt with in educational contexts. There were two thematic sessions. The first session on Thursday afternoon discussed the inclusion of students with “special needs”. Serge Ebersold (Centre National des Arts et Métiers) discussed the interrelations between normative orders, ideas of normality, processes of institutionalisation, and the construal of “handicapped students”. Accessibility and handicap need to be seen as complex local outcomes that defy any simple definition. Analyzing and handling them hence requires that we understand the interplay of symbolic universes, inclusive politics of education, and practical conditions that structure educational situations in given local contexts.

The second thematic session on Friday morning moved to the issue of migration. Kenneth Horvath (University of Lucerne) discussed the implications of recent transformations of Western European migration regimes for educational practices. The common emphasis on cultural difference and identity neglects important other issues that directly affect educational situations as well as the forms in which teachers define and handle them. The massive politicization and the stratification of migration are two of the issues that have important consequences for everyday educational practices. New forms of critical dialogue between educational professionals and social sciences are needed in order to deal with the complex challenges that arise and that render teachers permanently on the brink of “illegitimacy”.

The seminar will be continued over the coming months. The main objective is to create a space of encounter and confrontation that not only spans different social science disciplines but also thematic areas and geographic regions, from the global North to the global South. Concepts and heuristics developed in the context of the Economie des conventions (EC) provide a promising ground for discussing the questions that arise and relating them to each other. EC concepts have been applied to educational systems from the late 1980s onwards. They have, inter alia, proven fruitful to capture interplay of local pedagogical coordination and societal conventions that inform everyday practices of educational classification and evaluation. In turn, educational contexts provide a dynamic and multi-faceted field of research that may allow to develop and refine EC’s theoretical frameworks.


Remise de la Légion d’honneur à André Orléan

Nicolas Da Silva & Guillemette de Larquier

Le mercredi 4 octobre 2017 s’est déroulé à Paris la remise de la Légion d’honneur à André Orléan, une des grandes figures de la pensée économique française, qui a profondément transformé la compréhension que nous avons de la monnaie et de la valeur. Pour l’école des conventions, il est en particulier un des auteurs du numéro spécial de la Revue économique (1989) « Économie des conventions ».

La cérémonie a eu lieu après le Conseil d’administration de l’Association Française d’Économie Politique (AFEP), organisation professionnelle destinée à défendre le pluralisme des approches en économie, dans un contexte difficile où certains collègues en appellent ouvertement à se « débarrasser » des hétérodoxes. La proximité des deux évènements n’est pas un hasard puisqu’après avoir été président de l’association entre 2009 et 2017 André Orléan a demandé à recevoir cette distinction auprès de ses amis de l’AFEP. Notons au passage que la présidence de l’association reste très proche de l’école des conventions dans la mesure où une spécialiste des conventions de quantification, Florence Jany-Catrice, a succédé à un spécialiste des conventions financières.

La remise de la Légion d’honneur a été l’occasion pour Florence Jany-Catrice de rappeler le parcours exceptionnel d’André Orléan, raconté telle une longue fresque faite de rencontres et d’engagements. Par ses travaux, il est l’un des plus grands contributeurs du rapprochement des deux grandes écoles hétérodoxes françaises, l’économie des convention et l’école de la régulation, ce qui a été rappelé à travers les discours émouvants de Michel Aglietta, Robert Boyer et Jean-Pierre Dupuy. Ce rôle structurant dans l’institutionnalisme français est également empreint d’une volonté de transmission dont témoigne sa contribution à la création et au développement du master « Économie des institutions ». La place d’André Orléan dans le champ académique français est difficile à résumer en peu de mots mais elle s’est vue à travers le rassemblement des chercheurs présents, de tout âge, universitaires ou non, et membres des différentes écoles de l’institutionnalisme économique.

Textes téléchargeables sur le site de l’AFEP

Merci à Bruno Tinel pour le reportage photo.

Governing by numbers: Key indicators and the politics of expectations

Lisa Knoll (University of Hamburg & University of Halle)

From 5 to 7 October 2017 the workshop “Governing by numbers: Key indicators and the politics of expectations” – organized by Walter Bartl and Audrey Terracher-Lipinski (both Halle) – took place in the beautiful city of “Mitteldeutschland” Halle an der Saale. For all the guests from abroad, but also for some German scholars who have never been in Halle before, it was a pleasurable surprise to get in touch with the history and culture of this old German city. And, not because of that, but it helps me to find a nice bridge passage to the conference theme, historicity and culture, became the pivotal access points to the phenomenon governing by numbers during the conference. The organizers choose to have a Conventionalist framing, by inviting Laurent Thévenot (from EHESS and CREST, the Centre for Research in Economics and Statistics in Paris) and by giving Rainer Diaz-Bone (Lucerne) the possibility to present the Conventionalist perspective on Quantification outlined in the Special Issue “Conventions and Quantification – Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Statistics and Classifications”, edited by Rainer Diaz-Bone & Emmanuel Didier (Historical Social Research Vol. 41(2) 2016). The intellectual starting point of Conventionalism, being first developed in a working group with Alain Desrosières at the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE), became a major theoretical and methodological focus point of the discussion.

The presented themes ranged from the historicity of macro-economic models (Tom Kayzel, Amsterdam) over the changing term structure of the interest rate (Timo Walter, Erfurt). Oliver Geden (Berlin) talked about the 2-degree-scenario in climate politics, which is kept up scientifically in the light of its political crisis. Christina Boswell (Edinburgh) presented her work (to be published in January 2018 at Cambridge University Press) on “Targets and the Production of Political Trust”, were she showed how much British politicians bind themselves to the achievement of targets as a legitimatory device. Ingo Bode (Kassel) made a broad argument on the economization in late modern welfare states, which is accomplished by the management by numbers in diverse fields. Thomas Heinze & Arlette Jappe (Wuppertal) presented a quantitative network analysis on the historical formation of the professional field of performance evaluation of and in universities. Michael Huber & Maarten Hillebrandt (Bielefeld) showed how payment schemes at German universities changed from a “pay for performer”, over a “pay by performance” to a “pay for promise”. Anne Piezunka (Berlin) studies German federal school inspections after the German “PISA shock” and their resistance at the school level. Oscar J. Maldonado & Tiago Moreira (Linköping) presented the emergence of global health metrics such as the Disability Adjusted Life Year (DALY) used by the World Bank to monitor and assess “health” across territories and populations. The push for impact data in global health was also at the heart of the presentation of Sara L.M. Davis (New York & Geneva). She nicely showed how the lack of H.I.V. data corresponds with cultural taboos on issues of sexuality. Félicien Pagnon (Paris) presented his study on the reform of New Wealth Indicators, being developed as a critique of the GDP indicator. He studies two regions in France that make use of these alternative wealth indicators. Konstanze Senge & Lisa Knoll (Halle) presented a study on the ambiguity of German national public dept accounting under the reform process of the European system of national and regional accounts (ESA). Clear-cut public or private sector classifications become more and more difficult when public-private-partnerships and other forms of financial engineering are pushed as attractive tools to reduce (hide) public costs.

Laurent Thévenot

The conference showed (a) that convention theory offers an important “analytical framework of the politics of statistics” (Thévenot) to study the plurality and the historicity of various forms of governing by numbers, and it showed (b) that the growing and developing empirical phenomenon “governing by numbers” in the era of digitalization and “big data” challenges an approach that starts from the assumption of public deliberation (justice and justesse) and the normative foundation of measurement. Conventionalism plays an important role in rendering the historical divers statistical models visible (a). As Rainer Diaz-Bone highlighted, for Alain Desrosières “quantification is to implement a convention and then to measure”, which leads us to a huge diversity of quantified and potentially conflicted measurement procedures. Desrosières emphasized the interconnectedness of statistics, markets and states. The engineer state, the liberal state, the welfare state, the Keynesian State, and the neoliberal state embrace different statistical methods and constructions – different ways of governing by numbers.  Laurent Thévenot highlighted that studying governance by numbers involves two kinds of processes: “the upstream side … going back from quantification to valuations that turn numbers into key figures for actions and their government”. Here, we study processes of “reduction of the pluralism of valuations”. In the second process, “we pay attention to the downstream side”, where measurement unfolds “an executive power” – the performativity-side of governing by numbers. Governing by numbers involves a process of “closing one’s eyes” vis-à-vis the plurality of the world, and it may unfold a not “compromising”, but a “compromitting” way of combining a plurality of orders of worth (Thévenot citing Ricœur). An example for a “compromission” of plural values may be the “blended value proposition” in economics.  We are today observing forms of governing by numbers, which mostly unfold undebated and silent. This seems to be a challenge for conventionalism (b). Rainer Diaz-Bone therefore suggests to consider “conventions without semantic content”. Laurent Thévenot sees a “biological kind of capital”, a captured normative foundation of statistics, harking back on eugenics at play, referring to “surveillance“.He states that statistics and algorithms applied on data mining, however tacit or opaque they may be processed for those to be unconsciously tracked – or consciously self-tracked – “cannot operate without some formatting for equivalence”. The responsibility of the researcher lies in determining the “codified format of information”, but also the “critical openness” of each form of quantification and measurement.

Workshop Sociology of Conventions: The Format of “Bildung” or how research shapes Convention

Raffaella Esposito & Sandra Hafner (School of Teacher Education Basel, Switzerland)

On 14 and 15 September 2017, the biannual workshop ‘Sociology of Conventions’ took place in  Zurich, hosted by Philipp Gonon and Lea Zehnder from the chair of Vocational Education at the University of Zurich. It was the 8th meeting after prior workshops in Innsbruck, Basel, Vienna, Lucerne, Hamburg and Reutlingen.

Having discussed EC concepts and their appliance mostly in the economic field in former meetings, this workshop was specifically dedicated to the issue and format of ‘Bildung’ (education) as well as to methodological questions concerning the EC approach. Eric Verdier was attending as a special guest and keynote speaker as he works with the concept of conventions for comparative analysis of different national educational systems.

On Thursday morning, Philipp and Lea welcomed the audience and introduced into the topic. As usual, the workshop audience was as interdisciplinary as the EC approach itself and consisted of Sociologists, Economists and Historians as well as researchers from Educational Sciences and Social Work. This year, also a remarkable amount of PhDs was attending the workshop.

Katharina Pernkopf from the Vienna University of Economics and Business held the first talk. She presented a working paper based on an ongoing study on the implementation process of a law to reduce the work time of hospital doctors to comply with the European Work Time Directive. Trying to understand organizational change, the research team investigated the emerging conflicts and challenges for the hospitals as organizations and the doctors as professions from an EC perspective. Thereby she strived to inspire traditional strands of theory that usually deal with this research objective: new instutionalism, sociology of professions and human resource management literature. She could show that different organizations response and react differently to institutional pressure and that institutions in the sense of rules are interpreted differently. Especially highlighted was the explanatory power of EC concepts like regimes of engagement (Thévenot), investments in forms and actors’ competences.

Kenneth Horvath from the University of Lucerne shared thoughts and considerations about the applicability of interview research from an EC perspective. He presented snippets from his study on how teachers classify their students along different categories. He raised the question about the validity of the data, as the answers of the teachers could rather be seen as a reaction to the coordination situation in the interview situation than what they really do in the classroom on an everyday basis (teaching practices). As Horvath argued, teachers thus rather use classifications to communicate with outsiders than in the classroom – here, ethnography would come into play. It followed a discussion about the interview situation and how to use interviews as a tool for EC research, especially if methodic holism is strived for.

After the coffee break, Henning Middelschulte from the University of Bielefeld talked about methodological possibilities and limitations of computer based semantic EC-analyses (lexicon method). With this method, he and his research team tried to get a grasp of the question, whether economization of social sciences education in upper secondary education in Germany took place in the curricula. He presented some first results, which triggered a lively discussion about the appropriate use, operationalization and explanatory power of EC concepts in quantitative text analysis.

After lunch, Regula Julia Leemann from the School of Education in Basel presented some preliminary results from her ongoing research project on the positioning and profiling of the Specialized Middle School as a third educational track on upper secondary level in Switzerland. Applying concepts like valuation practices (Kornberger 2017), the power of conventions and investments in form, she could show how the Specialized Middle School was established as a new category on upper secondary level between 1970 and 1980. In this process, she could identify different valuation practices. The new school type was established in a process of assigning existing schools to a programmatic idea of that school type, based on a compromise of the domestic and civic convention. This compromise was later criticized and led to the integration of more market-industry based elements in the recent past.

Karin Büchel from the University of Zurich presented her PhD project. Her research was guided by the question, in how far the development of dual VET in Switzerland in 1954-1980 might be connected to the notion of educational expansion. She focused on the Canton of Lucerne and showed the benefits of a situational (yet historical) EC approach for explaining educational governance processes. Her presentation triggered a discussion about concepts of educational expansion and the explanatory power of EC.

In the later afternoon, the first round table of the workshop took place. Eric Verdier, Philipp Gonon and Esther Berner opened the discussion with their individual statements on the added value of EC concepts within the field of educational research.

Eric Verdier, Philipp Gonon, Esther Berner

All three highlighted the concept of investments in form as one of the most innovative and promising ideas of EC and especially suitable for educational research. In this field, many cognitive and materialized forms like classifications, rules, instruments, routines and devices can be found e.g. in certifications, school programs, curricula, diplomas, regulations etc. The concept of quality conventions was discussed as equally suitable for research on education, as it allows grasping and explaining different forms and ideas of evaluation and evaluation practices, quality constructions and ideas of the common good that are observable in this highly moralized, highly public sphere of society. Here, norms and justifications play a crucial role. As a third benefit, the discussants highlighted the suitability of an EC approach to educational research because of its dynamic view of social phenomena. As a re-combination of the mega paradigms of structuralism and pragmatism, EC analyses help to conceive social processes as way of mobilizing entities and stabilizing conventions at the same time. In addition, the explanatory power and limitations of EC concepts in historical research were discussed. Overall, the conclusion of the roundtable was that EC is very fruitful to apply in the field of educational research, e.g. of organizations and organizational change, analyses of law, concepts of work, classifications and more.

To close the first day, Eric Verdier held a keynote speech about education and training regimes from an international and comparative perspective. He showed how in Europe, various compromises between conventions remain country-specific. The same reform will take on a different meaning depending on the concerned societal (historical and political) context. He proceeded to present Morocco as an interesting case of an unstable social compromise, source of non-quality in Education and Training and cause of conventional crisis.

The first workshop day then came to a happy end with a yummy dinner at the restaurant Commihalle.

On Friday morning, Eva Nadai and Anna Gonon from the School of Social Work in Olten went back to a traditional field of EC research – the analysis of labour market and employment. They presented findings from their study about the valuation of disabled labour, respectively formats and employment of ‘non-standard’ workers. Similar to Pernkopf, they could show how organizations or firms react differently when faced with challenges – in this case the valuation of disabled work. Based on a multi-data design they could show how the value of disabled workers is assessed along two models of compromise between the market, industrial, civic or domestic convention. The operational and state forms structure which conventions become relevant when evaluating a worker. Nevertheless, these formats function as dispositives for coordination, and have to be mobilized.

Katharina Pernkopf

Katharina Pernkopf presented a conceptual paper concerning the fruitfulness and applicability of the EC approach for HRM research. She and her co-authors Julia Brandl, Arjan Kozica and Anna Schneider criticized that mainstream HRM research isn’t yet aware enough of the different logics or the co-presence of market (hiring ‘the best’ from outside) and bureaucracy-based (making use of employees within the organization) managing models in real organizations. Therefore, they proposed the EC approach with its situational stance and its pragmatist approach as more suitable to grasp the complexity of actual decision making employment issues.

Before and after lunch, the method and research question spaces took place. This format was introduced back in January in Reutlingen, and offers (especially for PhDs) the possibility to discuss particular questions concerning EC concepts’ applicability in one’s own research project. Reinhold Hedtke, Andrea Szukala and Claude Proeschel discussed the construction of the ‘Good Citizen’ in French and German schools, while Valeska Cappel presented first considerations about her PhD investigating discourses, classifications and conventions in the field of health apps. Michael Steurer discussed his PhD Project, where he analyzes conventions for critical work practices in inter-firm relationships. At the same time, Raffaella Esposito, Lea Zehnder and Sandra Hafner raised questions about analyzing investments in forms in the field of education.

The two workshop days closed with a final round table on investments in forms, power and pragmatism. The statements by Rainer Diaz-Bone, Patrick Bühler and Philipp Gonon triggered a discussion about the position of EC between pragmatism and structuralism. Again, the importance and explanatory power of concepts like investments in form and the plurality of quality conventions were highlighted, and the exertion of power from an EC perspective was discussed. Different discussants voiced the need to discuss, clarify and conceptualize the notion of actors’ competences in future workshops.

Création d’une page Facebook / Creation of a Facebook page

Une page Facebook vient d’être créée :
N’hésitez pas à “aimer” la page, vous serez informé.e.s des posts du blog sur votre mur Facebook.

A Facebook page has just been created :
Do not hesitate to “like” the page, you will be informed of the posts of the blog on your Facebook wall.


Quelques communications conventionnalistes au congrès de l’Afep à Rennes

Du 5 au 7 juillet 2017 s’est tenu le 7e congrès de l’Association française d’économie politique à l’université de Rennes 2. Deux cents personnes ont participé à ce très beau congrès. Nous listons ici, de manière non exhaustive, quelques communications mobilisant une approche par les conventions.

Une analyse conventionnaliste de la pauvreté énergétique à partir de l’action publique sénégalaise dans l’énergie communication de Pierre Robert (Clersé, Centre Lillois d’Etudes et de Recherches Sociologiques et Économiques). L’objet de cette communication est de dépasser les écueils des mesures standard de la pauvreté énergétique, fondées sur une vision universaliste des besoins en énergie. Le cadre d’analyse mobilise l’Économie des Conventions afin de montrer que ces besoins sont situés et se formalisent dans une convention de service énergétique. Pierre Robert étudie cette convention à partir de l’action publique dans le secteur énergétique au Sénégal, en admettant que cette action se déploie en construisant une image des besoins, qu’elle tente ensuite de satisfaire. Il mobilise pour cela des archives, la littérature grise et des entretiens auprès d’acteurs du secteur. L’analyse permet d’interroger la manière dont la société sénégalaise formule politiquement ses besoins en énergie. Lors de ce processus, les populations rurales sont laissées de côté, ce qui conduit à une représentation de besoins limités dans la convention de service énergétique.

Compter sans connaître. La construction des statistiques pénitentiaires françaises. Communication d’Anaïs Henneguelle (IDHE, Institutions et Dynamiques Historiques de l’Économie et de la Société). La communication porte sur à la production ordinaire du chiffre dans le milieu carcéral. L’administration pénitentiaire publie régulièrement des statistiques concernant les personnes incarcérées. Comment ces données sont-elles construites quotidiennement au sein des établissements ? Pour répondre à cette question, Anaïs Henneguelle s’appuie sur des observations ethnographiques menées dans deux établissements de la région parisienne. L’article montre qu’il existe une différence importante entre les informations juridiques, au cœur de la gestion des prisons et donc très surveillées, et les informations sociodémographiques, laissées de côté au cours du processus de codage.

Anaïs Henneguelle

Conventions de valorisation des brevets et intermédiaires du droit communication de Christian Bessy (IDHE, Institutions et Dynamiques Historiques de l’Économie et de la Société). Le système de brevet n’a jamais autant eu le vent en poupe et, en même temps, on assiste à une critique assez acerbe de ce système avec la remise en cause du modèle dit « propriétaire » et le retour aux « communs ». Dans cette contribution, Christian Bessy montre que cette hypervalorisation du brevet que l’on constate au niveau « macro » est liée à la multiplication de ces usages au niveau « micro » : protection et diffusion des innovations, pouvoir de marché et valorisation du patrimoine technologique, instrument de signalement et de négociation, outil d’évaluation et de capitalisation. Ces usages viendraient d’une certaine façon s’empiler depuis la genèse du système à la fin du XVIIIème siècle, sans annuler les usages antérieurs. L’idée centrale défendue est que l’institution du brevet repose à chaque époque sur différentes conventions de valorisation du brevet, même si on peut associer à chaque configuration une convention dominante qui contient les autres en germe.

La manipulation du Libor, une convention entre acteurs financiers de Guillaume Dupéret (Cerna, Mines ParisTech). Taux de référence pour de nombreux produits financiers, le Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) est depuis 2008 au centre d’un scandale de grande ampleur du fait de la manipulation dont il a fait l’objet. La communication vise à analyser cette manipulation à l’aide d’une approche conventionnaliste. Guillaume Dupéret définit d’abord la convention à la manière de Sugden (1986) : une régularité de comportement au sein d’une population telle que tous les membres de la population se conforment à la norme conventionnelle même si une autre convention aurait pu prévaloir. L’analyse conventionnaliste apporte une meilleure compréhension des dynamiques de groupe qui peuvent exister sur les marchés financiers, à partir des phénomènes réputationnels induits par une situation d’interactions répétées. À partir de la grammaire des cités de Boltanski et Thévenot (1991), l’analyse montre inversement les conditions du désengagement relationnel des traders dès lors que la convention est délégitimée par l’intérêt public des médias et de la justice.

Guillaume Dupéret

Do really markets come from quality conventions? Dynamique et recomposition du « marché » (de proximité) des fruits et légumes à Montpellier communication de Sarah Millet Amrani (INRA, Institut national de la recherche agronomique). L’essor récent des circuits courts alimentaires traduit l’émergence d’un « marché de la proximité » pour lequel l’évaluation de la qualité porte moins sur les caractéristiques du produit que sur la transaction en elle-même. Pour décrire la structuration de ce marché, Sarah Millet Amrani (en collaboration avec Yuna Chiffoleau et Jean-Marc Touzard) propose une analyse du réseau de la distribution des fruits et légumes en circuits courts sur Montpellier, réalisé à partir d’enquêtes producteurs. En s’appuyant sur la théorie des marchés d’Harrison White (1981, 2002), -et son interprétation en termes conventionnalistes par Favereau et al. (2002), – la communication : (i) révèle un marché structuré en niches, mais au sein desquels les conventions de qualité ne sont pas encore stabilisées, (ii) souligne le rôle des intermédiaires dans la structuration des marchés et la construction d’accords autour de la qualité.

The peculiar connection between common good and self-interest

Valeska Cappel (University of Lucerne)

The question about the relationship between the common good and self-interest was the frame of plenary sessions, panel discussions and keynote-speeches at this year’s Congress of the Swiss Sociological Association (SSA), June 21 – 23th 2017 at the University of Zurich.

Relating to this topic Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne) and Luca Pattaroni (EPFL Lausanne) organized the plenary session “Experience, conventions and the common good”.

It was a great opportunity to give space and attention to different conventionalist researches in various fields of social science relating to the topic of common good and self-interest. Regula Leemann (School for education Basel) and Jean-Michel Bonvin (University of Geneva) talked about convention theory in the field of education and social welfare, before special guest Laurent Thévenot (EHESS Paris) shared his thoughts about convention theory (CT) in the urban studies.

The aim of Regula Leemann’s presentation was to show the explanatory power of the theoretical framework of the convention theory in the research field of education. First, she referred on post-compulsory education in Switzerland. Her concern was to show how different orders of worth in the public sphere (“compound communities”) are constitutive for supplying the post-compulsory education as a common good.

Secondly, she talked about the different modes of coordination of individuals with their environment (“compound personalities”). She investigated how individual academics in Europe coordinate themselves with their professional academic and private environment. By focusing on a situation, constructing the EU as a political project of establishing a common market with the fundamental treatments of free movement of people and capital, she pointed out how a dispositive of transnational academic mobility is shaping the individual coordination between professional status and the private conduct of life.

Regula Leemann

Referring to the main topic of the congress, Jean-Michel Bonvin highlighted in his speech the theoretical challenges to bring social welfare into social actions. Relating to the capability approach (CA), he depicts the need to understand that social politics is not just a technical matter that can be defined and implemented. He claimed that there are different normativities and rationalities depending on the level of interaction (parliamentary areas, street-level bureaucrats, beneficiaries), which have to be considered. In combining the CA and the convention theory (CT) he proposes a solution for this problem: The concepts of CT, like the “economies of worth” (Thévenot) or “pragmatic regimes of engagements”, allow to understand the situation and what matters in social action. The additional benefit of consulting the CT could be to understand, why sometimes the implemented social welfare, constructed from a specific point of view, in particular situations is not receiving.

Jean-Michel Bonvin

The highlight of the session was the input of the cofounder of the convention theory, Laurent Thévenot. Besides his inspiring comments on the other lectures he presented his thoughts on newer developments in the convention theory and the recent pragmatic turn of urban studies.

In particular, he focused on three main issues: First he pleaded to abandon the comparison of a public and private sphere in urban environments and focus instead on the various ways how city dwellers engage with their environment. Building commonality in the end is a result of “orders of worth backed by conceptions of the common good and the “realism” of individual interest” (Thévenot).

Secondly, in considering this point, he developed the idea of an extended view on constructions of commonality in the plural. By doing that, he identified three grammars of communality in the plural:  1) the grammar of plural orders of worth, 2) the grammar of interested individuals choosing among options in a liberal public, 3) the grammar of personal affinities to multiple common-places.

Thirdly, he spoke about his transcultural comparative research in urban studies (Europe, Russia, America), where he discovered, that the grammar of personal affinities to multiple common-places is characterized by familiar, personal and local engagement but simultaneous instrumental by authoritarian populism.

Laurent Thévenot

Altogether, the session was a short but impressive proof to see how convention theory is growing forward in different fields of social science and develops its explanatory power. Of course, there remain some mutual reception issues based on language barriers – but what, if not at an inspiring congress like this one, would be a decent step to overcome these problems?

Jean-Michell Bonvin, Laurent Thévenot & Rainer Diaz-Bone

Rainer Diaz-Bone, Laurent Thévenot & Luca Pattaroni


The potential of the “Économie des conventions” for socio-scientific educational research

Session at the SSRE 2017 conference in Fribourg

These days, from 26-28 of June 2017, at the University of Fribourg the annual congress of the Swiss Society for Research in Education took place. Numerous workshops and symposia dealt with educational aspects like early childhood education, competence measurement in schools, school-to-work transitions, education policy and professional identities of teachers. The overall topic was the aspect of time and learning. The congress attracted 400 researchers and practitioners from the German-speaking, French-speaking and Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, as well as some international researchers.

One of the workshops was dedicated to the potential of the „Économie des conventions“ and the phenomenon of Education. In this meeting, chaired by Prof. Philipp Gonon (University of Zurich) three presentations were held and discussed. One by Dr. Hauke Straehler-Pohl (Freie Universität Berlin), another by Prof. Regula Leemann (FHNW School of Education) and a third one by Prof. Esther Berner (Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg).

Hauke highlighted the situation in a Berlin social focus area, where teachers are in a dilemma, between furthering immigrant children (coming mainly from Middle East Countries) and selecting them for further advancement in the educational system or bringing them closer to the world of work. These educational aims can be conflicting and the EC approach is very helpful to identify conflicts and consensus possibilities. Out of the axiom of common mankind, diversity and accountability to values, as it was developed in Boltanski/Thévenot (1999), there is a ground for legitimation and critique. The situational aspect of referring to different possible conventions is decisive for pedagogical orders, which can be stipulated or criticised. Analysing one interview (out of several ones which are the basis of his post-doc thesis) with a female teacher in Wedding-Berlin, Hauke referred to project-based, industrial and household-based conventions, which highlighted this back-and-forth approach between supporting and oppressing youngsters in their learning attitudes.

Regula was asking herself and the audience why in Switzerland, in contrast to Norway, training circles – networks of apprenticeship-providers who are organizing the apprenticeship in different training companies and who are in charge of the wages for apprentices – are such a minor model in the Swiss Vocational Education and Training system, although the law is encouraging such formats. With the EC-approach she states only a small reachability of such a format of training provision, due to the dominant orientation towards the market convention of small firms. Since the times of economic crisis in the 1990s, when the claim for the civic convention in order to surrender market failures (and a lack of apprenticeship opportunities) prevailed, the topical situation has changed and the conventions of the market and of networks have pushed aside the industrial and civic conventions.

Esther used the EC-approach for a historical account of written apprenticeship contracts that have replaced oral contracts in the period from 1874-1930 in Switzerland. Her theoretical framing was also a critique of functional and system-theoretical approaches. The concept of an apprentice is in her view the result of negotiations: is she or he more a learner, or a person, who has to be protected as minor (not an adult person), or is she or he a worker. In Swiss history this question was debated around the legislation of industry, trade and civic regulation, which was also based on quality claims, referring to the respective conventions. The result of this long-standing debate was really a far-reaching compromise, which defined an apprentice as a person, who has to be protected in his or her learning aspirations and thus needs a written contract.

All these shortly presented arguments were developed further in the discussion, which found a resonance in the audience who partly was first time confronted and challenged with the EC-approach.

The workshop activists warming up with a Fondue Fribourgeoise on the eve of the conference

Surveys as a social process: A workshop dedicated to the roots of the Economics of conventions

Caroline Näther & Raphael Vogel (University of Lucerne, Switzerland)

From 1st to 2nd of June 2017 we co-organized a Workshop about surveys as a social process hosted by the Technical University of Berlin. The fundamental idea of this workshop was to refine the understanding of surveys first, as a product of a wide distributed process and second, as an entity that enacts itself social processes. It is a continuation of a discussion group organized by us at the Congress of sociology held in Bamberg in September 2016. The workshop was organized by the two initiates as well as Prof. Nina Baur (Technische Universität Berlin), Dr. Andreas Schmitz and Alice Barth (both University of Bonn). The workshop was addressed to three different group of survey-interested, such as survey-methodologists, survey-users, but also researchers that examines the survey-process itself. The goal was to critically analyze surveys as a social process from different angles. Therefore it was a well ambitioned project, whose success was ambivalent. On the one hand, the workshop enabled different researchers affiliated to survey-research to come together and share their perspectives. In times of more and more specialized sciences, this alone is a noteworthy accomplishment. Additionally, it was an ideal opportunity for us two doctoral students to present our research to a public outside the well-established network of researchers in the field of economics of convention (EC) in the German speaking countries. It was therefore a test to check if our EC-informed perspectives on surveys make sense to a broader, survey-interested public. All in all, different participants of the workshop mentioned the friendly and constructive atmosphere. This was enhanced by the different workshop lunches and dinners. On the other hand it was maybe exactly this atmosphere, which didn’t lead to intensive discussions about the difference and conflicts of the different perspectives on the survey-process. In the aftermath of the workshop, it would have been a good idea to focus on several stations of the survey-process and then determine and discuss the different perspectives on it. But probably this is a task for a following workshop, as it is clear that the different participants of the workshop needed first to have an insight into the perspectives of the other participants. A well-defined agenda setting for the workshop without this prerequisite is probably difficult.

All in all, the workshop was a nice opportunity for us to have a broad insight into different perspectives and disciplines in survey-methodology and to get comments and feedback to our own work about coordination in survey-projects. Additionally, the workshop showed that the perspective of EC is more and more outgrowing in the German speaking countries from a sole perspective in the economic-sociology to a broad paradigm in sociological research.

In this place, a big thank you to the other organizers, especially Nina Baur, who organized the place for this workshop. It would not have been possible, to connect a broad mix of survey-researchers without her. Last but not least, a big thank you also to the staff of Nina Baur, who looked for the well-being of the survey-participants.

Some of the participants of the workshop enjoying discussions and superb Spanish Tapas at the Restaurant Mar y Sol in Berlin.

Création d’un nouveau blog consacré à l’Économie des conventions !!

L’objet de ce carnet est de constituer une plateforme d’informations pour les chercheurs appartenant à l’école de l’Économie des conventions.

Ce courant de pensée est apparu en France au milieu des années 1980, sous l’impulsion d’économistes (dont beaucoup travaillaient à l’Insee et réfléchissaient aux conventions statistiques sur lesquelles reposent quantification et évaluation) et de sociologues (questionnant la capacité des acteurs à juger ce qui vaut ou ne vaut pas, ce qui est équivalent).


Les conventions correspondent à des représentations collectives, des références partagées qui résolvent des problèmes de coordination en environnement incertain. Ces représentations sont conventionnelles au sens où il s’agit d’une solution parmi plusieurs envisageables et qu’elles peuvent toujours être remises en cause.


L’analyse conventionnaliste est donc nécessairement dynamique. L’objectif n’est « pas tant d’offrir une théorie meilleure que de rouvrir le langage de la théorie économique » qui accorde trop de poids à la rationalité et pas assez aux institutions, comme l’indique Olivier Favereau, l’un des principaux fondateurs et animateurs de l’Économie des conventions. Cette conception des conventions est présente dans les travaux de Keynes qui l’emploie pour désigner ce qui guide les anticipations et interprétations des opérateurs sur les marchés financiers. Mais il y a bien d’autres domaines où il y a de l’incertitude et un besoin de conventions pour y faire face : l’activité de production (conventions de qualité des biens et modèles d’entreprise), le recrutement, le système de santé, etc.


La visée du carnet est avant tout la diffusion d’informations sur l’actualité des recherches conventionnalistes en France et à l’étranger : publications, séminaires, colloques, appels à communiquer, résumés de travaux (masters, thèses, habilitations à diriger des recherches), comptes rendus de journées d’études ou de conférences. Le public de lecteurs attendu est constitué de chercheurs (économistes et sociologues, jeunes ou confirmés) appartenant à (ou proches de) ce programme de recherche.


Les auteurs sont : Franck Bessis, Nicolas Da Silva, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Guillemette de Larquier, Kevin Mellet & Delphine Remillon

Contact pour diffuser une information :

Compte Twitter lié : @ecoconv

Creation of a new blog devoted to Economics of conventions!!

The purpose of this academic blog is to provide an information platform for researchers belonging to the Economics of Conventions. Information will be published in French and/or in English.

The Economics of Conventions is a research program that emerged in France in the mid-1980s, led by economists (many of whom worked at INSEE) and sociologists (questioning the capacity of the actors to judge what is worth or is not worth). Conventions correspond to collective representations, shared references that solve problems of coordination in an uncertain environment. These representations are conventional in the sense that they are one of several possible solutions and can always be called into question. Conventional analysis is therefore necessarily dynamic.

The aim is “not so much to offer a better theory than to reopen the language of economic theory” which gives too much weight to rationality and not enough to institutions, as Olivier Favereau, one of the main founders and leaders of the Economics of Conventions. This conception of conventions is present in the work of Keynes who uses it to designate what guides the expectations and interpretations of operators in the financial markets. But there are many other areas where there is uncertainty and a need for conventions to deal with it: production activity (quality conventions of goods and business models), recruitment, the system Health, etc.

The autors are : Franck Bessis, Nicolas Da Silva, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Guillemette de Larquier, Kevin Mellet & Delphine Remillon

To share an information, please write to:

Twitter count linked to the blog: @ecoconv

29 janvier 2016 : Un dictionnaire non standard autour d’un homme non-ordinaire

Hommage à Olivier Favereau

Olivier Favereau est l’un des fondateurs d’une école de pensée l’Économie des conventions qui s’est développée à Paris Ouest et son principal animateur. Figure intellectuelle majeure en sciences économiques mais aussi dans les autres disciplines notamment en sciences de gestion et en sociologie, il a animé plusieurs réseaux de recherche et est membre de nombreuses institutions académiques. Professeur émérite membre d’EconomiX, il a créé à Paris Ouest, l’école doctorale EOS, le M2 recherche Économie des institutions et dirigé le laboratoire FORUM.

Il est de ces universitaires auquel la communauté souhaite rendre hommage. Cet hommage a été organisé le vendredi 29 janvier 2016 sans que le principal intéressé n’en ait été informé. Il a fait suite à une séance exceptionnelle du séminaire Conventions pendant laquelle Olivier Favereau a présenté des « Repère(s) pour l’Économie des conventions » dans une salle des conférences comble. 150 personnes étaient présentes pour écouter les allocutions de Bernadette Madeuf (EconomiX, ancienne Présidente de l’Université Paris Ouest Nanterre), Christophe Benavent (Directeur de l’école doctorale EOS) et André Orléan (Président de l’Association Française d’Économie Politique) et pour assister à la remise à Olivier Favereau du Dictionnaire des conventions. Autour des travaux d’Olivier Favereau, (sous la direction de Philippe Batifoulier, Franck Bessis, Ariane Ghirardello, Guillemette de Larquier et Delphine Remillon,), publié par les éditions Septentrion avec le soutien financier d’EconomiX, de l’UFR Segmi, du CEPN (CNRS UMR 7234 – Université Paris 13) et de Triangle (CNRS UMR 5206 – ENS Lyon).

Les différentes entrées de ce dictionnaire fournissent un panorama sans équivalent de l’économie politique portée par le courant de l’Économie des conventions à laquelle Olivier Favereau a œuvré durant toute sa carrière. 75 auteurs réunis pour l’occasion discutent, utilisent ou prolongent plusieurs dimensions de sa pensée offrant ainsi une clé d’entrée originale dans les principaux débats qui animent aujourd’hui les sciences économiques et sociales.

Né en 1945, Olivier Favereau, diplômé de l’Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, réussit le concours du Sénat et entre en septembre 1970 à la commission des affaires sociales. Poussé par l’envie de faire de la recherche et d’enseigner, il n’y restera toutefois que 9 mois ayant l’opportunité d’être recruté à Nanterre comme collaborateur technique. Tout en assurant des TD à Paris 1, il commence alors sa thèse sans se douter que celle-ci ne se terminera que douze ans plus tard. C’était sans doute le temps qu’il fallait pour concevoir une approche alternative. Rattrapant ce retard, il réussit brillamment, dès l’année suivante (1983), le concours d’agrégation d’économie. Après avoir passé quatre années au Mans, il est nommé à l’Université Paris X Nanterre en 1988 et se consacre à l’édition d’un numéro spécial de la Revue économique (1989), créant ainsi, avec d’autres chercheurs, l’Économie des conventions.

Au fond, qu’est-ce que l’Économie des conventions ? Bien plus que l’approche économique d’un objet, les conventions, pour Olivier Favereau, l’Économie des conventions désigne d’une « méthode générale d’approche des coordinations organisationnelles » ou encore un « programme de recherche en sciences sociales ». Elle s’inspire de John M. Keynes mais aussi de Herbert Simon, David Lewis et de Peter Doeringer et Michael Piore. Les comparaisons/confrontations avec d’autres programmes auxquelles Olivier Favereau s’est livré à maintes reprises ont certainement contribué à donner à l’Économie des conventions l’image d’une théorie (non standard), d’un courant ou d’une école de pensée, au même titre que l’école de la régulation par exemple. Toutefois, l’Économie des conventions n’a jamais eu vocation à remplacer la théorie néoclassique aux yeux d’Olivier Favereau : l’objectif n’était « pas tant d’offrir une théorie meilleure que de réouvrir le langage de la théorie économique » (2004, p. 143) pour renouer avec cette « figure caché du keynésianisme : une pensée de l’économie à partir de l’entreprise » plutôt qu’une pensée de l’économie à partir du marché. Un signe de la réussite du projet serait que l’on ne soit pas obligé de se réclamer explicitement de l’Économie des conventions pour développer cette pensée alternative, à l’image des travaux menés autour de l’entreprise depuis 2009 par un collectif de chercheurs d’horizons divers dans le cadre du collège des Bernardins.

En tant qu’enseignant, Olivier Favereau s’est beaucoup investi dans la création (en 1991) et la direction du diplôme d’études approfondie (DEA) « Économie des institutions » qui deviendra le point focal de l’enseignement de la pensée institutionnaliste dans toute sa diversité (Économie des conventions, théorie de la régulation, socio-économie, etc.). Il donnera envie à beaucoup de ces étudiants de poursuivre en thèse, puis de se lancer dans une carrière académique. L’insertion académique des étudiants de ce DEA est d’ailleurs l’une des grandes préoccupations d’Olivier Favereau et l’une de ses grandes fiertés. Au dernier décompte, ce DEA a en effet « produit » pas moins de 21 maîtres de conférences, 5 professeurs d’université, 8 chargés de recherche, et de nombreux chercheurs dans d’autres institutions académiques et administratives, nationales et internationales. Nombre des contributeurs au Dictionnaire des conventions sont d’ailleurs issus de cette formation.

Liste des 75 auteurs : Tristan Auvray, Philippe Batifoulier, Charlotte Bellon, Irène Berthonnet, Arnaud Berthoud, Franck Bessis, Christian Bessy, Luc Boltanski, Robert Boyer, Jean Cartelier, Aurore Chaigneau, Camille Chaserant, Ève Chiapello, Nicolas Da Silva, Thomas Dallery, Jean De Munck, Hervé Defalvard, David Dequech, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Jean-Paul Domin, Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Arnaud Esquerre, François Eymard-Duvernay, Judith Favereau, Marie Favereau, Peggy Favereau, Bernard Friot, Maryse Gadreau, Bernard Gazier, Ariane Ghirardello, Sophie Harnay, Armand Hatchuel, Philippe Hugon, Christophe Jamin, Florence Jany-Catrice, Rouslan Koumakhov, Thomas Lamarche, Guillemette de Larquier, Christian Laval, Emmanuel Lazega, Jean-Marc Le Gall, Arnaud Le Marchand, Jean-François Lejeune, Nadine Levratto, Helena Lopes, Antoine Lyon-Caen, Bénédicte Martin, Fabian Muniesa, Kenkichi Nagao, André Orléan, Michael J. Piore, Gaël Plumecocq, Nicolas Postel, Christophe Ramaux, Gilles Raveaud, Antoine Rebérioux, Delphine Remillon, Géraldine Rieucau, Sandra Rigot, Jean-Philippe Robé, Baudoin Roger, Tatiana Sachs, Laurence Scialom, Blanche Segrestin, Tiana Smadja-Rakotondramanitra, Richard Sobel, Yamina Tadjeddine, Junya Tatemi, Olivier Thévenon, Laurent Thévenot, Fabrice Tricou, Daniel Urrutiaguer, François Vatin, Stéphane Vernac et Hélène Zajdela.