Archives mensuelles : janvier 2022

Contester et prendre soin: des formes de solidarité dans les groupements d’achat locaux

Challenging and caring: forms of solidarity in local purchasing groups

Emmanuelle Cheyns & Nora Daoud (2022)

In: Gasselin, Pierre/Lardon, Sylvie/Cerdan, Claire/Loudiyi, Salma/Sautier, Denis (eds.), Coexistence et confrontation des modèles agricoles et alimentaires, Paris: QUAE, pp. 255-271

Extrait : “Différentes formes de groupements d’achats (GA) ont émergé ces dernières années, en témoignent les Food buying club aux États-Unis, les Organic buying group en Grande-Bretagne, les groupements d’achats communs (GAC) en Belgique, les Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale en Italie ou encore les groupements d’achats locaux (GAL) en France. Ces GA sont des collectifs de consommateurs qui achètent en gros et directement auprès de divers producteurs. Ils s’organisent autour d’un principe commun : un engagement de solidarité, déjà présent dans les fondements de leurs formes historiques que sont les « coopératives de consommation ». Apparues au xixe siècle dans le sillage du socialisme utopique de Charles Fourier et Robert Owen, ces dernières visaient l’accès à des denrées de qualité pour des familles pauvres, la constitution d’une épargne collective ou l’achat à un prix « juste » pour rémunérer le travail du producteur (De Boyve, 1889 ; Guillaume, 2007a). Si ces coopératives de consommation ont connu un déclin avec l’avènement de la grande distribution dans les années 1970, la nouvelle vague de GA d’alter-consommateurs, ces deux dernières décennies, se développe avec des motivations similaires, quoique renouvelées (De Munk, 2011). Tout comme les Amap et les circuits courts, ils s’appuient en plus sur une critique écologique, dans un contexte différent, celui de la mondialisation et des crises sanitaires des années 1990, questionnant justement les approvisionnements dominés par la grande distribution (De Munck, 2011 ; Chiffoleau, 2008). Les GA sont des lieux d’expérimentation de formes de solidarité construites en dehors des États et à distance des instruments de marché, dans un contexte plus large de critiques des formes de solidarité « publiques et privées » (Tremblay, 2007). En effet, les politiques de soutien organisées par l’État-providence d’après-guerre sont affaiblies par un programme de diminution des dépenses sociales et de ciblage des prestations, ancré dans de nouveaux principes de protection sociale valorisant l’efficacité : le New Public Management. Les solidarités prises en charge « par le marché » sont de même questionnées quant à l’opération de réduction de biens communs en propriétés certifiées (Cheyns et Thévenot, 2019), sur un marché de consommateurs passifs et atomisés « réalisant des choix » (Hubaux, 2011). En se regroupant, les consommateurs explorent d’autres manières de vivre. Ceci est particulièrement marqué dans les GA valorisant l’autogestion et la participation volontaire, qui supposent un investissement dans un collectif dont l’enjeu est de « faire communauté ». Ces GA sont-ils porteurs de changement social, d’une transition et de quelle transition ? Quelles formes de solidarité engagent-ils, entre contestation de l’agriculture conventionnelle et soin vis-à-vis de personnes vulnérables ? Nous éclairerons les conditions de la confrontation des modèles agricoles et alimentaires selon des formes de solidarité entre consommateurs et entre consommateurs et producteurs.” (p. 255-256)

Extract: “Various forms of buying groups (BG) have emerged in recent years, such as the Food Buying Club in the United States, the Organic Buying Group in Great Britain, the Groupements d’achats communs (GAC) in Belgium, the Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale in Italy and the Groupements d’achats locaux (GAL) in France. These GAs are groups of consumers who buy in bulk and directly from various producers. They are organized around a common principle: a commitment to solidarity, which is already present in the foundations of their historical forms as “consumer cooperatives. They appeared in the nineteenth century in the wake of the utopian socialism of Charles Fourier and Robert Owen, and aimed to provide poor families with access to quality foodstuffs, to build up collective savings, and to purchase goods at a “fair” price in order to remunerate the producer’s work (De Boyve, 1889; Guillaume, 2007a). While these consumer cooperatives declined with the advent of mass retailing in the 1970s, the new wave of alternative consumer GAs in the last two decades has developed with similar, albeit renewed, motivations (De Munk, 2011). Like the Amap and the short circuits, they are also based on an ecological critique, in a different context, that of globalization and the health crises of the 1990s, questioning the supplies dominated by mass distribution (De Munck, 2011; Chiffoleau, 2008). The GAs are places for experimenting with forms of solidarity built outside of states and at a distance from market instruments, in a broader context of criticism of “public and private” forms of solidarity (Tremblay, 2007). Indeed, the support policies organized by the post-war welfare state have been weakened by a program to reduce social spending and target benefits, anchored in new principles of social protection that value efficiency: the New Public Management. Solidarities taken in charge “by the market ” are similarly questioned as regards the operation of reducing common goods into certified property (Cheyns and Thévenot, 2019), in a market of passive and atomized consumers “making choices” (Hubaux, 2011). By banding together, consumers explore alternative ways of living. This is particularly marked in the GAs that value self-management and voluntary participation, which presuppose an investment in a collective whose challenge is to “make community”. Are these GAs bearers of social change, of a transition and of what transition? What forms of solidarity do they engage in, between contesting conventional agriculture and caring for vulnerable people? We will shed light on the conditions of the confrontation of agricultural and food models according to forms of solidarity between consumers and between consumers and producers.” (p. 255-256)

Lien / Link (Book)

ResearchGate (Chapitre)

Adopting management philosophies: management gurus, public organizations, and the Economies of Worth

Sam van Elk, Susan Trenholm, Robert H. Lee & Ewan FerlieI

Public Management Review, Online first

Abstract. Management gurus are increasingly prominent in public organizations. However, research generally evaluates guru ideas as primarily pragmatic suggestions, neglecting gurus’ value-laden ‘philosophies’. Particularly in pluralistic public organizations, we suggest that this normative content may significantly shape whether, why, and how such ideas are used. To interrogate this, we investigate a guru idea’s adoption by an English hospital using the Economies of Worth framework, which highlights values and pluralism. We find that guru ideas may be adopted because their normative content can help otherwise divided organizations forge compromises. However, these compromises bring normative constraints and promote risk-aversion in turbulent times.

Lien / Link

Qu’est-ce que l’actualité politique? Événements et opinions au XXIᵉ siècle

What is political news? Events and opinions in the XXIᵉ century

Luc Boltanski & Arnaud Esquerre (2022)

Paris: Gallimard.

PRESENTATION
Les deux sociologues s’intéressent dans ce nouvel ouvrage à deux processus constitutifs de l’espace public. D’une part, les processus de mise en actualité : se saisissant de ce qui se passe maintenant, ces processus font connaître à nombre de personnes l’existence de faits que ces dernières n’ont pas, pour la plupart, directement vécus et les accompagnent généralement d’une description et d’une interprétation. Et, d’autre part, les processus de politisation : se saisissant de faits mis en actualité, ces processus les problématisent, en sorte que l’actualité concerne chacun, et par conséquent aussi l’État, tout en donnant lieu à des interprétations dont les divergences suscitent des commentaires, des polémiques et des divisions.
Boltanski et Esquerre fondent leurs analyses sur les milliers de commentaires mis en ligne par des lecteurs du quotidien Le Monde en septembre et octobre 2019 ; et les milliers de commentaires postés sur deux chaînes de vidéo d’actualité passée mises en ligne en janvier 2021 par l’Institut national de l’audiovisuel. Chemin faisant, ils reconstituent la norme du dicible en comparant les commentaires publiés et les commentaires rejetés par les instances de modération ; ils saisissent des opinions en train de se faire, au lieu de les recueillir sous la forme stabilisée, souvent réflexive et prudente, des réponses à des entretiens ou des sondages. Ils cartographient les processus de politisation à notre époque, tels le féminisme, l’écologie, l’immigration, les religions, le nationalisme, l’Europe, etc.

ABOUT THE BOOK
In this new book, the two sociologists focus on two processes that make up public space. On the one hand, the processes of actualization: taking hold of what is happening now, these processes make known to a number of people the existence of facts that they have not, for the most part, directly experienced and generally accompany them with a description and an interpretation. And, on the other hand, the processes of politicization: seizing facts put in actuality, these processes problematize them, so that the actuality concerns each one, and consequently also the State, while giving place to interpretations whose divergences above invite comments, polemics and divisions.
Boltanski and Esquerre base their analysis on the thousands of comments posted online by readers of the daily newspaper Le Monde in September and October 2019; and the thousands of comments posted on two past news video channels put online in January 2021 by the National Audiovisual Institute. Along the way, they reconstitute the norm of the sayable by comparing published comments and comments rejected by moderating bodies; they capture opinions in the process of being formed, instead of collecting them in the stabilized, often reflexive and cautious form of responses to interviews or surveys. They map the processes of politicization in our time, such as feminism, ecology, immigration, religions, nationalism, Europe, etc.

Lien / Link

Economics of convention all over

“Kolloquium Sozialforschung” at University of Lucerne

Guy Schwegler (Lucerne)

As in previous years (see here), Rainer Diaz-Bone and Kenneth Horvath presented in the autumn semester 2021 a bi-weekly colloquium at the University of Lucerne. The format discusses current social scientific questions both in research as well as in professional practice. The focus often is on methodological and methodological challenges, innovations, and problems, while covering a broad spectrum of empirical research. In past editions and their various presentations, the theoretical framework of the economics of convention (EC) had represented a reoccurring, but not a central feature. This changed for the colloquiums 2021 edition: All presenters referred to the neo-pragmatist approach in some way and highlighted aspects like methodological situationalism, qualification of people and objects, statistical chains to produce data, reducing uncertainty via conventions, or the actors’ critical competence in situations.

Miriam Kutt: Closing one’s Eyes

Miriam Kutt ready for her presentation

For the colloquium’s first meeting, Miriam Kutt from the University of Lucerne presented methodological considerations from her PHD project. For said project, she has been interested in stigmatizations around mental illnesses and people’s ability to act in relation to a possible stigmatization. With regards to this subject, both the societal consideration of agency and its theoretical conceptualization seem to collapse in an interesting manner.

Kutt explained that that despite substantial efforts in Western societies to de-stigmatize issues like mental illness, the affected people both are experiencing and expecting stigmatization. As a result, affected people often try to avoid any conflicts that might result from a stigma to handle their daily life. Within this societal reality, Kutt’s project wants to grasp the situations that foster or prevent the stigmatized people to act in a situation: When does one mention a mental illness issue in a job interview? When does one call out the refusal of a rental agreement as unjust, because said refusal may motivated by stigma?

As a theoretical framework for her project, Kutt put forward a combination of the EC perspective and Foucauldian discourse theory. The former theoretical perspective helps to clarify the grammars around stigmatization and offers a way to analyze when actors switch from a more public justification via the regime of conventions to more individual regimes like plan, familiarity, or exploration. This perspective therefore helps to grasp both calling out unjust behavior as well as ignoring it, i.e. “closing one’s eyes”.[1] Discourse theory is a way to clarify what and how something becomes say-able and/or do-able. In combination, both help to address the question how a competence and an agency of actors are enabling a certain situation and vice versa.

The project’s research interest represents a challenge from a methodological point: The situations Kutt is interested in—i.e. where people avoid conflicts in relation to their stigma—are hard to come across as a researcher. And an artificial construction of such situations would raise ethical issues. Asking people about the subject (be it in interviews or via a survey), however, would neglect social desirability and that the conflict avoidance could also happen unconsciously. As a possible solution, Kutt presented different ways of using vignettes in group discussions. These vignettes would describe situations around stigmas in daily live. The people present in a group discussion could then be asked to categorize and comment these vignettes as well as to continue telling the stories featured in there (i.e. “what will happen next?”).

Already during the presentation, Kutt could convincingly explain that the idea of the vignettes is the right way to move forward. At the same time, a lot of difficulties arise with this solution as well. These difficulties were then mostly the issues the participants of the colloquium talked about after the presentation. Vignettes and their categorization in group discussions quickly move to fundamental questions about the ontology of a situation, of stigma, of agency, and more. Should these vignettes be open and only about a certain moment or should they feature a larger process? What kind of qualification should be or can be presented in relation to stigma? Should vignettes focus on details and empirical accuracy or should they include more general societal tendencies—or even “fantasy” elements? Ultimately, the discussion after Kutt’s presentations was about ways of construction a situation in a vignette: an artificial consideration of the methodological situationalism.

Eva Nadai: “Unqualified”

For the colloquium’s second presentation, Eva Nadai from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) presented the results from a research project. For “Unqualified,” Nadai and her collaborators were interested in the constitution and evaluation of employability of people with absent or only little formal professional “qualification”, like unrecognized educational levels or absent vocational qualification.[2]

In countries like Switzerland and similar Western nations, there has been a continues increase in formal (vocational) education. At the same time, there has been an continues decrease in available jobs without the need for formal professional qualification. The problem, Nadai explained, is that latter even decreased more than the former increased. Especially certain migrant sectors of a population face situations, where their previously acquired professional qualifications are not recognized (or language barriers deem them to be unqualified or…). Next to a high risk for unemployment, “unqualified” people and their possible occupations also face a cultural degradation within the current knowledge society and its dominant ideas of skilled as well as complex jobs.

In Nadai’s research project, “employability” was considered both as an attribution and a potential, therefore presenting a double qualification process in EC’s understanding: On the one hand, qualification is a process of value attribution, and on the other hand, it regarded as the acquisition of competencies. For the project, Nadai and her team conducted semi-structured interviews with three groups of actors, namely companies as the employers, employment agencies as intermediaries, and the “unqualified” workers themselves. There again, the EC wider theoretical framework became obvious and explicit: The companies were thought of as the powerful actors when making the value judgments; for the intermediaries, an active role when mediating workers was considered; and the workers themselves were also conceptualized as active and capable actors with regards to both sides of qualification.

The results Nadai presented during the colloquium followed the three actor groups. The companies can still be considered dominant actors when making the value judgement of the unskilled (i.e. not recognizing certain skills as vocational). A more stunning finding was that they also changed their (infra-)structure to include these workers in the workplace. For the intermediaries, Nadai showed that their judgment of workers was very much depending on context. She highlighted their active role in the sense of a refurbishment of the workers, i.e. working on their CVs, accompanying them to jobs, and other investments. The unqualified workers themselves could then be grouped into three categories or modes: Ambitious works (1) sought to actively (and successfully) overcome their status through subjectively qualifying themselves as skilled and objectively seeking out vocational training. A second mode that workers could follow was about securing basic needs (2), where they devote themselves to one job that does not formally require a skill, without aiming for a more formal recognition of their skills. As a result, this second type of workers could become very dependent on one employer. The last mode of how workers dealt with their situation was recognition (3). The inability to gain formal recognition—and therefore the inability to move away from an unqualified status—did also lead to actors struggling for other types of recognitions (i.e. considering their team as a family, fighting for rights at the work place, …).

Eva Nadai presenting the conclusions of her research project

As a conclusion, Nadai highlighted that a very complex set of relations and strategies enables the “employability” of unskilled workers. At the same time, these processes often do not enable a formal vocational qualification. This absence, however, also deemed the workers valuable for other modes of coordination. In addition, while people categorized as “unqualified” are struggling to be recognized as a group, individuals may get their appreciation as individual employees. The latter point again highlighted that the unqualified workers are the weakest link in such chains of qualifications for the workforce.

The discussion that followed the presentation revolved around two topics: For the first one, the participants were asking about the use of various conventions over the course of these workers’ qualification. Nadai’s empirical examples seemed to show that instead of one convention (or a stable mix of conventions), the logics to qualify people were changed during the process. These changes, however, were mostly implemented either via the employers or the intermediaries, and ultimately lead to disadvantages for the workers. The second topic during the discussion was a possible historical perspective and future scenarios. What is particularly new/contemporary in these ways of qualifying the “unqualified”? And what other developments might we expect in relation to these unqualified workers?

Karolin Kappler: “From Data Worlds to the Digital Chain: A Conventional-Theoretical Reflection on the Digitized Transformation of Society”

Karolin Kappler from the FernUniversität in Hagen gave the third presentation during this semester’s colloquium. At the center of her talk, she put the so-called digital chain in relation to processes of digitalization, inspired by the EC consideration of statistical chains. She started with the current moral conflict surrounding the process of the digital transformations we are witnessing: an almost demonizing view on processes of datafication on the one side, and self-tracking’s promises of salvation on the other side. Both in those two extreme positions as well as in the grey areas between them, an uncertainty of value and quality is present in relation to digitalization. Or rather: Many different values and qualities are mobilized through digitalization. Considering a chain of processes then means looking at different divisions of labor that happen in the process of choosing, generating, analyzing, and using data. The thick description of such a chain both should highlight the investments in forms necessary to make such a chain work as well as its processual nature. Kappler’s idea of the digital chain updated and complemented comparable concepts such as a big-data-process model.[3]

Rainer Diaz-Bone checking the hybrid setting for Karolin Kappler’s presentation

After introducing her concept, Kappler went on to present various situations that are a part of such a digital chain and that she as well as other researchers approached in empirical work. One group of situations was related to the processes of digitalization in self-tracking. Here, Kappler highlighted the performative and generative nature of digitalization.[4] A particular type of world building seems to happen when people use processes of self-tracking that is related to the industrial and inspirational conventions. The digital tools carry the conventions’ logics into people’s regimes of engagements. Another situation that Kappler approached empirically was the one of data analysis and artificial intelligence (AI). Here, she and her collaborators used text mining, scrapping discourse around research, design, and development of AI systems in three different forums: GitHub, Semantic Scholar, and Reddit.[5] The text corpora then were analyzed through automated text classification, to grasp the different quality conventions in the material. The first two forums mainly showed, again, the industrial and inspirational conventions. Reddit, however, also featured justifications relying on civic qualities.

Through following the digital chain, Kappler was able to highlight the tensions and conflicts as well as the plurality of processes and situations were data is being generated and linked together. She proposed to consider “data worlds” on the one hand, and the “data realities” on the other hand, following an idea from Boltanski: The former being the data present, while the latter being the construct made possible through a certain selection of data.[6] Ultimately, Kappler not only highlight an anatomy of such a digital chain and its continues expansion. She also presented how researchers can become active in relation to the digital chain. As an example, she showed a catalogue of sustainability criteria put together with other collaborates and in exchange with the German Society for Informatics.

The discussion after the presentation mainly revolved around two interrelated themes with regards to the digital chain: On the one hand, the participants were interested to know how the aspect of chaining together could be clarified, i.e. the digital chain’s potency beyond one particular situation, its way of connecting situations. The EC framework would of course highlight the role of conventions to show processes beyond fragmentation. On the other hand, the discussion revolved around the digital chain’s spine: The actual thing that is being chained together. The participants agreed that the data itself does not represent this lifeline moment of the chain. But what could it be? Comparing the digital chain with the idea of the statistical chain made it clear that the former does not work in a linear sense towards one institution that would organize the chain (like the state).[7] Ultimately, the image of a chain may be the wrong symbolization for the process around digital data.

Arne Böker: “Education Mobility & Crisis”

In the fourth presentation, Arne Böker presented the early stage of his new project about educational mobility during the current pandemic. The presentation was a fitting topic as the colloquium took place fully online again—a situation we already got used to during the past two years. Böker joined the group from New York, his current location for a research stay at the Columbia University. With his project, he analyzes the pandemic’s consequences on first generation students (FGS). Currently, about half of students at German (and also Swiss) universities are such students, but their numbers are decreasing once the studies continue from BA, to MA, to PHD (i.e. establishing an educational cone/“Bildungstrichter”). Böker wants to find out how these FSGs judge their situation bevor and during the pandemic, and what barriers, resources, and, arrangements are present in relation to social mobility in education.

The project promises to be both innovative with regards to research on the pandemic’s consequences on education as well as regarding the subject of FGS. Research on higher education during the pandemic often has been using quantitative surveys, focusing on certain subject only (like digitalization, financialization, family situation, and so on) and without a differentiation of students’ social background. For his project, Böker wants do qualitative interviews with the FGS. Their situation, he explained, has been worsening: After a highest level of these students were enrolled in the mid-1990s, their numbers decreased ever since. Also, the pandemic is mostly considered a factor that worsens the FGS’ situation, i.e. decreasing the number enrolled at universities. However, there is also evidence that both the pandemic itself (for example the flexibilization thanks to the digitalization) and the FGS show characteristics that could offer a sort of “window of opportunity” for educational mobility. Societal situations that prohibit and foster social mobility are rarely considered when researching education. Böker’s project promises to do just that.

Next to the interesting empirical ideas, the presented approach to higher education during the pandemic is also a new ground for the EC. Böker explained that the theoretical framework allows him to consider two interrelated issues: On the one hand, conflicts and situations of crises can be considered as a re-arrangement of barriers, resources, and arrangements, conceptualizing the corona pandemic as a “test” for institutions. On the other hand, also the actors’ critical capacities within this re-arrangement are highlighted. Such a theoretical view complements the more widespread ideas of Bourdieusian frameworks when approaching institutions and inequality.

Böker then went on the show the first results from an interview he conducted and analyzed. His analysis utilized mapping techniques from Situational Analysis to present a sort of project map of these results with two axes. On the horizontal x-axis, time was represented, ranging from bevor the pandemic to the current situation. The map’s y-axis differentiated between hurdles and resource for the actors.

Arne Böker presenting a project map from his first results

Böker connected various stages the interviewed student went through to highlighted how they changed in relation to each other over time: For example, his interviewee showed how she could both use the pandemic as a justification to extend her grant and how the pandemic lead to a stress relieve—bevor again unleashing a overwhelming amount of work for the student. Böker also showed that the connections he made between the different aspects could be related to different conventions. For example, paths could be traced that followed an industrial logic: from an initial idea of not being good enough to study, over to a particular motivation to organize one’s studies and, finally, to an overburdening with work during the pandemic. Such a relational thinking highlighted how aspects change and are used differently depending on a situation. It also made it possible for Böker to raise awareness for more invisible resource: The family, for example, was a help for the interviewed student particularly because they did not formulate any expectations towards her.

Böker ended his presentation by showcasing his next steps, particularly ideas for the variation in a sample. These ideas of variance were also taken up in the discussion afterwards in addition with another methodological aspect, namely the use of the maps. There, the participants agreed that it would be worthwhile to differentiate the two situations—bevor and during the corona pandemic—and not have them connected with an axis. Such an approach could strengthen the analysis to show the different arrangements in the two situations. In addition to methodological consideration, the discussion also raised a more general theoretical one point: What exactly was the role of EC’s theoretical framework in this project? Here, it was clear that the framework could help to highlight how actors make sense in the respective situations’ different arrangements and, for example, how conventions are brought forward to reduce uncertainty that follows the re-arrangements.

Leonie Bisang: “Mechanisms of Selection in Higher Education”

Leonie Bisang, also hailing form the FHNW, gave the last presentation of this semester. She shared an interest in educational inequality with Böker, but approached the subject with a different angle. For her recently started PHD project, Bisang wants to research how students choose their study course. Her interest lies in those particular students who do not follow a route the theoretical ideas about a structural homology between social space, lifestyles, and field would imply. With this particular interest, Bisang tackles questions of actors’ reflexivity.

To illustrate her research interest, Bisang first showcased the institutional change introduced in the higher education in Switzerland in the 1990s (and that various other countries introduced as well): the establishment of Fachhochschulen/universities of applied sciences. In Switzerland, these institutions offer higher education to people who did not attend a gymnasium (normally required to study at a university), but rather completed an apprenticeship and later on decided to study. While these universities of applied science often focus on courses directly relate to a job market (i.e. management), they also offer the same subjects as regular universities do (i.e. economics).

Bisang approaches this dual system with a particular interest. Following a field logic and the idea of structural homology, one would expect the following when considering students’ choice for institutions: Those who did attend a gymnasium will choose to study at a university, as such an institution is considered to offer a more prestigious education. The culturally-dominated students who did not attend a gymnasium would strive to be enrolled at a Fachhochschule, completing their apprenticeship. This homology is supported through a lot of structural process in place that make sure a majority of students follow such a path. However, there are both students who could attend a regular university that apply for a Fachhochschule, as there are examples the other way around. Moreover, these students’ choices are not only remarkable from a field perspective, but also in a more general sense: They need to go through extra effort to achieve being enrolled at the “other” institution, like getting experience in a job or additional exams.

The inapt choice from both people who could attend universities and from the ones who should attend the Fachhochschulen is what Bisang places at the heart of her PHD project. In a theoretical sense, the inapt choices start a conversation between the Bourdieusian habitus concept and EC competent actors. For the former, questions arise whether these choices are still pre-determined—whether they are in fact non-decision—or if these actors are deliberate and reflexive in their action. Considering the competence of actors is a strength for the latter theoretical position. In addition, the EC’s framework let’s one also consider the processes of coordination that are necessary to make these inapt choices work. Here again, a Bourdieusian framework highlights the aspect of inequality in a more pronounced and explicit way than the EC perspective often does.

For the last part of her presentation, Bisang introduced first idea on how to approach her empirical phenomenon and the theoretical questions she brought forward. One idea she proposed was to make a case comparison between students who chose to study economics: one sample representing the “normal” students, but enrolled at the Fachhochschulen, and one sample would be the those who finished an apprenticeship and then went on to study at a university. The case comparison could then be used in qualitative sense, she explained, to trace a process taking place. These more qualitative approaches could be supplemented with survey-type data, to perform a correspondence analysis once more information about the process of making a choice is available.

Léonie Bisang presenting a model to illustrate the process leading up to the choice of a study course

Bisang’s considerations for her empirical work were the starting point for the discussion that followed the presentation. Next to questions regarding process tracing, the sampling choice was a bigger subject. Aiming for a more open and broader theoretical sampling instead of a case comparison, the participants agreed, could help to identify more interesting cases. This would enable Bisang to grasp the different coordination problems that the students face: from different choices available, to institutional barriers, over to no choice made at all. Such a perspective could also open the possibility to consider reflexivity in another way, i.e. also looking at reflexivity as negative when actors are forced to be deliberate. At the end of the discussion, the subject of inequality was taken up again. Questions of inequality could both be more thoroughly and structurally integrated in case selection, but also in relation to showing inequality in the way people deal with institution (and then, how institutions deal with people).

EC all over?

The five presentations that were given this past semester at the colloquium showcased the following: EC’s theoretical framework—from very broad ideas like plurality over to the more detailed aspects like regimes—is being used in relation to a variety of research interest. They help researchers in grasping their phenomenon and open up interesting perspectives. The five presentations, however, also showed two challenges: On the one hand, using the concepts often is a mere first step, from where researchers still need to conceptualize a problem in an empirical situation. This conceptualization then can make use of other theoretical position and societal issues to move forward. On the other hand, researchers are often faced with challenging methodological problems as a result of the EC framework. Here, the questions of what a situation is seem to be a pressing issue. Next to just showcasing challenges, each presentation and the discussions that followed them made it clear the challenges are a pathway to creative social research.

[1] cf. Thévenot, Laurent. 2019. Measure for Measure: Politics of Quantifying Individuals to Govern Them. Historical Social Research, 44(2), 44-76. https://doi.org/10.12759/hsr.44.2019.2.44-76

[2] Nadai, Eva, and Anna Gonon. 2021. “Simple jobs” for disqualified workers. Employability at the bottom of the labour market. In The Future of Work, ed. Christian Suter, Jacinto Cuvi, Philip Balsiger, and Mihaela Nedelcu, 199–221. Zurich / Geneva: Seismo Verlag AG. https://doi.org/10.33058/seismo.30818.

[3] Weyer, Johannes, Marc Delisle, Karolin Kappler, Marcel Kiehl, Christina Merz, and Jan-Felix Schrape. 2018. Big Data in soziologischer Perspektive. In Big Data und Gesellschaft, ed. Barbara Kolany-Raiser, Reinhard Heil, Carsten Orwat, and Thomas Hoeren, 69–149. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden.

[4] Kappler, Karolin Eva, Eryk Noji, and Uwe Vormbusch. 2019. Performativität in körperlich-leiblichen Selbstvermessungspraktiken: Zwei Fallbeispiele. In Self-Tracking, Selfies, Tinder und Co., ed. Daniel Rode and Martin Stern, 83–100. transcript Verlag.

[5] Solans, David & Tauchmann, Christopher & Farrell, Aideen & Kappler, Karolin Eva & Huber, Hans-Hendrik & Castillo, Carlos. (2019). Conflict and Cooperation: AI Research and Development in terms of the Economy of Conventions.

[6] Luc Boltanski. (2019). On Critique: A Sociology of Emancipation. Cambridge: Polity Press.

[7] Desrosières, Alain. 2002. The Politics of Large Numbers. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Review of: “Zahn, Anina (2021): Wider die Verunsicherung. Arbeitslosenkomitees in der Schweiz, 1975–2002. Zürich: Chronos

Alan Canonica (2022)

H / Soz / Kult, 14.01.2022

Extract: “Als theoretischer Rahmen dient die pragmatische Soziologie der Kritik, die vor allem von Luc Boltanski und Laurent Thévenot begründet wurde. Zum einen betont der Ansatz die Interdependenz zwischen Institutionen und die an sie herangetragene Kritik, zum anderen die Handlungskompetenz von Akteuren, mittels Kritik institutionelle Veränderungen anzustossen. Zu den zentralen empirischen Quellen gehören die Archivunterlagen der Arbeitslosenkomitees sowie Interviews mit Zeitzeuginnen und -zeugen.”

Extract: “The theoretical framework is the pragmatic sociology of critique, which was founded above all by Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot. On the one hand, the approach emphasizes the interdependence between institutions and the criticism addressed to them, and on the other hand, the competence of actors to initiate institutional changes by means of criticism. The central empirical sources include the archival documents of the unemployment committees as well as interviews with contemporary witnesses.”

Lien / Link

Sociology Between Research and the Society of Data

Stefania Capogna (2021)

Sociology Study 11(6), pp. 276-289. Open Access.

Abstract. This paper focuses on how big data guide the construction of the interpretative schemata we use to understand the world and act in it. To this end, the essay describes the most significant new research elements and frontiers that sociology is obliged to address at present. While the prevailing literature advocates the need to promote data literacy, the idea we wish to advance is that it is necessary to foster the comprehension of data along with an understanding of the role and the responsibility which sociology has intrepidly assumed since its foundation, that is, the study and explication of the complexity of the relationships characterising social life always and everywhere. Our intent is to make a proactive contribution to the study of the digitality to bring to light perverse, unexpected and/or unwanted effects associated with naive use of big data for research purposes.

Extract: “Desrosières (2016) explored the topic holding that it was necessary to distinguish between measurement and quantification. In his opinion, quantification comes before all else and provides the defining process capable of leading to the development of univocal, standard concepts, the development of procedures of classification and measurement. The defining process develops along with a continuous negotiation, coordination and critical review involving different actors from diverse disciplinary and professional fields and leading to the construction of a system of shared theoretical-methodological conventions.” (p. 281)

Lien / Link

Education and Training Regimes within the Swiss Vocational Education and Training System. A Comparison of the Cantons of Geneva, Ticino, and Zurich in the Context of Educational Expansion

Philipp Gonon & Lena Freidorfer-Kabashi (2021)

Education Science, 12(1), Open Access.

Abstract. Swiss Vocational Education and Training (VET) is based on national legislation which was introduced in the 1930s and renewed in the 1960s (as well as in the 1970s and in 2002). At first, the goal of the national VET legislation was to further Vocational Education and Training in order to support small and medium enterprises; however, later, it also included industry and services and has more recently grown to support the learners themselves. The 1963 national legislation and the following implementation acts in the cantons were decisive in shaping the Swiss VET system from a historical and comparative perspective. We argue that still today we do not have a unified, national system of education, but rather e cantonal modes of education and also of VET. However, the cantonal actors—with a specific focus on Ticino, Geneva, and Zurich—argue with similar justifications, when it comes to the reform of VET. Nevertheless, within this national legal framework, the cantons adopt rather different solutions. The result is that different (language specific) regional pathways of VET were established, based on various education and training regimes. In this research paper, we aim to concentrate on the years from 1950 to 1970, a period that turns out to be particularly significant for the development of Swiss VET. We focus our research on the introduction of the Vocational Training Act in 1963 and look in detail at the extent to which the cantons developed their corresponding implementation acts from the perspectives of different motives and logics.

Lien / Link

Tackling material dependency in sustainability transition: rationales and insights from the agriculture sector

Luigi Pellizzoni & Laura Centemeri (2022)

Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, Online first

Abstract. Human material dependency is hardly questioned as such. However, there are different understandings of humans’ connection with their biophysical milieu. In this paper, we discuss four basic accounts, which differ according to whether dependency and agency are assumed to be strong or weak. Though these accounts, which we label as Cartesian, Kantian, Spinozian and Adornian, are ideal-typical, we argue they express a cognitive path dependency that can be detected in the diverse ways the transition to sustainability is pursued. To show the heuristic value of the typology we focus on agriculture, as a field of major relevance in this regard. The first three rationales, respectively underpinning industrial agriculture, ecosystem services and earth restoration programmes, see material dependency as a problem to which the reply is mastering the world, though such mastery is understood differently. The fourth one, which underpins peasant agroecology, sees dependency as a constitutive – that is, unavoidable and formative – limitation, pointing to a caring, friendly attitude. We argue this outlook is crucial to a sustainability transition, and give a clue to the governance approach that may help support it.

Extract: “The multifunctionality of agriculture implies that judgment about what counts as value is preliminary to any assessment. This resonates with the Economics of Conventions school’s claim that judgments of worth are based on incommensurable metrics, each grounded on own criteria, market competition being just one (Boltanski & Thévenot, 2006). Accordingly, when observing an organized activity (in our case farming), one can notice different ways agents put material dependency into ‘forms’ (Thévenot, 1984), which allows for different types of agency to emerge. This approach brings to the fore a kind of uncertainty that touches not knowledge about reality but the situation as experienced. Acting requires interpreting what does and doesn’t count as relevant, and this depends on the experience lived and pursued. For example, a ‘wetland’ can be regarded as a resource but also as heritage, biodiversity, wilderness, dwelled place, and else, according to what agents value, for which purpose.” (p. 7)

Lien / Link

The adoption problem is a matter of fit: tracing the travel of pruning practices from research to farm in Ghana’s cocoa sector

Faustina Obeng Adomaa, Sietze Vellema, Maja Slingerland & Richard Asare (2021)

Agriculture and Human Values. Online first

Abstract. Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) are central to sustainability standards and certification programmes in the global cocoa chain. Pruning is one of the practices promoted in extension services associated with these sustainability efforts. Yet concerns exist about the low adoption rate of these GAPs by smallholder cocoa farmers in Ghana. A common approach to addressing this challenge is based on creating enabling conditions and offering appropriate incentives. We use the concepts of inscription and affordance to trace the vertically coordinated travel of recommended pruning from research to extension and farming sites, and to describe how pruning is carried out differently at each site. Our analysis suggests that enactments of pruning at the extension site reduce the number of options and space for interactions, and this constrains making the practice meaningful to farmers’ repertoires. The conventions guiding and legitimising actions at this site, reinforced by sustainability standards, certification schemes and associated inspections and audits, favour standardised recommendations and consequently narrow room for context-specific diagnostics and adaptions. Therefore, we reframe the adoption problem as a matter of fit between different sites in the ‘agricultural research value chain’ embedded in the operational cocoa chain. Our contribution problematises the dominant framing of low adoption and highlights that the movement of pruning and the sequential enactment at different sites constrain the affordances available for rendering the practice meaningful to farmers’ repertoires. Consequently, addressing the low uptake of GAPs requires institutional work towards conventions that can construct a fit between sites along the agricultural research value chain.

Lien / Link

Neue Politische Ökonomie einfacher Gesellschaften. Wirtschafts- und politikethnologische Erkundungen

New political economy of simple societies. Economic and political-ethnological explorations

Jürg Helbling (2021)

Wiesbaden: Springer VS

Extract: “11.3 Markt als Konvention
Die Konventionenökonomik (économie des conventions, EC) berücksichtigt stärker als die Institutionenökonomik und die wirtschaftssoziologische Netzwerkanalyse die kognitive und kulturelle Dimension von Markttransaktionen: Akteure müssen Situationen, in denen sie sich befinden, erst interpretieren und bewerten (Favereau 2011). Der Grund hierfür ist die Unmöglichkeit, vollständige Kontrakte abzuschließen, weil Kontrakte immer allgemein definiert sein müssen, um auf Einzelfälle anwendbar zu sein, und deshalb für jeden Einzelfall immer erst interpretiert werden müssen (Hirshleifer 1978: 238, Eymard-Duvernay 2004: 44 ff.). Die Konventionenökonomik (EC) knüpft an Keynes’ Kritik der Neoklassik an: Akteure entscheiden sich nicht aufgrund „rationaler Erwartungen“, sondern in Situationen der Unsicherheit aufgrund von Konventionen. Konventionen bilden sich durch praktische Erfahrungen und aufgrund der Beobachtung der anderen Akteure, und sie werden so lange befolgt, wie sie erfolgreich sind (vgl. sehr ähnlich auch Simon [1987, 1993] und sein Modell der „eingeschränkten Rationalität“). Dosse (1995: 294, 299) bezeichnet Keynes denn auch als den eigentlichen Begründer der Konventionenökonomik.56 Konventionen sind allerdings nicht psychologischer Natur, sondern basieren auf Klassifikationen von Akteuren, Objekten und Situationen. In diesem Zusammenhang sind deshalb die Arbeiten von Durkheim, Mauss und Lévi-Strauss wichtig, für die die Klassifikationen das soziale Universum definieren und jeweils in einer spezifischen Beziehung zur Sozialstruktur stehen. Für Bourdieu hingegen sind Klassifikationen auch das Resultat von Auseinandersetzungen im sozialen Raum, vor allem aber argumentiert Bourdieu weniger strukturalistisch, sondern rückt stärker die sozialen Akteure in den Vordergrund (Diaz-Bone 2015: 61–64). (Das Beschweigen des Werks von Bourdieu durch Vertreter der EC ist allerdings ebenso lautstark wie erstaunlich.)57 Zueiner dritten Inspirationsquelle der EC gehören die phänomenologische Soziologie bzw. der Sozialkonstruktivismus (Berger/Luckmann 1977), der symbolische Interaktionismus (Blumer 1969) und die Ethnomethodologie (Garfinkel 1967) sowie die interpretativ-hermeneutische Philosophie (Ricoeur) und der Pragmatismus von James und Dewey (Dosse 1995: 289, 292, 298 f.). Diesen Autoren ist gemeinsam, dass sie die soziale Welt als das Resultat des sinnhaften Handelns der Individuen und der Objektivierung der wechselseitigen Erwartungen in Interaktion sehen, eine konstruierte Welt, in der die Individuen auch praktische Lösungen für konkrete Probleme entwickeln. Es soll hier nicht um eine vertiefte Auseinandersetzung mit der Konventionenökonomik gehen (hierzu vgl. Diaz-Bone 2015), sondern lediglich darum, die grundlegenden Eigenschaften dieses Ansatzes und jene Aspekte herauszustreichen, die für die Analyse einfacher Gesellschaften relevant und sinnvoll sind.” (p. 539-540)

Extract: “11.3 Market as convention
The economics of convention (économie des conventions, EC) takes into account the cognitive and cultural dimension of market transactions more than institutional economics and economic sociological network analysis: Actors must first interpret and evaluate situations in which they find themselves (Favereau 2011). The reason for this is the impossibility of concluding complete contracts, because contracts must always be defined in general terms in order to be applicable to individual cases, and therefore must always first be interpreted for each individual case (Hirshleifer 1978: 238, Eymard-Duvernay 2004: 44 ff.). Economics of convention (EC) ties in with Keynes’ critique of neoclassicism: Actors do not decide on the basis of “rational expectations” but in situations of uncertainty on the basis of conventions. Conventions are formed through practical experience and on the basis of observation of other actors, and they are followed as long as they are successful (cf. very similarly Simon [1987, 1993] and his model of “bounded rationality”). Dosse (1995: 294, 299) then also refers to Keynes as the actual founder of economics of convention. However, conventions are not psychological in nature, but are based on classifications of actors, objects and situations. In this context, therefore, the works of Durkheim, Mauss, and Lévi-Strauss are important, for whom classifications define the social universe and are each specifically related to social structure. For Bourdieu, on the other hand, classifications are also the result of contestations in social space; most importantly, Bourdieu argues in a less structuralist way, focusing more on social actors (Diaz-Bone 2015: 61-64). (The silencing of Bourdieu’s work by representatives of EC, however, is as vocal as it is astonishing.) A third source of inspiration for EC includes phenomenological sociology or socio-constructivism (Berger/Luckmann 1977), symbolic interactionism (Blumer 1969), and ethnomethodology (Garfinkel 1967), as well as interpretive-hermeneutic philosophy (Ricoeur) and the pragmatism of James and Dewey (Dosse 1995: 289, 292, 298 f.). These authors have in common that they see the social world as the result of the meaningful action of individuals and the objectification of mutual expectations in interaction, a constructed world in which individuals also develop practical solutions to concrete problems. The purpose here is not to engage in an in-depth discussion of economics of convention (on which see Diaz-Bone 2015), but merely to highlight the basic features of this approach and those aspects that are relevant and useful for the analysis of simple societies.” (p. 539-540)

Lien / Link

Common good in the era of data-intensive healthcare

Kirsikka Grön (2021)

Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8, pp. 1-10.

Abstract. In recent years, scholars studying data-intensive healthcare have argued that data-driven technologies bind together new actors and goals as part of healthcare. By combining the expectation studies with justification theory, this article adopts a novel theoretical perspective to understand how these actors and goals are enroled in healthcare. Drawing on a case study of Apotti, a Finnish social services and healthcare information system renewal project, the article shows how new emerging health data assemblages stress the aims of producing the common good in public healthcare. The project is studied by analysing interviews of the project’s key actors and various documents produced in the project. The paper shows how, in the collective expectations, the new information system is justified by multiple understandings of the common good, which might be contradictory with each other. Along with the established goals of improving public healthcare operations, the new information system is expected to empower clients and patients, audit and manage personnel, promote national digital social and healthcare service markets, provide better data and tools for research, and promote Finnish research and business in international competition. These expectations are not all based on the settled understanding of the common good of public healthcare as promoting health; the common good is also defined in other terms such as improving research, promoting markets and business, and making Finland famous and a leading country in the digital social services and healthcare field. These goals and expectations are purposely ambiguous to be loose enough to gain attention and maintain it even when the promises are not met. The paper identifies the ambiguity and plurality of the common good as strategies of data-intensive healthcare and raises concerns of how this might shape public healthcare in the future. As the plural understandings of the common good might not support each other, the paper calls for further assessments of how this will affect public healthcare’s core objectives and for seeking solutions that carefully balance the goals of the current and evolving multi-stakeholder environment of data-intensive healthcare.

Lien / Link

Unpacking Nordic branding: the value regimes of Nordicness

Lars Pynt Andersen, Frank Lindberg & Jacob Ostberg (2021)

Journal of Place Management and Development 14(3), pp. 362-378.

Abstract. This paper aims to develop place branding theory toward the accommodation of a multifaceted understanding of value and value negotiation by Nordic branding actors by way of answering the following question: How is Nordicness appropriated by Nordic branding actors and what value regimes are drawn on in the process?
Using field data from a selection of branding actors and sectors in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, a qualitative analysis of Nordic branding performances is used to unpack the negotiations of valuation of worth.
The analysis identified three principle orders of worth behind Nordicness (civic, green and inspired) that are negotiated through compromises between orders of industry and domestic and by contesting the orders of fame and market. The findings indicate how Nordicness is performed as principle worths and tensions and how these are rendered meaningful as propositions of “value as difference” as they are performed in practice by brand actors.
Several studies focus on how place branding “adds value;” however, few studies have been aimed at unpacking how a “value universe” is negotiated as a more complex understanding of worth or “value.” This study thus opens up for branding heterogeneity, which signifies awareness of competing notions and orders of worth among small- and medium-sized enterprises and other central stakeholders; this could further inspire interdisciplinary, value-based research into the potential contingencies of (product) branding and place branding in other contexts and regions.

Lien/Link

Appel à communication – Panel “économie des conventions” du 11e congrès de l’AFEP, 28 juin-1 juil. 2022 Amiens (France)

Call for papers – Panel “Economics of conventions” of the 11th AFEP Congress, June 28-July 1, 2022 Amiens (France)

L’économie des conventions est une théorie de l’action située fondant son programme de recherche sur la pluralité des modes de coordination. La convention, considérée comme une règle ou comme une représentation, est révélée dans l’appartenance à une action collective. Elle suppose d’être partagée par plusieurs acteurs afin que la coordination aboutisse. Nombreux sont les chercheur.e.s qui s’appuient sur le cadre d’analyse conventionnaliste dans leurs travaux. L’appel à communication propose de présenter ces recherches afin de rendre compte de la pluralité des domaines dans lesquels les cadres de pensées et les concepts de l’économie des conventions sont mobilisés.
Ainsi, ce panel propose d’explorer différents apports de l’économie des conventions mettant en exergue les limites ou les logiques d’adaptation du capitalisme contemporain dans les domaines de la santé, du travail, de l’environnement, de l’énergie, de la finance, etc. En mettant en évidence les rapports de force, les arrangements institutionnels, les représentations et les interprétations des règles, l’économie des conventions permet d’appréhender le capitalisme sous différents aspects (capitalisme sanitaire, capitalisme financiarisé, capitalisme « vert »…) et d’en proposer une critique.
Afin d’explorer ces questions, sans pour autant exclure d’autres types d’applications, cet appel à communication attend des travaux (article, chapitre de thèse, projet de recherche, etc.) ayant différents niveaux de maturité. L’objectif est de réunir des chercheur.e.s expérimenté.e.s et de jeunes chercheur.e.s afin de discuter de leurs travaux.

Les réponses à appel à communication ne devront pas excéder deux pages, présentant un titre, des motsclés, une question de recherche claire, le caractère empirique ou non du travail et un maximum de 5 références bibliographiques.

Merci de déposer vos propositions de communication avant le 5/02/2022 sur le site :
https://afep2022.sciencesconf.org dans la thématique économie des conventions ainsi qu’à Olivier Gayot (olivier.gayot@univ-lille.fr), Cécile Vasseur (cecile.vasseur@univ-lille.fr) et Guillemette de Larquier (guillemette.de-larquier@univ-lille.fr)

Les propositions acceptées seront notifiées le 2/03/2022.

2022

Bonne année !   Gutes Neues Jahr!   Happy New Year!   ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!   
Buon anno!  Hyvää uutta vuotta!     新年あけましておめでとうございます。  
Feliz Ano Novo!   كل عام وأنتم بخير  С Новым годом!    Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!  
新年快乐!     Καλή χρονιά!    
Godt nytår!

L’évolution des visites entre la création du blog en mars 2017 et décembre 2021 :
The evolution of visits between the creation of the blog in March 2017 and December 2021: