„It’s the spectator who refines the work.“ Amateurkompetenzen in der Überflusswirtschaft.

Hutter, Michael (2020)

In: Bala, Christian/Hohnsträter, Dirk/Kenning, Peter/Krankenhagen, Stefan/Schuldzinski, Wolfgang (eds.), Konsumästhetik zwischen Kunst, Kritik und Kennerschaft. Beiträge zur Verbraucherforschung 11. Düsseldorf: Verbraucherzentrale, pp. 13-32.

ZUSAMMENFASSUNG

Der Wertschöpfungszuwachs des globalen Konsums wird zunehmend von knappen, begehrten Imaginationsprodukten gespeist. Entsprechend wächst die Bedeutung der Rolle derjenigen Zuschauer, die an der Verwertung solcher Imaginationsprodukte teilnehmen; deshalb das gestiegene Interesse an der besonderen Kompetenz der Amateure. Vier Kernkompetenzen werden am historischen Beispiel von fünf Pariser Kunstamateuren des frühen 18. Jahrhunderts identifiziert und dann auf eine zeitgenössische Kunstsammlerin übertragen. Schließlich wird die Relevanz des “Amateurismus” für eine zukünftige, digitalisierte Überschusswirtschaft erörtert.

AUSZUG

Luc Boltanski hat in einer Reihe von Studien mit jeweils unterschiedlichen Koautoren das Konzept einer modernen Gesellschaft entwickelt, in der unterschiedliche Wertwelten (cités de grandeur) entstanden sind, die über Kompromissverfahren in der Lage sind, Wertkonflikte aufzulösen (Boltanski und Thevenot 2017; Boltanski und Chiapello 2003). In seinem jüngsten Buch untersucht er, zusammen mit Arnaud Esquerre, eine der Wertwelten, nämlich die des Marktes. Die „Größe“, die hier herrscht, ist die der Bereicherung, gemessen in Geldeinheiten (Boltanski und Esquerre 2017a). Die beiden Autoren sprechen von einer „Kritik der Ware“, denn sie wollen Grundformen der Wertschöpfung durch Waren unterscheiden und analysieren. Vier solche Grundformen, unterschieden mittels zweier Kriterien, werden postuliert. Eine erste Unterscheidung trennt Waren, die eine analytisch nachweisbare Funktion haben, von solchen, die eine Fiktion schaffen, also erzählend oder narrativ angelegt sind. Standardindustriewaren und Finanztitel gehören zur ersten, Modeartikel und Sammelstücke zur zweiten Kategorie. Bei den jeweils zuerst genannten Waren fällt der Preis im Lauf der Zeit in allen Fällen. Bei den danach genannten Waren, also bei Finanztiteln und Sammelstücken, steigt er im Lauf der Zeit zumindest in einem Teil der Fälle.“ (p. 27)

ABSTRACT

The added value of global consumption is increasingly being fed by scarce, sought-after imaginary products. Accordingly, the role of those viewers who participate in the exploitation of such imaginary products is growing in importance; hence the increased interest in the special competence of amateurs. Four core competencies are identified using the historical example of five Parisian art amateurs of the early 18th century and then transferred to a contemporary art collector. Finally, the relevance of “amateurism” for a future digitalized surplus economy will be discussed.

EXTRACT

“In a series of studies, each with different co-authors, Luc Boltanski has developed the concept of a modern society in which different worlds of values (cités de grandeur) have emerged, which are capable of resolving conflicts of values through compromise procedures (Boltanski and Thevenot 2017; Boltanski and Chiapello 2003). In his most recent book, he examines, together with Arnaud Esquerre, one of the value worlds, namely that of the market. The “size” that prevails here is that of enrichment, measured in monetary units (Boltanski and Esquerre 2017a). The two authors speak of a “critique of the commodity”, because they want to distinguish and analyse basic forms of value creation through commodities. Four such basic forms, distinguished by two criteria, are postulated. A first distinction separates goods that have an analytically verifiable function from those that create fiction, i.e. are narrative or narrative in nature. Standard industrial goods and financial titles belong to the first category, fashion articles and collectibles to the second. In the case of the first-mentioned goods, the price falls over time in all cases. In the case of the goods listed below, i.e. financial stocks and collectibles, the price increases over time in at least some cases.” (p. 27)

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Un renouveau de la sociologie des prix et des marchés

Christian Bessy (2020)

L’Année sociologique, 70, p. e1-e18.

Note critique des ouvrages de :
Michel Callon — L’Emprise des marchés. Comprendre leur fonctionnement pour pouvoir les changer, Paris, La Découverte, 2017.
Luc Boltanski, Arnaud Esquerre — Enrichissement. Une critique de la marchandise, Paris, Gallimard, 2017.

Introduction

“La sociologie économique a renouvelé à partir des années 1980 l’analyse du fonctionnement des marchés suivant des perspectives différentes mais allant le plus souvent à l’encontre de la théorie micro-économique standard et de son homo economicus. Ainsi la « nouvelle sociologie économique » initiée par Mark Granovetter s’est constituée autour de la notion d’encastrement suivant une perspective polanyienne conduisant à opposer le marchand et le non-marchand. Toute une série de travaux a cherché ensuite à dépasser cette opposition en montrant comment le marché peut être créateur de nouveaux liens sociaux (Cochoy, 2012) ou, encore, ses frontières mouvantes avec la morale (Steiner & Trespeuch, 2014) dans la filiation de la recherche originale de Viviana Zelizer (1979) sur le développement de l’assurance-vie.
Dans une perspective sensiblement différente, l’économie des conventions (EC) a revivifié l’étude des marchés et de la concurrence en mettant l’accent sur les processus de qualification des produits (Eymard-Duvernay, 1989) ou encore sur les formes de mise en valeur des choses diffusées par des intermédiaires (Bessy & Chauvin, 2013). Plus récemment, l’analyse s’est focalisée sur la façon dont ces formes de valorisation constituent de nouvelles opportunités de profit, à l’instar de l’ouvrage de Luc Boltanski et Arnaud Esquerre intitulé Enrichissement. Une critique de la marchandise et paru en 2017. Cet essai est le fruit d’une réflexion systématique sur les sources de création de richesse et d’une enquête débutée au début des années 2010 portant sur le rôle joué par la formation des prix dans la construction sociale de la réalité et sur la référence à la valeur dans leur justification et critique. Il s’attaque tout aussi bien à la théorie économique rabattant la question de la valeur sur celle du prix qu’à la sociologie économique traitant de la valeur en faisant systématiquement référence à des valeurs morales.
Suivant une autre approche plus inspirée des Science et Technology Studies, le livre de Michel Callon paru également en 2017, L’Emprise des marchés, propose une double critique de l’économie et de la sociologie économique à partir d’un approfondissement de l’étude de la formulation des prix mais, de son côté, en se libérant de la sacro-sainte question des rapports entre prix et valeur. Les questions morales y sont abordées mais au plus près de l’examen de la formulation des prix et des outils de calcul qui l’instrumentent.
Nous présentons dans un premier temps cet ouvrage car il cherche à remettre plus fondamentalement en question la théorie économique des marchés, y compris dans ses développements récents sur les « marchés multifaces ». Nous le positionnons dans un second temps par rapport à Enrichissement… et à certains développements de l’EC sur les liens entre prix et qualité [2]. En effet, pour Callon, il n’est pas nécessaire qu’existe un accord général sur la qualité des biens pour qu’un marché se développe, ce qui remet en cause la notion de « convention de qualité » ou de forme conventionnelle de mise en valeur des choses. C’est pour cela que l’auteur préfère plutôt parler d’« agencement marchand » que de « marché » sur lequel on présume généralement qu’il y a une forme d’homogénéité des biens auxquels on peut associer un prix.” (e1-e2)

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Geographies of marketization: performation struggles, incomplete commodification and the “problem of labour”

Berndt, Christian/Boeckler, Marc (2020)

In: Berndt, Christian/Peck, Jamie/Rantisi, Norma (eds.), Market/Place. Exploring Spaces of Exchange. Newcastle: Agenda Publishing, pp.  69-88.

EXTRACT

“A marketization perspective turns the argument around. It rejects the idea that there is a theoretical market logic, on the one hand, and a market reality (concrete market), on the other, that somehow exists prior to that knowledge (Boltanski & Thévenot 2006 : 71; Callon 2005 : 8). Rather than debating what the essence of the market is – whether the market is destructive, creative, feeble – work in this tradition is interested in the particular ways in which economic thinking informs attempts to understand, design or adapt markets. […] There is always a non- commodified human element in any form of commodified labour. Of course, the labour market produces working conditions that we would have tremendous difficulties in labelling as “humane”. But, as Radin observes, even in extreme instances of “inhumane commodification” people express their humanity, such as in their relationships with co- workers, making “humanity … hard to suppress completely” (Radin 2001 : 105– 6). In different, less one- sided constellations, the line between commodification and decommodification is more difficult to draw. Fordist labour arrangements were associated with at least partial decommodification, as the state set regulatory limits to the marketization of labour. But, at the same time, this decommodification further disentangled workers from their products (see Boltanski & Chiapello 2005 ). […] Taylorism turned into the dominant approach performing labour for a large part of the twentieth century. But the performation of Taylorist labour had contradictions and overflows that could be contained only with increasing difficulty. The dehumanizing reduction of labour to ever tinier wheels in ever more gigantic machines homogenized and alienated workers to an extent that there was growing discontent. The solution, or reframing, was to strike an implicit contract: workers would continue to endure Taylorist labour conditions in exchange for being able to seek fulfilment in private life. The wage increases that facilitated consumerist lifestyles redrew the line between the realms of production and reproduction. This was institutionalized in the Fordist welfare state, providing the environment in which corporate capital could enlist labour unions and secure the collaboration of privileged workers in order to realize corporate profits in a climate of social inclusion, at least for the insiders of this societal formation (Boltanski & Chiapello 2005 : 217). In facilitating fulfilment outside the workplace, organized labour contributed to a standardization of social life much in the same way as the rationalized labour process produced standardized mass commodities (Beck 2000 : 39). The “normalizing discipline” inside and outside the workplace and the deeply uneven distribution of its gains and costs became increasingly visible. The sharp boundaries between the realms of production and social reproduction framing the Fordist subject became increasingly difficult to maintain (Haug 2003). This fuelled what Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello (2005) term “artistic critique” and contributed to the demise of the Fordist compromise. A new generation sought to break out of the stifling conservative climate and demanded recognition, mobility and freedom while capital restructured production by devaluing labour in situ and/ or moving production off shore to the emerging industrial zones of the new international division of labour.” (pp. 73/79/84)

Économie : un individualisme méthodologique à la recherche de sa propre incomplétude.

Favereau, Olivier (2020)

Année sociologique 70, pp. 231-259.

RESUME

L’individualisme méthodologique (IM) séculaire de l’économie dominante a figé son opposition au holisme méthodologique (HM) dans un travail d’axiomatisation achevé au début des années 1970 à deux niveaux : 1) la rationalité individuelle (réduite à l’optimisation) ; 2) la coordination interindividuelle (restreinte aux seuls marchés). Cet IM « fermé » a donc défini ses propres limites de validité : 1) une liste complète des états futurs de la nature ; 2) un système complet de marchés d’options. La négation de ces conditions dans la réalité empirique y rend visible un double phénomène d’incomplétude. L’économie dominante a, depuis, développé trois stratégies d’aveuglement, partiel ou total, au prix d’incohérences multiples au regard de l’IM même « fermé ». Le traitement positif de ces deux incomplétudes dans des courants hétérodoxes redonne ses chances à l’IM, à un IM « ouvert » en mesure d’interagir avec le HM.

Economics: a methodological individualism in search of its own incompleteness.

ABSTRACT

The traditional methodological individualism (MI) of mainstream economics has frozen its opposition to methodological holism (MH) in a process of axiomatization completed in the early 1970s at two levels: 1) individual rationality (reduced to optimization); 2) inter-individual coordination (restricted to markets only). This “closed” MI thus defined its own validity limits: 1) a complete list of future states of nature; 2) a complete system of options markets. The negation of these conditions in the real world makes visible a double phenomenon of incompleteness. Mainstream economics has since developed three strategies of blindness, partial or total, at the cost of multiple inconsistencies with regard to MI, even the “closed” one. The positive treatment of this double incompleteness in some heterodox schools gives new chances to MI, to an “open” MI, able to interact with MH.

La statistique internationale comme instrument de globalisation? La carrière de la catégorie « travailleurs familiaux » au sein de l’Organisation internationale du travail (1919-1982).

Renard, Léa/Wobbe, Theresa (2019)

Revue française de sociologie 60 (4), pp. 595-619.

RESUME

Si de nombreuses études en sociologie historique ont pris pour objet les statistiques publiques et leurs catégories au niveau national, et notamment le rôle des offices de statistiques dans la construction de l’État-nation, les statistiques produites par les organisations internationales, les normes et les représentations du monde qu’elles transportent restent un champ de recherche à construire. De la même manière que les statistiques nationales ont fait de la nation le cadre de référence pour penser les relations professionnelles, nous allons développer dans cet article la thèse selon laquelle les statistiques internationales jouent un rôle primordial dans la construction d’un champ de référence mondial pour appréhender les processus de globalisation du monde du travail. À partir de l’exemple des évolutions de la catégorie des « travailleurs familiaux » au sein des statistiques de l’oit entre 1919 et 1982, cette contribution met au jour les conditions cognitives et sociales nécessaires à l’émergence d’un cadre de comparaison global.

International statistics as an instrument of globalization? How the International Labor Organization’s “family workers” category evolved between 1919 and 1982

ABSTRACT

While many studies in historical sociology have explored official statistics and their categories at the national level, including the role of statistical offices in the construction of the nation-state, statistics produced by international organizations, the standards and representations of the world that they transport, remain a field of research to be built. In the same way that national statistics have made the nation the frame of reference to observe labor relationships, in this article, we will develop the thesis that international occupational statistics play a key role in the construction of a globalized field of reference. Using the example of the evolutions of the category “family workers” in the ilo statistics between 1919 and 1982, this contribution uncovers the social and cognitive conditions for the emergence of a global comparative framework.

Dois mundos em disputa: a regulamentação sanitária oficial e as interações entre a convenção doméstica e a convenção industrial na cadeia produtiva do leite no Maranhão

Lima Neto, Evaristo José/Sampaio Carneiro, Marcelo (2019)

Politica et Sociedade 18, no 43, pp

RESUMO

Esse artigo discute o processo de estabelecimento de um padrão de qualidade sanitária na cadeia produtiva de leite bovino na região de Imperatriz, analisando a disputa entre duas formas de produção diferentes, representadas pela indústria de laticínios e por produtores informais de queijo (as chamadas queijeiras). A análise realizada utiliza como referencial a perspectiva da economia das convenções, abordagem teórica que considera a qualidade dos produtos como uma construção social e um elemento central para a coordenação dos atores envolvidos no processo de produção e circulação de bens e serviços. A partir dessa perspectiva, mostramos a constituição de duas convenções de qualidade nessa cadeia produtiva, identificadas como uma convenção de tipo industrial e uma convenção de natureza convenção doméstica, destacando a disputa pelos produtores de leite, mas, indicando também a possibilidade do estabelecimento de alguns tipos de compromissos entre essas diferentes convenções.

Two worlds in dispute: the official health regulation and the interactions between the domestic convention and the industrial convention in the milk production chain in Maranhão.

ABSTRACT

This article discusses the process of establishing a sanitary quality standard in the bovine milk production chain in the region of Imperatriz, analyzing the dispute between two different forms of production, represented by the dairy industry and informal cheese producers (the so-called cheese makers). The analysis uses the perspective of the economics of convention as a reference, a theoretical approach that considers product quality as a social construction and a central element for the coordination of the actors involved in the production process and circulation of goods and services. From this perspective, we show the constitution of two quality conventions in this production chain, identified as an industrial convention and a domestic convention, highlighting the dispute for milk producers, but also indicating the possibility of establishing some types of compromise between these different conventions.

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Dependent Self-Employment and newer Forms of informal Employment: Trends, Challenges and Policy Responses in the EU.

Williams, Colin/Lapeyre, Frédéric (2020)

In: Islam, Iyanatul/Lapeyre, Frédéric (eds.), In: Transition to Formality and Structural Transformation: Challenges and Policy options. Geneva: International Labour Organization, pp. 356-310.

„The paradox is that the current debate on self-employment contributed to reopening the debate on the future of wage-employment and its role in firms’ organisation of work. To get a better grasp of the implications for the future of work, it is important to understand that the employment relationship is marked by its incompleteness, because it deals with the sale of the labour force and not of labour. It is a kind of ‘mutual bet’ taken by employees and employers based on two uncertainties: (i) the employer’s uncertainty about the quantity and quality of the work they will obtain from the employee, and (ii) the employee’s uncertainty about the actual results of the enterprise and the fair distribution of its gain. Favereau (2016) clearly emphasises that the importance of work for the firm cannot be properly understood unless one takes into account its three dimensions and how they are interrelated. He stresses the need to consider work as: (i) production capacity; (ii) capacity for cooperation; and (iii) capacity for innovation and learning. Too often, only the first and second are considered, which tends to give priority to the product of work, its counterpart in terms of the effort of the worker, and finally the strategic and incentive means to make employees to comply in a context of subordinate relationship. […] The future of standard wage employment is more than ever at the heart of the thinking on the future of work because it is strongly connected to the development of our societies. It is clear that the more negativity is attached to the concrete nature of wage employment, the more the labour market will be flexible and the more the labour market will resemble a market like the others. Conversely, the more the positive role of wage employment is acknowledged in innovation and collective learning, the less the labour market will resemble a market as the others, and the more job creation and human resource management will result from a different logic than that of the market. (Favereau, 2016: 33).“ (p. 300 ff)

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America by numbers. How new techniques of quantification shaped the New Deal and American democracy

Didier, Emmanuel (2020)

Cambridge: MIT Press

ABSTRACT

When the Great Depression struck, the US government lacked tools to assess the situation; there was no reliable way to gauge the unemployment rate, the number of unemployed, or how many families had abandoned their farms to become migrants. In America by the Numbers, Emmanuel Didier examines the development in the 1930s of one such tool: representative sampling. Didier describes and analyzes the work of New Deal agricultural economists and statisticians who traveled from farm to farm, in search of information that would be useful for planning by farmers and government agencies. Didier shows that their methods were not just simple enumeration; these new techniques of quantification shaped the New Deal and American democracy even as the New Deal shaped the evolution of statistical surveys.

Didier explains how statisticians had to become detectives and anthropologists, searching for elements that would help them portray America as a whole. Representative surveys were one of the most effective instruments for their task. He examines pre-Depression survey techniques; the invention of the random sampling method and the development of the Master Sample; and the application of random sampling by employment experts to develop the “Trial Census of Unemployment.”

Die epistemische Verwandlung des Menschen im naiven Zahlenrealismus von Ökonomie und Medizin. Von der Verzauberung der Welt durch die Magie der Indikatoren und Kennzahlen

Stronegger, Willibald (2019)

In: Stronegger, Willibald/Attems, Kristin (eds.), Das Lebensende zwischen Ökonomie und Ethik. 2. Goldegger Dialogforum Mensch und Endlichkeit. Series Bioethik in Wissenschaft und Gesellschaft 7. Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlag, pp. 9-31.

AUSZUG

“Seit einigen Jahren gewinnt in Frankreich und darüber hinaus ein alternativer Ansatz im Bereich der Wirtschaftssoziologie und Institutionenforschung unter dem Titel “L‘economie des conventions” (kurz: EC) zunehmend an Beachtung. Es handelt sich bei der EC um „eine pragmatische Grundlagentheorie für die transdisziplinäre Analyse – nicht nur, aber wesentlich – ökonomischer Institutionen. Zugleich ist sie ein anwendungsbezogener Ansatz, der die empirische Analyse der ökonomischen Koordination und der darin erfolgenden Konstruktionen von Wertigkeiten ermöglicht“. Unter dem für die EC zentralen Begriff der Konvention werden „empirische und normative Wertigkeitsordnungen, die ein kollektives Gut anvisieren und ein Wertesystem beinhalten“ verstanden. Sie dienen in ihrer Eigenschaft als kollektive Logiken für Koordination und Evaluation als Ressourcen für Handlungen. In der angeführten Definition klingt bereits eine Stärke des Ansatzes an, nämlich die explizite Thematisierung von zumeist impliziten Wertungen, welche sich häufig hinter vorgeblicher (Schein-)Objektivität verbergen, wie z. B. bei der Konstruktion von Indikatormessinstrumenten. Der Ansatz der EC ist hier insofern von Interesse, als das Instrumentarium der Analyse der Konventionen der EC zur (Weiter-) Entwicklung einer Sociology of Quantification Anlass gab, in welcher die Rolle von Konventionen in den Prozessen der Quantifizierung und Ökonomisierung in den Fokus der Analyse geriet. Seit dem Erscheinen der umfassenden Studie „Die Politik der großen Zahlen. Eine Geschichte der statistischen Denkweise“ von Alain Desrosières wurde deutlich, dass Quantifizierungen Konventionen (so z. B. über Kategorisierungen) voraussetzen und es insbesondere in den Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften keine „natürlich“ gegebenen Kategorien oder Maße gibt, sondern Messvorgänge implizit und explizit in soziale (und somit auch politische) Prozesse integriert sind und situationsabhängiger Interpretation bedürfen. Der Ansatz der EC führt in der Folge zu einer kritischen Positionierung „against too simple positivistic ideas of categorization and measurement in the social sciences“, also gegen einen naiven positivistischen Zahlenrealismus, in welchem statistische Zahlen als objektive facts verstanden werden.”

The epistemic transformation of man in the naive numerical realism of economics and medicine. From the enchantment of the world through the magic of indicators and key figures

EXTRACT

“For some years now, an alternative approach to economic sociology and institutional research, entitled “L’economie des conventions” (short: EC), has been gaining increasing attention in France and beyond. The EC is “a pragmatic basic theory for the transdisciplinary analysis – not only, but essentially – of economic institutions. At the same time, it is an application-oriented approach that enables the empirical analysis of economic coordination and the constructions of values that take place within it”. The term convention, which is central to the EC, refers to “empirical and normative orders of values that target a collective good and contain a value system”. In their capacity as collective logics for coordination and evaluation, they serve as resources for action. One strength of the approach is already evident in the definition cited, namely the explicit discussion of mostly implicit values, which are often hidden behind alleged (pseudo-)objectivity, as for example in the construction of indicator measurement instruments. The approach of the EC is of interest here in so far as the instruments of the analysis of the conventions of the EC gave rise to the (further) development of a Sociology of Quantification, in which the role of conventions in the processes of quantification and economization came into the focus of the analysis. Since the publication of the comprehensive study “The politics of large numbers. A History of Statistical Thought” by Alain Desrosières, it has become clear that quantifications presuppose conventions (e.g., via categorizations) and that, especially in the social and economic sciences, there are no “naturally” given categories or measures, but rather that measurement processes are implicitly and explicitly integrated into social (and thus also political) processes and require situation-dependent interpretation. The EC’s approach leads to a critical positioning “against too simple positivistic ideas of categorization and measurement in the social sciences”, i.e. against a naïve positivistic realism of numbers, in which statistical numbers are understood as objective facts.”

Measuring the Middle: Technopolitics and the Making of Brazil’s New Middle Class

Kopper, Moisés (2020)

History of Political Economy 52(3), pp. 561-587.

ABSTRACT

Between 2004 and 2013, an array of social policies converted Brazil into an international showcase of economic growth and income redistribution. Economists, policymakers, politicians and marketers heralded the end of endemic poverty and the incorporation of millions into a newly defined “middle class.” This article unpacks this story of inclusionary development by considering the controversies surrounding the production and circulation of large numbers, and how such controversies sustained the technopolitics of Brazil’s “new middle class.” I draw on multisited ethnography conducted in Washington, DC, Brasilia, and São Paulo among think tanks, governmental sectors, the World Bank, and market research institutes. By foregrounding the workings of a transnational network of experts, I chronicle how the middle-class language traversed circuits of science, policymaking, and market research. The article contends that methodological breakthroughs—including microeconometric counterfactuals and market ethnography—become salient fixtures in the public appraisal of inequality and in the creation of national political futures.

EXTRACT

“Much like bits in an assemblage, the authors write, facts are “separable pieces of knowledge that can be abstracted from their production context” and “used again and again, by other communities or for other purposes” (Howlett and Morgan 2011: xv). These malleable snippets become productive by being repurposed in other parts of the assemblage. In my research, I collected over 2,200 news articles displaying the term “new middle class” as they sprouted in Brazil’s ten most preeminent newspapers between 2008 and 2014.18 These reports substantiated and built on bits and pieces of Neri’s politics of large numbers while creating their own stories with numbers, interviews, and case studies (Desrosières 1998). As the “new middle class” language slipped from science into politics and markets, it left the realm of taxonomy to become enmeshed with the invention of a new image of national development. News outlets became pivotal material conduits in the reconstruction of statistics as both governmental achievement and consumer knowledge research, I collected over 2,200 news articles displaying the term “new middle class” as they sprouted in Brazil’s ten most preeminent newspapers between 2008 and 2014.18 These reports substantiated and built on bits and pieces of Neri’s politics of large numbers while creating their own stories with numbers, interviews, and case studies (Desrosières 1998). As the “new middle class” language slipped from science into politics and markets, it left the realm of taxonomy to become enmeshed with the invention of a new image of national development. News outlets became pivotal material conduits in the reconstruction of statistics as both governmental achievement and consumer knowledge.” (p. 577)

Testing Measures: Decolonization and Economic Power in 1960s India

Paidipaty, Poornima (2020)

History of Political Economy 52(3), pp. 473-497.

ABSTRACT

In October of 1960, shortly after the conclusion of India’s Second Five-Year Plan, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru convened a high-level expert panel to investigate whether the fruits of recent economic growth had been equitably distributed across the country, or whether benefits had accrued primarily to the nation’s elite. Triggered by sharp public and parliamentary criticisms of Nehru’s ambitious, top-down economic planning regime, the committee was the first expert body to examine changes in the distribution of economic opportunities and rewards in postcolonial India. P. C. Mahalanobis, who also served as the director of the Second Five-Year Plan and who was the chief architect of India’s experiments in large-scale household sampling, headed the panel. The debates and controversies surrounding the work of the Mahalanobis Committee (as it came to be called) expose important tensions in postcolonial expertise. They also help recover earlier framings of inequality, which centered on mid-century concerns about “levels of living” and economic power, rather than the simple distribution of income.

EXTRACT

“In essence, the Mahalanobis committee, charged with investigating the “distribution of income and levels of living,” was asked to measure and judge the success of Mahalanobis’s own work as the force behind the second plan. Despite the significance of the assigned task, the committee’s work was slow and highly disorganized. It produced an incomplete preliminary report after four long years and a final report in 1969, which set forth a weak and divided verdict. In a further unexpected turn, Mahalanobis split from the rest of the panel to author a very pessimistic analysis of how India’s poorest had faired under a decade of centralized planning. Even this did not cause much of a stir, since more than a decade had elapsed between the collection of data and the committee’s conclusions. What had opened to much national debate and controversy fizzled without much attention or public debate. Despite this, the final report of the Mahalanobis Committee offers important historical lessons for understanding how economic inequality as a political and technical problem was formulated, debated, and measured in the Nehruvian era. As Alain Desrosières explains in The Politics of Large Numbers ([1993] 2002), state-led numerical exercises set national priorities and help identify new social and economic problems.” (p. 475)

Measuring Matters

Ramos Pinto, Pedro/Paidipaty, Poornima (2020)

History of Political Economy 52(3), pp. 413-434

EXTRACT

“2. How Does Measurement Matter?

In recent years there has been a tendency toward the consolidation of several traditions of enquiry into the broad field of the sociology of measurement (Mennicken and Espeland 2019; Diaz-Bone and Didier 2016; Berman and Hirschman 2018). This resulted from the confluence of several scholarly streams, including the tradition of critical analysis of public statistics in France, spearheaded by Alain Desrosières’s work on statistics as a tool of governance, and the “economics of conventions approach” (Desrosières 2011; Diaz-Bone 2016); the Bielefeld network of North American and German scholars in the history and philosophy of science with parallel concerns on processes of quantification and its impact on social life (Porter 1986; Krüger, Daston, and Heidelberger 1987; Hacking 1990); as well as a broader collection of US-based sociologists in the tradition of symbolic interactionism. Equally significant was the influence of Michel Foucault’s writings on the British critical accounting school and governmentality studies (Miller and Rose 1990; Rose 1991), and finally a wider range of historians and historical sociologists working on social knowledge as a tool of power and politics (for example, Rueschemeyer and Skocpol 1996; Tooze 2001; Szreter, Sholkamy, and Dharmalingam 2004; Crook and O’Hara 2012).” (p. 417)

Transforming knowledge into cognitive basis of policies

Borghi, Vando (2020)

In: Michaels, Axel/Wulf, Christoph (eds.), Science and Scientification in South Asia and Europe. Abingdon: Routledge.

EXCERPT

“In this role, using Bauman’s terms (as Burawoy himself does, 2008: 385), sociologists should act more as sensitive interpreter than as omniscient legislator, a sensitive interpreter interested in the co-evolution between her/his own scientific vocabulary and the heterogeneous knowledge resulting from social actors’ experience of different issues. Deepening the relationship between sociology and critique, Luc Boltanski (201 1) draws a seminal map of the possible sociological posture of observation. His map presents some possible configurations of the ways the relationship between sociology and critique can be structured, shedding light as well on the terrain concerning the issues – reframing the transformation of knowledge into informational basis and the role the human right to research plays at this regard – here discussed. Briefly said, Boltanski (2011: 75-76) identifies two possibilities for dealing with the social reality as (critical) researcher.

The first one consists of describing ‘a social world already there’ It is a model working as a cartography of structures, in which any individual is thrown, structuring and conditioning actors behaviour at their shoulders, in this way to what Chakrabarty describes in terms of a historical narrative (History 1) resulting from the unfolding of the abstract logic of capitalist development: a history already made, in which all places and persons are ‘exchangeable with one another’ (Chakrabarty 2000: 71). Here, descriptions are drawn from the top, ‘more or less bracketing human persons envisaged insofar as they act (as actors)’ (Boltanski 2011: 43-44)”

Norms

Horne, Christine/Mollborn, Stefanie (2020)

Annual Review of Sociology 46. Online first, pp. 1-21.

ABSTRACT

Norms are a foundational concept in sociology. Following a period of skepticism about norms as overly deterministic and as paying too little attention to social conflict, inequalities, and agency, the past 20 years have seen a proliferation of norms research across the social sciences. Here we focus on the burgeoning research in sociology to answer questions about where norms come from, why people enforce them, and how they are applied. To do so, we rely on three key theoretical approaches in the literature—consequentialist, relational, and agentic. As we apply these approaches, we explore their implications for what are arguably the two most fundamental issues in sociology—social order and inequality. We conclude by synthesizing and building on existing norms research to produce an integrated theoretical framework that can shed light on aspects of norms that are currently not well understood—in particular, their change and erosion.

EXTRACT

“When people are subject to multiple norms, they can selectively claim adherence and draw on rationales to justify complying with one norm rather than another. Culture researchers view norms as part of a cultural tool kit, treating norms as a tool people use in justifying their behavior (Swidler 1986; for a discussion of modes of justification, see Boltanski & Thévenot 1999).” (p. 12)

“Return to what we were”. Wirtschaftstraditionen und ökonomische Identität im Zuge der Brexit-Kampagne

Suckert, Lisa (2020)

Leviathan 48(1), pp. 119-152.

ZUSAMMENFASSUNG

Der Ausgang des Brexit-Referendums steht stellvertretend für das Erstarken populistischer Bewegungen, die etablierte Ordnungen in ihrem Kern infrage stellen. Zur Erklärung dieser politischen Verwerfungen werden gemeinhin zwei gegensätzliche Ansätze ins Spiel gebracht, »Cultural Backlash« und »Economic Deprivation«. Dieser Artikel stellt die dichotome Heuristik »Identität versus Ökonomie«, die beiden Ansätzen zugrunde liegt, infrage und entwirft stattdessen das Konzept der kollektiven ökonomischen Identität. Entlang einer diskursanalytischen Untersuchung von rund 400 Dokumenten der Brexit-Kampagne zeige ich, dass die Argumentation der Brexit-Befürworter*innen keinesfalls durch eine Aussparung ökonomischer Aspekte gekennzeichnet war. Im Unterschied zu ihren Kontrahent*innen verknüpften die EU-Kritiker*innen ökonomische Sachverhalte jedoch mit Verweisen auf eine geteilte Vergangenheit und britische Wirtschaftstraditionen. Indem es den Fürsprecher*innen eines EU-Austritts gelang, ökonomische Kritik identitär aufzuladen, konnten sie teils widersprüchliche wirtschaftspolitische Argumente integrieren und ein heterogenes Bündnis mobilisieren.

AUSZUG

„In Momenten, in denen öffentlich um die ‚richtige‘ Wirtschaftspolitik gestritten wird (Boltanski/Thévenot 2007), werden zur Untermauerung von Kritik und Rechtfertigung nationale Idealbilder und traditionelle Deutungsmuster mobilisiert, die benennen, was das eigene Wirtschaftssystem ausmacht und welche Wirtschaftspraktiken und -institutionen als legitim erachtet werden.“ (p. 126)

“Return to what we were”. Economic traditions and economic identity in the course of the Brexit campaign

ABSTRACT

The outcome of the Brexit referendum is indicative of the broader emergence of various populist movements that fundamentally contest established orders. Explanations of recent political turmoil commonly refer to two opposing approaches known as »Cultural Backlash« and »Economic Deprivation«. The dichotomous heuristic »identity versus economy«, which underlies both approaches, is challenged in this article by introducing the concept of collective economic identity. Based on a discourse analysis of about 400 campaign documents from the Brexit referendum, I show that Brexit advocates did not avoid economic arguments in their reasoning. However, unlike their counterparts, EU critics linked economic issues with references to a shared past and British economic traditions. By relating their economic criticism to issues of common identity, the proponents of the EU were able to integrate claims for contradictory economic policies and mobilize a heterogeneous alliance for their cause.

EXTRACT

“In moments of public debate about the ‘right’ economic policy (Boltanski/Thévenot 2006), national ideals and traditional patterns of interpretation are mobilized to underpin criticism and justification, identifying what constitutes one’s own economic system and which economic practices and institutions are considered legitimate.(p. 126)