Archives mensuelles : février 2022

Wir und die fremde Welt. Neue Abstiegssorgen, eigene Gemeinschaftsmodelle und die Kraft der Kritik von Produktionsarbeitenden

We and the foreign world. New descent worries, own community models and the power of the critique of production workers

Hendrik Brunsen (2022)

Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
PhD thesis. Osnabrück: University of Osnabrück.

ÜBER DAS BUCH. Die Studie schaut mit einem pragmatischen Forschungsansatz in einen Leuchtturmbetrieb der Metall- und Elektrobranche und beschäftigt sich mit einer Formation indirekter Leistungssteuerung, die auf dem Argument einer betrieblichen Gemeinschaft aufbaut. Für die Arbeitenden, so der Ausgangspunkt, ist das auf einer Standort- und Arbeitsplatzunsicherheit basierende Gemeinschaftsargument einerseits plausibel. Andererseits bringen sie aber auch Zweifel zur Sprache. Erforscht wird entlang der Kritik der Arbeitenden, wie die Zweifel begründet werden und welche Folgen sie haben. Grundlage der Kritik sind zwei eigene Gemeinschaftsmodelle, die von den normativen Gemeinschaftsprinzipien des Zusammenhalts und der Arbeitsteilung angeleitet werden und den Arbeitenden zu kompetenten Urteilen verhelfen. Von diesen normativen Standpunkten aus diagnostizieren die Arbeitenden eine Entwertung von Produktionsarbeit, welche das Gemeinschaftsargument aus ihrer Perspektive konterkariert und zu neuen sozialen Abstiegssorgen führt. Überzeugt von der Richtigkeit und Angemessenheit der eigenen Gemeinschaftsmodelle sowie zwecks Bearbeitung der Abstiegssorgen stellen die Arbeitenden der diagnostizierten Entwertung anschließend eine praktische Aufwertung als Produktionsexperten entgegen.

Auszug: “1.2 Pragmatischer Forschungsansatz: Drei Eckpunkte
Die vorliegende Studie baut auf einem pragmatischen Forschungsansatz auf. Pragmatisch inspirierte Forschungen repräsentieren kein hermetisch geschlossenes Theoriegebäude. Vielmehr legen die erkenntnistheoretischen Grundannahmen der Philosophie des Pragmatismus einen Denkstil nahe, welche die soziologische Forschung in Richtung einer ‚pragmatischen Soziologie‘ weiterentwickeln können (Barthe et al. 2016). Der Pragmatismus ist eine Philosophie des Handelns, die sich im Übergang zum 20. Jahrhundert im Raum Chicago (IL) bildete und explizit auf Fragen des sozialen Wandels fokussiert. Inspiriert durch die mit der Industrialisierung einhergehenden massiven gesellschaftlichen Veränderungen, die insbesondere in den Städten kulminierten, ist im Pragmatismus ein Wahrheitsmodell verankert, welches auf den praktischen Zweifel abstellt. Der Pragmatismus folgt hier dem nachvollziehbaren Argument, dass es die Menschen selber sind, die in Zeiten sozialer Umbrüche alltägliche Probleme lösen und sich neu aufeinander einstellen müssen. In methodologischer Hinsicht bedeutet dies, dass den Akteuren kreative, kritische und problemlösende Kompetenzen zugeschrieben werden können und sozialer Wandel tief in den die situative Unsicherheit bearbeitenden sozialen Aushandlungsprozessen verankert wird. So werden nicht ‚feste‘ Strukturen, sondern die handelnden Menschen in das erkenntnistheoretische Zentrum gerückt. Das heißt auch, dass in pragmatischen Forschungsansätzen die soziale Ordnung nicht starr, sondern als permanentes Ordnen begriffen und die Konzeption von Sozialität auf das Verhältnis von Handlung und Bewusstsein eingestellt wird (z. B. Bogusz 2011; James [1907] 2012; Joas 1992; Strauss 1993). Der Pragmatismus führt zu grundlegenden Neujustierungen soziologischen Denkens, wendet sich von strukturalistischen Erklärungsansätzen ab und wird gegenwärtig vor allem in der französischen Sozialforschung aufgegriffen. Insbesondere im Rahmen der Soziologie der Konventionen und Kritik hat sich dort in den letzten vierzig Jahren ein Forschungsprogramm entwickelt, welches Konventionen als Stützen der Handlung denkt und deren Infragestellung über Formen der Rechtfertigung und Kritik analysiert (z. B. Boltanski/Thévenot 1991; Chiapello 2015; Dodier 2010; zum Überblick Diaz-Bone 2015). Auch in der arbeits- und industriesoziologischen Forschung wird in den letzten Jahren verstärkt auf diese pragmatischen Ansätze zurückgegriffen, um Fragen nach dem Wandel von Arbeit und Betrieb entlang von Konventionen sowie in Kritik geäußerten Ansprüchen und Arbeitsorientierungen zu erforschen. Diese Studien folgen dem grundlegenden Argument, dass die aufbrechenden und sich neu bildendende normativen Stützen alltäglicher Praktiken als Indikatoren für Entwicklungstendenzen von Arbeit gelesen werden können und demzufolge die Einflugschneisen zur Analyse sozialen Wandels darstellen (z. B. Dubet 2008; Hürtgen/Voswinkel 2014; Kratzer et al. 2015; Salais 2007; Wolf 2014).”

ABOUT THE BOOK. With a pragmatic research approach, the study looks into a lighthouse company in the metal and electrical industry and deals with a formation of indirect performance management based on the argument of a company community. For the workers, according to the starting point, the community argument based on location and job insecurity is plausible on the one hand. On the other hand, they also raise doubts. The critique of the workers is used to investigate how the doubts are justified and what consequences they have. The basis of the critique are two own community models, which are guided by the normative community principles of cohesion and division of labor and help the workers to make competent judgments. From these normative standpoints, workers diagnose a devaluation of production labor that counteracts the community argument from their perspective and leads to new social descent concerns. Convinced of the correctness and appropriateness of their own community models, and in order to deal with their worries about relegation, the workers then counter the diagnosed devaluation with a practical revaluation as production experts.

Extract: “1.2 Pragmatic research approach: three cornerstones.
This study is built on a pragmatic research approach. Pragmatically inspired research does not represent a hermetically closed body of theory. Rather, the basic epistemological assumptions of the philosophy of pragmatism suggest a style of thinking that can advance sociological research toward a ‘pragmatic sociology’ (Barthe et al. 2016). Pragmatism is a philosophy of action that formed in the Chicago (IL) area during the transition to the 20th century and focuses explicitly on issues of social change. Inspired by the massive social changes that accompanied industrialization, culminating especially in the cities, pragmatism enshrines a model of truth that focuses on practical doubt. Pragmatism follows the understandable argument that it is the people themselves who have to solve everyday problems and readjust to each other in times of social upheaval. In methodological terms, this means that creative, critical and problem-solving competencies can be attributed to the actors and that social change is deeply anchored in the social negotiation processes dealing with situational uncertainty. In this way, it is not ‘fixed’ structures but acting people that are moved to the epistemological center. This also means that in pragmatist research approaches, social order is not understood rigidly, but as permanent ordering, and the conception of sociality is attuned to the relationship between action and consciousness (e.g., Bogusz 2011; James [1907] 2012; Joas 1992; Strauss 1993). Pragmatism leads to fundamental readjustments of sociological thought, turns away from structuralist explanatory approaches, and is currently taken up especially in French social research. In particular, within the framework of the sociology of conventions and critique, a research program has developed there over the last forty years that thinks of conventions as supports for action and analyzes their questioning through forms of justification and critique (e.g., Boltanski/Thévenot 1991; Chiapello 2015; Dodier 2010; for an overview, Diaz-Bone 2015). In recent years, research in the sociology of work and industry has also increasingly drawn on these pragmatic approaches to explore questions about the transformation of work and the workplace along conventions as well as claims and work orientations expressed in critique. These studies follow the basic argument that the emerging and re-emerging normative supports of everyday practices can be read as indicators of developmental trends in work and, consequently, provide the flyways for analyzing social change (e.g., Dubet 2008; Hürtgen/Voswinkel 2014; Kratzer et al. 2015; Salais 2007; Wolf 2014).”

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Räumliche Ungleichheit wie ein Föderalstaat sehen und intervenieren: Genese, Konflikte und Folgen einer quantifizierenden Territorialpolitik in Deutschland

Seeing and Intervening Spatial Inequality as a Federal State: Genesis, Conflicts and Consequences of a Quantifying Territorial Policy in Germany.

Walter Bartl (2021)

Cumulative habilitation. Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale).

Zusammenfassung. Räumliche Ungleichheiten innerhalb von Staaten haben jüngst an gesellschaftlicher Bedeutung gewonnen, wie die geografische Verteilung von Wahlergebnissen in vielen Ländern zeigt. Die hohe Aufmerksamkeit für innerstaatliche Ungleichheiten (im Vergleich zu zwischenstaatlichen Ungleichheiten) geht auf die nach wie vor herausragende Bedeutung des Nationalstaates als Deutungsrahmen für die Bewertung empirischer Ressourcenverteilungen sowie als Adressat für Forderungen nach kompensatorischen Interventionen zurück. Die kumulative Habilitationsschrift analysiert die (mögliche) Rolle von Indikatoren sowohl für die Messung von räumlichen Disparitäten als auch für territoriale Interventionen des Staates. Die Vermessung von Raum erfolgt typischerweise in einem territorialen Schema und macht die festgestellten Ungleichheiten zu einem potenziellen Gegenstand staatlicher Interventionen. Die Arbeit untersucht die Territorialpolitik staatlicher Akteure in den Politikfeldern Kommunalfinanzen, Bildungsinfrastruktur, Regionalförderung und Asylverwaltung primär am Beispiel der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Dabei geht es insbesondere um die Frage, inwiefern territorial konstruierte Indikatoren als standardisierte Informations- oder Allokationsinstrumente in diesen Politikfeldern eine Rolle spielen.
Für eine bedeutsame Rolle von Indikatoren spricht gemäß Alain Desrosières, dass Statistik – ähnlich wie Recht – ein im Zuge der Nationalstaatsbildung konstituiertes Medium darstellt, um das staatliche Territorium kognitiv und administrativ zu homogenisieren. Statistische Formen sind zwar historisch kontingent, schaffen aber dennoch eine objektivierte gesellschaftliche Realität. Die infrastrukturelle Durchdringung des staatlichen Territoritoriums ist besonders effektiv, wenn Indikatoren sowohl zur Informationsgewinnung als auch zur räumlichen Allokation von Ressourcen institutionalisiert werden. Dies ist jedoch nicht zwangsläufig der Fall. Erstens setzen quantifizierte Informationen Investitionen in Messkonventionen voraus (Desrosières, Thévenot). Zweitens stehen der quantitativen Formalisierung von Allokationskriterien politische Interessen von Entscheidungsträgern an der Bewahrung von Bewertungs- und Verhandlungsspielräumen  entgegen. Insbesondere die historischen Konstellationen des Wohlfahrtsstaates und des Keynesianischen Staates haben in Deutschland enge Kopplungen von Statistik und staatlicher Territorialpolitik geschaffen (z.B. subnationale Fiskalbeziehungen, subnationale Asylverwaltung, Schulinfrastrukturpolitik), die jenseits der monetär verfassten Fiskalpolitik auf einer quasi-naturalwirtschaftlichen Kalkulation von Bedarfen und Produktionskapazitäten anhand von Indikatoren beruhen. Im Bereich der subnationalen Regionalpolitik in Deutschland sind Indikatoren jedoch nur in einer limitierten Form institutionalisiert. Als mögliche Instrumente zur multidimensionalen Messung von räumlicher Gerechtigkeit sind Indikatoren der bundesstaatlichen Raumordnung wenig standardisiert; als mögliche Instrumente kompensatorischer Interventionen fehlen formale Regelungen jenseits der ökonomischen Dimension von Regionalpolitik. Mögliche plurale Indikatoren räumlicher Gerechtigkeit konkurrieren mit einem etablierten Schlüsselindikator (Bruttoinlandsprodukt) und darauf bezogener Kausaltheorien. Hinzu kommt, dass die deutschen Bundesländer ein Interesse daran haben, politische Entscheidungsspielräume in der Regionalpolitik zu bewahren. Überdies setzen neoliberale Handlungsmodelle stärker auf interaktive Formen von Governance statt auf standardisierte Regulierung. Ein Teilaspekt der Habilitationsschrift analysiert die supranationale EU-Ebene: In der territorialen Verantwortungsteilung der Asylpolitik der EU war es bisher nicht möglich, einen statistischen Äquivalenzraum zu schaffen, der durch das öffentliche Handeln der Mitgliedsstaaten effektiv stabilisiert wird.

Abstract. Spatial inequalities within states have recently gained social importance, as evidenced by the geographic distribution of election outcomes in many countries. The high attention paid to within-state inequalities (compared to between-state inequalities) stems from the still prominent importance of the nation-state as an interpretive framework for assessing empirical resource distributions as well as an addressee for demands for compensatory interventions. This cumulative postdoctoral thesis analyzes the (potential) role of indicators both for measuring spatial disparities and for territorial interventions by the state. The measurement of space typically takes place in a territorial scheme and makes the identified inequalities a potential object of state intervention. This paper examines the territorial policies of state actors in the policy fields of municipal finance, educational infrastructure, regional promotion and asylum administration, primarily using the example of the Federal Republic of Germany. In particular, the question arises to what extent territorially constructed indicators play a role as standardized information or allocation instruments in these policy fields.
According to Alain Desrosières, a significant role of indicators is supported by the fact that statistics – similar to law – represent a medium constituted in the course of nation-state formation in order to cognitively and administratively homogenize the state territory. Statistical forms, while historically contingent, nevertheless create an objectified societal reality. Infrastructural penetration of the state territory is particularly effective when indicators are institutionalized for both information gathering and spatial allocation of resources. However, this is not necessarily the case. First, quantified information requires investment in measurement conventions (Desrosières, Thévenot). Second, the quantitative formalization of allocation criteria is opposed by political interests of decision-makers in preserving scope for evaluation and negotiation. In particular, the historical constellations of the welfare state and the Keynesian state have created close couplings of statistics and state territorial policy in Germany (e.g., subnational fiscal relations, subnational asylum administration, school infrastructure policy), which, beyond monetary fiscal policy, are based on a quasi-natural economic calculation of needs and production capacities on the basis of indicators. In the field of subnational regional policy in Germany, however, indicators are institutionalized only in a limited form. As possible instruments for the multidimensional measurement of spatial justice, indicators of federal spatial planning are not very standardized; as possible instruments of compensatory interventions, formal regulations beyond the economic dimension of regional policy are missing. Possible plural indicators of spatial justice compete with an established key indicator (gross domestic product) and causal theories based on it. In addition, the German states have an interest in preserving political room for maneuver in regional policy. Moreover, neoliberal models of governance rely more on interactive forms of governance than on standardized regulation. One aspect of the habilitation thesis analyzes the supranational EU level: in the territorial division of responsibility of EU asylum policy, it has not yet been possible to create a statistical equivalence space that is effectively stabilized by the public action of member states.

Algorithms, Conventions and New Regulation Processes

Rainer Diaz-Bone & Simon Schrör (2022)

In: Michael Filimowicz (ed.): Democratic frontiers. Algorithms and society. London: Routledge, pp. 24-46.

Abstract. The contribution relies on the French institutionalist approach of economics of convention (EC). This approach was developed in the analysis of statistics, categorization, and quantification and links the issue of data generation to the question of the common good. EC focuses on how data quality is grounded in (measurement) conventions and how data serves social collectives for the pursuing of a common good. EC can be regarded as a neopragmatist approach, which points to the plurality of data worlds and the upcoming tensions between conventions as different institutional logics, how to generate, evaluate, interpret and use data in situations. Big data and algorithms bring in new tensions in situations because of its (mostly) opaque character of data generation. The emerging issues at stake are how data quality and its link to the common good can be evaluated by civic and collective actors. More and more realms of society are governed by private companies, whose data generation, collection and analysis are based on privately owned and invisible algorithms. As the relevance of digital platforms and social media grows, so does the power of governance that such entities have on society and social life. A key to understanding this influence is the ability of digital actors to regulate effectively, be it through (automated) enforcement of rules or their law-making potential. This contribution mobilizes the convention-based notion of data worlds and the critical capacities of their actors to explain conflicts and coordinative action in different areas of algorithmic regulation. The approach, which is based on situations of uncertainty, will be exemplarily applied to different areas of content moderation as well as payment, public administration and legal tech services.

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Eingliederung als Rechtfertigungsarbeit. Konventionen betrieblicher Arbeitsintegration am Beispiel psychisch erkrankter Beschäftigter

Integration as justification work. Conventions of Work Integration in the Company Using the Example of Mentally Ill Employees

Anna Gonon (2022)

PhD thesis. St. Gallen: University of St. Gallen. Defended 15 February 2022
First reviewer: Prof. Dr. Franz Schultheis
Second reviewer: Jean-Michel Bonvin

Zusammenfassung. Mit der sozialpolitischen Forderung, dass sich gesundheitlich eingeschränkte Menschen stärker am ersten Arbeitsmarkt beteiligen, gewinnt die Arbeitsintegration in Unternehmen an Bedeutung. Die Dissertationsstudie untersucht, wie die Bedingungen der Arbeitsmarktinklusion psychisch erkrankter Beschäftigter in Unternehmen gestaltet wer-den. Der Fokus liegt nicht nur auf den formalen Strukturen des so genannten Eingliederungsmanagements, sondern auch auf informellen Aushandlungen und Praktiken der Organisation und Bewertung von Arbeit. Mit der Soziologie der Konventionen als theoretischer Perspektive fokussiert die Studie auf die gegenseitige Abstimmung der Akteurinnen und Akteure in der Interpretation, Koordination und Rechtfertigung von Wiedereingliederungsprozessen. Empirisch beruht die Studie auf einer qualitativen Erhebung in zwei Versicherungen und einem Industriebetrieb in der Schweiz. Methodisch orientiert sie sich an den Prinzipien der Grounded Theory und der Situationsanalyse. Es wurden 31 Interviews mit betroffenen Beschäftigten, Vorgesetzten und Verantwortlichen des Personal- und Eingliederungsmanagements geführt. Als weitere Daten dienen teilnehmende Beobachtungen und betriebliche Dokumente.
Die empirische Untersuchung zeigt, dass Massnahmen der betrieblichen Wiedereingliederung im Kontext psychischer Erkrankungen Rechtfertigungsbedarf erzeugen. Zur Charakterisierung der Aktivitäten, die verschiedene Akteurinnen und Akteure unternehmen, um die Reintegration als legitim erscheinen zu lassen, entwickelt die Studie das Konzept der „Rechtfertigungsarbeit“. Diese kann darin bestehen, die kooperative Haltung der Betroffenen gegenüber dem Betrieb zu bekräftigen oder plausibel zu machen, dass sie in ihrer Arbeitsstelle trotz der Erkrankung weiterhin leistungsfähig sein werden. Der Rechtfertigungsbedarf ist besonders ausgeprägt in Arbeitsbereichen mit hohem Leistungsdruck. Im Hinblick auf die Rehabilitation können sich daraus dysfunktionale Anreize ergeben: im Bestreben, die weitere Leistungsfähigkeit der Betroffenen zu untermauern, werden „private“ Krankheitsursachen in den Vordergrund gestellt und davon ausgehend Anpassungen von Arbeitsaufgaben für unnötig befunden. Damit wird die Erkrankung privatisiert und der Betrieb von der Verantwortung für eine gesundheitsgerechtere Gestaltung der Arbeit entlastet. Die Studie leistet einen Beitrag zur Erforschung der sozialen Dynamiken und Herausforderungen betrieblicher Arbeitsintegration, die nicht nur, aber in besonderem Mass für psychisch erkrankte Beschäftigte bestehen. Sie beleuchtet zudem die ambivalente Rolle, die Systeme des Personalmanagements für die Inklusion gesundheitlich beeinträchtigter Menschen spielen.

Summary. Since social policies have placed greater emphasis on the integration of people with health impairments in the mainstream labor market, occupational rehabilitation in companies has gained in importance. This PhD thesis explores how companies organize the conditions of labor market inclusion for employees with mental illnesses. The focus is not only on the formal structures of the so called ‘integration management’ but also on informal negotiations and practices of organizing and evaluating work. With the sociology of conventions as a theoretical framework, the study analyses the coordination of actors in interpreting, organizing, and justifying return-to-work processes. Empirically, the study is based on a qualitative research design in two insurance companies and one industrial company in Switzerland. Methodically, it applies the principles of Grounded Theory and situational analysis. The data base includes 31 interviews with employees with a mental health condition, line managers, HR managers and occupational integra-tion specialists, as well as participant observation and internal documents.
The results show that reintegration measures in the context of mental illnesses create a need for justification. The study develops the concept of ‘justification work’ to characterize the activities that different actors engage in to make reintegration appear legitimate. Justification work can consist in affirming an ill employee’s cooperative attitude towards the employer, or in making plausible that the illness will not hamper an employee’s productivity in the long run. The need for justification is especially relevant in workplaces with a high pressure to perform. Regarding rehabilitation, the need for justification can result in dysfunctional incentives: in the endeavor to prove an employee’s general productivity, actors foreground ‘private’ causes of an illness. As a consequence, workplace accommodations seem unnecessary. In this way, the illness is privatized, and the employer is relieved from the responsibility of creating a healthier workplace. The study contributes to existing research about the challenges and social dynamics of oc-cupational integration in companies. The challenges which are discussed are not only, but especially relevant for employees with mental illnesses. Moreover, the ambivalent role that systems of personnel management play for the inclusion of people with health impairments is analyzed.

Umkämpfte Klassifikationen. Kultursoziologische Perspektiven auf Bewertungskonflikte

Contested Classifications. Cultural Sociological Perspectives on Evaluation Conflicts

Call for Papers

Sektionsveranstaltung der Sektion Kultursoziologie auf dem 41. DGS-Kongress 2022 in Bielefeld. Organisatorinnen und Organisatoren: Oliver Berli (Köln), Uta Karstein (Leipzig), Hilmar Schäfer (Berlin).

Section event of the Cultural Sociology Section at the 41st DGS Congress 2022 in Bielefeld. Organizers: Oliver Berli (Cologne), Uta Karstein (Leipzig), Hilmar Schäfer (Berlin).

Deadline: 28 February 2022.

L’entreprise, « sujet » politique – soit, mais lequel ?

Olivier Favereau (2021)

Revue de l’organisation responsable, 16(3), pp. 33-40

Résumé. Les entreprises sont un « sujet [1] » de préoccupation politique, mais les théories dominantes, en économie (avec la primauté actionnariale) et en management (avec la théorie des parties prenantes) refusent de les reconnaître comme « sujet [2] » (agent) politique. Elles partagent la même erreur qui est de ne pas saisir la différence entre la société (la personne juridique) et l’organisation économique de l’entreprise. Or deux puissants facteurs sont aujourd’hui à l’œuvre en faveur de la position « sujet [2] » politique, dans la mesure où elles ont pour effet de combler cette différence : l’un (la codétermination) en intégrant des administrateurs salariés, l’autre en élevant les objectifs des dirigeants au-delà des intérêts des actionnaires. La récente loi PACTE en France, en dépit d’innovations suggestives, pâtit d’avoir cru en la possibilité d’élargissement des missions de la firme, sans toucher au rapport de pouvoir entre capital et travail dans la gouvernance.

Abstract. Business firms interact with the political sphere as a source of questions and problems (“subject1”) but both mainstream economics (shareholder value) or mainstream management (“stakeholder view”) deny they are political entities (“subject2”): their common mistake is to forget the gap between the legal person (corporation) and the economic organization (the firm itself). Yet two powerful factors are nowadays moving the minds towards the “subject2” position, in so far as they are gradually closing the gap: one (codetermination) through board level employee representatives, the other (CSR) through changing the objectives of CEO beyond shareholder interests. The recent corporate law in France, despite insightful innovations, fails to acknowledge the fact that enlarging the missions of the firm requires a new balance between labour and capital within corporate governance.

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Influence médiatique, médias sous influences. Entretien avec Luc Boltanski, Arnaud Esquerre et Julia Cagé

Media influence, media under influence. Interview with Luc Boltanski, Arnaud Esquerre and Julia Cagé

France Culture, 10/02/2022 (Podcast): 43 min

L’information comme élément majeur de la vie démocratique. Un point de départ pour un entretien entre deux sociologues et une économiste.

L’information, les médias et la politique. Le sujet n’est pas nouveau, on vous l’accorde. Mais il est évolutif. La confiance dans les médias est à la baisse, les phénomènes de concentration à l’aube d’une nouvelle hausse. Les spécialistes et analystes, eux, continuent de progresser dans leur compréhension des mécanismes et des relations qui unissent information et politisation, médias et pouvoir. Et en période de campagne électorale, il est attendu, normal et légitime que le rôle et la place de l’information soient observés avec plus d’acuité encore. Si l’influence médiatique dans la vie électorale est questionnée, pour beaucoup d’analystes, les médias continuent de co-produire un agenda, de co-hiérarchiser les questions débattues, et donc d’orienter et cadrer en grande partie l’attention publique. Pour les sociologues Luc Boltanski et Arnaud Esquerre, c’est bien par le truchement de l’actualité, quand elle vient se mêler à la réalité vécue, que les personnes se trouvent concernées par la politique. Leur étude d’un corpus basé sur les commentaires en ligne leur fait aussi dire que l’actualité politique, versée dans la conversation, est un important dispositif pour quiconque veut se lier, s’identifier ou se différencier. L’économiste Julia Cagé prend donc très au sérieux le sujet de l’information. Pour elle, il ne s’agit ni plus ni moins d’un bien public. Un bien public qu’il nécessite donc de penser la production, le modèle économique et la qualité.

Information as a major element of democratic life. A starting point for an interview between two sociologists and an economist.

Information, media and politics. The subject is not new, we grant you. But it is evolving. Trust in the media is on the decline, and the phenomena of concentration are on the verge of a new rise. Specialists and analysts, on the other hand, continue to make progress in their understanding of the mechanisms and relationships that link information and politicization, media and power. And in times of electoral campaign, it is expected, normal and legitimate that the role and place of information is observed with even more acuity. If the media’s influence in electoral life is questioned, for many analysts, the media continue to co-produce an agenda, to co-hierarchize the issues debated, and thus to orient and frame public attention to a large extent. For sociologists Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre, it is indeed through the news, when it is mixed with lived reality, that people are affected by politics. Their study of a corpus based on online comments also tells them that political news, poured into the conversation, is an important device for anyone who wants to connect, identify or differentiate themselves. The economist Julia Cagé therefore takes the subject of information very seriously. For her, it is neither more nor less than a public good. A public good that it is therefore necessary to think about the production, the economic model and the quality.

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Contextual agility informing market shaping

Anders Liljenberg (2022)

Industrial Marketing Management, 102, pp. 229-239

Abstract. Making sense of a markets is a necessary precursor to any strategizing such as shaping. Still, the nature of this sense-making is oftentimes kept in the dark. It is somehow subordinate to what follows. The lack of such explicit market portrayals entails the risk of myopia to the detriment of seeing shaping possibilities. It also means that ensuing strategic efforts risk to go in vain as they possibly mirror an oversimplified reality. Making agile sense of the surrounding market context turns these two potential shortcomings into opportunities. Such contextual agility is an aptitude of some firms. It is a knowledge ability which prepares for agency in a prompt and responsive way as some representational practices translate into shaping practices. This conceptual research introduces contextual agility which hosts representational, entrepreneurial, and agile elements. This ability of individual firms promises to inform market shaping as its points of departure are clarified. It is here illustrated via contested product qualification, consumer Covid-19 vaccine skepticism.

Extract: “7. Discussion
The preceding section depicts some aspects of the United States Covid-19 vaccine market as experienced via consumer skepticism. Relating such contested exchange object qualification means relying upon justifications in order to mirror a larger market whole (Boltanski & Thévenot, 2006 (1991)). Hereby, an illustration is furnished as to how contextual agility could play out in practice by recognizing skepticism which hampers market exchange. The second-hand data put forward here is not generated while sticking to a carefully elaborated methodology.” (p. 235)

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False Accounting as Formalizing Practices: The Computation of Macroeconomic Aggregates in African Countries since Structural Adjustment

Boris Samuel (2021)

History of Political Economy, 53 (S1), pp. 81-110.

Abstract. This article studies the inference procedures used to compute the macroeconomic indicators feeding into the International Monetary Fund’s monitoring and surveillance in Africa since the structural adjustment. In 2005, the IMF launched a procedure to denounce a Mauritanian “misreporting” over a twelve-year period. The article wonders how could the statistical fiction be validated by the IMF economists, and to what extent they took part in Mauritanian data production. The article argues that the auditorauditee relation places less importance on the veracity and the pertinence of numbers than on the formal conformity of data and economic programs with expectations of the IMF bureaucracy. For programs and statistics to be considered consistent, tables of estimates must be filled out, even when data are missing, and the economic diagnosis must comply with monetarist-dominant orientations. By analyzing the financial programming tool, the article shows that the treatment of basic national accounting identities neglects variables like household consumption even when alternative methods exist. Changes in methods may be discarded to ensure the legibility of economic works over the years. The article therefore argues that the IMF and countries coproduce false accounts, whereby inferences of macroeconomic estimates serve other institutional functions inside the IMF besides veracity.

Extract: “2.2. Economic Calculation as Formalizing Practices
Specialists in the sociology and epistemology of data production would say that statistics are always partly fictional because their elaboration implies necessarily subjective processes of valuing, categorizing, or, in accounting, finding ways to balance the identities (Bowker and Star 1999; Thévenot 2016). Following Alain Desrosières (2001), the practices of users and producers of statistics can be described as an “unconscious intermingling” of four types of attitudes to reality, of which two are of interest here. One type involves a “pragmatic” conception of realism: a willingness to admit reliance on subjective or even arbitrary choices— like the way to balance the accounts in double-entry bookkeeping or to use one among many possible forecasting techniques—and the validation and adjustment of their methods occur through the repetition of tests of reality.” (p. 86)

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Ambidexterity Through the Lens of Conventions? A Qualitative Study on Personal Virtual Assistants

Olivia Hornung, Katharina Ebner, Karolin Kappler & Stefan Smolnik (2022)

Wirtschaftsinformatik, Proceedings. 7. Open access

Abstract. Personal virtual assistants (PVAs) are demanded to effectively fulfil and support employee’s tasks in organizations. Today, PVAs are mainly trusted to take over simple administrative tasks, thus, limiting their potential long-term impact on employees and entire organizations. To overcome this shortcoming, we introduce the pragmatic perspective of the Economics of Conventions (EC) to analyze and understand employees’ plural motives and behaviors that may explain sustained or fragmented potential PVA use in organizations, especially taking the organizational challenge of ambidexterity into account. In doing so, we provide a deepened understanding of PVAs’ capabilities and give propositions for their organizational implementation and use. We also offer new avenues for future research by calling for a more holistic theoretical foundation of organizational artificial intelligence solutions that consider and represent organizations and their employees in their complexity, respectively their plural orders of worth.

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Meeting Halfway? The Moral Dilemma of Muslim Migrants Engaging in the Austrian Labor Market

Qamar Ali, Zeeshan Hamid & Zubair Ahmad Chaudhry (2021)

Indian Journal of Economics and Business, 20(1), pp. 535-551. Open access.

Abstract. Most of the studies on the labour market integration of migrants in Europe have hitherto focused on host countries’ efforts to foster integration and the consequent effectiveness of these efforts. This study, however, emphasises on the much-needed migrant-side of the integration process to explore migrants perceived cultural challenges and their corresponding ability to deal with these challenges. With the help of a series of in-depth interviews targeted at exploring the lived experiences of highly skilled Muslim migrants settled in Innsbruck, this study shows that the religious beliefs and value systems, rather than the ability to speak and understand the local language, mainly hinder Muslim migrants from fully integrating into the Austrian society. Using the framework of French pragmatic sociology of conventions, the study further articulates that in order to be perceived as ‘included’ migrants use the instrument of compromise at three levels of extent, i.e., liberation, selective adaptation, and simulation. Some migrants are able to get liberated and they bring themselves closer to the local value system at the ontological and ideological level (liberation). Others change a few selective principles (values) to make use of most of the integration opportunities (selective adaptation). And yet at another level of compromise, some migrants pretend in the public as if they are very close to the local norms while in actual continuously believing in their originating belief systems and keep disliking the value system of the host country from deep within (simulation).

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Social impact measurement: An interpretive framework based on the economics of conventions and two French case studies

Marion Studer (2022)

Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Online first

Abstract. Day after day, social impact measurement is becoming preeminent in the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). Against this background a multiplicity of methods of measuring social impact have emerged. Our aim is to shed some light on how to interpret this diversity of methods for measuring social impact by using the economics of conventions literature. This analytical approach leads us to regard the various methods of measuring social impact as evaluation conventions or “modes of coordination” between the agents involved. These conventions are based on representations of what is “good” and “fair”, of what constitutes “good” and “bad” evaluations. More specifically this article identifies two distinct collective modes of coordination which we label the “managerial convention” and the “deliberative convention”. The analysis of different possible articulations between these two conventions within the evaluations that were the subject of two case studies reveals, on the one hand, the existence of common characteristics within these methods, even though their originators describe and define them as singular or unique measures of social impact, on the other hand, the presence of distinctive element relating to the degree of belonging to the SSE of the social impact measurement’s originators, the “identity dimension” of the SSE.

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Job offer at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Lucerne

Job offer at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Lucerne, the Chair of Sociology
Qualitative and Quantitative Methods (Prof. Dr. Rainer Diaz-Bone) has a vacancy for a period of 5 years as of May 1, 2022, or by agreement, for the position of research assistant (50%) in the area of qualitative and quantitative methods.
Deadline for applications: 31 March 2022.