Just Look at the Numbers: A Case Study on Quantification in Corporate Environmental Disclosures

Janne T. Järvinen, Matias Laine, Timo Hyvönen & Hannele Kantola (2020)

Journal of Business Ethics. Online first

Abstract. This paper sheds further light on the role of quantification in corporate environmental disclosures. Quantification is an inherently social practice, which has attracted a fair amount of academic interest in recent years. At the same time, in the field of social and environmental accounting there is a paucity of research on quantification or the role it plays for organisations, for organisational communication and in societies more broadly. Accordingly, in this paper, we will draw on a qualitative case study to discuss the potential implications that might arise from the use of quantified information in corporate environmental disclosures. Our case study illustrates the diverse effects of quantification suggested in the prior literature by placing them in the context of corporate environmental disclosures. We discuss how quantification implies fake precisionism and promotes commensuration of incomparables, thereby limiting the discussion to themes and questions preferred by company management. We maintain that quantification, while appearing to produce neutral and value-free information, has a substantive ethical dimension through how it implicates accountability relationships as well as the respective power relations between diverse stakeholders in societies.

Extract. « We argue that the quantified information appeared to be precise and persuasive, as such figures seemed to show how the organisation strived to improve its environmental performance. Prior studies suggest that numbers are often viewed as representing a self-evident reality (see Desrosières 2001), which the company here used to establish the authority of its message. Inside the company, the top management framed such quantified measures are realistic business objectives, stressing the reflexive nature of measurement. […] Despite its obvious usefulness for firms, the power of quantification does not come without related potential ethical questions and implications (Espeland and Stevens 2008). The numbers and quantified information facilitate particular ontologies, suggest specific rationalities and imply certain accountabilities. In the economic context, environmental issues are always value-laden, as they imply a need to take into account different points of view, to settle and balance different value positions, and eventually to decide between potentially incommensurable and incomparable alternatives (see Boltanski and Thévenot 2006). » (p. 12)

Link to the article

Der „gute“ Lebensmittelmarkt. Raumwissen von Standortentwicklern und Betreibern von Supermärkten und Lebensmitteldiscountern

Angela Million (2020)

In: Baur N., Fülling J., Hering L., Kulke E. (eds) Waren – Wissen – Raum. Springer VS, Wiesbaden, Springer VS, pp. 291-330.

Zusammenfassung. Welche Wissensbestände und Vorstellungen werden von den Standortplanern und Betreibern von Lebensmittelmärkten in die Gestaltung von Lebensmittelmärkten eingebracht und mit den Kommunen (Verwaltung, Politik) verhandelt? Gegenstand dieses Beitrages sind die Dynamiken und Logiken von physischer Raumproduktion in Bezug auf Lebensmittelmärkte, insbesondere die Re-figuration von Mustermärkten oder Typenbauten im Lebensmitteleinzelhandel. Interviews mit Standortentwicklern, Expansionsleitern sowie Betreibern des Lebensmitteleinzelhandels werden für diesen Beitrag unter dem Aspekt des Raumwissens in einer Sekundäranalyse ausgewertet. Zudem werden diese gegenübergestellt mit aktuellen Entwicklungslinien in der Planung und Gestaltung von Lebensmittelmärkten. Fokussiert werden dabei die Planung und Gestaltung von Lebensmitteldiscountern und mittelgroßen Supermärkten, welche nicht nur gleiche gebäudemorphologische Eigenschaften haben, sondern als monofunktionale Stadtbausteine auch in ihrer Integration in das erweiterte Umfeld städtebaulich vergleichbare Auswirkungen haben. Im Gegensatz zu den 1990ern und 2000 Jahren werden bei heutigen Lebensmittelmärkten deutlicher als bisher durch die Einzelhandelsunternehmen die Vielfalt an möglichen Standorten von Lebensmittelmärkten und eine größere Bereitschaft für architektonische und städtebauliche Anpassungen an den Kontext kommuniziert. Es wird dennoch die Hypothese aufgestellt, dass die Re-Figuration der physischen Gestalt eines Lebensmittelmarktes vorwiegend lokal – in den Kommunen – verhandelt wird. Hier gibt es verschiedene Anlässe, Rahmenbedingungen und Treiber, die ggf. den Grad oder das Ausmaß der physischen Re-figuration beeinflussen.

Extract. “Von den befragten Standortentwicklern, Standortplanern und Architekten wird besonders herausgestellt, dass eine standardisierte Gestaltung bzw. die Umsetzung eines Typenbaus hilft, die Bau- und Planungskosten in sicherer Größe zu halten. Zudem wurde betont, dass Typenbauten durchaus vorteilhaft bei Unternehmensfusionen sind, ein Aspekt, welcher in der Fachliteratur bisher wenig thematisiert wird. Gleichzeitig wird auch imaginiert, dass dem Kunden mittels einheitlicher Gestaltung ein zumeist gleichbleibender qualitätvoller und erwartbarer Lebensmitteleinkauf geboten werden kann – dies entspricht den Qualitätsvorstellungen der ‚industriellen Konvention‘ in der wirtschaftssoziologischen Theorie der ‚Ökonomie der Konventionen‘ (Diaz-Bone, 2018, S. 146–164), welche aber eben nur eine von verschiedenen Konventionen ist und für v. a. massenindustrielle Produktion beschreibt (siehe Beitrag von Dombrowski in diesem Band). Es wird jedoch auch deutlich, dass Akteure persönliche Vorlieben und Vorstellungen von „guter“ und „angemessener“ Gestaltung einbringen und genauso ihre Vorstellungen haben von ihren Kunden, dem kommunalen Kontext und einer angemessenem Nahversorgung.” (p. 316)

The « good » food market. Spatial knowledge of location developers and operators of supermarkets and food discounters

Abstract. Which knowledge and ideas are brought into the design of food markets by developers and operators of food markets and negotiated with the municipalities (administration, politics)? This article deals with the dynamics and logics of physical space production in relation to food markets, in particular the re-figuration of store formats or prototype buildings in food retailing. Interviews with developers, expansion managers and operators of the food retailer will be evaluated in a secondary analysis under the aspect of spatial knowledge. In addition, these are compared with current lines of development in the planning and design of food markets. The focus is on the planning, design and implementation of medium-sized supermarkets and food discounters, which not only have the same building morphological characteristics, but as monofunctional buildings, they also have comparable effects in terms of their spatial and functional integration into the built environment. In contrast to the 1990 s and 2000 years, today’s food markets communicate more clearly than before the variety of possible locations of food markets and a greater willingness for architectural and urban planning adaptations to the context. Nevertheless, the hypothesis is put forward that the re-figuration of the physical design of a food market is predominantly negotiated locally – in the municipalities. Here there are various occasions, framework conditions and drivers that may influence the degree or extent of physical re-configuration.

Extract [EC-blog translation]. “Of the asked location developers, location planners and architects it is particularly emphasized that a standardized organization and/or the conversion of a type construction helps to hold the building and planning costs in safe size. In addition, it was emphasized that type constructions are definitely advantageous in company mergers, an aspect that has not been discussed much in the technical literature so far. At the same time, it is also imagined that the customer can be offered a uniform design that enables him to buy food of a generally constant quality and expectability – this corresponds to the quality concept of the ‘industrial convention’ in the economic sociological theory of the ‘economics of convention’ (Diaz-Bone, 2018, pp. 146-164), which is, however, only one of several conventions and describes above all mass industrial production (see Dombrowski’s contribution in this volume). However, it also becomes clear that actors bring in personal preferences and ideas of « good » and « appropriate » design and also have their own ideas about their customers, the municipal context and appropriate local supply.” (p. 316)

Link to the chapter

Horizontal koordiniert oder vertikal getrieben?

Die Ordnung der deutschen Märkte für biologische Lebensmittel und ihr historischer Wandel.

Simon Dombrowski (2020)

In: Baur N., Fülling J., Hering L., Kulke E. (eds) Waren – Wissen – Raum. Springer VS, Wiesbaden, Springer VS, pp. 57-88.

Zusammenfassung. Wie beeinflusst die Koordination landwirtschaftlicher Erzeuger die Struktur von Warenketten? Und wie beeinflusst die Einbettung in Warenketten die Koordination von landwirtschaftlichen Erzeugern auf Agrarmärkten? Der vorliegende Beitrag untersucht diese Fragestellungen mit einer Fallstudie über die historische Entwicklung der deutschen Märkte für biologische Lebensmittel von 1946 bis 2012 und zeigt, wie die Koordination von Landwirten in Wirtschaftsverbänden die Beziehungen in diesen Märkten und zu Märkten in vor- und nachgelagerten Stufen der Warenketten beeinflusst hat. Auf theoretischer Ebene zielt dieser Beitrag darauf ab, wirtschaftssoziologische und wirtschaftsgeografische Zugänge zu Märkten miteinander zu verknüpfen und für die Analyse von Handlungsstrategien landwirtschaftlicher Erzeuger nutzbar zu machen. Die Marktsoziologie untersucht die horizontale Koordination von Produzenten in einem Markt in Bezug auf die Frage, wie Produzenten einen direkten Preiswettbewerb vermeiden. Mit Agrarmärkten hat sie sich bisher noch kaum auseinandergesetzt. Die Wirtschaftsgeografie befasst sich hingegen mit der vertikalen Koordination zwischen verschiedenen Märkten entlang von Warenketten. Agrarmärkte werden vor allem aus der Perspektive ihrer Getriebenheit von Lebensmittelproduzenten und -händlern untersucht. Wie dieser Beitrag exemplarisch zeigt, ermöglicht eine Verbindung beider Ansätze ein umfassenderes Verständnis der Handlungsstrategien von landwirtschaftlichen Erzeugern auf Agrarmärkten.

Extract. “Die Perspektive von Governance als ‚Normalisierung‘ ist eine kultur- und wissenssoziologische Erweiterung des Koordinationsansatzes. Die Koordination innerhalb von Warenketten wird nicht mehr nur als abhängig von den Eigenschaften einer Transaktion gedacht. Ergänzend wird Koordination auch mit Vorstellungen in der Umwelt von Warenketten erklärt, die Wissen darüber enthalten was die Qualität von Produkten ausmacht und wie Unternehmen ihre Produktionsprozesse besonders effizient strukturieren können (Ponte & Gibbon, 2005). In der Tradition der Ökonomie der Konventionen (‚Économie des Conventions‘, siehe für eine Einführung Diaz-Bone, 2018; Knoll, 2017) wird in dieser Governance-Vorstellung davon ausgegangen, dass Anbieter und Abnehmer ihre Erwartungen an die Qualität von Produkten aus einer Pluralität von geteilten Wissensbeständen und kulturellen Modellen ableiten, die als ‚Qualitätskonventionen‘ bezeichnet werden. Jede Qualitätskonvention stellt unterschiedliche Qualifizierungs- und Koordinationsprinzipien zur Verfügung (siehe für eine Übersicht von Qualitätskonventionen: Diaz-Bone, 2018. S. 146–164). Je nachdem, auf Grundlage welcher Qualitätskonvention qualifiziert wird, werden unterschiedliche Maßstäbe für die Bewertung von Produkten angelegt. In der ‚Konvention des Hauses‘ (die auch als handwerkliche Konvention bezeichnet wird) beruht die Produktqualität auf der Handarbeit und der Meisterschaft derjenigen, die es herstellen. So beruht die Qualität von traditionell hergestellten Camembert auf der Fähigkeit des Käsemeisters und seiner Mitarbeiter, ihrem Camembert die spezifischen Geschmacksnoten seiner Herstellungsregion und der Jahreszeit seiner Herstellung zu geben. In der ‚industriellen Konvention‘ beruht die Qualität eines Produkts auf seiner Übereinstimmung mit Produktstandards. Ein hochwertiger Camembert ist entsprechend ein Käse, der stets den gleichen Geschmack hat, frei von Keimen und lange haltbar ist (Boisard, 1991; Diaz-Bone, 2018).” (p. 64-65)

Horizontally coordinated or vertically driven?
The order of the German markets for organic food and their historical change.

Abstract. How does the coordination of agricultural producers affect the structure of commodity chains? How does the embeddedness of agricultural producers in value chains influence the coordination of agricultural producers? To address these questions, this article presents evidence from a historical case study on the development of the German markets for organic food from 1946 to 2012. The study demonstrates how coordination of farmers in business associations structured both the horizontal relationships of organic farmers and the vertical embeddedness of organic farmers in value chains. In doing so, it connects theoretical approaches from economic sociology and economic geography. While the former studies the horizontal coordination of producers in a market and ask how producers avoid fierce price competition, the latter explores the vertical relationships within value chains and studies the driveness of value chains by large producers and retailers. The combination of both perspectives provides a more comprehensive understanding of the actions and strategies of producers in agricultural markets.

Extract [EC-blog translation]. « The perspective of governance as ‘normalization’ is a cultural and sociological extension of the coordination approach. Coordination within commodity chains is no longer thought of as being dependent on the characteristics of a transaction. Supplementing coordination is explained also with conceptions in the environment of commodity chains, which contain knowledge over it which constitutes the quality of products and how enterprises can structure their production processes particularly efficiently (Ponte & Gibbon, 2005). In the tradition of the economics of convention (‘Économie des Conventions’, see for an introduction Diaz-Bone, 2018; Knoll, 2017), this governance concept assumes that suppliers and buyers derive their expectations of product quality from a plurality of shared knowledge and cultural models, which are called ‘quality conventions’. Each quality convention provides different qualification and coordination principles (see for an overview of quality conventions: Diaz-Bone, 2018, pp. 146-164). Different standards are applied to the evaluation of products depending on the quality convention on which they are based. In the ‘convention of the house’ (also known as the craft convention), product quality is based on the craftsmanship and mastery of those who make it. Thus, the quality of traditionally produced Camembert is based on the ability of the master cheesemaker and his collaborators to give their Camembert the specific flavors of its production region and the season of its production. In the ‘industrial convention’, the quality of a product is based on its conformity to product standards. Accordingly, a high-quality Camembert is a cheese that always has the same taste, is free of germs and has a long shelf life (Boisard, 1991; Diaz-Bone, 2018). » (p. 64-65)

Link to the chapter

Orders of worth and spheres of justice: From dual to multiple sphere ontologies in the Googlization of health

Lecture of Prof. Dr. Tamar Sharon (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)

Wednesday, 2 December 2020, Social Research Colloquium (University of Lucerne)
16.15 h via Zoom

Abstract. The digitalization of health and medicine has engendered a proliferation of new collaborations between public health institutions and data corporations, such as Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon. Critical perspectives on this “Googlization of health” tend to frame them as an instance of market transgressions by tech giants into the sphere of health and medicine, in line with a “hostile worlds” doctrine that upholds that the borders between market and non-market spheres should be carefully policed. In this talk, I discuss the limitations of this approach in the context of the Googlization of health. In order to move beyond these, I will advance a framework based on a multiple, rather than a dual, sphere ontology that draws on Boltanski and Thévenot’s orders of worth and Michael Walzer’s theory of justice. I show how this analytical framework is better equipped to identify and address the numerous risks posed by the involvement of these corporations in health and medicine.

Zoom-Link:
https://unilu.zoom.us/j/92442590308?pwd=S3lQemV6Y2hjRmpoMERCTXlsMWVTdz09 

Meeting-ID: 924 4259 0308
Code: 324000

Interdependenz von Produktion, Markt und Konsum in Lebensmittelwarenketten

Elmar Kulke, Linda Hering, Julia Fülling & Nina Baur (2020)

In: Baur N., Fülling J., Hering L., Kulke E. (eds) Waren – Wissen – Raum. Springer VS, Wiesbaden, p 1-27.

Zusammenfassung. In der Wirtschaftsgeographie und der Wirtschaftssoziologie sind Lebensmittel ein wichtiger Gegenstand wissenschaftlicher Analysen. Während die Wirtschaftsgeographie dabei eher die Wertschöpfungsketten und den Einzelhandel betrachtet, stellen in der Wirtschaftssoziologie Untersuchungen zu Ernährung und Konsum einen Arbeitsschwerpunkt dar. Durch zahlreiche Studien in beiden Disziplinen gibt es bereits einen vertieften Kenntnisstand zu unterschiedlichen Aspekten des Anbaus, der Logistik, des Vertriebs, des Kaufs und des Konsums von Lebensmitteln.

Extract. “„Wissen“ als wissenschaftliches Konzept wird dabei sowohl inner- als auch interdisziplinär ganz unterschiedlich in die theoretischen Überlegungen einbezogen. Die Soziologie argumentiert üblicherweise, dass Menschen erstens Handlungsziele (Wollen) haben. Während in den Wirtschaftswissenschaften diese Handlungsziele üblicherweise als „ceteris paribus“-Bedingungen modelliert werden, hat die Soziologie in zahlreichen Studien gezeigt, dass Handlungsziele unterschiedlich sein können und dass auch in wirtschaftlichem Handeln oft unklar ist, welche Ziele dieses Handeln hat und worin der Erfolg des Handelns besteht (Baur 2008; Baur, Löw, Hering, Raschke, & Stoll, 2014). Dieses sogenannte „Wertproblem“ rückt in den vergangenen zwei Jahrzehnten vor allem im Rahmen des wirtschaftssoziologischen Ansatzes der „Economics of Convention“ (EC) (Diaz-Bone, 2018) verstärkt in den Fokus auch der empirischen Forschung. Zweitens argumentiert die Soziologie, dass diese Ziele mit bestimmten Mitteln verfolgt werden. Allerdings existiert – selbst wenn das Handlungsziel klar ist und die Akteure über vollständige Informationen verfügen – kein einziges bestes Mittel, um dieses Ziel zu erreichen (Baur, 2008; Engels & Knoll, 2012).
Welche Mittel als geeignet und legitim erachtet werden, um ein bestimmtes Ziel zu erreichen, hängt daher vom Wissen der Akteure ab. Während die klassischen wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Theorien von einem allwissenden Akteur ausgehen („homo oeconomicus“), verweisen soziologische Ansätze darauf, dass Wissensbestände nicht nur individuell unterschiedlich sind, sondern sich auch systematisch – etwa nach verschiedenen sozialen Gruppen und Milieus (Schulze, 1996) – oder räumlich (Baur et al., 2014) unterscheiden. Der bereits genannte Ansatz der Economics of Convention (EC), der sich innerhalb der Soziologie am intensivsten mit der Art und Relevanz von Wissen in wirtschaftlichem Handeln befasst hat, arbeitet in diesem Rahmen mit dem Konzept der „Konventionen“, die als kulturell etablierte Koordinationsformen Unsicherheit in ökonomischen Handelssituationen auflösen (Diaz-Bone, 2018, S. 3 f.) und mit besonderen Wissensbeständen korrelieren.” (p. 4-5)

Interdependence of production, market and consumption in food supply chains

Abstract. In economic geography and economic sociology, foodstuffs are an important subject of scientific analysis. While economic geography tends to focus on value chains and retail trade, economic sociology focuses on studies of nutrition and consumption. Through numerous studies in both disciplines, there is already an in-depth knowledge of various aspects of the cultivation, logistics, distribution, purchase and consumption of food.

Extract [EC-blog translation]. «  »Knowledge » as a scientific concept is included in the theoretical considerations in very different ways, both within and across disciplines. Sociology usually argues that people first of all have goals of action (wanting). While in economics these action goals are usually modelled as « ceteris paribus » conditions, sociology has shown in numerous studies that action goals can be different and that even in economic action it is often unclear what the goals of this action are and what the success of the action is (Baur 2008; Baur, Löw, Hering, Raschke, & Stoll, 2014). In the past two decades, this so-called « value problem » has increasingly moved into the focus of empirical research, especially within the framework of the economic-sociological approach of the « Economics of Convention » (EC) (Diaz-Bone, 2018). Secondly, sociology argues that these goals are pursued with certain means. However, even if the goal of action is clear and the actors have complete information, there is no single best means of achieving it (Baur, 2008; Engels & Knoll, 2012).
Which means are considered appropriate and legitimate to achieve a particular goal therefore depends on the knowledge of the actors. While classical economic theories assume an omniscient actor (« homo oeconomicus »), sociological approaches point out that knowledge stocks not only differ individually, but also systematically – for example according to different social groups and milieus (Schulze, 1996) – or spatially (Baur et al., 2014). The Economics of Convention (EC) approach mentioned above, which within sociology has dealt most intensively with the nature and relevance of knowledge in economic action, works within this framework with the concept of « conventions », which as culturally established forms of coordination dissolve uncertainty in economic trading situations (Diaz-Bone, 2018, p. 3 f.) and correlate with specific knowledge stocks. »

Link to the chapter

Ökonomie der Konventionen

Christoph Weischer (2020)

In: Klimke, Daniela/Lautmann, Rüdiger/Stäheli, Urs/Weischer, Christoph/Wienold, Hanns (eds.): Lexikon zur Soziologie. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. pp. 549-550.

Lexikon-Artikel. “Ökonomie der Konventionen, économie des conventions (frz.), Forschungsansatz zur Untersuchung von Kooperationsbeziehungen zwischen ökonomischen Akteuren. Konventionen stellen Regeln und Routinen dar, die Kooperations- und Austauschbeziehungen unter Bedingungen der Ungewissheit ermöglichen; sie fungieren als Handlungsgrammatik, als Recht- fertigung und Bewertungsmaßstab. So dienen z. B. Qualitätskonventionen dazu, die Interaktionen von Akteuren in einer langen Produktionskette von der Rohstoffgewinnung zum Endverbrauch zu strukturieren; ein klassisches Beispiel liefert die Gegenüberstellung der handwerklichen und der industriellen Produktionskette des Camemberts. Längerfristig können sich solche Konventionen zu Institutionen und fixierten Regeln verfestigen. Im Unterschied zu umfassend informierten rational kalkulierenden oder zu normativ geleiteten Akteuren wird von Akteuren ausgegangen, die einer interpretierenden Rationalität folgen. Andere Ansätze in der Ö.d.K. untersuchen die Bedeutung von Formen, indem z. B. die Prinzipien der tayloristischen Arbeitsorganisation als Set von formgebenden Strategien begriffen werden, deren betriebliches Zusammenwirken abgestimmt werden muss. Ausgehend von diesen Untersuchungsperspektiven werden z. B. spezifische Warenmärkte und ihre Institutionen, Arbeits- und Finanzmärkte, aber auch die Staatstätigkeit analysiert.”

« Economics of convention », encyclopedia article [EC-Blog Translation]. “Economics of convention, économie des conventions (French), research approach to the study of cooperative relationships between economic actors. Conventions represent rules and routines that enable cooperative and exchange relationships under conditions of uncertainty; they function as a grammar of action, as a measure of justification and evaluation. Thus, for example, quality conventions serve to structure the interactions of actors in a long production chain from raw material extraction to end consumption; a classic example is the juxtaposition of the artisan and industrial production chain of Camembert. In the long run, such conventions can become institutions and fixed rules. In the difference between comprehensively informed, rationally calculating or normatively guided actors, it is assumed that actors follow an interpretive rationality. Other approaches in the EC examine the meaning of forms, e.g. by conceiving the principles of Tayloristic work organization as a set of form-giving strategies whose operational interaction must be coordinated. Based on these perspectives, specific commodity markets and their institutions, labor and financial markets, but also state activity are analyzed.”

L’épreuve pour viatique : un enchâssement d’épreuves d’élèves, d’enseignants-formateurs et d’un accompagnateur directeur de recherche

Jean-François Thémines & Anne-Laure Le Guern (2020)

In: Vincent Hubert, Guirimand Nicolas, Le Guern Anne-Laure et al. (eds.), Savoir, épreuves, confiance en éducation et formation. Nîmes: Champ social Editions, pp.172-185.

Introduction. “Sans tomber dans un dolorisme qui glorifierait les difficultés, objet de la dénonciation de Ruwen Ogien (Ogien, 2016) et pour ne pas souscrire au discours social ordinaire sur les épreuves et la surenchère victimaire, il nous semble qu’une pensée constructive et positive de l’épreuve ou de ce qui fait épreuve est possible. L’épreuve n’est sans doute pas seulement une difficulté plus dense et intense que d’autres ou un cumul de difficultés, un passage difficile de l’existence quoique ce soit là la signification sociale du terme et qu’il soit aussi ainsi employé dans d’autres discours, spécifiques, de travaux de sciences humaines et sociales.
Prenant appui sur la sociologie de l’engagement de Laurent Thévenot et empruntant à Paul Ricoeur, ce chapitre analyse, dans le champ de l’enseignement et de la formation, un enchâssement c’est-à-dire un emboîtement d’épreuves qui ont toutes en commun d’être des choix dont les issues sont incertaines. Comment ces épreuves sont-elles relevées ? Quels sont les savoirs qui font conditions de ces épreuves ? Quels savoirs en résultent ? Existe-t-il un viatique, un secours ? L’épreuve elle-même peut-elle être le viatique, en tant qu’elle est à relever et non pas à fuir ?
Ce chapitre s’assigne pour tâche d’expliciter, dans un premier temps, une conceptualisation singulière de l’épreuve et d’en préciser notamment les sources et les intentions. S’ensuit la restitution d’une formation à et par la recherche qui part des travaux réalisés à cette fin par des élèves pour remonter aux intentions et aux analyses didactiques de leur enseignant, Emmanuel. Le texte se centre ensuite sur l’épreuve rencontrée par celui qui a accompagné le groupe de recherche dans lequel cet enseignant a inscrit ce travail d’exploration, d’investigation pour ne pas dire d’enquête auprès des élèves et surtout avec eux.”

The viaticum test: a set of tests for students, teacher-trainers and a research supervisor

Introduction [EC-Blog Translation] “Without falling into a dolorism that would glorify difficulties, the object of Ruwen Ogien’s denunciation (Ogien, 2016), and in order not to subscribe to the ordinary social discourse on trials and victimization, it seems to us that a constructive and positive thought of the trial or of what makes a trial is possible. The trial is undoubtedly not only a difficulty that is denser and more intense than others or an accumulation of difficulties, a difficult passage of existence, although this is the social meaning of the term and it is also used in other specific discourses of human and social sciences.
Drawing on the sociology of commitment of Laurent Thévenot and borrowing from Paul Ricoeur, this chapter analyzes, in the field of teaching and training, a « en-châssement », that is to say, an interlocking of tests which all have in common that they are choices whose outcomes are uncertain. How are these tests taken? What is the knowledge that makes these tests conditions? What knowledge results from them? Is there a viaticum, an aid? Can the test itself be the viaticum, inasmuch as it is to be taken and not to be avoided?
This chapter sets itself the task of explaining, first of all, a singular conceptualization of the ordeal and of specifying in particular its sources and intentions. This is followed by the restitution of a training to and through research, which starts from the work carried out by students to this end and goes back to the intentions and didactic analyses of their teacher, Emmanuel. The text then focuses on the test encountered by the person who accompanied the research group in which this teacher has included this work of exploration, investigation, not to say investigation with the students and especially with them.”

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En overset professionsteoretiker: Laurent Thévenot

Anders Blok (2020)

Tidsskrift for Professionsstudier Vol. 16 no 31, pp. 128-133.

Introduction. “Laurent Thévenot (f. 1949) hører til hovedpersonerne i den nyere teoriretning, der kaldes fransk pragmatisk sociologi. Foruden makkeren Luc Boltanski, med hvem Thévenot udgav hovedværket De la justification i 1991 (engelsk oversættelse: On Justification 2006), […]. Thévenots såkaldte engagementssociologi, som han har udviklet siden midt-2000’erne (Thévenot 2006), er dog samtidig udtryk for et eget, originalt teoriprojekt (se Hansen (red.) 2016).

An overlooked professional theorist: Laurent Thévenot

Introduction [EC-blog translation]. “Laurent Thévenot (b. 1949) belongs to the main characters in the newer theory, called French pragmatic sociology. In addition to the Luc Boltanski, with whom Thévenot published the masterpiece De la justification in 1991 (English translation: On Justification 2006) […].  Thévenot’s so-called sociology of engagement, which he has developed since the mid-2000s (Thévenot 2006), is at the same time an expression of its own, original theory project (see Hansen (ed.) 2016).”

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Charter School Authorizations as Disputes: How School Board Members Justify Their Votes in a Neoliberal Context

David K. Diehl (2020)

Sociological Forum. Online first

Abstract. For charter schools to open they must gain the approval of an authorizing body, most commonly a local school board. When deciding whether or not to authorize a particular charter, school board members often engage in public disputes that entail clashes between multiple and conflicting conceptualizations of the goals of education. Drawing on insights from pragmatic sociology and institutional theory, this paper examines videos of 119 public meetings to document how members of a large, urban school board drew on competing ways of conceptualizing the common good to justify their votes on charter school authorizations. Moreover, it also shows how the neoliberal context of contemporary education limited the range of justifications used. Even school board members who argued against charter school authorizations did with justifications draped in neoliberal language. Neoliberalism thus impacted decisions not by becoming cognitively taken‐for‐granted but rather by shaping the range of arguments made for or against the choice to authorize particular schools.

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Contribuições de Bourdieu e Boltanski para os estudos sobre a precarização do trabalho

Rodilon Teixeira (2020)

Revista Estratégia e Desenvolvimento 4(1), pp. 1-16

Resumo. O presente estudo tem por objetivo compreender e examinar aspectos históricos e sociais relacionados à precarização nas relações do trabalho contemporâneo através da análise dos estudos desenvolvidos por Pierre Bourdieu e Luc Boltanski. Trata-se de um ensaio teórico que identificou existir no trabalho de Boltanski uma análise sociológica da precarização no trabalho. Enquanto em Bourdieu, apesar de ser reconhecido como o primeiro autor a utilizar o termo “precariedade”, considerou-se que os textos analisados não apresentam uma análise sociológica da precarização. Seus textos registram, mais fortemente, uma crítica política ao capitalismo, bem como às consequências que a precarização tem gerado nas vidas das pessoas. Além disso, constatou-se que diversos autores sugerem o uso do constructo teórico de habitus de Bourdieu como ferramenta analítica nos contextos da precarização, sendo essas as principais contribuições deste artigo para as áreas de Estudos Organizacionais e Relações de Trabalho.

Contributions of Bourdieu and Boltanski to the studies on the precariousness of work

Abstract. The present study aims to understand and examine historical and social aspects related to precariousness in the relations of contemporary work through the analysis of the studies developed by Pierre Bourdieu and Luc Boltanski. It is a qualitative study that identified a sociological analysis of precariousness at work in Boltanski’s work, while in Bourdieu, although he is recognized as the first author to use the term « precariousness », it was considered that the texts analyzed do not present a sociological analysis of precariousness. More strongly, they address a political criticism of capitalism, as well as the consequences that precariousness has generated in people’s lives. Moreover, it was found that several authors suggest the use of the theoretical construct of Bourdieu’s habitus as an analytical tool in the contexts of precariousness, these being the main contribution of this article to the areas of Organizational Studies and Labor Relations.”

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Is the sky or the earth the limit? Risk, uncertainty and nature

Sylvain Maechler & Jean-Christophe Graz (2020)

Review of International Political Economy, Online first

Abstract. Dealing with uncertainty has become a matter of great concern for policy makers and scientific research in a world facing global, epochal and complex changes. But in essence, you cannot entirely predict the future. This article aims at conceptualizing the limits to anticipate the future – or what is often referred as the substitution of risk for uncertainty. In contrast to most theories examining risk and uncertainty, we start from the assumption that there are limits in the substitution of risk for uncertainty and that distinguishing between ontological and epistemic levels of analysis helps clarify such limits. The paper makes two arguments: first, most approaches see no ontological and/or epistemic limit in the substitution of risk for uncertainty; second, the pluralization of science is the only way to cope with limits in substituting risk for uncertainty. This second argument draws on the assumption that accounting for the uncertainty of the future depends on knowledge production processes able to overcome disciplinary boundaries and better include lay and expert knowledge. In times of great concerns regarding mitigation and adaptation to the ecological crisis, we illustrate our arguments with insights from global environmental governance.

Extract. “In contrast, this paper starts from the assumption that there are limits in the substitution of risk for uncertainty. In this context, distinguishing between ontological and epistemic levels of analysis helps clarify such limits. This distinction has already been made in one way or another in economic literature, in particular in post-Keynesian economics (Davidson, 1996) and in economics of conventions (Orléan, 1987). Moreover, as Dequech (2004, p. 375) points out, there is ‘strong entwinement of ontology and epistemology’ in this debate, as social reality and the production of knowledge remains entangled from a post-positivist perspective.” (p. 2)

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Grand résumé de S’engager dans un atelier-théâtre. À la recherche du sens de l’expérience, Mons, Éditions du Cerisier, 2019

Rachel Brahy (2020)

SociologieS [En ligne]

Extrait. Qu’est-ce que le théâtre-action ?
En Belgique francophone, la démarche « théâtre-action » (Biot, 1996, 2006) s’inscrit dans le mouvement d’une démocratie culturelle (Genard, 2010), s’opposant à une démocratisation des hautes cultures. Plus exactement, nées à la fin des années 1960, dans les « années critiques » (Boltanski & Chiapello, 1999), les premières compagnies de théâtre-action défendent une démarche ouverte à la créativité de tous et de chacun. Dans le sillage de mouvements politico-culturels variés, autogestionnaires et militants, elles s’engagent avant tout vers le « non-public » ; c’est-à-dire vers ceux laissés aux marges – par l’indifférence des politiques culturelles à leur égard – de la production et de la participation culturelle. Dans cette perspective, des comédiens innovent et développent de nouvelles formes de travail, ouvertes à la participation de ceux qui n’ont sans doute jamais pensé s’exprimer sous cette forme. Pour ce faire, ils mettent progressivement en place des dispositifs particuliers, qu’ils appellent des « ateliers-théâtre ». C’est ainsi qu’advient et que s’institue un acte théâtral inédit, un art dramatique qui repose sur la brisure radicale du quatrième mur, celui situé entre la scène et la salle. […]
Au regard d’autres modalités d’engagement
La sociologie des régimes d’engagement, en effet, est apparue particulièrement féconde pour déplier les différentes dimensions observées dans les ateliers de théâtre-action. C’est dans ce dialogue, et par l’inscription de l’objet théâtre-action dans cet espace théorique, que s’est révélé un registre de l’action où le sensible, l’intime et le proximal cherchent à se relier à des enjeux politiques. Aussi convient-il, pour saisir la singularité de mon enquête, d’avoir aussi à l’esprit les trois régimes d’engagement développés par Laurent Thévenot (2006, 2011).”

Great overview of Getting involved in a theatre workshop. In search of a sense of experience, Mons, Éditions du Cerisier, 2019

Extract (EC-Blog translation). What is action theater?
In French-speaking Belgium, the « action-theatre » approach (Biot, 1996, 2006) is part of the movement for cultural democracy (Genard, 2010), opposing a democratization of high cultures. More precisely, born at the end of the 1960s, in the « critical years » (Boltanski & Chiapello, 1999), the first action-theater companies advocated an approach open to the creativity of each and everyone. In the wake of various self-managing and militant cultural-political movements, they were committed above all to the « non-public »; that is, to those left on the margins – by the indifference of cultural policies towards them – of cultural production and participation. In this perspective, actors innovate and develop new forms of work, open to the participation of those who may never have thought of expressing themselves in this way. To do so, they are gradually setting up special mechanisms, which they call « theater workshops ». This is how a new theatrical act is created and instituted, a dramatic art based on the radical breaking of the fourth wall, the one between the stage and the auditorium.[…]
With regard to other modalities of engagement
The sociology of regimes of engagement, in fact, has appeared particularly fruitful in unfolding the different dimensions observed in action-theatre workshops. It is in this dialogue, and through the inscription of the theater-action object in this theoretical space, that a register of action has been revealed in which the sensitive, the intimate and the proximal seek to relate to political stakes. In order to grasp the singularity of my investigation, it is therefore advisable to bear in mind the three regimes of engagement developed by Laurent Thévenot (2006, 2011).”

La discussion par Bertrand Ravon est accessible à l’adresse : https://journals.openedition.org/sociologies/15482 et celle par Laurent Thévenot à l’adresse : https://journals.openedition.org/sociologies/15483

Lien vers l’article / Link to the article

Reflexivity, Financial Instability and Monetary Policy: A ‘Convention-Based’ Approach

Emanuele Citera & Lino Sau (2020)

Review of Political Economy. Online first

Abstract. The aim of this paper is to provide a theoretical analysis of the role of social conventions as emergent phenomena in financial markets, the latter being thought of as dynamically complex systems. Combining complexity and reflexivity with Keynes’s view of financial markets, we develop a ‘convention-based’ approach which shows how conventions can only temporarily stabilize the system, inevitably leading to financial instability and crises. Then, we adopt this framework to investigate a central banking agenda to act ‘against the tide’ (i.e., the prevailing convention) in the build-up of a speculative bubble, which calls for macroprudential policy and financial regulation. In this respect, we analyze the moral suasion channel that allows the central monetary authority to ‘talk down’ the market through asset-price management and the unconventional monetary policy toolkit.

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Extending the framework of algorithmic regulation. The Uber case

Florian Eyert, Florian Irgmaier & Lena Ulbricht (2020)

Regulation & Governance. Online first

Abstract. In this article, we take forward recent initiatives to assess regulation based on contemporary computer technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence. In order to characterize current phenomena of regulation in the digital age, we build on Karen Yeung’s concept of “algorithmic regulation,” extending it by building bridges to the fields of quantification, classification, and evaluation research, as well as to science and technology studies. This allows us to develop a more fine‐grained conceptual framework that analyzes the three components of algorithmic regulation as representation, direction, and intervention and proposes subdimensions for each. Based on a case study of the algorithmic regulation of Uber drivers, we show the usefulness of the framework for assessing regulation in the digital age and as a starting point for critique and alternative models of algorithmic regulation.

Extract. “2.4 Contributions of quantification, classification, and evaluation research and science and technology studies
In developing our analytical distinctions, we draw on two lines of research especially helpful in understanding algorithmic regulation. First, we consider the broad literature on quantification, classification, and evaluation, which discusses, among other issues, the causes and consequences of growing reliance on numbers in all areas of society. Because this stream of research sheds light on the role of numeric representations of the world in social ordering processes, it is especially important for understanding forms of regulation that rely on continuous flows of automatically generated digital data. Some of this research has focused on the role of quantification in administration and its impact on public services, giving important impetus to the study of regulation. The work in quantification, classification, and evaluation research shows that, as translation into the world of numbers necessarily implies contingent reductions of complexity, “different modes of quantification are associated with different modes of government”; that numbers allow for the comparability of the otherwise incomparable, that is, for social commensuration; and that quantitative methods of evaluation tend to favor self‐disciplining through anxiety, resistance, and allure.”

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The Guggenheim Museum Helsinki Plan as a Media Debate

Maaria E. Linko (2020)

Museum and Society 18(4), pp. 425-440

Abstract. In connection with today’s competition between cities to portray an alluring image of economic and cultural success, the City of Helsinki and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation put forward a plan to establish a Guggenheim museum in Helsinki, Finland. Following the plan’s release, a heated public debate emerged in the media. The present article analyzes this debate as a mediatized conflict and aims to show in what ways the debate on the Guggenheim report affected the decision-making process concerning the Helsinki Guggenheim museum. This debate is analyzed within the framework of current discussions on the culture-led development of cities, by applying a methodological tool inspired by Luc Boltanski’s and Laurent Thévenot’s theory of critical judgement to analyze the various justifications that the different actors used during the debate. Further, the article interprets why the museum plan was rejected in the first deliberation. It was found that the distance between different actors grew so wide that it could not be reconciled, especially with the effect of social media. Because the City did not encourage a discussion and communication with the art world was neglected at first, during the debate it proved impossible to convince the art world of the benefits a Guggenheim might bring to other art institutions or artists.  Guggenheim Helsinki was planned for a small capital in northern Europe, and yet it is linked to current European politics affected by nationalistic ideology and the question of preserving local cultures in the face of a globally shared culture.  The article ends with a discussion on what can be learned from the failure of the Guggenheim Helsinki.

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