Archives de catégorie : Publications

Re-invent Yourself! How Demands for Innovativeness Reshape Epistemic Practices

Ruth I. Falkenberg (2021)

Minerva. Online first. Open access.

Abstract. In the current research landscape, there are increasing demands for research to be innovative and cutting-edge. At the same time, concerns are voiced that as a consequence of neoliberal regimes of research governance, innovative research becomes impeded. In this paper, I suggest that to gain a better understanding of these dynamics, it is indispensable to scrutinise current demands for innovativeness as a distinct way of ascribing worth to research. Drawing on interviews and focus groups produced in a close collaboration with three research groups from the crop and soil sciences, I develop the notion of a project-innovation regime of valuation that can be traced in the sphere of research. In this evaluative framework, it is considered valuable to constantly re-invent oneself and take ‘first steps’ instead of ‘just’ following up on previous findings. Subsequently, I describe how these demands for innovativeness relate to and often clash with other regimes of valuation that matter for researchers’ practices. I show that valuations of innovativeness are in many ways bound to those of productivity and competitiveness, but that these two regimes are nevertheless sometimes in tension with each other, creating a complicated double bind for researchers. Moreover, I highlight that also the project innovation regime as such is not always in line with what researchers considered as a valuable progress of knowledge, especially because it entails a de-valuation of certain kinds of long-term epistemic agendas. I show that prevailing pushes for innovativeness seem to be based on a rather short-sighted temporal imaginary of scientific progress that is hardly grounded in the complex realities of research practices, and that they can reshape epistemic practices in potentially problematic ways.

Extract: “In this paper, I explore in how far valuations akin to the project order as described by Boltanski and Chiapello can be traced in researchers’ discussions on demands for innovativeness in the current research landscape. However, I do not treat this framework as a blueprint to be applied to the sphere of research. Rather, I trace comparable tendencies in researchers’ narratives without attempting a full-fledged analysis of how the project order can be found in the academic world. Therefore, I developed, in dialogue with my empirical material, the notion of a project-innovation regime, to denote tendencies comparable to those identified by Boltanski and Chiapello in their analysis of management literature, but to foreground the particular focus on innovativeness that I adopt in this paper.
My conceptual approach is thus situated somewhere between studies that have applied pre-defined orders of worth (Boltanski and Thevenot 2006) as a framework to be traced in different societal spheres (e.g. Sharon 2018; Thévenot, Moody, and Lafaye 2000), and approaches that have empirically reconstructed regimes of valuation (Fochler, Felt, and Müller 2016) or registers of valuing (Heuts and Mol 2013) in a bottom-up manner (Dussauge, Helgesson, and Lee 2015; Helgesson, Lee, and Lindén 2016; Stark 2009). While I applied the lens of the project order, I also traced how it concretely played out in my empirical material, as what I call the project-innovation regime. Moreover, I investigated how valuations of innovativeness are related to, potentially in tension with, and being aligned with different value regimes that I identified to be of importance to the researchers I talked to in a bottom-up manner in the process of data analysis. For my analysis, I employ the notion of regimes of valuation, rather than repertoires or registers, since this concept most strongly highlights the discursive, material, and institutional embedding that concrete evaluative principles draw upon (see Fochler et al. 2016).” (p. 5)

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Institutional-political scenarios for anthropocene society

Andrew J. Hoffman & P. Devereaux Jennings (2021)

Business and Society, 60(1), pp. 57-94

Abstract. Natural scientists have proposed that humankind has entered a new geologic epoch. Termed the “Anthropocene,” this new reality revolves around the central role of human activity in multiple Earth ecosystems. That challenge requires a rethinking of social science explanations of organization and environment relationships. In this article, we discuss the need to politicize institutional theory as a means understanding “Anthropocene Society,” and in turn what that resultant society means for the Anthropocene in the natural environment. We modify the constitutive elements of institutional orders and a set of main change mechanisms to explore three scenarios around which future Anthropocene Societies might be built—Collapsing Systems, Market Rules, and Cultural Re-Enlightenment. Simultaneously, we use observations from the Anthropocene to expose limitations in present institutional theory and propose extensions to remedy them. Overall, this article challenges organizational scholars to consider a new paradigm under which research in environmental sustainability and social sustainability takes place.

Extract: « While scientists and environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) may play a role in articulating the concerns over climate change and other natural environment problems (Hoffman, 2011; Lefsrud & Meyer, 2012), the contested nature of these debates and the willingness of some to discount or outright reject the results of scientific analyses that contradict their worldview leaves the social dimension of Anthropocene Society woefully inadequate. In fact, some speculate that the introduction of nature by giving voice to nonhumans and future generations within the development of institutional orders creates challenges for the orders of worth framework (Boltanski & Thévenot, 2006) as it requires which evokes notions of deep ecology (Lafaye & Thévenot, 1993). » (p. 64)

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Why are the institutional injustice and the lack of fairness omnipresent in Serbia? A pragmatic assessment of plural orders of worth

Stefan Janković & Milena Toković (2021)

Sociologija, 63(2), pp. 236-261. Open access.

Abstract. Recent results from Round 9 of the European Social Survey (ESS) indicate that Serbia differs from other European countries in terms of justice and fairness. Whereas the Serbian people’s dissatisfaction relating to unjust income distribution, unfair employment chances and political institutions may not be surprising, these findings still raise a dozen questions. Situated within contemporary discussions on normativity in sociology and survey methodology, this paper aims to reassess the moral grammar of these judgments. By endorsing tenets of pragmatic sociology and its principal aim to recognize the plural modes of valuation and criticism and reflective capacities of social actors to judge and evaluate, this paper develops around few major points. First, we underline how most major approaches to axiology remain stuck in a co-determinist framework, thereby renewing a number of dualisms. Instead, we opt for a relational approach and further present how the theoretical model of Boltanski and Thevénot enables the locating of different assessments of worth. After setting our methodological framework against the “externalist” epistemology, we explore our key assumption that the above-mentioned high rates come as a problem of a feasible “truce” between the domestic regime and the civic polity, ruled by proclaimed legality, representativeness and impersonal character. We trace the problem of incorporating multiple arrangements as a problem of generality, by relating these to two layers of information acquired through the ESS. One involves the analysis of the domestic polity covering the household situation in terms of organization and unveiling the specific worth given to care and protection. Another layer is derived from regression analysis which affirms that the absence of fairness in civic polity correlates with a higher degree of worth given to the domestic one, but also that the latter situation depicts a deeper ontological puzzle about making a mild transition to the assumed “horizontality” of civic matters.

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Kritische Bewertungskompetenzen. Selbstbestimmtes Verbraucherhandeln in KI-gestützten IT-Infrastrukturen.

Critical evaluation skills. Self-directed consumer action in AI-enabled IT infrastructures.

Jörn Lamla (2021)


Auszug: „Die pragmatische Soziologie der Konventionen argumentiert ferner, dass sich – ähnlich wie Walzer (1992) behauptet – historisch eine Pluralität von Rechtfertigungsordnungen herausgebildet hat, die eine Vielzahl an Bewertungen robust absichern, so dass in den entsprechenden Situationen reflexive Rechtfertigungen oft gar nicht erforderlich sind. Allerdings sind nicht alle Situationen so klar, dass die Gültigkeit eines bestimmten Rechtfertigungsregisters – etwa des Leistungsprinzips, der familiären Verpflichtung, der kalkulierenden Nutzenmaximierung oder der übersinnlichen Gnade und Inspiration – fraglos hingenommen werden kann. Oft treten „kritische Momente“ (Boltanski/Thévenot 2011: 43) in der Praxis auf, in denen die Situation dann entweder durch kritische Reinigung geklärt werden muss, in denen Kritik aber auch zu einer kompromissförmigen Verknüpfung oder Veränderung von Bewertungsmaßstäben führen kann.“

Extract: “The pragmatic sociology of conventions further argues that, similar to Walzer’s (1992) claim, a plurality of justificatory orders has historically emerged that robustly secure a variety of valuations, so that reflexive justifications are often not even necessary in the corresponding situations. However, not all situations are so clear-cut that the validity of a particular justificatory register – such as the performance principle, family obligation, calculating utility maximization, or supernatural grace and inspiration – can be accepted without question. Often, « critical moments » (Boltanski/Thévenot 2011: 43) occur in practice, in which the situation must then either be clarified through critical purification, but in which criticism can also lead to a compromise linkage or change in evaluative standards. »

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Wider die Verunsicherung. Arbeitslosenkomitees in der Schweiz, 1975–2002

Against Uncertainty. Unemployment Committees in Switzerland, 1975-2002

Anina Zahn (2021)

PhD thesis. Zurich: Chronos. Open access.

About this book. 1975: Switzerland is in crisis. To deal with the rising unemployment figures, compulsory unemployment insurance is introduced. At the same time, self-organised groups of unemployed people emerge, calling themselves unemployment committees. They persistently protest against deteriorations in unemployment insurance, even in the subsequent crises of the 1980s and 1990s. This book tells the story of unemployment in a decisive transitional phase of industrial society from the perspective of those affected. What does social security mean for the unemployed? For a long time, welfare state history dealt with insurance and institutional developments. This is also the case with unemployment insurance. However, a history of unemployment cannot be written without the unemployed. Their relationship to the welfare state is therefore examined using the example of five unemployment committees in German-speaking and French-speaking Switzerland up to 2002. How did they interact with the authorities? What were their protests against? Their criticism: the welfare state not only provides security, it can also make people feel insecure. To counteract this, the unemployed joined forces, seized referendums and set up counselling centres, which themselves became part of social policy.

Auszug: “Um die Verschränkung zwischen Arbeitslosenkomitees, einer sozialkritischen Gruppierung und dem Sozialstaat zu analysieren, stütze ich mich auf die pragmatische Soziologie der Kritik. Entwickelt vom französischen Soziologen Luc Boltanski und anderen Sozialwissenschaftler*innen wie Laurent Thévenot und Eve Chiapello, liefert die Soziologie der Kritik Instrumente, um kritische Akteure zu erforschen.45 Dabei rückt sie die Akteurskompetenzen bei Disputen in den Fokus. Ich stütze mich hauptsächlich auf ein späteres Werk von Boltanski, «Soziologie und Sozialkritik», weil er dort die Kompetenzen von Akteuren betont und zugleich ihre Auseinandersetzungen im Zusammenspiel mit Institutionen analysiert. […] Das Ende der Vollbeschäftigung sei mit einem aufkommenden Dekonstruktionsprozess der Kategorie Arbeitslosigkeit verbunden, so jüngere Forschungsarbeiten. Die Verhinderung von Arbeitslosigkeit sei eines der Hauptanliegen der keynesianischen Interventionspolitik der Trente Glorieuses gewesen. Nach dem Ökonomen Jérôme Gautié verliert Arbeitslosigkeit als umfassende Kategorie angesichts multiplizierter Arbeits- und Armutsformen als Gegenstück der fordistischen Industriearbeit zunehmend an Sinn. Dies manifestiere sich in Diskussionen um Working Poor, neue Armut und Langzeitarbeitslosigkeit. Auch die Statistik greife diese individuelleren Situationen auf.  Darüber hinaus trage die Aktivierungspolitik zum Dekonstruktionsprozess bei. Der Ökonom Robert Salais fokussiert deshalb auf eine neue «soziale Wissenstechnologie», die seit Mitte der 1990er-Jahre normatives Denkmodell der Europäischen Union geworden sei. Es gehe nicht mehr um das soziale Ziel der Vollbeschäftigung, sondern um die Erhöhung der Beschäftigungsrate durch Anreize und Zwang. Beide Autoren fokussieren auf Umdeutungen der Kategorie mittels statistischer Kategorien und politischer Massnahmen. Nachfolgend soll die Sicht der Stellenlosen auf den Wandel von Arbeit und Nichtarbeit im Fokus stehen.“ (P. 19/251-252)

Extract: “To analyze the entanglement between unemployed committees, a socially critical group, and the welfare state, I draw on the pragmatic sociology of critique. Developed by French sociologist Luc Boltanski and other social scientists* such as Laurent Thévenot and Eve Chiapello, the sociology of critique provides tools to explore critical actors.45 In doing so, it focuses on actor competencies in disputes. I draw mainly on a later work by Boltanski, « Sociology and Social Criticism, » because there he emphasizes the competencies of actors while analyzing their disputes in interaction with institutions. […] The end of full employment is linked to an emerging deconstruction process of the category of unemployment, according to recent research. The prevention of unemployment had been one of the main concerns of the Keynesian intervention policy of the Trente Glorieuses. According to economist Jérôme Gautié, unemployment as a comprehensive category is increasingly losing meaning in the face of multiplied forms of work and poverty as a counterpart to Fordist industrial work. This manifests itself in discussions about the working poor, new poverty and long-term unemployment. Statistics are also picking up on these more individual situations.  Moreover, activation policies contribute to the deconstruction process. Economist Robert Salais therefore focuses on a new « social knowledge technology » that has become a normative model of thinking in the European Union since the mid-1990s. It is no longer about the social goal of full employment, but about increasing the employment rate through incentives and coercion. Both authors focus on reinterpretations of the category by means of statistical categories and political measures. In the following, the focus will be on the view of the unemployed on the change of work and non-work. » (P. 19/251-252)

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Standardisation and Statistics

Walter J. Radermacher (2021)

The Survey Statistician, 84, pp. 24-31. Open access

Abstract. An infinite amount of data and a variety of ways to use it promise an individualisation of statistics; the tools, algorithms and (artificial) intelligence of data science are available to everyone. The age of statistics is being replaced by the data era. There is a promise in this, similar to that for the internet as a whole, of an equal and thus democratically organised basis of technology and access to quantitative information, and perhaps even knowledge. The article deals with the question of whether and to what extent this individualisation is beneficial or detrimental to the democratic discourse. For this objective, the concept of information quality is introduced and used, which is oriented towards the principle that statistical products should be fit for purpose. It is shown that individualisation and standardisation are two alternative approaches to statistics, the choice of which ultimately depends on the application and its intended function. As a language for public discourse, standardisation is of vital importance.

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Quantification and classification in education: What is at stake?

Ann Christin Eklund Nilsen & Ove Skarpenes (2021)

Policy Futures in Education. Online first

Abstract. Histories of statistics and quantification have demonstrated that systems of statistical knowledge participate in the construction of the objects that are measured. However, the pace, purpose, and scope of quantification in state bureaucracy have expanded greatly over the past decades, fuelled by (neoliberal) societal trends that have given the social phenomenon of quantification a central place in political discussions and in the public sphere. This is particularly the case in the field of education. In this article, we ask what is at stake in state bureaucracy, professional practice, and individual pupils as quantification increasingly permeates the education field. We call for a theoretical renewal in order to understand quantification as a social phenomenon in education. We propose a sociology-of-knowledge approach to the phenomenon, drawing on different theoretical traditions in the sociology of knowledge in France (Alain Desrosières and Laurent Thévenot), England (Barry Barnes and Donald MacKenzie), and Canada (Ian Hacking), and argue that the ongoing quantification practice at different levels of the education system can be understood as cultural processes of self-fulfilling prophecies.

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L’entreprise est-elle toujours une catégorie pertinente de la sociologie ?

Is the firm still a relevant category in sociology?

Jean-Michel Saussois (2021)

Sociologies pratiques, 1 (Hors-série), pp. 63 -76.

Résumé. L’objet de l’article est de rendre compte de la façon dont les sociologues ont abordé hier et abordent aujourd’hui l’entreprise comme un objet de recherche Dans une première partie, deux programmes, que trente ans séparent et auxquels l’auteur a participé, seront examinés, puis, dans une deuxième partie, les résultats obtenus lors de ces deux programmes de recherche seront discutés. Dans une troisième partie, l’auteur plaide pour un retour à la description, démarche nécessaire pour aboutir à un travail d’abstraction. La conclusion débouche sur une question : quelles conditions requises pour construire une nouvelle sociologie de l’entreprise ?

Extrait: “L’entreprise existe certes pour les sociologues critiques non pas comme un corps qui aurait sa propre substance sociale mais comme un décor qui permet l’observation des rapports de force, des mutations technologiques, des nouvelles formes d’organisation du travail ou des stratégies syndicales ou patronales. Voilà donc brièvement esquissé ce premier temps de recherche. En 2009, ce n’est plus un sociologue mais un économiste, Olivier Favereau, qui m’invite à rejoindre un groupe dont l’objet de recherche porte également sur l’entreprise. Olivier Favereau n’appartient pas au mainstream, c’est un économiste qui ne pense pas non plus qu’il existerait une sorte de « division naturelle » du travail académique entre économiste et sociologue : ce qui relève de l’échange économique serait l’affaire de l’économiste et ce qui relève de l’échange social serait l’affaire du sociologue. Le fait que ce soit un économiste et non plus un sociologue qui en vienne à interroger la nature de l’entreprise et sa place dans la société me semble un point marquant. Pour les sociologues, l’heure est plutôt à la découverte de la gestion comme nouvelle discipline émergente et un numéro spécial de la Revue française de gestion sera d’ailleurs consacré à l’écho de la gestion 26. Le propos du numéro est de montrer que la gestion comme discipline ne serait pas postée au carrefour des sciences sociales mais rebondirait plutôt en écho sur les sciences sociales en revendiquant son autonomie. Pendant six ans, j’ai participé selon deux modalités d’intensité différente, 27 à un programme mené sous la conduite de Baudoin Roger et Olivier Favereau au Collège des Bernardins. Le maître mot du collège est alors celui d’ouverture. D’où l’idée de créer un pôle de recherche qui soit dès le départ pluri- disciplinaire et, à ce titre, la responsabilité de l’entreprise dans la société s’inscrit parfaitement dans l’agenda du département « économie, homme et société ». Le programme de travail retenu par l’appel d’offre visait à mettre en relation propriété de l’entreprise et responsabilités sociales de l’entreprise. […]  Un second programme (2012-2014), dit « Bernardins 2 », L’entreprise : propriété, création collective, monde commun, assure le passage d’une conjecture raisonnée à une thèse affirmée : l’avenir de l’entreprise au XXIe siècle passera par une transformation du lien politique : la nature politique de l’entreprise doit être reconnue, sachant que cette reconnaissance oblige à faire preuve d’imagination dans la mesure où nos manières de penser l’entreprise doivent être révisées, notamment notre façon de penser le rapport entre l’État et l’entreprise. Là encore, quatre groupes de travail ont été constitués : 1/ Penser le travail pour penser l’entreprise ; 2/ Penser une finance au service de l’entreprise ; 3/ Repenser la mission de l’entreprise et envisager une forme juridique comme la société à objet social étendu ; 4/ Relier la globalisation du système de pouvoir et la constitutionnalisation.” (pp. 67-68)

Abstract. The aim of the article is to present how French sociologists have worked out the firm as a research object. In the first part, two research programs in which the author was involved, will be analyzed. The second part will discuss the results coming out of these two programs. In the third part, the author pleads for a thick description the necessary way to make possible abstraction work. The conclusion raises the following issue: what are the conditions required to-day for building up a sociology of the firm?

Excerpt: « The enterprise certainly exists for the critical sociologists not as a body which would have its own social its own social substance, but as a setting that allows the observation of power relations, technological of power, technological mutations, new forms of work organization or union or employer or union or employer strategies. This is a brief outline of the first phase of our research. In 2009, it is no longer a sociologist but an economist, Olivier Favereau, who invited me to join a group whose research focus was also on the firm. Olivier Favereau does not belong to the mainstream, he is an economist who does not think that there is a kind of that there is a sort of « natural division » of academic work between economists and economist and sociologist: what concerns the economic exchange would be the economist’s business and what concerns the social exchange would be the business of the sociologist. The fact that it is an that it is an economist and not a sociologist who comes to question the nature of the enterprise and its place in and its place in society seems to me a striking point. For sociologists, the time has come to for sociologists to discover management as a new emerging discipline and a special issue of the a special issue of the Revue française de gestion will be devoted to the echo of management 26. The purpose of this issue is to show that management as a discipline is not would not be positioned at the crossroads of the social sciences, but rather would bounce back and forth on the social sciences by claiming its autonomy. For six years, I have participated in two modalities of different intensity, 27 in a program led by Baudelaire program led by Baudoin Roger and Olivier Favereau at the Collège des Bernardins. The key word at the college was openness. Hence the idea of to create a research center that would be multi-disciplinary from the outset and, as such, the responsibility of the company in society fits perfectly into the agenda of the « Economy, Man and Society » department. The work program selected by the call for tenders aimed to link corporate ownership and corporate social responsibilities. social responsibilities of the company. […]
A second program (2012-2014), known as « Bernardins 2″, L’entreprise : propriété, création collective creation, common world, ensures the passage from a reasoned conjecture to an thesis: the future of the enterprise in the 21st century will involve a transformation of the political bond the political nature of the enterprise must be recognized, knowing that this recognition that this recognition obliges us to be imaginative insofar as our ways of thinking about company must be revised, particularly our way of thinking about the relationship between the State and the company. Here again, four working groups have been set up: 1/ Thinking about work 2/ Rethinking finance in the service of the company; 3/ Rethinking the mission of the company 3/ Rethinking the mission of the company and considering a legal form such as the company with an extended corporate purpose 4/ Linking the globalization of the power system and constitutionalization. » (pp. 67-68)

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Personalauswahl als kommunikative Verkettung von Bewertungsmomenten

Personnel selection as communicative concatenation of evaluation moments

Christopher Dorn & Sylvia M. Wilz (2021)

In: Meier, Frank/Peetz, Thorsten (eds.), Organisation und Bewertung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp. 193-216.

Zusammenfassung. Dieser Beitrag zeigt, dass die Auswahl von Personal einen Prozess darstellt, in dem verschiedene Bewertungs- und Entscheidungsgelegenheiten miteinander verbunden sind. Anhand einer Fallstudie zur Rekrutierung von Führungskräften wird deutlich, dass die Personalauswahl nicht auf vereinzelten und in sich abgeschlossenen Bewertungs- und Entscheidungsvorgängen beruht, sondern auf dem Anschluss unterschiedlicher Situationen, die verschiedene Akteure, Kriterien und Verfahren involvieren. Die passende Person wird dabei unter Rückgriff auf sowohl situative als auch organisatorisch dauerhaft etablierte Beziehungen, Regeln und interpretative Muster kommunikativ konstruiert. Der Beitrag zeigt damit auch, dass die Bewertungsforschung von der Organisationsforschung profitieren kann, wenn sie den prozesshaften Ursprung und die organisationale Einbindung von Bewertungen berücksichtigt, während die Organisationsforschung ihre Erkenntnisse über Entscheidungsprozesse vertiefen kann, wenn sie die damit verbundenen Bewertungsprozesse in die Analyse einbezieht.

Auszug: “2 Bewertung in der Personalauswahl von Organisationen – Bezüge zum Gegenstand und zum theoretischen Problem
Da an Personalentscheidungen und die mit ihnen verbundenen Bewertungen besondere Legitimitätserfordernisse gestellt werden, kann man nicht davon ausgehen, dass Organisationen beliebige Personen einstellen. Vielmehr differenzieren sie danach, welcher Kandidat oder welche Kandidatin die beste Leistungsprognose aufweist. Daher kann die Personalauswahl als „critical moment“ (Boltanski und Thévenot 1999, S. 359) angesehen werden, d. h. als ein Vorgang, der der Rechtfertigung durch Bezug auf legitime Kriterien der Bewertung bedarf, anhand derer die Kandidat/innen verglichen werden. […] Dies gilt umso mehr, wenn man die Bewertung nicht einfach als einen situativen und in sich abgeschlossenen Vorgang ansieht, sondern als einen komplexen und zeitlich ausgedehnten Prozess. Im Gegensatz zu dieser Annahme haben sich weite Teile der Bewertungssoziologie einem methodologischen Situationismus verschrieben, d. h. es geht um „Momente der Bewertung“ (Berthoin Antal et al. 2015) bzw. um die schon erwähnten „critical moments“ (Boltanski und Thévenot 1999, S. 359). Aus dieser Perspektive, die in Teilen vom amerikanischen Pragmatismus (Dewey 1939; Muniesa 2011) oder aber von der französischen pragmatischen Soziologie (Cloutier et al. 2017; Diaz-Bone und Thévenot 2010; Jagd 2011)3 beeinflusst ist, steht Bewertung „in situ“ (Stark 2017, S. 390) im Zentrum des Interesses.” (p. 196/198-199)

Abstract. This paper shows that personnel selection is a process in which different evaluation and decision-making opportunities are interconnected. Using a case study of executive recruitment, it becomes clear that personnel selection is not based on isolated and self-contained evaluation and decision-making processes, but on the connection of different situations involving different actors, criteria, and procedures. The appropriate person is thereby com-municatively constructed with recourse to both situational and organizationally permanently established relationships, rules, and interpretative patterns. In this way, the article also shows that assessment research can benefit from organizational research if it takes into account the processual origin and organizational involvement of assessments, while organizational research can deepen its knowledge of decision-making processes if it includes the associated assessment processes in its analysis. »

Extract: « 2 Assessment in organizational personnel selection – references to the subject matter and the theoretical problem
Since personnel decisions and the evaluations associated with them are subject to special legitimacy requirements, organizations cannot be assumed to hire arbitrary individuals. Rather, they differentiate according to which candidate has the best performance prognosis. Therefore, personnel selection can be seen as a « critical moment » (Boltanski and Thévenot 1999, p. 359), i.e. as a process that requires justification by reference to legitimate criteria of evaluation against which candidates are compared. […] This is all the more true if evaluation is seen not simply as a situational and self-contained process, but as a complex and temporally extended one. In contrast to this assumption, large parts of the sociology of evaluation have subscribed to a methodological situationism, i.e. it is about « moments of evaluation » (Berthoin Antal et al. 2015) or the already mentioned « critical moments » (Boltanski and Thévenot 1999, p. 359). From this perspective, which is influenced in part by American pragmatism (Dewey 1939; Muniesa 2011) or else by French pragmatic sociology (Cloutier et al. 2017; Diaz-Bone and Thévenot 2010; Jagd 2011)3, evaluation « in situ » (Stark 2017, p. 390) is at the center of interest. » (p. 196/198-199)

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Bewerten oder Prüfen? Zur Relevanz der Figur der Prüfung für die Organisationssoziologie

Evaluating or testing? On the Relevance of the Figure of Examination for Organizational Sociology

Lisa Knoll (2021)

In: Meier, Frank/Peetz, Thorsten (eds.), Organisation und Bewertung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp. 49-69

Zusammenfassung. In der Debatte um die Soziologie der Bewertung wurde bislang vor allem die Flexibilität von Bewertungsakten und die Heterarchie von Bewertungsordnungen betont. Dieser Beitrag möchte eine konzeptionelle Brücke zwischen Markt- und Organisationssoziologie schlagen, indem die analytische Figur der Prüfung (epreuve) der Figur der Bewertung gegenübergestellt wird. Bewerten ist in dieser Gegenüberstellung ein interpretativer Akt, der einer Situation Sinn zuweist, so etwa die Bewertung von Gütern auf dem Weinmarkt. Die Prüfung ist demgegenüber ein zukunftsweisender Akt, der ordnend und strukturierend in die Situation eingreift und diese gegen die Pluralität zu vereinheitlichen sucht. Vor diesem Hintergrund wird die organisationssoziologische Relevanz der Figur der Prüfung diskutiert. Dabei geht es darum zu zeigen, dass Prüfformate über unterschiedlich große Reichweiten verfügen und die Figur der Prüfung auf zentrale Grundbegriffe der Organisationssoziologie, wie Zweck-Mittel-Relationierung, Hierarchie, Regeln, Kontrolle, Mitgliedschaft und Grenze angewendet werden kann. Im Zuge dessen werden die disziplinären und methodologischen Grenzen zwischen Markt- und Organisationssoziologie einerseits, aber auch die analytische Unterscheidung zwischen Organisation und Umwelt neu ausgerichtet.

Abstract. The debate on the sociology of valuation has so far mainly emphasized the flexibility of valuation acts and the heterarchy of valuation orders. This paper aims to build a conceptual bridge between the sociology of markets and the sociology of organizations by contrasting the analytical figure of examination (“epreuve”) with the figure of valuation. Evaluating, in this juxtaposition, is an interpretative act that assigns meaning to a situation, such as the valuation of goods in the wine market. Testing, on the other hand, is a forward-looking act that intervenes in the situation in an ordering and structuring way and seeks to unify it against plurality. Against this background, the relevance of the figure of the test in terms of organizational sociology is discussed. The aim is to show that audit formats have different scopes and that the figure of the audit can be applied to central basic concepts of organizational sociology, such as purpose-means-relation, hierarchy, rules, control, membership and boundary. In the course of this, the disciplinary and methodological boundaries between market and organizational sociology on the one hand, but also the analytical distinction between organization and environment are realigned.

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The logic of quantification: institutionalizing numerical thinking

Hyunsik Chun & Michael Sauder (2021)

Theory and Society. Online first

Abstract. Quantification, in the form of accountability measures, organizational rankings, and personal metrics, plays an increasingly prominent role in modern society. While past research tends to depict quantification primarily as either an external intervention or a tool that can be employed by organizations, we propose that conceptualizing quantification as a logic provides a more complete understanding of its influence and the profound transformations it can generate. Drawing on a 14-month ethnographic study of Korean higher education and 100 in-depth interviews with key actors in this field, this study demonstrates four pathways through which the logic of quantification is embedded into organizations. Specifically, we show how this new logic reshaped organizational structure, practices, power, and culture—changes that in turn buttress and reproduce the logic. Theoretically, this study provides a new perspective on the deep institutionalization of quantification: why quantification is often intractable and “de-quantification” so rare. In addition, this work contributes to the organizational literature on institutional logics by demonstrating how prevailing logics build defenses to resist challengers and thus maintain their influence. Most generally, we consider how the self-reinforcing nature of this logic contributes to the intensification of rationalization in contemporary society.

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Bewertungskulturen. Ein Vorschlag für eine vergleichende Soziologie der Bewertung

Cultures of valuation. A Proposal for a Comparative Sociology of Valuation

Oliver Berli, Stefan Nicolae & Hilmar Schäfer (2021)

In: Berli, Oliver/Nicolae, Stefan /Schäfer, Hilmar (eds.): Bewertungskulturen. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp. 1-21.

Auszug: “1 Soziologie der Bewertung
In historischer Perspektive erscheint das aktuell wahrnehmbare Interesse an Praktiken des Wertens und Bewertens keineswegs als Innovation, denn es ist eng verbunden mit genuinen erkenntnistheoretischen und ungleichheitsanalytischen Interessen der Soziologie (Cefaï et al. 2015). So finden sich die Auf- und Abwertung von Personen, Handlungen oder Dingen als Grundthema in vielen klassischen Untersuchungen wieder. Beispielsweise stellen Émile Durkheims und Marcel Mauss’ Reflexionen „Über einige primitive Formen von Klassifikation“ (1903), Pierre Bourdieus Analyse von Lebensstilen und Distinktion (1979) sowie die Studien zu Rechtfertigungsordnungen von Luc Boltanski und Laurent Thévenot (1991) wichtige Referenzpunkte für aktuelle Untersuchungen dar. Mit Blick auf diese historischen Vorarbeiten lassen sich mehrere Ansatzpunkte für eine Soziologie des Wertens und Bewertens („Sociology of Valuation and Evaluation“, kurz: SVE) unterscheiden (Beljean et al. 2016; Cefaï et al. 2015; Krüger und Reinhart 2017). So können aus unserer Perspektive im Wesentlichen drei unterscheidbare Optionen identifiziert werden, welche die aktuelle Forschung dominieren: eine (a) ungleichheitsanalytisch, (b) pragmatisch und (c) wissensanalytisch angelegte Soziologie des Wertens und Bewertens.” (S. 3-4)

Extract: “1 Sociology of Valuation
From a historical perspective, the currently perceptible interest in practices of valuing and appraising does not appear to be an innovation at all, as it is closely linked to genuine epistemological and inequality-analytical interests of sociology (Cefaï et al. 2015). Thus, the valorization and devaluation of persons, actions, or things can be found as an underlying theme in many classical studies. For example, Émile Durkheim’s and Marcel Mauss’s reflections « On Some Primitive Forms of Classification » (1903), Pierre Bourdieu’s analysis of lifestyles and distinction (1979), and the studies on orders of justification by Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot (1991) represent important reference points for current investigations. With a view to this historical groundwork, several starting points for a sociology of valuation and evaluation (« Sociology of Valuation and Evaluation », SVE for short) can be distinguished (Beljean et al. 2016; Cefaï et al. 2015; Krüger and Reinhart 2017). Thus, from our perspective, three main distinguishable options can be identified that dominate current research: an (a) inequality-analytic, (b) pragmatic, and (c) knowledge-analytic sociology of valuing and evaluation. » (p. 3-4)

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Conventions in Keynes’s theory of goods markets: investment and production decisions

David Dequech (2021)

Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Online first

Abstract. The role of conventions in Keynes’s theory has been controversial. When dealing with investment and production decisions, Keynes referred to a projective rule that is his main example of convention. In addition, conventions appear in the practical techniques that Keynes attributed to agents concerned with the accumulation of wealth. Two important points have been neglected in existing interpretations. First, all these practical rules are directly present in goods markets and are not just rules used in financial markets that possibly influence agents in goods markets. Second, Keynes’s conventions in investment decisions are characterized by two properties: conformity with conformity and arbitrariness. The mechanisms underlying conformity with conformity include informational differences and possibly epistemic legitimacy, but, in contrast to Keynes’s discussion of financial markets, not a coordination effect with self-fulfilling prophecies. Those two properties are not clear in the case of production decisions.

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Towards a perma-sociology? Laura Centemeri on permaculture as a social movement and a way of life.

Review of “Laura Centemeri (2019), La Permaculture ou l’art de réhabiter. Versailles: Éditions Quæ, 2019”

Mischa Gabowitsch (2021)

Partecipazione e conflitto, 14(1) 2021: 499-506. Open access

Extract: “Centemeri’s is the first book-length study of the phenomenon, and neither permaculturists nor sociologists could have hoped for a better overview. In a slim yet immensely rich volume that grew out of two lectures at the former French National Institute of Agricultural Research, Centemeri provides a brief history of the movement before analysing it as a new form of ecological critique, based on learning, that she sums up as an ‘art of reinhabiting’. She examines how permaculture develops an approach to ‘earth care’ through environmental reflexivity; how it acknowledges incommensurable modes of valuation; and how it creates ecotones, or hybridization zones, that facilitate encounters between, and shared exploration by, those from a wide variety of different backgrounds. Indeed her book can itself be read as an effort to create such an ecotone by putting permaculture into resonance with some of the most promising recent developments in sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and the life sciences. This includes Anna Tsing’s anthropology of global connectedness, friction, and non-scalability (Tsing, 2005, 2015); the debate in social movements studies about prefigurative politics (Yates, 2015); science studies in the vein of Bruno Latour and Annemarie Mol; French pragmatic sociology’s approach to the study of critique (Boltanski and Thévenot, 2006), of regimes of engagement (e.g. Thévenot, 2002, 2011, 2014) and of social and environmental transformation (e.g. Chateauraynaud and Debaz, 2017); Serge Audier’s (2017) philosophical genealogy of environmentalism; and advances in plant neurobiology (Mancuso and Viola, 2013). In a sense, the book is a work of permacultural design in its own right: without ever idealising her subject, she orchestrates a veritable dialogue, demonstrating not only how insights from these fields can inform an account of permaculture but also how permaculture’s own principles can be made fruitful for advancing the social sciences.
The distinctiveness of the permaculture movement, the reasons why it has often been overlooked, and Centemeri’s contribution to its study can perhaps all be understood best in contrast.”

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Learning to Classify Morals and Conventions: Artificial Intelligence in Terms of the Economics of Convention

David Solans, Christopher Tauchmann, Aideen Farrell, Karolin Kappler, Hans-Hendrik Huber, Carlos Castillo & Kristian Kersting (2021)

Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media 15(1), 691-702. Open access

Abstract. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its relation with societies has become an increasingly interesting subject of study for the social sciences. Nevertheless, there is still an important lack of interdisciplinary and empirical research applying social theories to the field of AI. We here aim to shed light on the interactions between humans and autonomous systems and analyse the moral conventions, which underly these interactions and cause moments of conflict and cooperation. For this purpose we employ the Economics of Convention (EC), originally developed in the context of economic processes of production and management involving humans, objects and machines. We create a dataset from three relevant text sources and perform a qualitative exploration of its content. Then, we train a combination of Machine Learning (ML) classifiers on this dataset, which achieve an average classification accuracy of 83.7%. A qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the predicted conventions reveals, inter alia, that the Industrial and Inspired conventions tend to co-exist in the AI domain. This is the first time, ML classifiers are used to study the EC in different AI-related text types. Our analysis of a larger dataset is especially beneficial for the social sciences.

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