Archives mensuelles : mars 2021

Die Metaphorik des Neuen Autoritarismus. Eine Fallstudie zur Erneuerung politischer Verkörperungsmythen

The Metaphorology of the New Authoritarianism. A Case Study on the Renewal of the Corporeal Body Myth

Taylan Özgür Yildiz (2021)

Politische Vierteljahresschrift, Online first

Zusammenfassung. Die Untersuchung leistet einen Beitrag zur metaphorologischen Analyse des Neuen Autoritarismus. Ausgangspunkt ist die Annahme, dass Autokratisierungsprozesse unter der Schwelle rationaler Bewegungsmomente durch die Erneuerung politischer Verkörperungsmythen gekennzeichnet sind. Am Beispiel der Türkei wird gezeigt, dass ihr zentraler Mechanismus eine unter Krisenbedingungen vollzogene Aktivierung der häuslichen Ordnungsmetaphorik und ihre Übersetzung in eine foucaultsche Pastoralmacht ist. Schien dieser Mechanismus mit wachsendem Abstand zur kemalistischen Revolution abgenutzt, hat er mit der Bewältigung des gescheiterten Putschversuchs eine transformative Aktualität erfahren. Der Beitrag schließt mit allgemeinen Überlegungen zu den elementaren Operationen, die den Erneuerungsprozess des autoritären Mythos vorantreiben.

Auszug: “Die Grundzüge autoritär-korporaler Metaphoriken: Haus- und Pastoralmacht
Im Rückbezug zur Sozialtheorie lassen sich wichtige Anknüpfungspunkte für die semiotischen Praktiken des Neuen Autoritarismus finden. Es sind insbesondere zwei Bildervorräte, durch die sich autoritäre Ordnungen ihre „Seinsarten“ vergegenwärtigen und den Verkörperungsmythos mit politischer Wirkung ausstatten. Das ist zunächst das Bild des häuslichen Gemeinwesens, dessen „immanente Affinität zur Logik des Staates“ (Bourdieu 2014, S. 452) von Luc Boltanski und Laurent Thévenot (2007, S. 228–245) als Rechtfertigungsordnung rekonstruiert wird (a). Daneben sind auch die souveränitätstheoretischen Überlegungen von Michel Foucault zu nennen, der mit der Figur der pastoralen Führung die Praxisseite häuslicher Ordnungsbegründungen fokussiert.” (p. 7)

Abstract. This study contributes to the metaphorological analysis of the new authoritarianism. Assuming that autocratization is characterized by the myth of the corporeal body rather than by rational elements, the paper uses the case of Turkey to show that its central mechanism lies in the narrative activation of the domestic metaphor and its translation into Foucauldian pastoral power under conditions of crisis. This mechanism, which seemed worn out with the growing distance from the Kemalist revolution, has experienced a new transformative capacity since the failed coup attempt in 2016. The article concludes with general reflections on the performance of authoritarian myths.

Extract: “The basic features of authorial-corporal metaphors: Domestic and Pastoral Power
In referring back to social theory, important points of contact can be found for the semi-otic practices of the New Authoritarianism. In particular, there are two stores of images through which authoritarian orders visualize their « ways of being » and endow the myth of embodiment with political impact. First is the image of the domestic polity, whose « immanent affinity with the logic of the state » (Bourdieu 2014, p. 452) is reconstructed by Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot (2007, pp. 228-245) as a justificatory order (a). In addition, the sovereignty-theoretical considerations of Michel Foucault should also be mentioned, who focuses on the practice side of domestic justifications of order with the figure of pastoral leadership.” (p. 7)

Link to the article

Reparieren, Selbermachen, Längernutzen. Kreislaufwirtschaften als Alternative zum ressourcenintensiven, linearen Massenkonsum?

Repair, do-it-yourself, use for longer. Circular economies as an alternative to resource-intensive, linear mass consumption?

Michael Jonas, Sebastian Nessel & Nina Tröger (2021)

In: Jonas, Michael/Nessel, Sebastian/Tröger, Nina (eds.), Reparieren, Selbermachen und Kreislaufwirtschaften. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp. 1-24.

Zusammenfassung. Reparieren, Selbermachen, Längernutzen und Kreislaufwirtschaften werden oftmals als zukunftsweisende Alternativen zu den Produktions- und Konsumtionsweisen heutiger Wegwerfgesellschaften gedeutet. Vor diesem Hintergrund werden die Beiträge in diesem Band thematisch verortet. Die genannten Praktiken des Reparierens, Selbermachens und des Längernutzens werden als Phänomene von Bottom-up-Initiativen gedeutet, die vornehmlich in der öffentlichen Sphäre beheimatet sind und von einem zivilgesellschaftlichen Engagement profitieren. Ihre aktuell vergleichsweise marginale Bedeutung ist historisch durch die Durchsetzung fordistischer Produktionsregime und dazugehöriger ressourcenvernutzenden Konsumtionsweisen bedingt. Aktuelle Initiativen des Kreislaufwirtschaftens stellen dahingegen Top-down-Strategien dar, in denen Akteur*innen vor allem aus der Politik und der Wirtschaft einen nachhaltigen Umgang mit Ressourcen mit Hilfe von Kommodifizierungsstrategien vorantreiben. Inwiefern die genannten Bottom-up- und Top down-Prozesse gut miteinander verknüpft werden können und inwiefern die genannten Praktiken wie auch die Kreislaufwirtschaftsstrategien wirksame Alternativen zu den Regimen der Massenproduktion und -konsumtion sein können, lässt sich bislang noch nicht abschließend beurteilen.

Extracts. “Die Wirkung der genannten Einflussparameter hat sich in den hochflexibilisierten Gesellschaften der Nachmoderne (Reckwitz 2017, 2019) oder des integrierten Kapitalismus (Boltanski und Esquerre 2018) noch einmal verstärkt und verschärft. Sie wird hierbei durch kulturelle Wandlungsprozesse teils begleitet, teils angetrieben. […] Zumindest wenn man Studien zum „neuen Geist des Kapitalismus“ folgt, dann wäre es keine Überraschung, wenn die „Reparaturbewegung“ die Erfahrung vieler anderer kapitalismuskritischen Bewegungen teilen wird: Kritik am bestehenden Wirtschaftssystem wurde von Unternehmen aufgegriffen und weitere, ehemals private Lebenspraktiken wurden kommodifiziert bzw. markförmig organisiert (Boltanski und Chiapello 2003).” (p. 12/18)

Abstract. Repair, do-it-yourself, extended use and circular economies are often interpreted as forward-looking alternatives to the production and consumption methods of today’s throwaway societies. Against this background, the contributions in this volume are thematically organized. The above-mentioned practices of repairing, do-it-yourself and extended use are interpreted as phenomena of bottom-up initiatives, which are primarily at home in the public sphere and benefit from a civil society commitment. Their current comparatively marginal importance is historically conditioned by the enforcement of Fordist production regimes and the associated resource-using modes of consumption. Current circular economy initiatives, on the other hand, represent top-down strategies in which actors, especially from politics and business, promote the sustainable use of resources with the help of commodification strategies. To what extent the aforementioned bottom-up and top-down processes can be well linked and to what extent the aforementioned practices as well as circular economy strategies can be effective alternatives to the regimes of mass production and consumption cannot yet be conclusively assessed.

Extracts. « The effect of the aforementioned influencing parameters has been amplified and intensified in the highly flexibilized societies of postmodernity (Reckwitz 2017, 2019) or integrated capitalism (Boltanski and Esquerre 2018). In this context, it is partly accompanied, partly driven by processes of cultural transformation. […] At least if one follows studies on the « new spirit of capitalism, » it would be no surprise if the « repair movement » will share the experience of many other movements critical of capitalism: Criticisms of the existing economic system have been taken up by corporations, and further, formerly private life practices have been commodified or organized in market terms (Boltanski and Chiapello 2003). » (p. 12/18)

Link to the chapter

Cultural participation in digital environments: goals and stakes for Quebec cultural policies

Nathalie Casemajor, Guy Bellavance & Guillaume Sirois (2020)

International Journal of Cultural Policy, online.

Abstract. Digital environments have expanded the forms of cultural participation. This paper has two aims: first, to elucidate the changing definitions of cultural participation in relation to digital environments; second, to examine the ways in which cultural policies respond to the new digital conditions of cultural participation. Focusing on Quebec (Canada), this paper is based on a critical review of grey literature in the public policy. We identified three main goals pursued by Quebec cultural policies regarding digital participation: 1) to produce and disseminate national cultural content; 2) to encourage cultural equity and diversity; 3) to encourage digital equity. The analysis shows that these goals partially exceed the scope of cultural policies to intersect with economic, educational, and youth policies. We also argue that policy frameworks and funding programs in support of cultural policies tend to legitimize an overlap of civic, commercial, and industrial logics of cultural participation.

Extract. “First, we situate some of the major changes that have occurred in cultural participation with the development of the digital environment. We then discuss three main goals of Quebec cultural policies in this area: to produce and disseminate national 1 cultural content; to encourage cultural equity and diversity; and to encourage digital equity. To conclude, we discuss the main issues raised by the reconfiguration of cultural publics in the digital environment for cultural policies in relation to civic, commercial, and industrial logics of cultural participation (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006 [1991])”

Link to the article

Ein grüner Geist des Kapitalismus? Konturen einer neuen Wirtschaftsgesinnung

A green spirit of capitalism? Contours of a New Economic Mindset

Gregor Kungl (2021)

SOI Discussion Paper, No. 2021-01, Institut für Sozialwissenschaften, Abteilung für Organisations- und Innovationssoziologie. Stuttgart: Universität Stuttgart.

Zusammenfassung. Diese Arbeit geht der Frage nach, inwieweit sich gegenwärtig, in Auseinandersetzung mit den ökologischen Herausforderungen unserer Zeit, ein « grüner » Geist des Kapitalismus herausbildet. Unter dem grünen Geist des Kapitalismus wird eine Wirtschaftsgesinnung verstanden, die unternehmerisches Handeln orientiert, motiviert und legitimiert und von der Vorstellung einer grundsätzlichen Vereinbarkeit kapitalistischer Prinzipien und ökologischer Zielsetzungen geprägt ist. Der Aufsatz bietet erstens auf Basis eines systematischen Vergleiches der drei theoretischen Ansätze von Weber, Sombart und Boltanski/Chiapello eine integrative Neufassung des Konzeptes des kapitalistischen Geistes. Zweitens wird mithilfe einer breiten Literaturrecherche der Stand der Forschung zur Verbreitung der Sinngehalte eines grünen kapitalistischen Geistes in verschiedenen gesellschaftlichen Feldern herausgearbeitet – Wirtschaft, Politik, Zivilgesellschaft und Wissenschaft. Die Literaturrecherche liefert Hinweise auf einen Bedeutungsgewinn ökologischer Inhalte im Gegenwartskapitalismus und erlaubt den grünen Geist des Kapitalismus als empirisches Phänomen in seiner Ausprägung zu konkretisieren. Wesentliche Fragen nach dessen Prävalenz, den Verbreitungsmodi und seiner praktischen Bedeutung bleiben jedoch unbeantwortet und müssen von zukünftiger Forschung adressiert werden.

Abstract. This paper examines the question of the extent to which a « green spirit of capitalism » is currently emerging in response to the ecological challenges of our time. The green spirit of capitalism is understood as an economic mentality that orients, motivates and legitimizes entrepreneurial action and is characterized by the idea of a fundamental compatibility of capitalist principles and ecological objectives. Based on a systematic comparison of the three theoretical approaches of Weber, Sombart and Boltanski/Chiapello, the paper offers, first, an integrative revision of the concept of the spirit of capitalism. Second, based on a broad literature review, the paper elaborates on the state of research on the diffusion of the meaning of a green capitalist spirit in different social fields, such as the economy, politics, civil society and science. The literature review provides evidence of an increase in the importance of ecological content for contemporary capitalism and allows us to describe the empirical manifestations of the green spirit of capitalism more concretely. However, essential questions about the prevalence, modes of dissemination and practical significance of this economic mentality remain unanswered and need to be addressed by future research.

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Schlüsselwerke der Wirtschaftssoziologie

Keyworks in economic sociology

Kraemer, Klaus/Brugger, Florian (eds.)
2nd ed. Wiesbaden: Springer VS

Rainer Diaz-Bone (2021): François Eymard-Duvernay und Emmanuelle Marchal: Façons de Recruiter. pp. 363-368.

Zusammenfassung. Zu den zentralen Anliegen der neuen französischen Wirtschaftssoziologie zählt seit den 1980er Jahren die Analyse der Formen und Praktiken der Qualitätskonstruktion und der Bewertung. Diese werden auch als Valorisierung oder (vor allem außerhalb Frankreichs) Valuation bezeichnet. Insbesondere die Ökonomie der Konventionen (économie des conventions, kurz EC) hat die konzeptionellen Grundlagen für die Analyse der verschiedenen Formen der Valorisierung von Produkten, Praktiken und Personen entwickelt und in einer Vielzahl von Studien empirisch untersucht […].

Abstract. Among the central concerns of the new French economic sociology since the 1980s has been the analysis of the forms and practices of quality construction and valuation. These are also called valorization or (especially outside France) valuation. In particular, the economics of conventions (économie des conventions, or EC) has developed the conceptual basis for the analysis of the various forms of valorization of products, practices, and people and has empirically investigated them in a large number of studies […].

Rainer Diaz-Bone (2021): Luc Boltanski und Arnaud Esquerre: Bereicherung. Eine Kritik der Ware. pp. 625-630.

Zusammenfassung. Das Buch Bereicherung trägt in mehrfacher Weise zur neuen französischen Wirtschaftssoziologie bei. Es legt einmal eine Analyse der gegenwärtigen Transformation des Kapitalismus vor, weiter erarbeiten Boltanski und Esquerre hierin eine Theorie des Wertes (sowie der Wertermittlung und Valorisierung) und dann muss man diese umfangreiche wirtschaftssoziologische Untersuchung auch als einen Beitrag zur soziologischen Theoriebildung anerkennen. Bereicherung setzt damit eine Reihe von umfangreichen und international einflussreichen Kooperationen fort, die Boltanski mit Über die Rechtfertigung (Boltanski und Thévenot 2007) begonnen und dann mit Der neue Geist des Kapitalismus (Boltanski und Chiapello 2003) fortgesetzt hat.

Abstract. The book Enrichment contributes to the new French economic sociology in several ways. On the one hand, it presents an analysis of the current transformation of capitalism; further, Boltanski and Esquerre elaborate herein a theory of value (as well as of value determination and valorization); and then, this extensive economic sociological investigation must also be acknowledged as a contribution to sociological theorizing. Enrichment thus continues a series of extensive and internationally influential collaborations that Boltanski began with On Justification (Boltanski and Thévenot 2007) and then continued with The New Spirit of Capitalism (Boltanski and Chiapello 2003).

Link to the book

Organisationen, Konventionen und Kritik. Der französische Neopragmatismus in der Organisationsforschung

Organizations, Conventions, and Criticism. French Neopragmatism in Organizational Research

Lisa Knoll (2020)

In: Appelt, Maja (ed.), Handbuch Organisationssoziologie. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, Online first

Zusammenfassung. Die französische Économie des conventions ist in der Wirtschaftssoziologie beheimatet, hält aber auch auch für die Organisationssoziologie wichtige Perspektiven bereit. Sie macht sichtbar, dass die Organisation der Wirtschaft auf vielfältige Weise möglich ist und erweitert so klassische Vorstellungen von „der Organisation“, die auch Märkte miteinschließt. Ins Zentrum des analytischen Interesses geraten die Techniken des Organisierens, die Regeln und Verordnungen, Ratgeber und Handlungsanweisungen, sowie der permanente Streit, der um sie geführt wird. Organisation erscheint so als Manöver gegen und für die Kritik. Das Anwachsen der Bürokratie in Zeiten ihres postulierten Abbaus wird so erklärlich.

Abstract. The French approach of Économie des conventions is at home in economic sociology, but also holds important perspectives for organizational sociology. It makes visible that the organization of the economy is possible in many ways and thus expands classical notions of « the organization », which also includes markets. The techniques of organizing, the rules and regulations, advisors and instructions for action, as well as the permanent dispute that is waged over them, become the focus of analytical interest. Organization thus appears as a maneuver against and for critique. The growth of bureaucracy in times of its postulated dismantling thus becomes explicable.

Link to the chapter

From hostile worlds to multiple spheres: towards a normative pragmatics of justice for the Googlization of health

Tamar Sharon (2021)

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, Online first

Abstract. The datafication and digitalization of health and medicine has engendered a proliferation of new collaborations between public health institutions and data corporations like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon. Critical perspectives on these new partnerships tend to frame them as an instance of market transgressions by tech giants into the sphere of health and medicine, in line with a “hostile worlds” doctrine that upholds that the borders between market and non-market spheres should be carefully policed. This article seeks to outline the limitations of this common framing for critically understanding the phenomenon of the Googlization of health. In particular, the mobilization of a diversity of non-market value statements in the justification work carried out by actors involved in the Googlization of health indicates the co-presence of additional worlds or spheres in this context, which are not captured by the market vs. non-market dichotomy. It then advances an alternative framework, based on a multiple-sphere ontology that draws on Boltanski and Thévenot’s orders of worth and Michael Walzer’s theory of justice, which I call a normative pragmatics of justice. This framework addresses both the normative deficit in Boltanski and Thévenot’s work and provides an important emphasis on the empirical workings of justice. Finally, I discuss why this framework is better equipped to identify and to address the many risks raised by the Googlization of health and possibly other dimensions of the digitalization and datafication of society.

Link to the article

Resisting Work Degeneration in Collectivist-Democratic Organizations: Craft Ethics in a French Cooperative Sheet-Metal Factory

Stéphane Jaumier & Thibault Daudigeos (2021)

Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 72, pp. 55-79.

Abstract. Past research on collectivist-democratic organizations has attributed their distinctiveness to their socio-political goals and democratic decision-making and largely ignored their work processes. This ethnographic study examines how such organizations resist alienating forms of work even in the face of direct competition with for-profit companies. It focuses on Scopix, a French cooperative sheet-metal factory where the first author spent one year as a shop-floor worker. Cooperators there developed various practices to retain an emancipatory dimension to their work, regularly putting forward “craft ethics” as a counterweight to the sheet-metal industry’s drive to rationalize work processes. Drawing on the sociology of worth, the authors analyze how these practices emerged from the arrangements that workers made between the industrial world on the one side and the domestic and inspired worlds on the other. This study contributes to the literature into two main ways. First, the authors refine the sociology-of-worth framework by conceptualizing the emancipatory dimension of work as the result of ad hoc arrangements between different worlds. Second, the authors highlight the need for the literature on collectivist-democratic organizations to increase its focus on work, introducing the concept of work degeneration as a step in that direction.

Link to the article

Conventions, Health and Society

Philippe Batifoulier & Rainer Diaz-Bone (eds.)(2021)

Historical Social Research, 46(1).

Special Issue – Conventions, Health and Society – Convention Theory as an Institutionalist Approach to the Political Economy of Health

  • Philippe Batifoulier & Rainer Diaz-Bone: Perspectives on the Economics and Sociology of Health. Contributions from the Institutionalist Approach of Economics of Convention – An Introduction. [Abstract]
  • Philippe Batifoulier, Jean-Paul Domin & Amandine Rauly: Erosion of Solidarity in France and Welfare Conventions: The New Role of Complementary Health Insurance. [Abstract]
  • Philippe Batifoulier, Louise Braddock, Victor Duchesne, Ariane Ghirardello & John Latsis: Targeting “Lifestyle” Conditions. What Justifications for Treatment? [Abstract]
  • Nicolas Da Silva: The Industrialization of “Liberal Medicine” in France. A Labor Quality Conventions Approach. [Abstract]
  • Peter Streckeisen: Medicine and Economic Knowledge: The Relevance of Career in the Study of Transformations in the Healthcare System. [Abstract]
  • Tine Hanrieder & Eloisa Montt Maray: Digitalizing Community Health Work: A Struggle over the Values of Global Health Policy. [Abstract]
  • Eva Nadai, Anna Gonon, Robin Hübscher & Anna John: The Social Organization of Work Incapacity. Incapacities in the Swiss Social Insurance System and in the Workplace. [Abstract]
  • Anne Vatter & Walter Bartl: Justifying Physical Activity (Dis-)Engagements: Fitness Centers and the Latent Expectations of (Former) Members. [Abstract]
  • Johannes Achatz, Stefan Selke & Nele Wulf: Adjusting Reality. The Contingency Dilemma in the Context of Popularised Practices of Digital Self-Tracking of Health Data. [Abstract]
  • Valeska Cappel: The Plurality of Daily Digital Health. The Emergence of a New Form of Health Coordination. [Abstract]
  • Eryk Noji, Karolin Kappler & Uwe Vormbusch: Situating Conventions of Health: Transformations, Inaccuracies, and the Limits of Measuring in the Field of Self-Tracking. [Abstract]
  • Rainer Diaz-Bone: Economics of Convention Meets Canguilhem. [Abstract]

Link to HSR

Faire digitale Dienste: Ko-Valuation in der Gestaltung datenökonomischer Geschäftsmodelle (FAIR­DIENSTE)

Fair digital services: co-evaluation in the design of data-economic business models

New research project, from 02/2021 to 02/2024 at University of Kassel

Motivation, Ziele und Vorgehen. Unternehmen, die digitale Produkte oder Dienstleistungen vermarkten, stehen oft vor dem Dilemma, dass ihr Interesse und ihr Bedarf an Kundendaten dem Wunsch der Kundinnen und Kunden nach Privatheit entgegensteht. Für Verbraucherinnen und Verbraucher bedeutet es einen Eingriff in ihre Selbstbestimmungsrechte, wenn sie zu viele Daten preisgeben müssen oder durch digitale Überwachung in ihrem Verhalten unbemerkt gelenkt werden. Im Projekt „Faire digitale Dienste: Ko-Valuation in der Gestaltung datenökonomischer Geschäftsmodelle (FAIRDIENSTE)“ wird dieser Strukturkonflikt zum Anlass genommen, verschiedene Wege der fairen Vermittlung von Werten im Zuge der Geschäftsmodellgestaltung mit soziologischen und  (wirtschafts-)informatischen Ansätzen auszuloten und in Beziehung zu setzen. […] Das soziologische Teilvorhaben greift insbesondere auf die Forschungsrichtung der Soziologie der Konventionen zurück. Diese betont, dass monetäre Wertgesichtspunkte nicht die einzigen Maßstäbe zur Wertvermittlung sind; vielmehr geht es im Rahmen komplexer gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhänge stets um die Koordination und Vermittlung einer Pluralität von Wertgesichtspunkten.

Abstract. Companies that market digital products or services often face the dilemma that their interest in and need for customer data conflicts with their customers’ desire for privacy. For consumers, it means an encroachment on their rights of self-determination if they have to disclose too much data or are guided in their behavior unnoticed by digital surveillance. In the project « Fair digital services: co-evaluation in the design of data-economic business models (FAIRDIENSTE) », this structural conflict is taken as an opportunity to explore and compare different ways of fairly communicating values in the course of business model design using sociological and (business) informatics approaches. […] The sociological sub-project draws in particular on the research direction of the sociology of conventions. This emphasizes that monetary value points of view are not the only yardsticks for the mediation of value; rather, within the framework of complex social contexts, it is always a matter of coordinating and mediating a plurality of value points of view.

Official statistics: Language for public discourse

Walter Radermacher (2021)

Report “Data 6 Policy Blog”, part 1 (3 March 2021) and 2 (5 March)

Extract. “Statistical information, in the sense of the ‘Économie des Conventions’, are artefacts that are designed and produced. The same rules apply to such informational products as to other products: their design must be suitable to provide factual answers to users’ questions; they must be produced with good quality; educated clientele with a sense for quality is a prerequisite. The public infrastructure that provides society, politics and the economy with elementary facts is official statistics.”

Link to Part 1 Link to Part 2

The justification of a music city: Handbooks, intermediaries and value disputes in a global policy assemblage

Toby Bennett (2020)

City, Culture and Society, 22, pp. 1-8.

Abstract. The intermediary work of persuasion and justification is an important but often hidden aspect of urban cultural policy. Rather than the frictionless flow and ‘transfer’ of knowledge, the global assemblage of creative economy policy – especially novel, oppositional or more ‘just’ visions of creative cities – is an accomplishment. One such vision is the call to develop a hybrid cultural-industrial policy that would attend to the internal processes and dynamics of culture as a production system. Drawing from the pragmatic sociology of justification and critique, the paper focuses on the ‘Music City’ construct as a live example of this vision, and the best-practice ‘handbook’ as key justification device. Handbooks are used by intermediaries to spread ideas, signal expertise, convince and ‘educate’ those that might fund them, coordinate heterogeneous stakeholders, and to enthuse and achieve legitimacy among a broader public. In so doing, they present a repertoire of arguments, rooted in competing value formations, that respond to doubts and disputes with potentials for compromise and appeals to a ‘common good’. Analysing the justificatory ‘grammar’ of a new Music City discourse suggests avenues for further research exploring how justification work takes place in situated contexts of urban cultural practice.

Link to the article

“Living Ghosts” and how to “Cook” Them: Homo Sacer as a “Sociodicy of (Im)purity” among the Miao of Guizhou, China

Yan Liu & Chris K. K. Tan (2020)

Asian Studies Review 44(3), pp. 459-473

Abstract. Agamben (1998) famously resurrected the homo sacer figure from obscurity in ancient Roman law. Originally conceived as a heuristic device, this “sacred man” concept has been applied largely in studies of refugees and prisoners. This article makes use of the concept in the more traditionally anthropological arenas of kinship and marriage. Some Miao in China’s Guizhou province have been branded as “living ghosts”, because their ancestors allegedly betrayed their village to pillaging rebels. We argue that this branding might have reflected not so much the betrayal, but rather longstanding socioeconomic and political tensions between the Miao and neighbouring ethnic groups. As such, we regard the living ghosts’ origin story more as a social justification of ontological (un)cleanliness that we call “sociodicy of (im)purity”. Lastly, the ghosts’ collective wealth and political influence prevent their complete descent into Agambenian bare life, so this article enriches our understanding of how the homo sacer concept operates empirically.

Extract. “In using the term sociodicy, we do not seek to establish a coherent conception of order that presupposes a relatively stable system of meaning. Rather, we look at how Blue Lily villagers morally account for the impure personhood they imposed on living ghosts in the past, and the taboo they establish against “clean” people socialising with these ghosts in the present. To achieve this goal, we partly follow Boltanski’s sociology of critique (Boltanski & Thévenot, 2006), which differs from Bourdieusian critical sociology in that it considers social actors as fully capable of both recognising the interests at stake behind an argument, and tracing underlying causal mechanisms for social behaviour. The ways in which justifications are proposed form a central focus in this sociology of critique. Before justifications can become relevant, there must first be both disputes (i.e. disagreements over the definition of the situation), and equivalence (i.e. comparisons and measurements of things and people on the basis of some criterion). This latter notion of “test” (épreuve) rests at the heart of Boltanski’s theory. It “concerns the selection process governing the differential distribution of persons between positions of unequal value, and the more or less just character of this distribution” (Boltanski & Chiapello, 2005, p. 32).” (p. 462)

Link to the article

Is mathematical modelling an instrument of knowledge co-production?

Elisa Vecchione & Zaid Chalabi (2021)

Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, Online first.

Abstract. We interrogate mathematical modelling as an instrument of knowledge co-production by concentrating on the classical probabilistic operationalization of decision-making under uncertainty used for informing climate change mitigation options. We construct our co-productive assessment framework by first retrieving criticisms targeted at expected utility theory in relation to its epistemic and ethical limits in dealing with ‘true’ uncertainty. We then reflect on how ethical values should operate in relation to uncertainty in order to live up to the co-production ideal and specifically, to the principle of Responsible Research and Innovation. We thus undertake the perspective of a general modeller and test our reflections by imagining the classical probabilistic space of calculation as a space of negotiation between probabilities, ideas, values and beliefs. We thus propose an alternative ‘public’ space of calculation in which the conditions for co-production are set up on a pragmatic and moral account of rational expectations.

Link to the article