Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais, Online, 36, no 105
Resumo. O presente artigo busca, por meio da descrição dos contornos de três gestos próprios à sociologia pragmática, trazer novas questões para a teoria social, que escapem daquelas estabelecidas pelo “novo movimento teórico”, tal como definido por Jeffrey Alexander. Por meio da descrição do gesto metafísico de inversão da sociologia clássica durkheimiana, pretendo responder como é possível fazer uma sociologia contemporânea que respeite a introdução progressiva de novas entidades na composição do social (sejam elas, animais, objetos, e entidades não humanas, de modo geral). Por meio da descrição do gesto epistemológico de delegação, ambiciono dar conta do desafio de tornar a sociologia capaz de abrir-se maximamente àqueles cuja experiência nos colocamos como tarefa conhecer. Por fim, por meio do gesto de enquadramento metodológico das situações indeterminadas, problemáticas e dos momentos críticos (para os atores pesquisados), tento responder à questão de como é possível observar o que é fundamental e pertinente para aqueles a quem delegamos a capacidade de produzir conhecimento sobre o mundo, a realidade, a justiça, etc. Espero, com esse exercício de exposição teórica e metodológica da sociologia pragmática, contribuir para a introdução, na teoria social, de ângulos não contemplados pelo novo movimento teórico.
New Directions for Social Theory from Three Gestures of Pragmatic Sociology
Abstract. By describing the outlines of three specific pragmatic sociology gestures, this article seeks to bring new issues to social theory, which escape those established by the “new theoretical movement” as defined by Jeffrey Alexander. By describing the metaphysical operation of the inversion of classical Durkheimian sociology, I intend to answer how the creation of a contemporary sociology that respects the progressive introduction of new entities in the composition of the social (be they animals, objects and general non-human entities) is possible. Through the description of epistemological gesture of delegation, I aim to address the challenge of making sociology capable of opening itself to the most to those whose experiences we place as a task to understand. Finally, by means of the gesture of methodological framing of undetermined, problematic situations and critical moments (for the surveyed actors), I attempt to answer the question of how it is possible to observe what is essential and pertinent to those to whom we delegate the capacity to produce knowledge about the world, about reality, and justice, among others. I hope, with this theoretical and methodological exposure of pragmatic sociology exercise, to contribute to the introduction, in social theory, of angles not covered by the new theoretical movement.
Résumé. Le renouvellement des modalités de gestion des déchets et plus largement des objets désappropriés ou en panne constitue un enjeu majeur des politiques environnementales, afin de limiter la consommation de matières et d’énergie et les impacts environnementaux. De plus en plus d’initiatives locales et de politiques publiques promeuvent la réparation et l’upcycling des objets. Mais cette volonté ne rencontre pas nécessairement le succès espéré. Au travers de deux études de cas, nous avons pu constater que la réparation/réutilisation ne se matérialise pas comme une problématique d’intervention publique au sein de laquelle les collectivités locales définissent clairement leur champ d’intervention. En l’associant avant tout à une pratique alternative de gestion des déchets, les collectivités locales laissent ses pratiques hors de leur espace d’action.
Extrait. “Le projet RECYLUSE (la recyclerie du futur : living labs de la réutilisation et de reconception) a permis de questionner et de décrypter l’action menée par les autorités publiques locales en matière de réparation/réutilisation et les interrelations qui peuvent se tisser ou non avec les acteurs de la réparation agissant dans le champ de l’économie sociale et solidaire. Il s’agissait de comprendre les résistances qui peuvent voir le jour, les arrangements qui peuvent se nouer pour élaborer des stratégies visant à amplifier le réemploi des produits qui finissent un premier cycle d’usage et d’appropriation. La promotion de la réparation questionne à plusieurs titres les pratiques et conceptions des acteurs publics et privés. En premier lieu parce que la réparation est généralement envisagée sous le prisme de la politique des déchets. Or, elle vise par différentes trajectoires au contraire à éviter la mise au rebut. En second lieu, elle est à l’intersection de plusieurs visions du monde (Boltanski et Thévenot, 2008), qui se recoupent d’autant moins que tous les acteurs impliqués, et singulièrement les « ambassadeurs » associatifs, ne jouissent pas toujours d’une forte reconnaissance des pouvoirs publics. C’est pourquoi la mise en politique de la réparation pose la question des modalités de son inscription à l’agenda local et de son implémentation concrète au niveau des territoires (Barthe, 2006). […] Nous aurons également recours à la sociologie des régimes d’action et des épreuves initiée par Luc Boltanski et Laurent Thévenot (1991), considérant que les acteurs publics et ceux de l’économie sociale et solidaire nourrissent des manières différentes de penser leur environnement et donc d’agir.”
Repair, sew up, restore… Local communities in the process of trial and error
Abstract. The renewal of waste management processes and, more broadly, the management of unsuitable or broken objects is a major challenge for future environmental policies, in order to limit the consumption of resources and energy and environmental impacts. More and more local initiatives and public policies promote the repair and upcycling of objects. However, this will does not necessarily meet with the expected success. Though a double case study, we noticed that Repair/reuse does is not considered as a public intervention issue in which local authorities clearly define their field of intervention. Because they associate repair with an alternative waste management practice, local authorities leave its practices outside their sphere of action.
Extract. “The RECYLUSE project (the recycling plant of the future: living labs for reuse and redesign) has made it possible to question and decipher the action taken by local public authorities in terms of repair/reuse and the interrelationships that may or may not be woven with the actors of repair acting in the field of the social and solidarity economy. The aim was to understand the resistances that may arise, the arrangements that may be made to develop strategies to amplify the reuse of products that complete an initial cycle of use and appropriation. The promotion of reparation questions in several ways the practices and conceptions of public and private actors. Firstly, because reparation is generally viewed through the prism of waste policy. However, it aims, through different trajectories, to avoid waste disposal. Secondly, it is at the crossroads of several world visions (Boltanski and Thévenot, 2008), which overlap all the more since all the actors involved, and particularly the associative « ambassadors », do not always enjoy strong recognition from the public authorities. This is why the politics of reparation raises the question of how it should be included on the local agenda and how it should be concretely implemented at the territorial level (Barthe, 2006). […] We will also have recourse to the sociology of regimes of action and trials initiated by Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot (1991), considering that public actors and those of the social and solidarity economy nourish different ways of thinking about their environment and therefore of acting.”
Abstract. This article briefly reviews the long-lasting commitment of Social Science Information to the critical analysis of orders of knowledge and the conditions for their creation to, subsequently, reflect on the current co-existence of a plurality of orders of justification across society, including the institutions of knowledge production. Furthermore, it suggests that recent social transformations have accentuated an asymmetry within this plurality, namely towards those forms of judgement that operate with quantitative measures and that are geared towards enhancing performance.
Abstract. Non-profit social enterprises address social problems with business models. This paper examines the founding years of an early non-profit social enterprise in the United States to highlight the role venture capital and venture philanthropy played in shaping performance measures. While venture philanthropies funded the creation of blended value models of performance measures, other practices from venture capital, such as taking board seats and engaging in managerial oversight, were quietly playing a profound role in the financialization of performance measurement in non-profit social enterprise. The early influence of venture capital valorised quantitative performance measures, the objectivity, calculability, and commensurability of which made them attractive to key stakeholders. More recent work in performance measurement have sought to incorporate a wider range of stakeholders. However, this paper explains the legacy of venture capital in financializing performance measures with which social enterprises continue to grapple.
Über das Buch. Die Begabtenförderung an deutschen Hochschulen hat seit Beginn der 2000er Jahre ein enormes Wachstum erfahren. Zugleich nahm jedoch die öffentliche Kritik an ihrer sozialen Selektivität zu. Die vorliegende Studie untersucht dieses Spannungsverhältnis am Beispiel der Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes, dem größten und ältesten Begabtenförderungswerk in Deutschland. Von besonderem Interesse ist hierbei die Frage, wie die Studienstiftung die Auswahl und Förderung von etwa 0,5% aller Studierenden und deren soziale Zusammensetzung seit ihrer Gründung im Jahr 1925 rechtfertigt. Aus einer diskursanalytischen Perspektive zeigt sich, dass die Rechtfertigung von Begabtenförderung im historischen Verlauf auf verschiedenen Rechtfertigungsordnungen basiert, die sich ergänzen, aber auch im Widerspruch zueinander stehen können. Die Ergebnisse der Studie eröffnen einen neuen Blick auf Fragen der sozialen Konstruktion von Begabung und der (Re-)Produktion von sozialen Ungleichheiten in der Begabtenförderung.
On the Justification of Support for the Gifted. A Discourse Analysis Using the Example of the German National Scholarship Foundation
About the book. Support for the gifted at German universities has experienced enormous growth since the early 2000s. At the same time, however, public criticism of its social selectivity has increased. This study examines this tension using the example of the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes (German National Scholarschip Foundation), the largest and oldest foundation for the promotion of gifted students in Germany. Of particular interest is the question of how the Studienstiftung has justified the selection and promotion of about 0.5% of all students and their social composition since its foundation in 1925. From a discourse-analytical perspective, it becomes apparent that the justification of the promotion of gifted students in the historical course is based on different orders of justification, which complement each other, but can also be in contradiction to each other. The results of the study open a new view on questions of the social construction of giftedness and the (re)production of social inequalities in gifted education.
Terceiro Milênio: Revista Crítica de Sociologia e Política, 14(1), pp. 41-69
Resumo. A Procriação Medicamente Assistida (PMA), enquanto domínio de intervenção médica, permite a concretização do projeto parental fora do útero da progenitora, em contexto laboratorial. Na sua trajetória terapêutica, o casal é envolvido no discurso biomédico enquanto formato cognitivo e no conjunto de procedimentos e dispositivos técnicos que servem de suporte ao formato de envolvimento na intervenção clínica, estendendo-se a uma conceção do embrião enquanto recurso mobilizado para o fim último: a concretização da gravidez. Não obstante esse envolvimento em plano, enquanto formato de coordenação da ação, aquilo que é a trajetória terapêutica dos beneficiários é suscetível de se desenvolver em composição com outros formatos atuantes, em particular naquilo que são os vínculos emocionais, de caráter íntimo, que são passíveis de emergir na relação com os embriões. A par das oscilações nos significados atribuídos ao embrião, essas gramáticas mais íntimas são sujeitas a conflituar com as lógicas atuantes dos profissionais médicos, informadas por orientações normativas distintas. A partir de um conjunto de dados recolhidos no âmbito de uma pesquisa de investigação em torno dos significados plurais atribuídos ao embrião humano, pretende-se explorar o modo como essas oscilações nas representações se manifestam, mas igualmente como as tensões entre formatos de envolvimento com o embrião são suscetíveis de eclodir nas trajetórias dos beneficiários na relação com os profissionais de PMA, veiculando, nos juízos que constroem, experiências inóspitas (que eclipsam vínculos mais íntimos) decorrentes de dispositivos (técnicos e relacionais) que moldam o percurso terapêutico.
Extract. “É justamente essa pluralidade compósita dos significados atribuídos ao embrião, evidenciada mediante uma abordagem de cariz pragmático (BOLTANSKI & THÉVENOT, 2006 ; THÉVENOT, 2006), que confere relevância analítica ao olhar sociológico sobre aquilo que os atores — nesse caso, os casais que recorrem à PMA — são capazes de expressar sobre as suas experiências ao longo da respectiva trajetória terapêutica. Acompanhando os seus juízos e lógicas atuantes, importa analisar essa problemática em torno do estatuto ontológico do embrião, explorando, por um lado, a pluralidade de significados e os momentos de oscilação nos significados atribuídos ao embrião, em função das deslocações no tempo e no espaço no decurso da trajetória terapêutica, e, por outro, perscrutando os momentos em que essas oscilações no estatuto atribuído ao embrião (em particular, as vinculações de caráter afetivo com o embrião) são suscetíveis de gerar tensões com os formatos de apropriação do embrião por parte dos profissionais médicos e de que forma essas tensões são ajuizadas e geridas em particular pelos casais que recorrem à PMA.” (p. 45)
When the public enters the familiar: oscillations, ambivalences and inhospitalities in the representations of the human embryo
Abstract. Medically Assisted Procreation (MAP) allows for the accomplishment of the parental project outside the mother’s womb, in a laboratory context. In their therapeutic trajectory, the couple becomes implicated in the biomedical discourse, as a cognitive format, and in the set of procedures and technical devices that support professional’s format of engagement during their clinical intervention, extending to a conception of the embryo as a resource mobilized for the ultimate purpose: the achievement of pregnancy. Despite this engagement in a plan as a format for coordinating action, the beneficiaries’ therapeutic trajectory is likely to develop through compositions with other acting formats, in particular, concerning the emotional bonds (of an intimate nature) that can emerge in the relationship with the embryos. Along with the fluctuations in the meanings attributed to the embryo, the presence of this more intimate grammar is likely to conflict with the acting logics of medical professionals, shaped by different normative orientations. Based on a set of data collected within an ongoing research project about the plural meanings attributed to the human embryo, the aim is to explore how these oscillations in representations are manifested, but also how the tensions between formats of engagement with the embryos are susceptible to occur in the patients’ trajectories along with the interaction with MAP professionals, expressing inhospitable experiences (eclipsing more personal attachments) resulting from devices (technical and relational) that shape their therapeutic path.
Extract. “It is precisely this composite plurality of meanings attributed to the embryo, evidenced through a pragmatic approach (BOLTANSKI & THÉVENOT, 2006 ; THÉVENOT, 2006), that gives analytical relevance to the sociological look on what the actors – in this case, couples that resort to MAP – are able to express about their experiences along their therapeutic trajectory. Accompanying their active judgments and logics, it is important to analyze this problematic around the ontological status of the embryo, exploring, on the one hand, the plurality of meanings and moments of oscillation in the meanings attributed to the embryo, according to the displacements in time and space during the course of the therapeutic trajectory, and, on the other hand scrutinizing the moments in which these oscillations in the status attributed to the embryo (in particular, the bonds of an affective nature with the embryo) are likely to generate tensions with the formats of appropriation of the embryo by medical professionals and how these tensions are judged and managed in particular by couples resorting to MAP. ” (p. 45)
Abstract. This article examines the self-perception of Israel TV’s reality show creators as a case study of how cultural industry employees perceive and cope with their work. On the one hand, creators of reality TV in Israel operate in a competitive and precarious working environment, and on the other hand, their work is criticized as inferior and culturally corrupting. Using a combination of cultural industries approach, sociological concepts, and in-depth thematic analysis of interviews with leading creators of the genre, this study sheds light on the justifications they employ and the way they are trapped in a capitalist industry.
Extract. “Pragmatic Sociology: Studying the Cultural Industries’ Labor Force In industrial and capitalist countries, the cultural industry workplace functions as an important and multifaceted arena for the tug of war between amassing capital (or enough to produce more cultural artifacts) and the desire for creativity and creative freedom. The creative urge is fueled by a combination of motives: self-expression, pleasure, public recognition, and even arrogance. Cultural industries thus constitute a complex and competitive work environment in which an array of pragmatist strategies are employed (see Note 47). To investigate these strategies in a field where social agents—in our case, reality creators—must fight over their position in the field (see Note 29), let us look at the pragmatic sociology of Luc Boltanski. According to Boltanski and Thévenot, day-to-day interactions of individual social actors are governed by six regimes, or paradigms, of social justification. These social justifications are used by social agents in a versatile manner, depending on time and place. Boltanski and Thévenot (see Note 50) distinguish between the inspired world, a regime of justification that emphasizes creativity, uniqueness, and freedom combined with risk-taking; the domestic world, a regime of justification emphasizing hierarchy and self-worth that attributes great importance to social values and conventions; the world of fame, which emphasizes public opinion and uses social visibility as an index; the civic regime, where the value of the individual is determined by being part of a collective with an emphasis on the “greater good” of the group or society; the market regime, where actions are spurred by the desire of individuals to accumulate assets, accentuating competition and economic gain; and the industrial regime, which highlights professionalism, efficiency, and the ability to present a plan and achieve goals. Applying Boltanski and Thévenot’s set of social justifications, we will analyze the discourse of the creators and evaluate our findings in the context of the cultural industries—in this case, the television industry. Such an approach will provide deeper insights into the day-to-day coping strategies of those who work in the industry.” (p. 5)
Extrait. “3.2. Vers une « vérité sociale » Pour aborder la dynamique institutionnelle, Bessy (2002) met en avant la notion d’arrière-plan inspirée de l’approche searlienne. Nous reprenons ici le concept d’« arrière-plan » en lui donnant une dimension collective. La notion de « communautés interprétatives », empruntée à De Munck (1998), mais aussi à Fish (1980), nous apparaît comme une manière fructueuse de penser le caractère social de ces capacités d’arrière-plan. Nous postulons que c’est l’existence d’interactions critiques qui rend possible la modification de l’« arrière-plan collectif » (ibid.) expliquant les différences potentielles de valeurs et de compétences entre les personnes. Conscient de l’intérêt de cette notion d’arrière-plan, De Munck (1998, p. 180), lorsqu’il pointe les deux présupposés problématiques de la théorie de Searle (à savoir l’intentionalisme et le mentalisme), propose de substituer l’intentionnalisme par un « pragmatisme interactionniste ». Pour De Munck (1998, p. 184), les « conventions intersubjectives qui sont véritablement constituantes de la signification […] ne dépendent pas de l’intention du locuteur, mais de l’histoire de la communauté interprétative ». La position de De Munck permet ainsi de placer au centre de la signification l’interaction sociale (1998, p. 187).” (p. 5)
Transformations of public action and institutional dynamics: what changes in behavior?
Extract. “3.2. Towards a « social truth » To address the institutional dynamics, Bessy (2002) highlights the notion of background inspired by the Searlian approach. Here we take up the concept of « background » again, giving it a collective dimension. The notion of « interpretative communities », borrowed from De Munck (1998), but also from Fish (1980), seems to us to be a fruitful way of thinking about the social character of these background capacities. We postulate that it is the existence of critical interactions that makes it possible to modify the « collective background » (ibid.) explaining potential differences in values and skills between individuals. Recognizing the value of this notion of background, De Munck (1998, p. 180), in pointing to the two problematic assumptions of Searle’s theory (i.e., intentionalism and mentalism), suggests replacing intentionalism with « interactionist pragmatism. De Munck (1998: 184) argues that « the intersub-objective conventions that are truly constitutive of meaning … do not depend on the intention of the speaker, but on the history of the interpretive community. De Munck’s position thus makes it possible to place social interaction at the center of meaning (1998, p. 187) ». (p. 5)
Mathias Decuypere, Emiliano Grimaldi & Paolo Landri (2021)
Critical Studies in Education 62(1), pp. 1-16.
Extract. “Investments in forms Fourth, and as an overarching feature encompassing the previous three, it can be generally argued that digital platforms ‘consider a broad range of phenomena that structure attention, shape decision making and guide cognition’ (Bowker et al., 2019: p. 1). However, such phenomena are not naturally there, but need a significant amount of investment in order to work. Importantly, ‘investment’ should not be understood here as (only) referring to a dedicated economic activity. Instead, and following a line of thought initiated by Laurent Thévenot, Bowker et al. understand investment as investment in forms; that is, investment in dedicated ways in which the world is made dividable, intelligible, knowledgeable and actionable. Put differently, investments in form not only organize thinking and thought; they equally ‘direct action across multiple settings and multiple temporal scales’ (Bowker et al., 2019 :1 – our emphasis; cf. Thévenot, 2009). Transferring these insights to the field of education, we argue that digital education platforms are increasingly investing in new unique and dedicated digital educational forms: they make educational practices dividable, intelligible, knowledgeable and actionable, and they do so through the deployment and inauguration of concepts, classifications, categorizations, commensurations, and evaluations (ibid.). Furthermore, they do so in ways that direct thought and action in highly specific and differentially enacted forms of educational spaces and educational times, by attempting to make these newly emerging forms as solid and as durable as possible (Decuypere & Vanden Broeck, 2020; Thévenot, 1984, p. 2009). They have specific norms, values, ideologies, instructional models, ideas about learning, and good pedagogy inscribed in their architectural, intermediary and organizational design (Decuypere, 2019b; Kelkar, 2018; Van Dijck et al., 2018).” (p. 7)
Résumé. L’article analyse l’influence des processus de numérisation de trois fournisseurs de services d’intérêt général en Belgique sur le façonnage d’une offre de services numériques plus ou moins inclusive. En prenant appui sur le modèle théorique des économies de la grandeur (Boltanski & Thévenot, 1991) et sur une méthodologie d’études de cas, son objectif est double. Il vise, d’abord, à saisir les formes de coordination qui s’établissent entre plusieurs principes normatifs présidant à la numérisation des services : celui de l’intérêt général qui caractérise les missions de services étudiées et ceux d’ordres marchand et industriel qui sous-tendent les justifications en faveur de leur dématérialisation. Il vise, ensuite, à comprendre l’impact de ces arrangements sur les conceptions de l’inclusion numérique et les actions déployées au sein de ces organismes.
The implementation of an unthought digitalisation of services of general interest
Abstract. The article analyses the digitalisation processes of three public interest providers in Belgium and its influence on the shaping of digital services, in a more or less inclusive way. It is based on the Economies of Worth theoretical model (Boltanski & Thévenot, 1991) and a case study methodology. It has a twofold objective. First, it aims at grasping the coordination forms that are established between diverse normative principles governing the digitalisation of services: the one of general interest that characterises the key tasks of the services under consideration and those of the commercial and industrial logics that inspire the justifications for their digitalisation. It then aims at understanding the impact of these arrangements on the understandings of digital inclusion and the actions implemented within these organisations.
Résumé. Cet article analyse la critique (contestation de l’État) et la domination en Haïti à la lumière de la pensée de Luc Boltanski en considérant deux régimes politiques différents. D’une part, nous montrerons qu’une critique radicale du régime de Jean Pierre Boyer (1818-1843) a existé et qu’elle a pris la forme de mouvements armés. Ne laissant pas de place à cette critique de s’exprimer, le régime de Boyer a établi une domination simple. D’autre part, la critique a évolué (s’est transformée) en critique réformiste. Celle-ci a fait face à une domination complexe sous le régime de Michel Joseph Martelly (2011-2016), notamment parce que ce dernier a essayé d’incorporer la critique en adaptant son régime au contexte national et international post-1986.
Haiti: from simple to complex domination
Abstract. This article analyzes the critique (contestation of the state) and domination in Haiti in the light of Luc Boltanski’s thinking by considering two different political regimes. On the one hand, we will show that a radical critique of the regime of Jean Pierre Boyer (1818-1843) existed and that it took the form of armed movements. Leaving no room for this criticism to be expressed, Boyer’s regime established simple domination. On the other hand, criticism evolved (became) reformist criticism. The latter faced a complex domination under the regime of Michel Joseph Martelly (2011-2016), in particular because the latter tried to incorporate criticism by adapting his regime to the post-1986 national and international context.
Resumen. Este artículo busca definir los perfiles del enfoque político-moral, de la llamada sociología pragmática, que en Francia co-fundó Boltanski. Articularemos sus principales argumentos con algunas tradiciones pragmáticas de las que resulta heredera. La hipótesis del artículo es que este enfoque siguió el dictatum de un giro pragmático del lenguaje, que tuvo efectos sobre el interaccionismo simbólico, la etnometodología y hasta sobre la teoría de la acción comunicativa. En este sentido, el artículo destaca cincos aspectos de continuidad entre dichas perspectivas: i) el problema de la definición de una acción situada, ii) la influencia del carácter ordinario de las acciones, iii) el cumplimiento de reglas prácticas, iv) la incorporación del problema moral en un sentido práctico, y v) una articulación entre coherencia del lenguaje y consistencia con un mundo material.
The pragmatic turn in sociology. From the American sociologies to the political-moral perspective of Boltanski
Abstract. His article seeks to define the profiles of the political-moral approach, of the so-called pragmatic sociology, which in France was co-founded by Boltanski. We will articulate its main arguments with some pragmatics traditions of which it is heir. The article’s hypothesis is that this approach followed the dictatum of a pragmatic turn of language, which had effects on symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology and even on the theory of communicative action. In this sense, the article highlights five aspects of continuity between these perspectives: i) the problem of defining a situated action, ii) the influence of the ordinary nature of the actions, iii) the compliance with practical rules, iv) the incorporation of the moral problem in a practical sense, and v) an articulation between coherence of language and consistency with a material world.
Abstract. Socio-history of quantification is not a simple sub-domain of Science and Technology Studies. On the contrary, it can provide tools for investigating a wide range of social situations from a new and interesting perspective. We begin by providing a new definition of quantification. Next we consider the way numbers permeate society to its very core, forming rich veins of data for social science research. From this process, referred to here as “quantitative marbling,” three distinct categories emerge: data veins produced by governments, those produced by social activists (often contesting the former), and lastly, those produced by non-governmental global networks. We conclude by suggesting that social processes aiming to free certain social aggregates of quantitative analysis are also worthy of attention.
Yann Laurans, Xavier Leflaive & Aleksandar Rankovic (2020)
Environmental Science and Policy, 113, pp. 31-38.
Abstract. Science and knowledge are called to participate in the institutional, political and behavioral changes that are necessary to address biodiversity loss. Knowledge however does not possess direct performative powers, and the relationships between knowledge production and use are complex, as has been documented for multiple issues and by different fields of research. This paper proposes to unpack three dimensions of “decision-making”. By taking the field of ecosystem service assessment and valuation as its main example, the paper discusses and illustrates how this unpacking can help researchers situate themselves in the diversity of decision-making contexts that can exist, and how this can influence the contributions they can make to try and solve biodiversity issues they are involved in. After describing some key characteristics of the “rationalist” vision of decision, it suggests that looking at the temporal continuity of decision-making processes (e.g., a one-time moment versus a continuous and diffuse process), the degree of conflict in a process, and the range of actors involved and their modes of interaction, widely expands the variety of ways that ecosystem service assessment and valuation can be involved in decision-making. The paper uses three case studies to illustrate this variety, and discusses some implications for researchers, both in terms of acknowledging their situatedness and of future research prospects.
Extract. “It is only in the second half of the last decade that the question of how ecosystem service assessment and valuation are actually used in real-life decision-making has progressively been empirically studied, in various environmental contexts (Guerry et al., 2015; Kilham and Reinecke, 2015; Lautenbach et al., 2015; McKenzie et al., 2014; Ruckelshaus et al., 2015) or more specifically for tropical coastal management contexts (Laurans et al., 2013; Marre et al., 2015, 2016; Waite et al., 2015). This – rather new – research field is congruent with mounting evidence that ecosystem services assessments and valuations are not commonly used as assumed by textbooks and mainstream theoretical frameworks (Laurans et al., 2013b). It is also congruent with the diverse body of work mentioned above, and reflects the results of diverse works rooted in sociology and economics, especially convention theory, that shows how groups use varied tests and proofs in their disputes, putting the question of modes of commensurability at the centre of their observation (Boltanski and Thévenot, 1991; Centemeri, 2015; Fourcade, 2011; Hertin et al., 2009). […] Conventions that frame a particular decision (or account of a decision) can be challenged from another perspective, which embodies a competing convention. There is no rational way competition or tensions across conventions can be addressed and mitigated (Boltanski and Chiapello, 2007; Boltanski and Thévenot, 1991). In that context, knowledge and science can be used to fuel the critique of a prevailing convention. A requisite is to demonstrate the very possibility of a critique and alternative worldviews. In such contexts, information does not focus so much on facts, but on the assumptions that frame the narratives used to account for facts. Literary critique can be a resource.” (p. 32/38)
European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology 8(1), pp. 59-80.
Abstract. This article analyses three key moments in the historical development of urban wastewater infrastructure and points to the important role that professionals, and particularly engineers, play in these transformations in relation to public issues and concerns over wastewater. The article uses historical documents and interview data to illustrate the work of professionals, as well as suggesting more specifically that professionals have the capacity to translate public concerns into material solutions—in this case, infrastructures. By combining and developing Laurent Thévenot’s pragmatic sociology and Andrew Abbott’s sociology of professions to understand the historic role of professionals in urban wastewater planning, the article reveals a growing concern with ‘green’ justifications in this area, and how these justifications both enable and constrain professional work on specific infrastructures.