Archives mensuelles : juin 2021

Beveridge on idleness

Noel Whiteside (2021)

Social Policy & Administration, Vol 56, Issue 2, p. 245-257

Abstract. Beveridge’s wartime proposals to eliminate idleness relied on the precepts of Keynesian economics and substantial extensions in the powers of central government to regulate industry and labour. Using convention theory, this paper demonstrates how these stipulations proved politically untenable. With the disappearance of full employment in the 1980s, the labour market problems Beveridge encountered in his youth have re-emerged accompanied by old problems of working poverty. Established forms of labour market analysis are obsolescent and employment rights disappear. The paper suggests a more decentralized and variable analysis of relations between work and idleness may offer a way forward.

Link to the article

La méthode expérimentale du jeu de cartes pour étudier les représentations pénales ordinaires en Allemagne et en France

The experimental card game method for studying ordinary penal representations in Germany and France

Bénédicte Laumond (2020)

Bulletin of Sociological Methodology/Bulletin de Méthodologie Sociologique, 147-148, pp.  169-199.

Résumé. Si les travaux s’interrogeant sur les perceptions ordinaires du pénal se sont historiquement intéressés à la technique de la vignette (vignette research), ceux-ci ne reposent que rarement sur des dispositifs comparés et continuent de faire un large usage des questionnaires amputant l’analyse des représentations pénales profanes d’une exploration de leurs raisonnements. Afin de remédier à cette limite méthodologique, cet article présente une démarche expérimentale adossée à un jeu de cartes et menée en France et en Allemagne entre 2017 et 2019. Le jeu est composé de 23 cartes présentant des cas criminels fictifs et de 10 cartes-peines ; il est attendu des joueur/ses qu’ils/elles attribuent à chaque carte une peine tout en justifiant les choix effectués. Nous présenterons dans cet article les étapes de la conception et les conditions d’administration, dans un contexte franco-allemand, de ce jeu qui se caractérise par un dispositif relativement directif allié à un mode de passation souple inspiré des enquêtes non-directives. Cet article met en évidence la flexibilité du jeu de cartes qui interroge différents aspects du crime en mettant les enquêté.es en situation de faire. Nous montrons enfin la robustesse de ce dispositif méthodologique dans des études comparées pour faire émerger les spécificités nationales des représentations pénales.

Extrait: “Cet article s’intéresse à une méthode encore peu répandue en sociologie, le ‘jeu de cartes’. Nous présenterons ses avantages pour une recherche comparative tout en proposant une opérationnalisation à l’aune d’une enquête de sociologie pénale menée en Allemagne et en France et portant sur les représentations ordinaires des peines et des délits. La méthode présentée est une articulation de la tradition de la vignette research (Rossi et Anderson, 1982), de l’expérience du jeu de cartes initiée par Boltanski et Thévenot (1983) et des enquêtes en sociologie pénale utilisant la technique des cas simulés.” (p. 170)

Abstract. Empirical studies that explore the ordinary perceptions of the criminal justice system often engaged with the vignette research. These studies, however, rather used surveys and hardly developed comparative research designs. Therefore, in-depth analyses exploring and comparing how ordinary persons reason and make decisions on crime remain rare. In order to address this methodological shortcoming, this article presents an explorative research based on an innovative card game and conducted in France and Germany (2017-2019). The game consists of 23 vignettes that describe various fictive criminal cases and 10 other cards that depict criminal sanctions. Respondents are expected to assign a sanction to each criminal case and to justify their decision. In this article, I present the design and the implementation stages of the game but also insist on the specificities of the comparative design. The use of the card game method, a passably directive procedure, was guided by the non-directive interviewing method. This article insists on the flexibility offered by the card game methodology which addresses various dimensions of criminality and puts the respondents in the position of dispensing justice. I finally bring to light the potential of using this explorative method for comparative research designs, as it permits the emergence of national specificities regarding criminal representations.

Extract: “This article focuses on a method that is still not widely used in sociology, the ‘card game’. We will present its advantages for a comparative research while proposing an operationalization in the light of a penal sociology survey carried out in Germany and in France and dealing with the ordinary representations of sentences and offences. The method presented is an articulation of the tradition of vignette research (Rossi and Anderson, 1982), of the card game experiment initiated by Boltanski and Thévenot (1983), and of criminal sociology surveys using the simulated case technique.” (p. 170)

Lien vers l’article

The Conflicting Conventions of Care: Transformative Service as Justice and Agape

Rohit Varman, Devi Vijay & Per Skalen (2021)

Journal of Service Research, Online first

Abstract. In this study, we examine the conflicts and unintended consequences that arise from the diverse social conventions constituting a transformative service. We draw on convention theory and an ethnographic study to interpret a community-based palliative care initiative in Kerala (India) as a transformative service system. We contribute to transformative service research by developing a dialectical transformative service system framework that is a synthesis of the calculative conflict-ridden regime of justice and the noncalculative regime of agape based on love. In this framework, the calculative regime of justice has civic conventions at its core and industrial, inspired, market, domestic, and fame conventions as ancillaries. While the regime of justice is associated with the undesired, unintended consequence of conflicts, the regime of agape constitutes a desirable unintended consequence. Our framework provides a microlevel understanding of disputes and their reconciliation, advances a diffused understanding of worth that ruptures the binary of legitimate or illegitimate actions, and delineates the significance of morality. Our study also contributes by explaining agape’s role in transformative service, particularly in health and caregiving.

Link to the article

Belarusian Protest: Regimes of Engagement and Coordination

Mischa Gabowitsch (2021)

Slavic Review, 80(1), pp. 27-37.

Abstract. The Belarusian protest movement that started in August 2020 has been discussed from the point of view of strategy and objectives, and as the cradle of a new subjectivity. This essay goes beyond those two perspectives by looking at the regimes of engagement, developing in interaction with the material and technological environment, that have given the protests their distinctive style. The first part looks at coordination and representation at protest events and in producing protest symbols such as flags. The second part discusses the role of Telegram and the emergence of local protest groups. Even though the movement did not grow organically out of everyday concerns, there are some signs that it has begun to reassemble local communities from above. Yet there are also indications that politics continues to be seen as distinct from everyday life, making it uncertain that the movement will lead to a deeper transformation of society.

Link to the article

Transformações recentes na cadeia de produção leiteira na região de Imperatriz e o processo de adopção de inovações pelos produtores de leite e de queijo

Recent transformations in the production chain of milk Imperatriz region and the milk and cheese producers’ process of adopting innovations

Evaristo Lima Neto, Jonatha Farias Carneiro & Marcelo Sampaio Carneiro (2021)

Revista Pós Ciências Sociais, 18(2), pp. 289-310. Open access.

Resumo. Este artigo analisa algumas transformações que vêm ocorrendo na cadeia produtiva do leite no Maranhão, a partir de dois níveis da relação entre produtores de leite e laticínios e da inserção desses laticínios no mercado nacional de produtos lácteos. A pesquisa foi realizada na região de Imperatriz, que concentra a maior bacia leiteira do estado do Maranhão e o maior número de laticínios do estado. Os dados utilizados para a análise, envolvem entrevistas feitas com dirigentes de laticínios, bem como informações secundárias levantadas no Censo Agropecuário de 2017 (IBGE) e nas agências estatais responsáveis pelas ações de vigilância sanitária. Os resultados obtidos apontam: a) para uma modificação importante na relação entre produtores de leite e laticínios, que, a partir dos resultados obtidos pela campanha contra o leite clandestino, diminui a participação dos laticínios informais – as chamadas “queijeiras” – na cadeia produtiva, o que significou o de uma convenção de qualidade de tipo industrial (BOISARD; LETABLIER, 1987) no processo de produção, coleta e beneficiamento do leite; e b) para a identificação de um processo de aprimoramento (upgrading) da indústria de laticínio regional, com o desenvolvimento de novos produtos e ampliação da capacidade produtiva.

Abstract. This article analyzes some transformations that have been occurring in the milk production chain in Maranhão, from two levels of the relationship between milk producers and dairies and the insertion of these dairies in the national market for dairy products. The research was carried out in the region of Imperatriz, which concentrates the largest dairy basin in the state of Maranhão and the largest number of dairies in the state. The data used for the analysis involves interviews with dairy product managers, as well as secondary information gathered from the 2017 Agricultural Census (IBGE) and from state agencies responsible for health surveillance actions. The results obtained point: (a) to an important modification in the relationship between milk producers and dairies, which, from the results obtained by the campaign against clandestine milk, decreases the participation of informal dairies – the so-called “cheese makers” – in the production chain, which has meant that of an industrial-type quality convention (BOISARD; LETABLIER, 1987) in the process of production, collection and beneficiation of milk; and b) for the identification of an upgrading process of the regional dairy industry, with the development of new products and expansion of productive capacity.

Link to the article

Rethinking Prosecutorial Discretion: Towards A Moral Cartography of Prosecutors

Diego Tuesta (2021)

British Journal of Criminology, 20, pp. 1-17

Abstract. This article examines the justifications that a group of prosecutors employs when coordinating human trafficking investigations in the Amazon. The study is based on interviews with officials who work in Madre de Dios, Peru, a region affected by small-scale gold mining, whose demand for labour has increased the incidence of human trafficking. I draw from Boltanski and Thévenot’s polity model to elucidate three moral principles regularly endorsed by prosecutors in the course of criminal investigations: efficiency, civic and domestic values. Together these comprise a moral cartography of prosecution. This study from the Global South contributes to a more holistic—and pragmatic—understanding of prosecutors’ charging decisions, complementing research approaching this topic from the perspective of bounded rationality.

Link to the article

Magical capitalism, gambler subjects: South Korea’s bitcoin investment frenzy

Lee, Seung Cheol (2020)

Cultural Studies, Online.

Abstract. First, it was just tech people. Now, literally everyone is interested in bitcoin’, said CNN News while reporting on the bitcoin mania that haunted South Korean society in the winter of 2017–2018. This study takes that speculative frenzy as an entry point for exploring lay bitcoin investors’ experiences and the ‘magical’ features of contemporary financial capitalism. It first situates the bitcoin investment boom in the contexts of South Korea’s post-developmental transition and the rise of mass investment culture. Drawing upon participant observation of online communities for South Korea’s bitcoin investors, this study then demonstrates how lay bitcoin investors’ daily beliefs and practices are distinguished from more traditional economic subjectivities – namely, disciplined workers and rational investors. Lay bitcoin investors present themselves not simply as calculative investors but also as enchanted gamblers who often rely upon magical formulas and rituals that express their hopes and despairs in the face of an uncertain future. Instead of dismissing their beliefs and rituals as ‘irrational exuberance’, this study argues that their cultural practices should be understood as a reflexive response to the ‘magical’ mechanisms of the financial market based on self-referential valuation and self-fulfilling performativity. In examining how the logics of uncertainty and magic are returned at the heart of contemporary capitalism, this study consequently seeks to situate the lay investors’ struggles in dealing with the ambiguous future within the broader transformation of the human condition during the triumphant rise of financial capitalism.”

Extract: “In a word, without any consensual objective value, the price of bitcoin is determined and swayed by what market participants think about the value of bitcoin. As André Orléan (2014) argues, this self-referential condition – in which the prices/values of financial commodities are determined self-referentially by the market’s estimation without any external standard – is not an exception but a rule in all financial markets. Keynes once deftly described the financial market’s self-referential condition through his famous example of a newspaper beauty contest in which the readers are asked to guess the future winner of a beauty contest from pictures:
‘Professional investment may be likened to those newspaper competitions in which the competitors have to pick out the six prettiest faces from a hundred photographs, the prize being awarded to the competitor whose choice most nearly corresponds to the average preferences of the competitors as a whole; so that each competitor has to pick, not those faces which he himself finds the prettiest, but those which he thinks likeliest to catch the fancy of the other competitors.” (Keynes 1936, p. 156)
That is to say, in this type of self-referential game, what matters is neither individual preferences nor the ‘intrinsic’ beauty of the beauty-contest participants. Players instead have to work out which participant (or commodity) might be perceived as the most beautiful (most valuable) by the majority of the other players. The correct answer that players seek to find is then determined not by ‘objective’ criteria or external references but by the other players’ choices. Orléan (2014, p. 224) argues that, by the same token, in the self-referential financial market, ‘one does not act in accordance with what one believes, but with his expectation of what the market believes’. To thrive in financial markets, investors must anticipate the opinions of other market participants. What determines the price of a financial commodity is thus people’s beliefs about what other people believe, or collective belief on collective belief (Orléan 2004, 2014, LiPuma 2016).” (p. 16)

Link to the article

No such thing as sociological excuses? Performativity, rationality and social scientific expertise in late liberalism

Jana Bacevic (2021)

European Journal of Social Theory. Online first

Abstract. This article examines a frequent assumption of sociological accounts of knowledge: the idea that knowledge acts. The performativity of knowledge claims is here analysed through the prism of ‘sociological excuses’: the idea that sociological explanations can act as ‘excuses’ for otherwise unacceptable behaviour. The article builds on Austin’s distinction between illocutionary and perlocutionary effects to discuss the relationship between sociological explanation, sociological justification and sociological critique. It argues that understanding how (and if) sociological explanations can act requires paying attention to social and political conditions of performativity and their transformation in late liberalism.

Link to the article

Extrapolation! Phenomenology, sociology of critique and states of mind in the solidarity economy

Bruno Frère (2020)

Sociologia del Lavoro, 158, pp. 21-47.

Abstract. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the value and the limit of the sociology of critique as a form of post-Bourdieusian critical sociology, especially where moral values play a crucial role in explaining actions – as they do in the solidarity economy, the field analyzed here. Contrary to interpretations of justifications as moral toolkits unconsciously mobilized by actors about practices whose real reasons lie elsewhere, I suggest that the sociology of critique’s notion of “grammar” is useful for articulating the normative moral elements that motivate specific actions and justifications. We will see how taking the actors themselves seriously – the sociology of critique’s motto – can yield important insights for sociology. But then we face a problem within the field that the sociology of critique can’t resolve alone: there sometimes appears to be a contradiction between actors’ actions and their justifications. Phenomenology can help us to understand these justifications at a deeper level as expressions of fundamental ways of relating to the world. In this sense phenomenology is useful to a moral sociology of critique because it helps us find a solution to the “contradiction” that the sociology of critique left unsolved.

Link to the article

From calculation to deliberation: the contemporaneity of Dewey

Patrycja Kaszynska (2021)

Culture, Theory and Critique, Online first

Abstract. The word crisis comes from Ancient Greek κρίσις which can be translated as ‘power of distinguishing’ and is related to modern κρίνω which means ‘to pick out’. This is apt, because the pandemic of 2020 has exposed the limitation of approaches to social governance premised on calculation. The – some would argue false – choice between either saving lives or the economy, is the highest profile example of the necessity to ‘pick’ between different qualitative options. This has brought into relief something suppressed by the calculation approach, namely the need to adjudicate between multiple and competing value orientations in public life. With this, an alternative way of decision making in the public domain is needed, one that does not revert back to mere politics and subjective decisions. This article turns to the writings of John Dewey to look for alternatives. It shows that the model of deliberative inquiry found in Dewey, even though not without its own challenges, presents a viable option to replace metrics-based valuation approaches, without falling back on the whimsy of political judgement. This suggests that Dewey is not just contemporaneous, but that translating his insights into action could not be more urgent.

Link to the article

Situating service work in action: A review and a pragmatist agenda for analysing interactive service work

Anna Schneider, Dilip Subramanian, Jean-Baptiste Suquet & Pascal Ughetto (2021)

International Journal of Management Reviews, Online first

Abstract. Research on interactive service work has paid close attention to how organizations and frontline employees deal with the inherent complexity of the customer–employee–employer triangle. This raises questions about the agency of interactive service workers with respect to the indeterminacy of service interactions. Our meta-narrative review finds that the theorization of worker agency in service interactions remains underdeveloped in the two dominant research streams of mainstream management and labour process theory studies. Implicitly or explicitly, these streams either subsume agency under managerial prescription or view it through the binary polar of control and resistance. There has been less focus on service workers’ efforts to overcome practical difficulties in everyday service interactions. To address this lacuna, we offer a conceptual framework that draws on a less prominent, third research stream, which we label pragmatist. This stream includes scholarship largely unfamiliar to the international English-speaking community, published mainly in French and German academic journals. We propose three contributions in this paper. First, we contribute to the interactive service work literature by mapping the theoretical plurality within and beyond the English-speaking community. Second, we problematize established streams of research by articulating the intellectual axes of the field; this allows us to present a new research area to account for the concrete dynamics of service interaction and to capture frontline employee agency. Third, we propose a pragmatist research framework coupled with a future research agenda more attentive to the embeddedness and materiality of frontline workers’ situated actions. This way, we address the indeterminacy of interactive situations.

Extract: “More generally, the intellectual climate in France during the 1990s witnessed a shift from Marxism and Bourdieu’s thinking towards theories acknowledging the significance of individual and collective actions. The pragmatic turn (Schatzki et al., 2001) was embodied in the French context by emerging theoretical currents, such as the economics of conventions (Boltanski & Thévenot, [1991] 2006; Salais, 2001), also referred to as ‘French Pragmatism’ (Brandl et al., 2014; Cloutier et al., 2017). It addresses questions related to action and coordination and the underlying sociomaterial conditions.” (p. 10)

Link to the article

Regulating Transitions from School to Work

An Institutional Ethnography of Activation Work in Action

Stephan Dahmen (2021)

PhD thesis. Bielefeld: Transcript. Open access.

About this book. How are activation programs for the young unemployed implemented? How do street-level bureaucrats deal with competing rationalities and demands for action? Transition policies increasingly aim at promoting self-regulation and constructing employable subjects. Stephan Dahmen explores the practical regulation of biographical transitions in activation programs for the young unemployed by focusing on the interactive accomplishment of activation work. The study reveals how the critical tensions of activation policies are continually re-interpreted and adapted to local contingencies and describes the various organisational technologies used for creating employable subjects.

Extract: “4.1.6. From Institutional Logics to Competing Orders of Worth:
The Sociology of Conventions
Despite the strong drive of the institutional logics literature to develop a theoretical framework that integrates at the same time supraorganizational logics and human agency, most research conducted within the institutional logics framework remains on the level of sectors, organizational fields or specific subpopulations of organizations. The current work highlights the need for analyzing the role of competing logics and rationalities at the frontline level of organizations of welfare state, and more particularly, the ways in which human agents ignore, comply, resist and or compromise different institutional logics. For doing so a third theoretical approach to the analysis of organizations will be presented, which allows better integration of the situated and localized arrangement of compromises between different institutional logics. In addition, several authors point to continuities and similarities between a conception of ”institutional logics” and the approach to be presented within the next pages, that is the ”economy of conventions”, particularly when it comes to the analysis of organizations (Thornton/Occasio 2008: 102; Cloutier/Langley 2012; Jagd 2012) and professional practices. This framework of the “economy of conventions” is usually described as ”French pragmatic sociology” (Jagd 2012, Bénatouïl 1999) and is strongly connected with the scholarship of Luc Boltanski, Laurent Thévenot, Francois Eymard-Duvernay and others. While the economy of conventions has its roots in economic sociology and is initially born from a diagnosis of problems associated with the application of the theoretical frame of neoclassical economics to economic actions that cannot be restricted to pure competitive markets (Dupuy/Eymard-Duvernay/Favereau/Orléan/ Salais/Thévenot 1989), it has evolved to an overarching school of thought in French sociology. Initially, the approach highlighted the role of conventions as a non-economic form of coordination that is ignored by neoclassical economics trough reducing a market exchange relationship between two persons to the form of a contract (ibid.: 141). Subsequently, conventionalists extended their analysis to the qualification of labor through the application of laws, rules norms and conventions (Salais/Thévenot 1986), the study of different forms of evaluation in recruitment decisions (Eymard-Duvernay 2008) or non-market criteria as quality conventions in production firms (Eymard-Duvernay 1994) and different world of production (Storper/Salais 1997). As an overarching school of thought, the ”economy of conventions” attempted to combine three aspects that have been dissociated in the disciplines of economics and sociology: “the characterization of the agent and his/her reasons for acting, the modalities of coordination of actions, and the role of values and common goods” (Eymard-Duvernay/Favreau/Orléan/Salais/Thévenot 2003).” (p. 133)

Link to the book

Decarbonizing capital: Investment, divestment and the qualification of carbon assets

Paul Langley, Gavin Bridge, Harriet Bulkeley & Bregje van Veelen (2021)

Economy and Society, Online first

Abstract. Private investment capital is now widely regarded as strategically significant to the governance of climate change. A dedicated and dynamic carbon finance sector has emerged that features techniques and practices for decarbonizing capital, facilitating investment in low-carbon projects and enterprises or enabling divestment from high-carbon firms and sectors. We bring together and develop the concepts of ‘qualification’ and ‘assetization’ to analyse how decarbonizing capital is proceeding. With specific reference to green bonds and the equities of fossil fuel corporations, we show how investment and divestment entail the qualification of things as assets with more-or-less specific carbon properties. But the qualification of assets as ‘low-’ or ‘high-carbon’ is also shown to be contingent, contested and compromised, featuring contrasting modalities of qualification that are decarbonizing capital in uncertain and incomplete ways.

Extract: “In contrast with the quantitative framing of private investment capital that prevails in climate change governance, we will critically analyse decarbonizing capital as an economy of qualities and qualifications. Informed by findings from our fieldwork with specialist practitioners of carbon finance, we will argue that the contingent processes of decarbonizing capital entail relatively discrete qualifications of assets with more-or-less specific carbon properties. To this end, we will draw on a body of literature that interrogates, more widely, ‘how capital obtains the qualities that distinguish it’ (Pistor, 2019, p. 12). This includes: juridical provisions that serve to ‘code’ capital as a legal category replete with certain ‘attributes’, such as protected and convertible ownership claims and rights to pecuniary returns (Pistor, 2019); and, prospective valuation devices that figure the future uncertainties of investment capital creation and allocation (Chiapello, 2015; Muniesa et al., 2017; Nitzan & Bichler, 2009). More specifically, we will bring together and develop the concepts of ‘qualification’ and ‘assetization’ to extend this literature, and to analyse the ‘becoming rent’ of decarbonizing capital. We advance the qualification concept in its broadest sense, working with the productive tension between different elaborations offered by the research programme of economization and convention theory (Callon et al., 2002; Diaz-Bone, 2017).” (p. 4)

Link to the article

Time for change: Corporate conventions, space–time and uneven development

Crispian Fuller (2021)

Progress in Human Geography, Online first

Abstract. The corporation remains a critical agent in the production of geographically uneven development. Furthermore, time is critical to the practices and deliberations taking place within corporations, yet it has been underappreciated within prominent economic geographical analyses. This article argues for the examination of the ‘black box’ of the corporation, as a site producing uneven development, and through which the temporalities of decision-making and deliberation are critical. Combined with the temporal insights of Harvey’s ‘social’ and ‘experiential’ space–times, conventions theory is utilised to elucidate the importance of the corporate deliberations and practices that come to produce uneven development. A conventions approach importantly provides a framework in which to examine the role of both conventionalised behaviours and how conventions are used in heterogeneous experiential space–time deliberations and decision-making and how this is interwoven with social spaces–times. Such an approach is critical in conceptualising the corporation as a deliberative social and experiential space–time series of sites and through which it is reified as a temporary instantiation

Link to the article

The 11th EC / Sociology of Conventions Workshop (virtual)

Report by Mario Steinberg (Basel)

For the first time in a virtual format, the annual EC workshop took place from 06-07 May 2021. This year the event was organized by Regula Julia Leemann (FHNW Basel-Muttenz) and her team. The 11th EC / Sociology of Conventions Workshop was held under the working title “Quantification and Conventions”. However, contributions not explicitly related to the conference theme were also welcome.

Thursday 06 May 2021

After a welcome to the participants by the organizer, Lisa Knoll (University of Paderborn) introduced Eve Chiapello (École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris/Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin) for her keynote speech.

Eve Chiapello’s keynote was entitled “Impact and the fight against financialized conventions of quantification”. She presented a convention-based interpretation of the financialization of economy. With an analytical focus on the concept of “impact”, Eve Chiapello showed how financial decisions come about, what role different actors (such as financial investors) play, and how the concept of “impact” can be framed in terms of conventionalist theory.

After Eve Chiapello’s keynote and a short coffee break, the program moved to the first slot in the plenary, “Quantification, digitization and convention research studies”. Regula Leemann, Sandra Hafner and Raffaella Simona Esposito (FHNW Basel-Muttenz) gave a speech about “Quantification and conventions in the governance of educational transitions (in Switzerland)”. They introduced into the topic of their ongoing SNSF-project and presented first conceptual questions on the relevance of numbers in governing transitions: What is the role of quantification in these processes of governance? In which situations numbers are important? Which instruments and technologies are applied? What forms of strategies and policies are enabled by quantification? What are the effects of quantification? Regarding convention theory they pointed to important theoretical concepts and methodological approaches as e.g. the statistical panopticism, statistical chains and the convention-based foundations of indicators.

After a short break, the program moved on to the next slot, “Show and Tell”. Valeska Cappel (University of Lucerne) and Carolin Kappler (FernUniversität Hagen) presented their current publication project “Gesundheit – Konventionen – Digitalisierung”, which will be published by Springer VS, Book Series Soziologie der Konventionen (Eds. Rainer Diaz-Bone & Lisa Knoll). The publication has the significance of opening up a field of research for convention theorists that has hardly been transferred in German-language research on the sociology of convention: the field of health research. Valesca Capell and Karolin Kappler deliver a volume that connects the sociology of conventions and the plurality of conventions with digital transformation processes, which can be considered a novelty so far.

In the continued slot “Quantification, Digitization and convention research Studies”, Kenneth Horvath (University of Lucerne) and Mario Steinberg (PH FHNW/University of Basel) first presented their planned research project “The politics and pedagogies of algorithmic sorting in education”. In their presentation, the authors trace the role that conventions play in the implementation of artificial intelligence and digitization, especially regarding the question of what impact the so-called technological transformation will have on concrete school practices.

In the last slot of the first day, “Comments and Reflection“, Rainer Diaz Bone (University of Lucerne) spoke about quantification from a conventionalist perspective. He gave an overview of fundamental principles of EC when considering quantification. Fundamental to understanding quantification processes is the EC’s view that measurements themselves are convention-related. Consequently, quantification as a black box can only be understood if not only the consequences, benefits and effects of quantification are considered, but also their origin and distribution. In addition, measurements create new realities. Only because measurements are based on conventions, they become a social practice and are tested, justified and challenged in collective actions. The plurality of data worlds allows for different ways of taking measurements – but (from a neopragmatist point of view) no measurement can claim universal validity. At the end of his talk Rainer Diaz-Bone presented the concept of analytical axes for the convention-based analysis of quantification-processes as a heuristic for the analysis of quantification processes (see screenshot below).

The first day of the conference ended with a virtual apéro at the meeting-platform wonder me. Here, the participants had the opportunity to exchange ideas about specific topics of the conference and about topics beyond the conference itself.

Friday 7 May 2021

Friday started with parallel sessions. In the session “Education Research Studies”, Philipp Gonon (University of Zürich), Lorenzo Bonoli (Eidgenössisches Hochschulinstitut für Weiterbildung), Jackie Vorpe (Eidgenössisches Hochschulinstitut für Weiterbildung) and Lena Freidorfer-Kabashi (University of Zürich) started with their presentation on regional differences in the justification of Swiss VET education. Colleagues ask how and why regional differences in Switzerland’s VET system are possible. They identify different education regimes in dual VET that can explain cantonal differences. Following Eric Verdier, they describe a neo-comparativist regime for the canton of Zurich, a hybrid of market and academic regimes for the canton of Ticino and a universal regime for the canton of Geneva.

After a short coffee break, Leonie Bisang (University of Lucerne/FHNW Olten) talked about her dissertation project on the reproduction of social inequalities in the tertiary education market. In her lecture, she also wanted to find out how the sociology of conventions can help to understand social inequalities in the swiss university landscape in her dissertation project.

Afterwards, Matthias Alke (HU Berlin) presented on the formation and historical change of job profiles in public adult education. The focus of Matthias Alke’s lecture was the public discourse on adult education and questions of its professionalization. Professional action in adult education as a young phenomenon, Matthias Alke explains from the perspective of the EC how job advertisements (understood as formal investments) describe conventionally formed requirements for quality, activity and occupation.

In the parallel session “Labor Market Intermediaries /HR Practices / PHD Presentations” Julia Brandl (University of Innsbruck) reported on the role of the labor market in shaping wage expectations – using the example of job advertisements. The research project she presented asks to what extent mandatory salary information in job advertisements can reduce gender-specific, different salary expectations. From a conventional sociological perspective, job advertisements can be seen as mediators between employers and job seekers. Job advertisements as such not only present information, but also have a transformative influence on the recipients.

Dominik Zellhofer (Vienna University of Economics and Business) presented his paper based on his dissertation entitled “The people problem of information security: A CISO’s quest for compromise”. In his lecture, he asks how actors in organizations negotiate policies and how technology information security policies are influenced by them. To answer these questions, he draws on the concept of form investment, which comes from EC. Empirically, he takes look at key figures like the CISO (Chief Information Security Officer).

Afterwards Eva Nadai (HSA FHNW) spoke about the role of labor market intermediaries from a conventionalist perspective. She described forms of recruitment of the low-employed from a conventional sociological perspective with a focus on intermediaries. Her presentation focuses on labor market intermediaries as human actors, organizations and dispositives, the evaluation of the quality of labor, and the significance of form investment from an EC perspective.

After the lunch break, the parallel sessions “Methodology” and “Health – Mental Distress Research Study /Paper Presentation” started. In the first sessions (Methodology), Simon Schrör (University of Lucerne/Weizenbaum Institut Berlin) gave a talk on methodological implications of artifacts in pragmatist research. Simon Schrör’s lecture is about making artefacts fearful for the pragmatic analysis of situations in the Sociology of Conventions and also proposing them as an independent epistemological unit. According to this, artefacts represent an extension of the empirical view, which, however, does not dissolve the reference to the object. Using the example of changes in the Deign furniture industry, he shows how the artefact-based identification of situations is made empirical.

Later on, in the same session, Simon Weingärtner (HSU Hamburg) presented on “On the Micro- and Macro-Politics of Work and Employment”. His lecture takes as its starting point whether the effects of the current COVID-19 situation will lead to a situation similar to what Polanyi described as the “Great Transformation” in 1944. Guided by the theoretical focus of boundary work, he investigates the transformation of political fields. In order to derive the historical change, he concludes his lecture by presenting a heuristic of employment regimes and socio-political change, which ranges from the mid-20th century (mass production) through the late 20th century (collaborative production) to the end of the 21st century (platformization).

Meanwhile in the parallel session (Health – Mental Distress Research Study /Paper Presentation) Miriam Kutt (University of Lucerne) spoke about the conflict potential of damaged identities and the connection between practices of silence and conflict avoidance and stigmatization of mental illness. Her presentation was entitled “Das Konfliktkapital beschädigter Identitäten – Praktiken des Schweigens und der Konfliktvermeidung im Zusammenhang mit der Stigmatisierung psychischer Krankheiten” [“The Conflict Capital of Damaged Identities – Practices of Silence and Conflict Avoidance in the Context of Mental Illness Stigma.”]. She focused on the extent to which social structural conditions in situations of stigmatization and discrimination lead those affected to remain silent and avoid conflict. She also asked how these conditions need to be changed so that those affected can be normative, stand up for themselves and their peers, and thus engage for the common good. From the perspective of the sociology of conventions, she works with regime theory and the concept of conflict avoidance “closing ones eyes”, following Thévenot.

Anna Gonon (FHNW Olten) then reports in her presentation, entitled “Integration as justification work: a conventionalist perspective on the occupational reintegration of employees with mental distress” on recent findings of her doctoral project in which she investigates the processes of interpretation and the logic of justification of mentally ill employees in companies. She takes a particular look at collective processes of interpretation and justification. From the perspective of the sociology of conventions, Anna Gonon looks at justifications as problems of action in integration work. The aim of her lecture was therefore to show the principles of the assessment of reintegration and the decision on continued employment from an EC perspective.

A coffee break later, the last program item of the conference “Show and Tell” began. Here, authors presented current publications around the sociology of conventions. Arne Böker (University of Halle-Wittenberg) started off by presenting his completed dissertation project “Über die Rechtfertigung von Begabtenförderung. Eine Diskursanalyse am Beispiel der Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes” [On Justification of gifted education programs. A discourse analysis using the example of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation]. From the perspective of historical educational research, he examined how the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes [German Academic Scholarship Foundation] defined the criteria for the selection of its scholarship holders in terms of selection, promotion and social composition. Based on this, he empirically reconstructed the central used conventions, their stability and instability over time, as well as their relationship to problematizations and audits of the foundation itself.

In the following, Esther Berner (HSU Hamburg) reported on her research on the historical transformation of conventions in the shoe industry using the example of Bally and Bata in the period 1870-1940 (published in Journal of Vocational Education & Training, online). Esther Berner examines two large shoe companies in Switzerland, Bally and Bata, with regard to the constructions and changes of shoe quality in production worlds from a historical perspective. She particularly focuses on quality conventions (e.g. individuals, techniques, information) in her analysis. By examining the change in manufacturing processes and the qualification of employees, she is able to show the change, criticism and conflict of conventions in a period from 1870 to 1940.

The last contribution of the event was made by Julia Brandl (University of Innsbruck) and Arjan Kozica (University of Applied Science Reutlingen). They presented their forthcoming book, which will be published in the series Soziologie der Konventionen. The book will be published with the title “Betriebliche Personalpolitik. Eine konventionensoziologische Perspektive” [Workplace Human Resource Policies. A Sociology of Conventions Perspective.] In their work the authors apply the sociology of conventions-approach to human resource policies in economic companies. Julia Brandl reports (also on behalf of the excused Arjan Kozica) on their planned publication. It is aimed at students of economics and at practitioners of company personnel work and the structuring of company employment relationships. In doing so, they make the sociology of conventions fruitful for an understanding of business personnel policy. To this end, the book aims to establish practical links to the practice of business administration throughout, highlighting the significance of EC for company personnel policy as an alternative to established theories such as the Rational choice theory or social psychology.

At the end of the conference, all participants gathered again and looked ahead to the upcoming EC workshop which Christian Imdorf (Leibniz University of Hannover) will organize at Hannover. In summary we all look back on an instructive workshop, with new and exciting insights into current research on the sociology of conventions.

Many thanks to Regula Julia Leemann and her team for the organization of the 11th Sociology of Conventions Workshop!!!