“Social Research Colloquium” features three lectures relying on EC

“Kolloquium Sozialforschung” at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland (Autumn 2020)

Miriam Kutt (University of Lucerne)

Rainer Diaz-Bone and Kenneth Horvath organized another biweekly colloquium at the University of Lucerne, focusing on methodological issues of social science in a broad sense. This past autumn, the range of presentations covered subjects such as modernizing a survey series on social security (Jacques Robert, University of Lucerne/ MILAK at the ETH Zurich), (music-) video analysis in the perspective of Audio Visual Grounded Theory Methodology (Marc Dietrich, Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences), or recipes for researching software design and use (Juliane Jarke/ Irina Zakharova, University of Bremen/ ifib). Furthermore, the program of this colloquium featured three scholars in the field of convention theory (EC). Alan Canonica (Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts) presented his PHD project on conventions mobilized in employment integration of disabled people (see https://conventions.hypotheses.org/11454). Tamar Sharon (Radboud University Nijmegen) introduced her research project on the Googlization of health and discussed Boltanski and Thévenot’s orders of worth as part of a framework to identify evolving risks. Last but not least, Guy Schwegler (University of Lucerne) brought up to discussion a method to survey actor’s critical competence within his PHD project on performativity.
These three lectures relying on EC and their subsequent discussions are summarized in this post.

Alan Canonica:
«Konventionen der Arbeitsintegration von Menschen mit Behinderung zwischen Arbeitgeber und Invalidenversicherung (1945-2008)» [Conventions in Employment Integration of Disabled People between Employers and Disability Insurance (1945-2008)]
Alan Canonica presented the potential of convention theory for historical studies by means of his PHD project on employment integration of disabled people in Switzerland from 1945 to 2008 (Canonica 2020). He used the concept of the orders of justification to trace the emergence, development and changes of institutional arrangements of integration in the course of the investigation period. The focus was laid on negotiation processes between employers and public disability insurance.


The analytical concept Canonica outlined, considers the mobilization of conventions in integration debates as discursive practices, so that conventions constitute a discourse analytical matrix. To define ‘situations’ of analysis, he split up the investigation period into four eras corresponding to the reforms of the disability insurance and economic transitions.
With some examples of his findings, Canonica pointed out how the logics of argumentation differ between employers and disability insurance but also between different eras. And as final point of his presentation, he noted the challenges of adequately interpreting the sense of actor’s actions with regard to the historical context and he nevertheless named EC a valuable instrument for understanding the evaluation of disabled people and the traceability of historical change. Accordingly, the discussion evolved about strategies how to analyze historical documents from an EC perspective and how to detect validly historical eras.

Tamar Sharon: «Orders of worth and spheres of justice: From dual to multiple sphere ontologies in the Googlization of health»
The current research project run by Tamar Sharon and her team aims at identifying the risks of the market transgressions by tech giants into the sphere of health and medicine, which Sharon terms the “Googlization” of health. According to her, for a critique of the intersection of digital capitalism and digital health and thus the moral contamination of health care through market values, previous critical literature’s framings such as the ‘Hostile Worlds Doctrine’ (Zelizer 2011) is limited. That is, because it contrasts a rather amoral market sphere to a firmer moral sphere containing all other areas of life.


Since these large tech companies justify their entrance into the domain of health and medicine appealing to values from other, non-market spheres, Sharon moves her analytical framing of the Googlization of health beyond the dual sphere ontology of the Hostile Worlds Doctrine drawing on Boltanski and Thévenot’s (2006) orders of worth. Its multiple sphere ontology allows a greater moral complexity and a plurality of conceptions of common goods which are at stake beyond obvious ones like data privacy or autonomy.
However, as per Sharon, Boltanski and Thévenot’s orders of worth framework, which is a descriptive one, has a kind of normative deficit. She addresses this by bringing in Michael Walzer’s theory of justice, which claims that inequalities within spheres should not be carried into other spheres. Together, these two approaches can contribute to a new ontology of multiple spheres that would be much more adequate for identifying risks of the Googlization of health, and moreover perhaps of the digitalization of society in general.
The following discussion raised the question about Sharon’s usage of “market”, as in EC the order of market is not the same as real markets in everyday life that are mainly organized by the industrial order in a compromise with others. From Sharon’s critical perspective the splitting of the real market into the two logics of market and industrial order is helpful to grasp not only the financial power of tech companies but also their technical expertise as the currency which allows them to enter into other sectors. Another point in the discussion was that the values mobilized in the statements of representatives of these tech companies might perhaps be mere marketing propaganda and therefore cannot be taken for granted for what motivation they have to enter the health sector. A strategy of Sharon here is to introduce herself as a scientific instead of a critical researcher. And as Boltanski and Thévenot with their critique on moral philosophy want to take actors seriously, Sharon tries not to fall into false consciousness of knowing better than the interviewees what these actually want to do. She is convinced that some of these actors really believe that they are doing good to the world and not just want to make money. This methodological problem led the discussion to the question to what extent Thévenot’s regimes of engagement could be fruitful to analyze risky practices of health datafication beyond the level of justifications in the health discourse.

Guy Schwegler: «Ergebnispräsentation im Rahmen qualitativer Interviews – zwischen partizipativer Validierung und experimenteller Datenerhebung» [Presentation of Results as Part of Qualitative Interviews – between Participatory Validation and Experimental Data Gathering]
The subject of Guy Schwegler’s PHD project are the performative processes of cultural and social theories in the music sector. Referring to Michel Callon’s conception of “performativity” in the economic field and to convention theorists’ notion of critique he reflects the empirical performance of theoretical concepts as blueprints for actor’s procedures.


In this colloquium, Schwegler’s presentation was concerned with developing a method for on the one hand validating his findings and at the same time capturing the critical competences of his interview partners. In addition to numerous documents and field notes he has conducted several interviews with musicians and music producers referencing on social theories to examine how performative effects of theoretical concepts result in musical products that are described, produced or designed in a new way.
As Schwegler put it, when starting his empirical inquiry, he considered the persons he interviewed to have a critical insight into theoretical concepts (and into the effect on their musical products) equivalent to social scientists. But in the course of data collection he found it hard to make the interview partners speak about the way they use theories in their procedures. Therefore, as a final step of his empirical inquiry, Schwegler intends to confront the interviewees with the provisional results of his analysis. The aim of creating a critical negotiation with them is to improve his findings not only by a participatory validation, but yet by experimentally exploring so far unseen manifest and latent facets of performativity.
In the discussion that followed there was the question of how Schwegler precisely plans to make the interviewees reflect their procedures producing music in order to understand how they deal with theoretical concepts. Schwegler’s proposal was to ask them if another theoretical content might have resulted in different musical products. The participants input here was, that, in the cultural field, actors might have a totally different epistemological conception of the worth of social theories than social scientists. Thus, to explain why musicians actually use theories in their work one needs to reveal if it is really the content they are interested in or if it rather indicates a kind of crisis in the cultural field that forces musicians to search for new ways of producing music. A further remark in the discussion was the challenge of researching performativity and meanwhile taking performative effects of this very research into account.

References

Boltanski, Luc/Thévenot, Laurent. 2006. On justification. Economies of worth. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Canonica, Alain. 2020. Beeinträchtigte Arbeitskraft. Konventionen der beruflichen Eingliederung zwischen Invalidenversicherung und Arbeitgeber (1945–2008). Zürich: Chronos (open access, https://www.chronos-verlag.ch/public-download/2631)

Walzer, Michael. 1983. Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality. New York: Basic Books.

Zelizer, Viviana. 2011. Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

A Profession or a Position? Recruitments and Careers of the Territorial Representatives of the State in Nowadays Europe

Jean-Michel Eymeri-Douzans & Gildas Tanguy (2020)

In: Gildas Tanguy & Jean-Michel Eymeri-Douzans (eds.), Prefects, Governors and Commissioners. Territorial Representatives of the State in Europe. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 147-166

Abstract. This chapter examines the careers of the territorial representatives of the State. By analysing their trajectories, we identify three ideal-types. The first is the ‘career prefect’, who follows standardized, codified career paths marked out by expected professionalism. In France, Italy, Romania or Turkey, they even belong to an administrative ‘corps’, with its specific traditions and social codes. In such cases, the prefectoral career is similar to a system where the prefectoral esprit de corps normalizes the life of/in the prefectoral institution. The second ideal-type is the ‘functional prefect’, to be found in federal countries (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland) where territorial administrators do not represent the Nation-State but the federated entities and have a low-profile role. Accessing that position comes after a long administrative or political career, the ‘socio-political capillarity’ of the candidates playing a major role (municipal or provincial political experience; responsibilities in parties and unions, etc.). The third ideal-type is the ‘dignified prefect’, to be found in Nordic countries: the office-holders access to the dignity/position of county governors as a result of a national (not local) political career, rewarded by their appointment as governors entrusted with an intense and non-partisan mission of incarnation, compromise facilitator and go-between.

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Consequences of Group Style for Differential Participation

Hjalmar Bang Carlsen, Jonas Toubøl & Snorre Ralund (2021)

Social Forces, 99(3), pp. 1233-1273.

Abstract. This article proposes a theory of how interaction in groups influences differential participation in political activism and interrogates this theory through an empirical analysis of online Facebook group interaction. We study the refugee solidarity movement in a mixed methods design employing online ethnography, survey, and “big” social media data. Instead of conceptualizing the group as a social network or social movement organization (SMO), we argue that the group’s culture emerges as patterns of interaction that have implications for what kind of activities in which group members participate. Based on observations from our online ethnography, we suggest that group interaction influences differential individual participation through processes of (1) encoding different habits and (2) attuning the activist to different aspects of situations. We support our theoretical propositions with six statistical tests of the relationship between the group-level variable of contentious group style and the individual-level variable of participation in political protest. The dependent variable, political protest, and a comprehensive set of controls stem from an original survey of the Danish refugee solidarity movement with 2,283 respondents. We link the survey data with “big” social media data used to estimate the focal explanatory variable, contentious group style, generated from content analysis of online interaction in 119 Facebook groups quantified with supervised machine learning. The results show that group style has a consistently positive relationship with the individual’s degree of participation independent of networks, SMO framing, and individual attributes.”

Extract. “Encoding habits of action and thought The first process linking group style to individual participation concerns how actors in a group develop habits of thought and action in relation to specific issues. As Lichterman and Eliasoph (2014) argue, different styles cultivate different skills among their participants. We adopt the pragmatist conception of habits as arts or competences rather than mere behavioral repetition. For instance, one must learn how to think and talk contentiously about the refugee situation. Actors develop these competencies through situational tests where they learn what principles should be used in critique (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006) and what actions are appropriate and efficient. Activists learn certain imaginaries within the group setting that both work as moral compasses and help guide action (Braunstein 2017, 152f). On a more practical note, activists gain familiarity with different movement activities and acquire the relevant skills such as how to organize demonstrations or how to help and support refugees. […] Flow engrossment also reveals how group styles filter information. This function is crucial for differential participation, because if one does not have information about future events, then surely it is impossible to participate in these events, unless by coincidence. To have relevance, information must be formatted in a way that fits the situation (Thévenot 2007). This implies that, in a given group, ill-placed recruitment attempts not in alignment with the group style risk being ignored because the attuned activists dismiss them as background noise or breaches of group norms.” (1239/1241)

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A number is worth more than a thousand pictures: The case of designers’ cynical resistance through quantification

Ulises Navarro Aguiar (2020)

Ephemera, 20(3), pp. 153-186. Open access.

Abstract. This article draws on an ethnographic investigation of product development at an engineering organization to examine the struggle faced by designers in justifying design proposals when cooperating with engineers and managers. Frustrated by the priority given to numbers over other modes of evaluation traditionally used in design, designers in this case developed and mobilized their own evaluation device to quantitatively prove the validity and worth of their work. This quasi-parodic form of evaluation enables designers to criticize and influence strategic project decisions. At the same time, this cynical act of resistance paradoxically endorses the quantitative approach and undermines designers’ own professional expertise as a valid way of conceiving worth, which ultimately renders this move more indeterminate than what a distinction between resistance and conformity denotes. Overall, the study adds to our understanding of how modes and principles of justification typically embraced by professional groups can be unsettled by attempts to protect them. In doing so, it brings to light the ambivalent nature of resistance through a cynical embrace of quantification.”

Extract. “Following recent calls for the study of the ‘dynamic intertwinement’ between devices of valuation and valuation cultures (Zuiderent-Jerak and van Egmond, 2015: 66), this article focuses on the performativity of the novel evaluation device as it intersects with the working values of professionals labouring at ACM. The study adopts a ‘post-critical perspective’ that foregrounds the critical capacities (Boltanski and Thévenot, 2006) and experimental dispositions of actors in the field (Winthereik and Jensen, 2017) in order to illustrate how unsettled values are inherent to situations in which collectives of people and technologies vie to shape what counts in an organization (Dussauge et al., 2015; Hauge, 2018). It tells the story of a group of designers who develop an evaluation device to measure their own work and then mobilize the numerical output as a form of critique and justification (Boltanski and Thévenot, 2006).” (p. 155)

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Evaluation and the tension between generalization and particularity: The negotiation of supplementary child allowance in a collective firm

Nina Pohler (2020)

Ephemera, 20(3), pp. 123-152. Open access.

Abstract. This paper follows the negotiations for a model to calculate supplementary child allowance inside a radical democratic organization based in Germany. This model is conceptualized as an evaluation device: a device that standardizes how people and things are evaluated. To understand the process in which the collective tries to come to a shared understanding of fair supplementary child allowance, the paper utilizes Boltanski and Thévenot’s notion of the test. The solution the collective eventually settles on is a compromise between the need for a general solution and the hesitation to use a standardized format to evaluate the financial needs of different parents and their children. By highlighting the tension between the general and the particular in evaluation practices, the paper contributes to studies of evaluation in contexts of moral complexity.

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A Convention Out of the Blue: Implementing Community Policing over the Long Term

Philippe Dumas, Stéphanie Gagnon & Maud Micheau (2021)

Public Organization Review. Online first

Abstract. Community policing became popular in Canada in the 1990s. This longitudinal case study explores its implementation in a Quebec police force. It sheds light on challenges involved in implementing and sustaining reforms in public organizations. Looked at through the lens of convention theory, implementation is seen to produce a community policing convention which paradoxically contributes to its marginalization, and to ambiguity around the community policing philosophy and practices. This led to persistent misunderstanding of the model and mixed interest among police officers. These findings are relevant to public organization managers in multiple sectors interested in implementing reforms.

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Compte-rendu/ Review of « Walter Radermacher (2020): Official Statistics 4.0. Cham: Springer »

Thomas Amossé (2020)

Statistique et société, 8(2), pp. 66-68. Open access

Extrait: « S’appuyant notamment sur les travaux d’Alain Desrosières, W. Radermacher en délimite quatre périodes successives: de la phase 1.0 ayant vu la naissance des statistiques au début du XIXe siècle jusqu’à la phase 4.0 caractérisée par l’émergence des Big data, dans un parallèle suggestif avec les différentes ères techniques » (p. 68)

Extract [EC-blog translation]: « Relying in particular on the work of Alain Desrosières, W. Radermacher delimits four successive periods: from phase 1.0, which saw the birth of statistics at the beginning of the 19th century, to phase 4.0, characterized by the emergence of Big data, in a suggestive parallel with the different technical eras » (p. 68).

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Justification work in a university merger: the case of the University of Eastern Finland

Mikko Kohvakka (2021)

European Journal of Higher Education. Online first

Abstract. This paper analyses the phenomena of co-existence of competing moral principles in a university merger. In doing so, the paper builds on Boltanski and Thévenot’s theoretical framework of orders of worth to account for the ways in which different social actors, both inside and outside academia, actively engage in justification work to solve disputes arising from mergers between universities. This justification work is empirically explored through illustrative examples involving the university merger between the Universities of Joensuu and Kuopio, which resulted in the establishment of the University of Eastern Finland in 2010. Based on the findings, the paper offers a new micro-level insight into the composition of novel academic communities as well as academic personnel who have to cope with the plurality of moral principles and resolve legitimacy struggles on a day-to-day basis during and after the merger.

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Assets need audiences: How venture capitalists boost valuations by recruiting investors to asset circles

Dave Elder-Vass (2021)

Finance and society. Online first, Open access.

Abstract. Narratives and conventions have received considerable attention in recent discussions of the valuation of financial assets. Narratives and conventions, however, can only be effective to the extent that they attract and persuade audiences, and this article makes the case for paying more attention to those audiences. In particular, the article argues that financial assets can only be established as assets if there is a group of potential investors that has been persuaded to accept them as such: to take them seriously as potential investments. The article coins the term asset circles to refer to such groups and supports the argument with a discussion of venture capital and its role in the production of unicorns: private companies with extraordinary valuations. Venture capital firms may be thought of as value entrepreneurs, and much of the venture capital process is oriented wards constructing both value narratives for the companies they invest in and asset circles prepared to accept those value narratives. Their aim in these processes is a profitable exit, in which the venture capital firm converts its investment back into cash at a considerable profit through either an acquisition or a flotation.

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Media Regime Disruption and the Conditions of Public Reflexivity

Ben O’Loughlin (2020):

International Journal of Communication, 14, pp. 6113-6132. Open access

Abstract. This article examines public debates about disruption to the media regime of Western democracies precipitated by the Trump and Brexit elections. Delli Carpini and Williams introduce the media regime concept to explain how media and politics in a given era hold together structurally and are superseded. This article highlights what conditions for public reflexivity emerge during such a disruption and transition, while renewal of media and political institutions continues in parallel to disruption. I explore the conjuncture of formats, contexts, and content in 2016–2019 elite public debates. I find that these broadly map onto the macro-, meso-, and micro-level changes Delli Carpini and Williams identify. I use this to demonstrate the form and content of reflexivity claims generated as elite actors attempt to give meaning to these changes. Despite uncertainty in these debates, there is normative value to the attention generated on fundamental questions about the nature of connectivity and the nature of the social. This disruption presents opportunities for scholars to build new research trajectories and inform public debate as we transition to a new media regime.

Extract: “The media regime concept brings two advantages. First, it offers far more scope to situate an event or process as conjunctural—as an intersection of macroeconomic, geopolitical, and cultural trends; mesolevel actions by specific institutions and organizations; and micro-level individual behaviors. Locating what a disruption is an instance of makes the public deliberation of it possible. If it is a disruption of a media regime, then it becomes comparable to other disruptions of media regimes. This conceptual specificity is necessary because, until we agree what the type of problem is that we are deliberating, then we debate at cross-purposes (Boltanski & Thévenot, 2006; Dewey, 1927).” (p. 6116)

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Culture in network breaks: Tie dissolution as a vehicle of justice

Till Hilmar (2020)

Poetics. Online first

Abstract. Tie dissolution in non-romantic relations is commonly understood as a structural process. This article challenges this prevailing view by tracing agency behind dynamics of disassociation. It distinguishes between “natural” and “moral” tie dissolution and explores the “broken tie”, as a former positive tie turned negative, theoretically and empirically. Data comes from an interview and survey study with 41 respondents with first-hand experience of network change during the transformation from Communist-ruled East Germany to reunified German market society after 1989. A key finding is that accounts of broken ties may be a vehicle to express beliefs about justice in society. Examining breaks in strong ties allows to integrate culture and networks in fruitful ways.

Extract: “4.3. Content of conflict: justice orientations
The content of the conflict is an important element of the broken tie. It is necessarily specific to the case studied here. However, examining how individuals assign meaning to broken ties also reveals a theoretically pertinent insight: The broken tie is not only about interpersonal conflict, but also, potentially, charged with broader, societal grammars of justice (Boltanski & Thévenot 2006; Hegtvedt & Johnson 2000). In this material, a semiotic and affective charging of the broken tie can be found on two levels: in political, and in economic accounts of tie dissolution. Their dynamics are assortative (Rivera et al. 2010), as they are concerned with tolerating or rejecting another person’s beliefs and attitudes.”

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A Political Economy of the Measurement of Inflation – The case of France

Florence Jany-Catrice (2020)

Palgrave Macmillan

About this book. Inflation should no longer be a politically sensitive indicator. Indeed, since the early 1980s, macroeconomic policies have managed to contain it. Yet the consumer price index (CPI), which is the main indicator for measuring inflation, remains very frequently consulted by citizens, due to its multiple uses. The CPI is used for indexing wages, pensions, but also various contracts such as food pensions. It is also used by National Accounts to deflate macroeconomic values and to provide data in “real” terms. But how is this CPI measured? index? What reforms have happened to give shape to the XXIst century CPI? This book presents the CPI based on the study of the controversies that have marked its history. Set in both the socio-economic and ideas contexts, these controversies show the eminently conventional and political nature of the CPI and, therefore, of many other macroeconomic indicators, such as growth or productivity.

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Official statistics, big data and civil society. Introducing the approach of “economics of convention” for understanding the rise of new data worlds and their implications

Rainer Diaz-Bone & Kenneth Horvath (2021)

Statistical Journal of the IAOS, Preprint

Abstract. The rise of big data and ongoing political and social transformations confront official statistics with important questions regarding its self-understanding and its role in public debates. These questions imply serious tensions that will very likely increase in the foreseeable future. This article introduces a specific sociological perspective for thinking and talking about these developments. Building on the “economics of convention”, this perspective challenges currently dominant conceptions of official statistics which do not adequately mirror the plurality of possible representations of the social world and the variety of justifiable ways of assessing the quality of these representations. Taking these pluralities into account allows to develop a fuller picture of the actual practices and institutions involved in the production of statistical knowledge and, especially, of their unavoidable entanglement with normative orders, epistemic values, and political formations. The notion of “data worlds” is presented as a means for tackling this problem of pluralities. On this conceptual basis, it becomes possible to link methodological questions to analyses of how statistical data and knowledge are embedded in wider political, economic, and social contexts. Problems of “data quality” thus appear in a different light: their reflection involves more than the usually discussed issues of the institutional independence (secured by public funding and by law) and the high scientific standards of official statistics. Instead, an institutionalist theoretical approach is needed that offers blueprints for linking the production of “official statistical facts” to (always contested and contextual) conceptions of the common good. Such a conception would allow to conceive new forms of public participation and democratic control of processes of quantification, measurement, and datafication. In sum, we believe that the specifically sociological approach outlined in this article would support official statistics in dealing with the variety of critical interventions and challenges it currently faces in a proactive and coherent manner.

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From texts to enacting practices: defining fair and equitable research principles for plant genetic resources in West Africa

Frédérique Jankowski, Selim Louafi, N. A. Kane, M. Diol, A. Diao Camara, Jean-Louis Pham, Cécile Berthouly‑Salazar & Adeline Barnaud (2020)

Agriculture and Human Values, 37, pp. 1083-1094.

Abstract. Collaborative research practices in the field of plant genetic resources must follow the principles of fairness and equity as defined in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). In this context the concepts of fairness and equity generally refer to the substantive and procedural dimensions associated with sharing the benefits of this research. But neither term is clearly defined by these international treaties, and the meanings attributed to the concepts vary among different societies. This paper looks at the question of how to account for the diversity among value systems when conducting research that implicates diverse stakeholders and respects the requirements of fairness and equity. We incorporated an auto-ethnography method developed as part of a multi-stakeholder network involved in research projects on plant genetic resources in West Africa. A theatrical device was used as a framework for testing the principles of fairness and equity, helping us to collectively identify feelings of injustice, and explore the conditions for making collaborative research practices more ethical in ways that respect the perspectives of different stakeholders. In an environment of extensive political and socio-cognitive inequality, this approach makes it possible to explain the criteria relating to interactional justice and expectations in terms of socio-political and socio-emotional benefits. It also invites us to consider the principles of fairness and equity in a framework of ethical competence that goes beyond international directives.

Extract: “The forum puts the audience members in a reflective posture, where they are called upon to judge the different characters of the play. Members of the audience are asked to justify their conclusion and clarify the criteria used to evaluate the character’s behavior. In this context, the spect-actors submit their qualifications and interpretations in terms of the elements of tension dramatized in the play. The audience is therefore obligated to participate in the explanation of the justification criteria. Thus, the forum theater offers a methodological framework that responds to the theoretical postulates of the French pragmatic sociology (Bréviglieri and Stavo-Debauge 1999; Barthe et al. 2013). A key notion of this sociology is that of test (Latour 1988; Thévenot 2001; Boltanski and Chiapello 2007; Hennion 2017). A test is any situation in which actors experience the vulnerability of the social order, because they have doubts about what reality is. The test constitutes a moment that engenders an activity of judgement and a dynamic of reaffirmation or readjustment, of institutions and initial conceptions. The pragmatic sociology favors the analysis of situated action where uncertainty and the forms of adjustment of actors among themselves can be observed. It is more particularly concerned with the justification practices of social actors to denounce an offence or injustice (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006). It underlines the way in which operations of justification mobilize a plurality of principles of justice according to the situation. By offering participants the opportunity to express themselves from concrete interactional situations and to engage in the exploration for overcoming feelings of injustice, forum theater provides spaces for testing participants’ representations. It allows to understand the notions of justice as an ongoing practical process in which individuals participate through their justified actions rather than as an ideology or a shared belief. […]
The reference to tradition when judging the farmers’ actions is consistent with the notion of a justification of the domestic order as defined by Boltanski and Thévenot (2006). According to the authors, the reference to the domestic world appears “each time that research on fairness emphasizes personal relations between people…human beings are immediately qualified by the relationship that they maintain with their own kind” (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006, p. 206). The criteria mobilized to judge the correctness of the farmer’s behavior are primarily based on his respect for the norms and values defined by his community.” (p. 1086/1087-1088)

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Le diplôme d’ingénieur. Questions de gouvernance, de légitimité scientifique et technique ou d’identité ?

Eric Godelier (2020)

Artefact, 13, pp. 253-267. Open access

Résumé. La reconnaissance en 1934 du diplôme d’ingénieur en France par la Commission des titres d’ingénieurs continue de faire débat. Faut-il y voir une manifestation du retard du capitalisme français ou à l’inverse considérer que cette chronologie témoigne de sa spécificité ? La communauté des ingénieurs semble marquée par une grande hétérogénéité. Comment expliquer la place spécifique du diplôme dans l’émergence visiblement inaboutie d’un groupe intégré ? Le texte propose trois pistes de réflexions. Premièrement, cette histoire peut être comprise via un premier axe centré sur les « questions de gouvernance ». Deuxièmement, la mise en place d’un diplôme résulte d’un ensemble de choix en termes de contenus et de méthodes de formation. Troisièmement, la mise en place progressive d’un diplôme à partir du xixe siècle paraît pouvoir être appréhendée comme une forme de consécration d’une identité ou d’une culture qui distingue une catégorie sociale, les ingénieurs, en pleine croissance dans ce nouveau capitalisme industriel.

Extrait: “Pour conclure, pas à pas, le diplôme d’ingénieur devient un marqueur d’un marché – régional puis national – de l’emploi des ingénieurs en phase de croissance tout au long du xixe siècle. Il permet sa structuration et sa coordination y compris en créant de la concurrence entre écoles. En investissant à des degrés divers, sur la mise en place d’un diplôme, les écoles en tant qu’acteurs sociaux construisent des catégories d’évaluation et d’action. Ces « investissements de forme » permettent la mise en place d’outils de comparaison (certification, validation, standards, qualification, etc.). Ces opérations de justification sont soumises au jugement public et validées ou invalidées par le monde environnant. À partir du xixe siècle, en relation étroite avec l’industrialisation du pays, c’est donc une référence générale et collective qui se construit. Elle pose les bases d’un mécanisme de coordination.” (Paragraphe 11)

The engineering degree. Questions of governance, legitimacy scientific and technical or identity?

Abstract. The recognition in 1934 of the engineering degree in France by the Commission des titres d’ingénieurs continues to be discussed. Should it be seen as a manifestation of the backwardness of French capitalism or, on the contrary, should this particular chronology be seen as a testimony of its specificity? The community of graduated engineers seems to be marked by great heterogeneity. How can we explain the specific place of the diploma in the visibly unfulfilled emergence of an integrated group? The text raises three set of explanations. Firstly, this story can be understood via a first axis centered on “governance issues.” Secondly, the establishment of a diploma is the result of a set of choices in terms of training contents and methods. Thirdly, the gradual introduction of a diploma from the 19th century onwards seems to be understandable as a form of consecration of an identity or a culture that distinguishes a social category, engineers, which is growing rapidly among this new industrial capitalism.

Extract: “To conclude, step by step, the engineering degree becomes a marker of a market – regional then national – for the employment of engineers in a phase of growth throughout the 19th century. It enabled its structuring and coordination, including the creation of competition between schools. By investing to varying degrees in the establishment of a diploma, the schools as social actors construct categories for evaluation and action. These « investments in form » enable the implementation of comparison tools (certification, validation, standards, qualification, etc.). These operations of justification are subject to public judgment and validated or invalidated by the surrounding world. From the 19th century onwards, in close relation with the industrialization of the country, a general and collective reference was therefore built. It laid the foundations for a coordination mechanism.” (Paragraph 11)

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