Archives mensuelles : mai 2021

Analyse d’ouvrage : Pascal Ughetto (2018). Les nouvelles sociologies du travail. Introduction à la sociologie de l’activité

Review of “Pascal Ughetto (2018), Les nouvelles sociologies du travail. Introduction à la sociologie de l’activité. Louvain-la-Neuve: De Boeck.”

Marie Ghis Malfilatre (2021)

Activités [En ligne], 18-1, Open Access

Extrait: “L’ouvrage de Pascal Ughetto a pour ambition de rendre compte des renouvellements introduits dans la sociologie du travail en France à partir des années 1990 par un large ensemble de recherches regroupées ici sous le label de « sociologie de l’activité ». Destiné à un public d’étudiants, de praticiens, mais aussi de sociologues intéressés par d’autres domaines, l’ouvrage entend mettre à disposition ces travaux et leurs méthodes pour « aider à s’emparer de cette ressource théorique qui vient s’ajouter aux possibilités diverses d’analyse sociologique du travail » (p. 15). Organisé en six chapitres, ce court ouvrage entend ainsi présenter de manière pédagogique un ensemble de recherches, en préciser les origines, mais aussi engager une discussion autour de leurs apports et de leurs limites.
L’introduction s’ouvre sur le contexte qui a vu émerger ces « nouvelles sociologies du travail » dans un moment de reconfiguration du paysage intellectuel français caractérisé à la fois par le recul du marxisme et un « tournant pragmatique » dans les sciences sociales à la fin des années 1980 (p. 12). Les problématiques classiques de la sociologie du travail, principalement centrées sur la figure de l’ouvrier et pensées à travers le prisme salarial, peuvent se répartir en quatre pôles principaux selon Pascal Ughetto. D’un côté se trouvent les travaux portant sur les enjeux liés à la division et à la rationalisation du travail ou sur les problématiques de qualifications et de métiers et, d’un autre côté, les recherches sur l’évolution des formes d’emploi ou sur les relations professionnelles (pp. 8‑12). Par contraste, les « nouvelles sociologies du travail », aussi plurielles soient-elles, partagent un intérêt commun pour l’analyse du « travail en train de se faire » ce qui, au plan international, relève d’un mouvement nommé le « practice turn » (p. 12). Ce mouvement rassemble en France des auteurs et propositions théoriques aussi diverses que l’économie des conventions de Laurent Thévenot et Luc Boltanski, la sociologie des sciences et des techniques telle que pratiquée par Michel Callon et Bruno Latour ou encore les travaux de Nicolas Dodier sur les relations que les opérateurs entretiennent avec les machines.”

Extract: “Pascal Ughetto’s book aims to give an account of the changes introduced into the sociology of work in France from the 1990s onwards by a large body of research grouped here under the label of « sociology of activity ». Intended for students, practitioners, but also sociologists interested in other fields, the book intends to make this work and its methods available in order to « help to take hold of this theoretical resource which has been added to the various possibilities of sociological analysis of work » (p. 15). Organized in six chapters, this short book intends to present in a pedagogical way a set of researches, to specify their origins, but also to initiate a discussion about their contributions and their limits.
The introduction opens with the context that saw the emergence of these « new sociologies of work » at a time of reconfiguration of the French intellectual landscape, characterized both by the retreat of Marxism and a « pragmatic turn » in the social sciences in the late 1980s (p. 12). The classical problems of the sociology of work, mainly centered on the figure of the worker and thought through the wage prism, can be divided into four main poles according to Pascal Ughetto. On the one hand, there is work on the issues related to the division and rationalization of work or on the problems of qualifications and professions, and on the other hand, research on the evolution of forms of employment or on industrial relations (pp. 8-12). In contrast, the « new sociologies of work », however plural they may be, share a common interest in the analysis of « work in the making » which, at the international level, is part of a movement called the « practice turn » (p. 12). In France, this movement brings together authors and theoretical proposals as diverse as Laurent Thévenot and Luc Boltanski’s economics of convention, the sociology of science and technology as practiced by Michel Callon and Bruno Latour, and Nicolas Dodier’s work on the relationship between operators and machines.”

Link to the review

Moral responses to uncertainty: The economies of worth towards a reconceptualization of decision making and management

Alfredo Grattarola (2021)

Working Paper

Abstract. The sizeable literature that deploys Boltanski and Thévenot’s (1991, 2006) “economies of worth” model of moral cognition to study organization and management under conditions of uncertainty and value pluralism is connoted by a striking variety of interests, terminology, and theorizing approaches. This review argues for the literature’s emerging cumulative cohesiveness and for its value as a source of concepts and problems for researchers exploring organizational behavior, organizational complexity, knowledge and innovation, organizational justice, and leadership. By mapping the literature onto the elements of the source model, the review induces several constructs that – though requiring integration and development – outline a distinctive conception of organization: the collective exercise of moral sense is necessarily coterminous with decision and policy making; information and formal structures and practices arise out of it, as opposed to forming its context; the core concern of management is the functionality of the socio-material networks in which it unfolds. After defining several integrative and developmental research questions and locating the roots of the literature’s variety in the specificities of the economies of worth’s interdisciplinary translation, the review concludes by proposing a research approach based on four epistemological and methodological shifts that retains the model’s core assumptions but moves beyond its special conceptual confines and uses more general tools.

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Was nicht passt, wird passend gemacht: Design und Unterdrückung

What doesn’t fit is made to fit: design and suppression

Nina Pohler (2021)

In: Christoph Rodatz & Pierre Smolarski (eds.), Wie können wir den Schaden maximieren? Bielefeld: Transkript, pp. 143-162. Open Access.

Auszug: “In diesem Beitrag wird auf einen Modus der Unterdrückung fokussiert, der nicht nur in böswilliger oder »neokolonialer«, sondern auch in gut gemeinter Gestaltung vorkommen kann. Die Konfliktlinie verläuft hier entlang der Möglichkeiten der Generalisierung von Partikularität. Diese Perspektive, in der der Widerspruch zwischen Optimierung für bestimmte Zwecke und Offenheit für Heterogenität eine Quelle für Unterdrückung darstellt, geht auf die Arbeit von Laurent Thévenot zurück. Unterdrückung kann verschiedenes meinen, in den meisten Fällen wird unter Unterdrückung die gewalttätige Durchsetzung von Interessen der Stärkeren verstanden.” (p. 145)

Extract: “This paper focuses on a mode of oppression that can occur not only in malicious or « neocolonial « 4 but also in well-intentioned design. The line of conflict here runs along the possibilities of generalizing particularity. This perspective, in which the contradiction between optimization for specific purposes and openness to heterogeneity is a source of oppression, stems from the work of Laurent Thévenot . Oppression can mean different things; in most cases, oppression is understood as the violent enforcement of the interests of the stronger. » (p. 145)

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Legitimations of Finnish education export – exploring the plurality of guiding principles

Henna Juusola & Terhi Nokkala (2021)

European Journal of Higher Education. Online first

Abstract. This paper explores the legitimation of Finnish education export (EE) activities linked to higher education institutions. As a small non-English speaking country with only recent involvement in the EE market, Finland provides an underexplored context to consider the legitimation of overseas, fee-based educational services from the perspective of EE providers. In this qualitative case study comprising two Finnish EE endeavours, we draw on convention theory to argue that the legitimation of education export is based on multiple roles of such export, not just on generating revenue for the provider institution. We show that legitimations are linked to multiple guiding principles, illustrated in our data through five themes: education for the future generations, competing institutions, localisation of education activity, project-oriented activity, and Finnishness of education export. Due to the plurality of principles, the legitimation process of EE among internal and external stakeholders includes more variation than the seemingly important market-driven logic would suggest, even if this logic has been in focus of the national higher education policy over the past decade.

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Technologisches Regieren. Der Aufstieg des Netzwerk-Denkens in der Krise der Moderne

Technological Governance. The Rise of Network Thinking in the Crisis of Modernity

Vincent August (2021)

Bielefeld: Transcript.

Auszug: « In eine ähnliche Richtung stößt eine sehr bekannte wirtschaftssoziologische Studie, die ironischerweise des Öfteren als eine Studie über den Neoliberalismus missverstanden worden ist. In Der neue Geist des Kapitalismus untersuchten Luc Boltanski und Ève Chiapello die Management-Literatur der 1990er Jahre und zeigten, dass der ›neue Geist‹ des Kapitalismus auf einer ›konnexionistischen Polis‹ beruhe, in deren Zentrum der Netzwerk-Begriff steht. Dieser neue Geist unterscheide sich laut Boltanski und Chiapello nicht nur von dem dominanten hierarchischen Geist, den sie in ihrem Vergleichskorpus aus den 1960er Jahren finden; er gehe auch mit der Marktlogik nicht zusammen. Denn statt auf reinen Wettbewerb setze dieses mind set zusätzlich auf Kooperation, statt auf einmalige Transaktionen suche es nach Koordination und statt der Anthropologie des isolierten Individuums zu folgen, sehe es den Menschen als vernetztes Subjekt. Daher schlussfolgern Boltanski und Chiapello, ihre Studie »begründet eine gewisse Skepsis gegenüber Interpretationen, die die jüngsten Entwicklungen schlicht als ein [sic!] Verschärfung des Wirtschaftsliberalismus deuten. » (p. 14)

Extract: « In a similar vein, a very well-known economic sociological study, ironically, has often been misunderstood as a study of neoliberalism. In The New Spirit of Capitalism, Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapel-lo examined the management literature of the 1990s and showed that the ‘new spirit’ of capitalism was based on a ‘connectionist polis’ centered on the network notion. According to Boltanski and Chiapello, this new spirit is not only different from the dominant hierarchical spirit they find in their comparative corpus from the 1960s; it also does not go together with market logic. For instead of pure competition, this mind set additionally focuses on cooperation, instead of one-off transactions it seeks coordination, and instead of following the anthropology of the isolated individual, it sees the human being as a networked subject. Therefore, Boltanski and Chiapello conclude, their study « justifies a certain skepticism toward interpretations that interpret recent developments simply as a [sic!] tightening of economic liberalism. » (p. 14)

Instrumentalization of Emotion During the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

A Neopragmatist Analysis of the Presidential Nominees’ Media Communication

Sheena F. Bartscherer (2021)

In: Paul Helfritzsch and Jörg Müller Hipper (eds.), Die Emotionalisierung des Politischen. Bielefeld: Transcript, pp. 321-372.

Extract: “To gain these insights, I established a neopragmatist discourse analysis based on Boltanski’s and Thévenot’s Pragmatic Sociology of Critique (PSC), extending it by measures of suggestive actions (past and future references of other action regimes’ rationales such as violence, love and rightness/routine).” (p. 322)

Link to the chapter

Economic Mind: From Attribution Error to Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Bartosz Kuźniarz (2020)

Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric, 62(1), pp. 245-264. Open Access.

Abstract. I argue in this text that the economic mind is a culturally hegemonic, naturalistic interpretation of the behavior produced by the revolutionary nature of the economic and technical developments of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Despite persistent criticism, people fulfilled the predictions of the economic model of a human being for so long that they committed an attribution error and took it to be the adequate vision of human nature. Neoclassical economic theory played a significant, even if involuntary, role in the spread of this illusion. I also claim that the concept of economic mind—as the dominant interpretation of human nature—currently functions as a self-fulfilling prophecy, reproducing behaviors that would have a chance to change (refuting the theory developed on their basis), were it not for the popularity of this concept as commonsensical definition of human nature.

Extract: “Given the various popular aberrations of the technical version of the rational maximizer model of a human being, is it truly fair to burden economic theory with responsibility for grounding the naturalistic myth of economic man? Perhaps the fault lies with the blunt recipients who, in search of the “spirit”, and thus ethical justification for their homo-economic behaviour (Boltanski & Chiapello, 2005), did not take into account the methodological subtleties of neoclassical economic analysis? […] To be sure, the claim that in certain circumstances the appeal to nature can take over the function of ethical justification isn’t particularly revealing. This is the essence of the naturalistic fallacy (Moore, 1903). It seems, however, that natural facts are currently gaining advantage over deontological arguments in the role of a culturally dominant justification (Boltanski & Thévenot, 2006) for human actions.” (p. 252/260)

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On the West–East methodological bias in measuring international migration

Anastasia Gorodzeisky & Inna Leykin (2021)

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Online first

Abstract. This article examines the complex relations between two social processes – standardisation and quantification in measuring migration. We explore how international migrant populations in the European territories of the former USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia have been defined, counted and presented in European population statistics. Our analysis led us to conclude that the category of international migrant, defined as a person born abroad according to the present-time borders, has low contextual validity in postsocialist European contexts. Perceived as universally applicable, however, the category is persistently used in enumerating migration in postsocialist Europe. We argue that the unchallenged transferability of the category of international migrant across contexts is based on the West–East methodological bias – a preconception embedded in the standardisation and quantification of migration. The West–East methodological bias plays a dual role. It fuels the initial perception of the category, forged in Western geopolitical contexts, as standardised and applicable across different settings. Then, in combination with the perceived power of the quantified representation of reality, the West–East methodological bias contributes to the further objectification of the standardised category.”

Extract: “Building on the analytical and methodological tools of the qualitative study of knowledge practices and the quantitative comparative approach to migration, the study’s contribution is twofold. First, we contribute to the scholarship on the politics of knowledge production by discussing the complex relations between standardisation and quantification in measuring migration. Specifically, we demonstrate the role of the West– East methodological bias as an important engine that fuels these relations. In this we follow scholarship inspired by Bourdieu’s call to reflexively interrogate the social conditions of the production of knowledge and to uncover the limitations of scientific accounts (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992). Second, the systematic examination of the contextual validity of the category of international migrant, informed by the Western geopolitical reality but applied in the context of postsocialist European states, contributes to comparative research on migration. Rather than rejecting the standardisation and quantification necessary for comparative research on migration, we seek to understand the uses and misuses of the standardised categories, as well as the social contexts and political assumptions that shape them (Thévenot 2009; Diaz-Bone and Didier 2016).” (p. 2)

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«Revitalisierung» der Berufsbildung Der bildungspolitische Weg zur Institutionalisierung der Berufsbildung in der Schweiz als Verbundaufgabe in den 1990er Jahren

« Revitalization » of Vocational Education and Training The educational policy path to the institutionalization of vocational education and training in Switzerland as a collaborative task in the 1990s

Lea Hägi (2021)

PhD thesis. Zurich: University of Zurich.

Prof. Dr. Philipp Gonon (University of Zurich), supervisor/committee member
Prof. Dr. Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne), reviewer/committee member
Dr. Maren Oepke (University of Zurich), assessor

Auszug: “1. Die berufliche Bildung in der Schweiz als Verbundaufgabe
Die berufliche Bildung in der Schweiz blickt auf eine Jahrhunderte alte Geschichte privatwirtschaftlichen Engagements zurück. […] Erst die jüngste Totalrevision der Bundesverfassung im Jahr 1999 ermöglichte es dem Bund das Bundesgesetz über die Berufsbildung auf alle nicht-akademischen – und damit auch nicht dem Gewerbe – Berufe auszudehnen. Vor dieser Verfassungsänderung erstreckte sich der Geltungsbereich des Bundesgesetzes über die Berufsbildung nur auf die Berufe der Wirtschaftszweige Industrie, Handel, Gewerbe, Forstwirtschaft und Hauswirtschaft, während Gesundheit, Soziales, Kunst und Berufe des öffentlichen Dienstes (Bahn, Post, Zoll, Polizei) der kantonalen Rechtsprechungen unterstellt waren (Gemperli, 1997; Wettstein, 1987; Wettstein & Gonon, 2009). […] In Bezug auf die berufliche Bildung war man sich zu Beginn der 1990er Jahre im Grundsatz nur einig, dass die Aufgabenverteilung zwischen Bund und Kantonen entflechtet, beziehungsweise gesetzgeberische Kompetenzen eindeutig dem Bund oder den Kantonen zugewiesen, und die Finanzströme vereinfacht werden sollten. Ob der Bund seine gesetzgeberische Kompetenz aber behalten oder die berufliche Bildung in die Verantwortlichkeit der Kantone übergehen sollte, war hingegen umstritten. Nicht weniger als das tragende Grundprinzip der geteilten Verantwortlichkeit im Bereich der beruflichen Bildung wurde radikal in Frage gestellt. Dieses Moment der Kritik und der Kontroverse bietet hier eine seltene Gelegenheit die Legitimation und Gestaltung der Grundpfeiler der schweizerischen Berufsbildung im Detail analysieren und verstehbar machen zu können. […]

2.1. Theoretische Annäherung: Die Economie des Conventions
Für die theoretische Auseinandersetzung mit den im Rahmen der vorliegenden Arbeit aufgeworfenen Fragestellungen der Legitimation der geteilten Verantwortlichkeit im Bereich der beruflichen Bildung, wird mit dem im Kern institutionentheoretisch begründeten Ansatz der Economie des Conventions (kurz EC) gearbeitet. Der interdisziplinär geprägte Ansatz wird auch als wissenschaftliche Bewegung bezeichnet und der neuen französischen Wirtschaftssoziologie zugeordnet (Diaz-Bone, 2018). Als zentrale Grundlagenwerke zur EC werden oft die Beiträge von Luc Boltanski und Laurent Thévenot (Boltanski & Thévenot, 1991) sowie jener von Robert Salais und Michaël Storper (Salais & Storper, 1993) bezeichnet. Die EC ist allerdings genauso geprägt von einer Vielzahl an Forschungsbeiträgen, die als Quellen für diese Grundlagenwerke dienten wie beispielsweise die Beiträge von François Eymard-Duvernay (1986) zu Produktqualitäten, von Robert Salais, Nicolas Baverez und Bénédicte Reynaud (1986) zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Wandels der Kategorie der Arbeitslosigkeit, von Robert Salais und Laurent Thévenot (1986) zur Kategorie der Arbeit, oder von Laurent Thévenot (1986) zu Forminvestitionen, die auch im Rahmen der vorliegenden Arbeit eine grosse Rolle spielen werden. Des Weiteren ist die Bewegung der EC aber ebenso geprägt von Beiträgen, die an die Grundlagenwerke anknüpfen und die aufgeworfenen Grundideen weiterentwickeln.” (p. 1/2/3/21)

Extract: « 1. vocational training in Switzerland as a joint task.
Vocational education in Switzerland looks back on a centuries-old history of private-sector involvement. […] It was not until the recent total revision of the Federal Constitution in 1999 that the Confederation was able to extend the Federal Law on Vocational Education and Training to all non-academic – and thus also non-trade – professions. Prior to this constitutional amendment, the scope of the Federal Law on Vocational Education and Training extended only to occupations in the economic sectors of industry, commerce, trade, forestry, and home economics, while health, social services, arts, and public service occupations (railroads, postal services, customs, police) were subject to cantonal jurisdictions (Gemperli, 1997; Wettstein, 1987; Wettstein & Gonon, 2009). […] With regard to vocational education and training, at the beginning of the 1990s there was in principle only agreement that the distribution of tasks between the federal government and the cantons should be unbundled, that legislative competences should be clearly assigned to the federal government or the cantons, and that financial flows should be simplified. However, whether the federal government should retain its legislative competence or whether vocational education and training should become the responsibility of the cantons was a matter of dispute. Nothing less than the fundamental principle of shared responsibility in the area of vocational education was radically called into question. This moment of criticism and controversy offers a unique opportunity to analyze and understand in detail the legitimacy and design of the basic pillars of Swiss vocational education. […]

2.1 Theoretical Approach: The Economie des Conventions
For the theoretical examination of the issues raised in the context of the present work on the legitimacy of shared responsibility in the field of vocational education and training, we will work with the approach of the Economie des Conventions (EC for short), which is at its core based on institutional theory. This interdisciplinary approach is also referred to as a scientific movement and is classified as part of the new French economic sociology (Diaz-Bone, 2018). The contributions of Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot (Boltanski & Thévenot, 1991) and that of Robert Salais and Michaël Storper (Salais & Storper, 1993) are often referred to as key foundational works on EC. However, the EC is equally characterized by a large number of research contributions that served as sources for these foundational works, such as the contributions of François Eymard-Duvernay (1986) on product qualities, of Robert Salais, Nicolas Baverez and Bé-nédicte Reynaud (1986) on the genesis of the change in the category of unemployment, by Robert Salais and Laurent Thévenot (1986) on the category of work, or by Laurent Thévenot (1986) on form investments, which will also play a major role in the context of the present work. Furthermore, however, the EC movement is equally characterized by contributions that follow up on the foundational works and further develop the basic ideas raised. » (p. 1/2/3/21)

On Gendered Justification: A Framework for Understanding Men’s and Women’s Entrepreneurial Resource‐Acquisition

Talia Pfefferman, Michal Frenkel & Sharon Gilad (2021)

Journal of Management Studies, Online first

Abstract. Studies of gender in entrepreneurship acknowledge that gender norms are at the root of women’s disadvantage in resource‐acquisition but provide limited guidance on how societal (macro‐level) norms and their gendering influence entrepreneurs’ micro‐level behaviours and stakeholders’ decisions within local contexts. To address this lacuna, we draw on gender theory and French Pragmatist Sociology (FPS) to offer G‐FPS: an analytical and methodological framework of resource‐claiming as a process of justifying, engaging and testing, embedded in normative context that constructs gender roles and social worth. Through analysis of a historical case of business resource‐acquisition in pre‐state Israel, we theorize and demonstrate how local gendered norms steered men and women to diverge in their justifications and self‐presentation when making their claims, and how stakeholders evaluated those claims according to their fit with situated gender expectations. We thus illustrate how macro‐level gender norms infiltrate and operate within micro‐level processing, persistently favouring men over women.

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An outline of a pragmatic sociology of ‘violence’

Alexandre Werneck, Cesar Pinheiro Teixeira & Vittorio da Gamma Talone (2020)

Sociologias, 22 n° 54, pp. 286-326. Open access.

Abstract. In this article we propose a model for a pragmatic sociology of violence. Based on a semiotic analysis of a primordial cognitive operation deployed in people’s definition of situations, namely qualification, the essential characterization of things, the paper maps the meanings attributed to what both ordinary social actors and academic analysts treat as violence. Our analysis shows that this operation imbues a concrete object with meaning, the disproportionate use of force, whose resignifications compose a typology of five ‘sociologies of violence,’ both native and academic. These are: substantivist, constructivist, political, critical, and praxiological. To this gallery, we suggest the addition of another item: a pragmatic sociology. Taking the sign ‘violence’ as an interpretant, this sociology seeks to understand how, in people’s qualifications, it functions as a connection between moral metaphysics (worldviews in which the deployment of disproportionate force makes sense) and devices capable of effectuating them.

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Big Observation – Ein Vergleich moderner Beobachtungsformate am Beispiel von amtlicher Statistik und Recommendersystemen

Big Observation—Comparing Population Statistics and Recommender Systems as Modern Formats of Observation

Bettina Heintz (2021)

Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie. Online first

Zusammenfassung. Der Beitrag verortet digitale Technologien in der Geschichte moderner Beobachtungsformate. Das Konzept des Beobachtungsformats verhilft dazu, Einrichtungen in einen Zusammenhang zu bringen, die auf den ersten Blick wenig miteinander zu tun haben: die amtliche Statistik, die Meinungs- und Marktforschung, Monitoringsysteme und digitale Beobachtungsinstrumente wie Suchmaschinen, soziale Netzwerke oder Recommendersysteme. Die Gemeinsamkeit liegt darin, dass es sich in allen Fällen um Instanzen handelt, die regelmäßig Daten erheben und in diesen Daten nach Ordnungsmustern suchen. Sie sind markante Beispiele des Quantifizierungsschubs, der die (westlichen) Gesellschaften seit dem 18. Jahrhundert erfasst hat. Der Beitrag greift zwei Beispiele heraus – die Bevölkerungsstatistik als historisch erstes modernes Beobachtungsformat und personalisierte Recommendersysteme als prototypischen Fall digitaler Beobachtungsinstrumente – und vergleicht sie in Hinblick auf ihre Beobachtungstechnik: Wie werden die Zahlen fabriziert, mit deren Hilfe die amtliche Statistik die Gesellschaft beobachtet, und welche Beobachtungsverfahren setzen Recommendersysteme ein, um zu personalisierten Empfehlungen zu gelangen, und welche Rolle spielen dabei Vergleich, Bewertung, Kategorisierung und Quantifizierung? Der Vergleich macht nicht nur sichtbar, wie Statistiken und digitale Technologien beobachten und worin sich ihre Beobachtungstechnik unterscheidet, sondern er gibt auch Aufschluss darüber, wie sich die Praktiken und Prämissen sozialer Beobachtung in den letzten 200 Jahren verändert haben.

Abstract. The article situates digital technologies in the history of modern formats of observation. The term “format of observation” helps to relate devices and systems that at first sight do not have much in common: official statistics, opinion and market research, monitoring instruments, and digital technologies such as search engines, social networks, and recommender systems. Despite their differences, they share one important characteristic: By collecting huge amounts of data and by systematically looking for patterns in these data, they are striking examples of the rise of quantification since the 18th century. This article draws on two examples—population statistics as the historically first modern format of observation and recommender systems as a prominent example of digital observation technologies—and compares them with regard to their technique of observation. How do statisticians produce the numbers that are represented in statistical tables? And how do recommender systems calculate personalized recommendations? Comparing these two cases not only sheds light on how official statistics and digital technologies observe but also provides insight into the practices and premises of social observation over the last two hundred years.

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„Who are we and how many?“ – Zur statistischen Konstruktion globaler Personenkategorien

“Who Are We and How Many?” Constructing Categories of Persons in International Statistics

Hannah Bennani & Marion Müller (2021)

Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie. Online first

Zusammenfassung. Ausgehend von der Annahme, dass Personenkategorien in internationalen Statistiken nicht nur sichtbar gemacht, sondern auch (mit-)erzeugt, reproduziert und objektiviert werden, fragt der Beitrag danach, wie genau Zahlen über personale Differenzierungen mit einem globalen Geltungsanspruch zustande kommen. Datengrundlage sind Dokumente aus internationalen Organisationen zu den entsprechenden politischen Entscheidungen sowie technische Anweisungen und Methodenhandbücher mit Erhebungsempfehlungen. Mithilfe einer wissenssoziologisch inspirierten Detailanalyse werden die üblicherweise nicht mehr sichtbaren Schritte der Quantifizierung anhand ausgewählter Beispiele (u. a. „Alter“, „Geschlecht“, „Ethnizität“, „Behinderung“) rekonstruiert: angefangen bei der begrifflichen Standardisierung personaler Merkmale, über ihre Operationalisierung und Festlegung von Indikatoren bis hin zur Aggregation der Einzelfälle zu Zahlen auf Weltebene. Dabei werden sowohl die Spannungen sichtbar, die zwischen der möglichst differenzierten Erfassung verschiedener Personen und der enormen Komplexitätsreduktion von Zahlen bestehen, als auch die Herausforderungen der Etablierung eines globalen Äquivalenzraumes. Der Beitrag verbindet damit vor allem Fragen der Kategorisierungs- und Quantifizierungsforschung und liefert innovative Einsichten darüber, wie genau kategoriale Differenzierungen zwischen Menschen in Zahlen transformiert und mit Objektivität versehen werden.

Abstract. Based on the assumption that categories of persons are not only made visible in international statistics but are also (co)produced, reproduced, and objectified by these statistics, the paper investigates the practices of their statistical construction. To this end, we reconstruct the production of numbers using selected examples such as “age”, “gender”, “ethnicity”, and “disability”. Our results rely on document analyses of international organizations’ political decisions, technical instructions, and manuals. With the help of detailed analysis inspired by the sociology of knowledge, the usually invisible steps of this quantification process are made visible. We show, step by step, how personal characteristics are defined, operationalized, and made observable, and, ultimately, how crosses in questionnaires become globally aggregated numbers. Our analysis exposes the tension between attempts to record people’s diversity and the enormous reduction of complexity through numbers. The specific challenges of establishing universally applicable forms of classification also become apparent. The contribution thus combines questions of categorization and quantification research. It provides innovative insights into how categorical differentiations between people are transformed into numbers and presented as social facts.

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Quantificação, Estado e participação social

Quantification, State and Social Participation

Special issue

Sociologias, (2021) Vol. 23 no 56. Open access

Apresentação. Em seu número 56 Sociologias apresenta o dossiê “Quantificação, Estado e participação social”, buscando evidenciar a importância de a Sociologia ampliar sua atenção para as operações e os regimes de quantificação nas sociedades contemporâneas. O dossiê explora as contribuições que o campo tem a oferecer para a reflexão sobre as questões nodais da disciplina, como o problema dos fundamentos da ordem social e da autoridade política, os processos de diferenciação social e configuração de subjetividades, a participação social, a crítica e a agência social transformadora.

Presentation. In its 56th issue Sociologies presents the dossier « Quantification, State and Social Participation », seeking to highlight the importance of Sociology broadening its attention to the operations and regimes of quantification in contemporary societies. The dossier explores the contributions that the field has to offer to the reflection on nodal issues of the discipline, such as the problem of the foundations of social order and political authority, the processes of social differentiation and configuration of subjectivities, social participation, critique and transformative social agency.

Jalcione Almeida: Editorial – A quantificação como objeto sociológico

Alexandre de Paiva Rio Camargo, Renato Sérgio de Lima, Daniel Veloso Hirata: Quantificação, Estado e participação social: potenciais heurísticos de um campo emergente / Quantification, State and social participation: heuristic possibilities for an emerging field.

Alexandre de Paiva Rio Camargo, Claudia Jorgelina Daniel: Os estudos sociais da quantificação e suas implicações na sociologia / Social studies of quantification and its implications in sociology. [Portuguese and English versions]

Emmanuel Didier, Isabelle Bruno: O “estatativismo” como uso militante da quantificação / “Statactivism” as a militant usage of quantification / Le « statactivisme » comme usage militant de la quantification. [Portuguese and French versions]

Mara Loveman: A política de um cenário de dados transformado: estatísticas etnorraciais no Brasil em uma perspectiva comparativa regional / The politics of a datascape transformed: ethnoracial statistics in Brazil in regional comparative perspective. [Portuguese and English versions]

Samira Bueno, Renato Sergio de Lima, Arthur Trindade M. Costa: Quando o Estado mata: desafios para medir os crimes contra a vida de autoria de policiais / When the State kills: challenges to measure crimes against life by police.

Natalia de Lacerda Gil: A quantificação da qualidade: algumas considerações sobre os índices de reprovação escolar no Brasil / The quantification of quality: some considerations on the school failure rates in Brazil. [Portuguese and English versions]

Link to the Special Issue

The un/making of forms. Formographic inquiries into practice, accountability, and infra-critique

International workshop organized by Ingmar Lippert (IT University Copenhagen) and Susann Wagenknecht (Technical University Dresden)
at Technical University of Dresden 2-3 September 2021

Program Extract: “[…] As formality is made and unmade (Smart et al. 2017), forms help organize far-flung coordination and gain salience as prerequisite of accountability. They furnish the yardsticks of critique. With this workshop, we draw attention to the situated relation of form and critique that emerges from the ever changing tangle of practice. We suggest exploring « infra-critiques »—critiques ‘from within’ shifting forms of life (Verran 2014, Jaeggi 2018). Analyses of critique ‘from within’ emphasize the multiplicity and limitations of formal assessment. They help examining how in/form/alities boost and marginalize different modes of benchmarking and evaluation, denunciation and appraisal, determination and indetermination (Boltanski & Thévenot 1999). Requirements for specific in/form/ation, e.g., can feed authoritative regimes of control while effectively undermining accountability and attenuating critique (Lippert 2018). Against this backdrop, we are interested in formographic inquiries that problematize the enactment of form as a fixed, detached point of reference. […]
The workshop will take place at the Technical University Dresden, Germany, September 2-3, 2021. The workshop is designed as collective learning process, focusing on submissions that rely upon ethnographic materials to engage in the nexus of form, practice, critique, and accountability. To this end, we ask participants to circulate workshop papers (2,000w), accompanied by a digitally reproducible object (with permissions), prior to the workshop.

Link to the complete presentation