Abstract. Market liberalization in the energy sectors has created several regulatory gaps that ‘heterodox forms’ of economic experiences – such as Community Renewable Energy Organizations (hereinafter, CREOs) – can fill. CREOs are cooperatives or corporations, financing the installation of energy devices. But how do CREOs establish themselves? What are the different ‘social features’ that CREOs assume over time? To deal with these questions, the paper investigates several CREOs through comparative case studies located in the region of New Aquitaine (France). With this aim, we argue that it is useful to cross-fertilize two streams of the literature of economic sociology: the first is the theory of conventions; the latter is that of embeddedness. We will show that CREOs assume distinctive ‘social features’ based on different aggregations of conventions driving social actions, the interaction patterns between the participants and the interactions with local institutions.
About the book. Value is central to the market sectors of the contemporary economy, yet the best-established theories of value fail to expose how it operates and how it is manipulated for profit. This book begins to reconstruct the theory of value. In one sense, it argues, value is a personal assessment of worth, but those assessments draw deeply on normative standards. The book examines those standards and how they are formed, transformed and supported by the construction of new social structures. The empirical evidence comes from contemporary financial examples: the mortgage-backed securities that caused the global crash of 2008, how venture capitalists secure outrageous valuations for so-called unicorn companies, and the rise of Bitcoin. The result is a theory that shows how value is invented by value entrepreneurs in pursuit of their interests and thus provides a new basis for criticising the role of value in the commodity economy and the finance sector.
Extract: “In that case a model of valuation emerges that everyone recognizes as legitimate – what I will call a valuation convention (Orléan, 2014, p. 14)” (p. 73)
Education and conventions: Challenges, findings, desiderata
Panel at the upcoming congress of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie (DGS, German Sociological Association) University of Bielefeld, Germany, 28 September 2022, 9:00 – 11:45. Organizers: Christian Imdorf and Kenneth Horvath
Präsentation. Der Beitrag bietet in einem ersten Teil einen Forschungsüberblick über Schwerpunkte und Entwicklungslinien in aktuellen Anwendungen der Ökonomie und Soziologie von Konventionen (EC/SC) im Bereich der Bildung. Das innovative Potenzial dieser Ansätze ist zum Teil ihrer Diversität zu verdanken: Konventionentheoretische Forschung zu Bildungspolitik und Bildungspraxis erfolgte in verschiedenen Disziplinen wie Soziologie, Erziehungswissenschaft, Wissenschaftsforschung, Politikwissenschaft und Sozialarbeit. Die bisherigen empirischen Studien befassen sich mit Institutionen wie Schule, Berufsbildung, Hochschulbildung oder Erwachsenenbildung, mit Themen wie dem Übergang von der Schule in den Beruf, mit Lehrplänen oder Berufspraktiken, mit Herausforderungen wie Ungleichheit oder Digitalisierung oder mit Phänomenen wie Governance und Reformen im Bildungswesen. Es lassen sich drei komplementäre und vielfältig miteinander verzahnte Schwerpunkte konventionentheoretischer Arbeiten im Bildungsbereich ausmachen. Die erste Perspektive fokussiert Konventionen als Rechtfertigungsordnungen und Prinzipien der Gerechtigkeit und analysiert auf dieser Grundlage, wie Bildungsungleichheiten hergestellt und begründet bzw. wie Ungerechtigkeit thematisiert und kritisiert wird. Der zweite Ansatz rückt Konventionen als Grammatiken von Handlungen und Formen der Koordination in den Blickpunkt, um zu untersuchen, wie Akteure in ungewissen und spannungsreichen Situationen des pädagogischen Alltags Koordination und Kooperation sicherstellen, indem sie etwa Praktiken und Routinen hinterfragen und neu ausrichten. Die dritte Sichtweise hebt den Charakter von Konventionen als Wertordnungen und Qualitätsprinzipien (auch als Grundlage sozialer Klassifikationen) hervor. Sie hilft zu verstehen, wie Qualität durch Prozesse und Praktiken der (E-)Valuierung entsteht und wirksam wird, wenn beispielsweise Studierende selektiert, bewertet oder für spätere Berufslaufbahnen positioniert werden. Der Beitrag umfasst darüber hinaus in einem zweiten Teil einen Kommentar zu den vier weiteren Einzelbeiträgen der Veranstaltung im Hinblick auf empirische, theoretische und methodologische Forschungsdesiderate.
Presentation. In a first part, this contribution offers a research overview of foci and lines of development in current applications of the economics and sociology of conventions (EC/SC) in education. The innovative potential of these approaches is due in part to their diversity: convention theory research on educational policy and practice has occurred in a variety of disciplines, including sociology, education, science studies, political science, and social work. Empirical studies to date have focused on institutions such as schools, vocational training, higher education, or adult education; on issues such as the transition from school to work; on curricula or professional practices; on challenges such as inequality or digitalization; or on phenomena such as governance and reforms in education. Three complementary and variously intertwined foci of convention-theoretical work in education can be identified. The first perspective focuses on conventions as justificatory orders and principles of justice and, on this basis, analyzes how educational inequalities are produced and justified and how injustice is thematized and criticized. The second approach focuses on conventions as grammars of action and forms of coordination in order to examine how actors ensure coordination and cooperation in uncertain and tense situations of everyday pedagogical life, for instance by questioning and realigning practices and routines. The third perspective emphasizes the character of conventions as value systems and quality principles (also as the basis of social classifications). It helps to understand how quality emerges and becomes effective through processes and practices of (e-)valorization, for example, when students are selected, evaluated, or positioned for later careers. The paper also includes, in a second part, a commentary on the four other individual papers in the course in terms of empirical, theoretical, and methodological research desiderata.
Résumé. Nous proposons une analyse des règles de la coopérative et de la société à mission. Nous défendons la thèse que les règles internes de la coopérative s’appuient sur une forme de démocratie économique, laissant la place aux coopérateurs citoyens. L’originalité de notre contribution est de dépasser les approches déterministes et statiques des coopératives et d’inviter alors à l’ouverture d’un agenda de recherche pour penser la coopérative comme un idéal type d’entreprise.
Abstract. We propose an analysis of the rules of the cooperative and the mission-based company. In fact, the constitutive rules and internal conventions in the cooperative include a form of economic democracy with citizen-cooperators. The originality of our contribution is to invite the opening, and even the reopening, of a research agenda, to think of the cooperative as an ideal type of enterprise and to question its relations with society.
Extrait: “Nous avons mis en lumière que le processus d’élaboration des règles constitutives dans la coopérative émane des coopérateurs selon une règle égalitaire tandis que, dans la société à mission, elles sont produites par les actionnaires, selon une règle proportionnelle au capital. Ces règles définissent aussi des espaces de pouvoir et de régulation. Dans le cas de la coopérative, ces espaces sont pilotés par les coopérateurs utilisateurs du service tandis que, dans la société à mission, ces espaces restent pilotés par les actionnaires. Le statut de société à mission propose une définition plus sociétale de ces règles et crée un espace de pouvoir nouveau, le comité à mission. Cependant comme le montre l’affaire « Danone –Faber », les actionnaires gardent le pouvoir en dernier ressort. Nous avons aussi voulu souligner que ces règles constitutives ne suffisent pas à elles-seules à articuler les rapports entre entreprise-société. Elles doivent s’incarner dans des conventions de fonctionnement afin de faire vivre l’alignement entre la raison d’être et le fonctionnement interne de l’entreprise. Les règles constitutives de la coopérative induisent des conventions de fonctionnement en faveur de cet alignement, mais elles sont parfois insuffisantes, comme pour la société à mission. Cette dernière nous semble moins outillé pour permettre cet alignement qui reste très sensible à l’état d’esprit des actionnaires.” (p. 130-131)
Extract: “We have highlighted that the process of elaboration of the constitutive rules in the cooperative emanates from the cooperators according to an egalitarian rule whereas, in the company with mission, they are produced by the shareholders, according to a rule proportional to the capital. These rules also define spaces of power and regulation. In the case of the cooperative, these spaces are controlled by the cooperators who use the service, whereas in the mission company, these spaces remain controlled by the shareholders. The status of a company with a mission proposes a more societal definition of these rules and creates a new space of power, the mission committee. However, as the “Danone-Faber” case shows, the shareholders retain ultimate power. We also wanted to emphasize that these constitutive rules are not enough on their own to articulate the relationship between company and society. They must be embodied in operating conventions in order to bring to life the alignment between the raison d’être and the internal functioning of the enterprise. The constitutive rules of the cooperative induce operating conventions in favor of this alignment, but they are sometimes insufficient, as in the case of the mission company. The latter seems to us to be less equipped to allow this alignment, which remains very sensitive to the state of mind of the shareholders.” (p. 130-131)
Swiss Journal of sociology, 48(2), pp. 335–352. Open Access
Abstract. Based on a qualitative study on the employability of workers without vocational qualification in five different industries, this article examines hiring practices in the labour market segment of low-skilled jobs from a sociology of conventions perspective. In the absence of educational signals, employers use personal networks and trial workdays to reduce the uncertainty regarding the quality of job applicants. However, professional and technical intermediaries become more important, thus leading to the formalization of recruitment channels and valorisation.
Extract: “From the point of view of the sociology of conventions, “informal” does not equal “formless”. Rather, the question is to what extent and in what ways matching rests on prior form investments that shape the ways of defining and assessing qualities.” (p.348)
The generalization, extension, and rivalry of social perspectives. Reconstructing and renewing Mead’s theory of normativity
Frithjof Nungesser (2022)
Österreichische Zeitschrift für Soziologie, Online first
Zusammenfassung. Der Aufsatz untersucht die normativitätstheoretische Bedeutung von George Herbert Meads Arbeiten. Er konzentriert sich dabei auf zwei zentrale Stränge des Werks. Rekonstruiert werden zum einen Meads am Spielverhalten entwickelte Argumente zur stufenweisen Aneignung normativer Kompetenzen im Laufe der Sozialisation. Im Rückgriff auf aktuelle entwicklungspsychologische Studien wird gezeigt, dass Meads Theorie an Plausibilität gewinnt, wenn man Rollen- („play“) und Regelspiele („game“) nicht als Phasen, sondern als Grundformen des Sozialverhaltens versteht, die parallel zueinander im Zeitverlauf an normativer Bindungskraft und Abstraktheit gewinnen. Rekonstruiert werden zum anderen Meads wenig bekannte gesellschaftstheoretische Überlegungen zu den gegenläufigen Dynamiken generalisierter Perspektiven. In Studien zur Strafjustiz, zu den internationalen Beziehungen oder zu sozialen Konflikten und Reformbewegungen argumentiert Mead, dass die Fähigkeit zur Perspektivenübernahme die Ausweitung des sozialen Dialogs ebenso ermöglicht wie die aggressive Abgrenzung von Anderen. Anhand des Vergleichs mit Luc Boltanskis und Laurent Thévenots Theorie der Rechtfertigungsordnungen wird im Anschluss herausgearbeitet, dass Mead zwar Konflikten zentrale Bedeutung beimisst, insgesamt aber die Pluralität normativer Perspektiven ausblendet, einer Universalisierungsteleologie zuneigt und spezifische Konfliktformen pathologisiert.
Abstract. This paper examines the relevance of George Herbert Mead’s ideas for the theory of normativity. It analyses two central strands of Mead’s work. First, I reconstruct Mead’s account of the gradual appropriation of normative capacities in the course of socialization. Based on current studies in developmental psychology, I argue that his theory becomes more plausible if one understands role playing and rule games not, like Mead, as phases, but as basic forms of social behaviour that both gain normative binding power and abstractness over time. Second, I reconstruct Mead’s lesser known arguments regarding the opposing dynamics of generalized perspectives. In his studies on criminal justice, on international relations, and on social conflicts and reform movements, Mead argues that the ability of perspective-taking makes possible not only the expansion of social dialogue but also the aggressive distancing from others. Contrasting his position with Luc Boltanski’s and Laurent Thévenot’s theory of justification, I then show that Mead, while granting crucial importance to conflicts, generally ignores the plurality of normative perspectives, leans towards a teleological narrative of universalization, and pathologizes specific forms of conflict.
Abstract. Histories of statistics and quantification have demonstrated that systems of statistical knowledge participate in the construction of the objects that are measured. However, the pace, purpose, and scope of quantification in state bureaucracy have expanded greatly over the past decades, fuelled by (neoliberal) societal trends that have given the social phenomenon of quantification a central place in political discussions and in the public sphere. This is particularly the case in the field of education. In this article, we ask what is at stake in state bureaucracy, professional practice, and individual pupils as quantification increasingly permeates the education field. We call for a theoretical renewal in order to understand quantification as a social phenomenon in education. We propose a sociology-of-knowledge approach to the phenomenon, drawing on different theoretical traditions in the sociology of knowledge in France (Alain Desrosières and Laurent Thévenot), England (Barry Barnes and Donald MacKenzie), and Canada (Ian Hacking), and argue that the ongoing quantification practice at different levels of the education system can be understood as cultural processes of self-fulfilling prophecies.
Cécile Vasseur, Olivier Gayot and Guillemette de Larquier (Clersé, University of Lille)
The congress of the French Association of Political Economy (AFEP) took place at the Jules Vernes University in Amiens, from the 28th of June to the 1st of July 2022. This scientific event, attended by more than 200 researchers, mainly French-speaking, also included numerous contributions on the economics and sociology of conventions (EC/SC). In line with the workshop organised by Anaïs Henneguelle and Gaël Plumecocq at the AFEP-IIPE international congress in Lille in July 2019, the call for papers aimed mainly to bring together young researchers whose research work mobilises EC/SC. It also aimed to invite more experienced researchers to present their work and their approaches based on EC/SC. These differences in approach, as well as in the maturity of the work, led to rich exchanges at the end of each session.
The workshop, organised by Cécile Vasseur and Olivier Gayot, Ph.D. students, with the support and participation of Guillemette de Larquier, included 12 presentations and was divided into four thematic sessions: “assessing and negotiating quality of work”, “market and quality conventions”, “valuation and financial capitalism”, and “environment and transitions”. Each session lasted one and a half hours and consisted of three presentations.
Session 1/4: Evaluating and negotiating the quality of work
Lucas Fabre (Clersé, University of Lille) Worlds of Production and Industrial Relations
Lucas Fabre, a first-year Ph.D. student, presented a draft article whose objective is to propose an innovative theoretical framework combining the convention theory and industrial relations. Industrial relations is a field of research that identifies and studies the relationships built around work. There are two approaches. One is systemic, where the context imposes the choice of individuals. The other is strategic, which emphasises the voluntarist position of the actors in their decision-making.
Lucas Fabre explains that the worlds of production approach developed by Robert Salais and Michael Storper (1993) allows for an exchange between the systemic and strategic dimensions of industrial relations and, more broadly, to question labour relations. Indeed, the labour relationship is studied through the productivity convention and the unemployment convention. In this approach, individuals adjust labour relations in order to respond to the market and its specificities. Lucas Fabre shows how crossing these two approaches make it possible to analyse various coordination situations between actors in a restricted and contingent space (the firm) despite the presence of a plurality of conventions that the actors can influence, but which also condition their possibilities of action.
To conclude, Lucas Fabre explains that the application of this innovative theoretical framework makes it possible to address the issue of democracy at two scales: direct democracy in companies and systemic democracy.
Philippe Semenowicz (LIRTES, Université Paris-Est Créteil) What recruitment methods should be used at the entrance to a training course preparing for a job classified as unskilled? The example of a refugee scheme
Philippe Semenowicz presented an ongoing collective research and its first results on the skills investment plan for the professional integration of refugees. The public policy device presented is located in the Ile-de-France region and deals with the different social aspects of refugees’ lives: employment, education and housing. The presentation focuses on the analysis of the mechanisms linked to the integration through economic activity of refugees in labour shortage jobs. The job studied is landscape worker, considered as an unskilled job, but which requires gardening and construction skills. The public policy device is seen as a third party employer for the client companies.
After explaining the general background of the study, Philippe Semenowicz presented his problematic: what are the modalities of recruitment to a training formation preparing for a job classified as unskilled? To do this, two case studies were analysed using the methodology proposed by François Eymard-Duvernay and Emmanuelle Marchal (1997) to map the ways of recruiting. This methodology is based on the study of the different moments linked to recruitment: the drafting of job offers, its distribution channels and the candidate selection process. The first results show that companies delegate to recruiters the drafting of job offers and the search for suitable profiles. These criteria, defined beforehand, turn out to be very restrictive and recruiters have to broaden them to reach the objectives of the public policy device. In the end, only two discriminating criteria remain: the legal status of refugee, which allows for registration in the scheme, and the professional experience of the candidates in this field. This professional experience is evaluated during an interview in which French language skills are essential to explain this experience and convince the recruiters.
Guillemette de Larquier (Clersé, University of Lille) The essential place of employment and labour issues in the economics of convention
Guillemette de Larquier
Guillemette de Larquier presented work-in-progress chapter for the Handbook of economics and sociology of conventions. This chapter presents the various EC/SC works on employment and labour issues. The aim of this work is to highlight the essential place of this question within EC/SC; it is one of the questions at the origin of the emergence of economics of convention in France in the 1980s. For example, the beginnings of the convention-based approach of work can be found in the congress organised in 1984 by Robert Salais, François Eymard-Duvernay and Laurent Thévenot, which gave rise to the collective book entitled Le travail. Marchés, règles, conventions, edited by Robert Salais and Laurent Thévenot in 1986.
Secondly, the aim is to identify the characteristics of EC/SC approaches to work. The convention theory studies the role of quality conventions, and conventional rules, in coordinating people. The convention economics analysis of the labour market is characterised by the assumption that any qualification of labour involves principles of equivalence that produce a hierarchy between people. Studying how the principles of equivalence produce hierarchies (with which actors? Which investments in form? Which justifications?) allows us to analyse the conventions behind the qualification of work, the tests and issues of valorisation and recognition of people’s qualities, as well as the construction of institutional categories and the management of the workforce. Finally, the last objective is to classify these works according to the different fields studied (unemployment boundaries, labour market intermediation, business models, wages, etc.), their methodology or their EC/SC models (cities, conventions of competences, worlds of production, etc.).
Session 2/4: Market and quality conventions
Cécile Vasseur (Clersé, University of Lille) Do the pricing practices of mutual health insurance reveal different representations of health insurance?
Cécile Vasseur presented research from her ongoing Ph.D. treating the pricing practices of French mutual health insurance in order to account for the plurality of health insurance representations in the complementary health insurance sector in France. In their contracts, mutual insurers set up insurance rules (contributions linked to age, income, geographical area, etc.) and the actors are able to justify these pricing rules set up according to their representation of health insurance.
Methodologically, Cécile Vasseur realizes a study combining quantitative and qualitative approaches. The statistical work is a classification of contracts based on a database of the Direction de la recherche, des études, de l’évaluation et des statistiques (DREES) on the most subscribed contracts in France, ranging from the most discriminating contracts revealing a market representation of health insurance, to the most redistributive contracts, revealing a redistributive representation of health insurance. This approach is completed by an analysis of the discourse of several interviews conducted as part of the thesis. Cécile Vasseur highlights three registers of justification: redistributive (associated with professional mutuals), merkant (associated with members of the mutuals’ management) and linked to risk management where there is a conciliation between the two representations of health insurance (associated with elected people). This last register justifies the introduction of insurance criteria in mutual insurance contracts and reveals the implementation of “dispositive of compromise” (in the sense of Laurent Thévenot) between several health insurance conventions.
Mathilde Abel (ICEE, Sorbonne nouvelle) & Samuel Zarka (Lise/CEET) Everywhere, all the time: the promise of platforms in the test of temporalities
Mathilde Abel & Samuel Zarka
Mathilde Abel and Samuel Zarka presented an article published in June 2022 in Questions de communication: ” ‘Disponible partout, tout le temps’ : la promesse des plateformes à l’épreuve des temporalités ” co-authored with Patrick Dieuaide and Arthur Jan. This article shows the tension between the promise of coordination offered by platforms to their users and providers / contractors, and the reality test they have to deal with in practice. The presentation starts with the definition of a platform, understood as an actor at the heart of information flows that ensures the marketisation of the transaction, whose economic model vary and is characterised by two-sided (two groups of users) or multi-sided (several groups of users) transactions.
Their convention-based analysis distinguishes what the authors call ‘the promise’ made to the users and providers of different platforms, how the platforms ensure the conditions for the realisation of this promise and how, in practice, this promise is subject to coordination flaws and failures. Mathilde Abel and Samuel Zarka show us that the promise common to all platforms is a ‘total availability’ for its users or contractors / providers. The platforms implement a series of actions aimed at users and providers to ensure that promise. By playing this role, they are shaping the uncertainty linked to the fulfilment of the promise in order to theoretically ensure the conditions for its functioning and renewal. In practice, described as a reality test, many coordination problems or failures appear due to a lack of resources, resistance or material problems on the part of the providers.
Julien Gradoz (Clersé, University of Lille) Product quality, homogeneity assumptions and nomenclature assumptions
Julien Gradoz’s presentation was based on his Ph.D. ongoing work and dealt with the consideration of product quality in microeconomic theory. There are two hypotheses for product quality: the homogeneity hypothesis and the nomenclature hypothesis. The first one states that products are identical: if there are 5 different products, such as 5 different coloured chairs, then there are 5 different markets. Thus, the homogeneity hypothesis assumes that prior to the exchange, there is an agreement on the different products classification. Convention theory authors have shown that in order to talk about the quality of products, the homogeneity hypothesis must be abandoned.
The nomenclature hypothesis states that it is possible to qualify a set of products. The theory of differentiation introduces the possibility of having a list of products and that some of them with the same characteristics can be associated. Therefore, these products share the same market. The problem is ‘what defines a group of products?’. The economics of conventions, insists Julien Gradoz, also blows up the nomenclature hypothesis. For EC, the question of quality is then studied in two stages: (1) with different value regimes and (2) assuming that quality is based on an agreement, a convention that can be defined during the exchange.
Session 3/4: Valuation and Financial Capitalism
Tom Duterme (CRIDIS, University of Leuven) The new green saliences features of trading rooms
Tom Duterme presented a paper on the new green saliences of trading rooms. The empirical approach assesses the possibility of reorienting finance flows with the help of the theoretical framework of economics of convention. The first author affiliated with EC/SC who worked on the finance sector was André Orléan. He highlighted that financiers are in a situation of uncertainty and that there is an absolute prevalence of speculative logic. The finance sector is an uncertain world where the objective of the actors is to anticipate the stock prices fluctuation in an intersubjective universe, thus anticipating the actions of others. Within this framework, saliences (conventions of interpretation) emerge, which are opinions on what the price should be and what the price of financial products represents. The value of the products then depends only on its ability to achieve consensus among investors.
Since this value is arbitrary, it is possible to redirect capital flows towards green finance by replacing one convention with another convention of green interpretation. He takes two examples of producers of salience in the trading room: the stock market index and central banks who are a source of stability in the markets. Nevertheless, he explains that announcements are not enough. Regulations that do not depend on individual’s interpretation are needed because actors do not act only by mimestism. Tom Duterme presents two pluralisations coming from sociology. (1) The behaviour of individuals and investors is not only guided by the normative level, by compliance with a stabilised norm. Other types of pieces of information are used to justify a decision (e.g. material conditions). (2) Individuals’ behaviour is embedded; actors’ decision-making is framed by external constraints (industrial, legal and managerial heteronomy).
Christian Bessy (IDHES, Ens-Paris Saclay) The failure of a pure patent market
Christian Bessy’s presentation is taken from his book entitled “L’expropriation par le droit” published in May 2022. Several works in the literature have focused on patents, in parrticular by showing their participation in the start-ups innovations. Some have also denounced their financial logic. Christian Bessy’s presentation is structured around three issues: (1) How the patent is constructed as an asset on which one can speculate and trade? (2) What is the role played by patent agents whose firms have developed and their activities transformed to accompany the financialisation of the patent? (3) Why has finance failed to create a pure patent market?
The first part of the presentation was devoted to the study of the plurality of patent valuation conventions. Each valuation convention is linked to coordination between actors that allow to shape the uncertainty in the processes of patent granting and exchange. The second part of the discussion was devoted to the presentation of the conditions for the emergence of a pure patent market, based on an American experience. Thus, there are institutional factors (developed by Coriat and Orsi, 2002), but Christian Bessy insisted on the emergence of new intermediaries of intellectual property rights close to the finance sector. Series of studies show that the development of patents on a large scale is not conclusive, except for patent trolls, actors whose business is based on patent litigation, in the ICT sector. In this model, patents “value” is attributed by the courts. To conclude his presentation, Christian Bessy explained the enthusiasm around patents in ICT companies. However, we have seen a stagnation in the patent market over the last decade. This stagnation question this end of the 2000s business model and reduces the chances of patent trolls winning their cases against companies. Thus, the idea of building a pure patent market by strengthening the legal security of patents does not work.
Evan Bertin (CEPN, Université Paris 13) How to explain the survival of the maximisation of shareholder value principle ? An insight based on the concepts of economics of convention
Evan Bertin’s presentation, based on his Ph.D. ongoing work, focuses on explaining the survival of the shareholder value maximisation principle. The literature about the financialisation of companies that emerged in the 1980s is critical of this principle. It develops the idea that the maximisation of shareholder value should not last over time. Nevertheless, in the face of the persistence of this principle, a second part of this literature that appeared in the 2000s seeks to explain the survival of this ideology. Evan Bertin’s objective is to show what contribution the theoretical framework of convention economics can make to the understanding of the durability of this ideology. To do this, he uses two concepts: the ‘bad convention’ and the resistance to criticism.
Evan Bertin seeks to understand and highlight the justifications behind the maximisation of shareholder value, which is seen as a bad convention (a concept proposed by Philippe Batifoulier and Guilemette de Larquier and taken up by Olivier Favereau). This inefficient and unfair (to labour) ideology, which justifies valuing companies by the amount of their shares, is supported from a practical point of view by the fact that the shareholder is legally the owner of the company and from a theoretical point of view by agency theory. However, there are still many criticisms of this form of valuation, and Evan Bertin is interested in their reception, and their integration or interpretation by the financial system. These criticisms can emerge from the academic world as well as from the extra-academic world and have abounded since the 2008 global financial crisis. For example, the CEO of BlackRock (one of the largest assets management company) called in an open letter for a stakeholder capitalism in 2022. Thus, it is interesting to note that these criticisms do not succeed in overturning the paradigm and valuation of the shareholder value maximisation principle, but are beginning to be integrated to enable the financial system to resist them.
Session 4/4: Environment and transitions
Olivier Gayot (Clersé, University of Lille) The effects of conceptions of the quality of responsibility in public procurement. The case of green local public procurement in the Hauts-de-France region (France)
Olivier Gayot presented a work-in-progress chapter of his ongoing Ph.D with a double objective. Firstly, to understand how and why local public buyers introduce criteria considered as responsible into their local authority’s public contracts. Secondly, to analyse what they call responsible and how this responsibility is characterised.
After showing that the notion of responsibility in economic sciences is not sufficiently stable to be considered as a convention, Olivier Gayot sought to show that the responsibility evoked by buyers is based on different conceptions of the quality of responsibility. Public buyers, understood as intermediaries in public procurement, make it possible for these contracts to emerge in uncertain situations because they are subject to various risks (failure of the contract, contestation, inadequate purchase). The conceptions of the quality of the responsibility of public purchasing carried by these intermediaries are based on representations that are more stable than responsibility (public service, sustainable development, good management of public funds, legal soundness of the purchase); these conceptions can be seen through the analysis of the ‘spirit of the local public market’. This spirit makes it possible to understand both the representations that feed the conceptions of the quality of the responsibility carried by the buyers and the justifications linked to the actions of these buyers. Olivier Gayot presents two examples of public purchases considered to be responsible in order to show how the spirit of local public procurement can be used as a tool for analysing complex situations, leading to different forms of regulation of contractors and providers by public buyers via the writing and the attribution of local public contracts.
Gaël Plumecocq (INRAE, Toulouse) and Géraldine Froger (LEREPS, Toulouse) The political construction of the economic value of ecosystem services: the case of the agricultural component of the EFESE programme (évaluation française des écosystèmes et des services écosystémiques)
Gaël Plumecocq presented a work carried out with Géraldine Froger on the quantification of nature. This work relates and analyses the political construction of the value of ecosystem services within the EFESE programme (2012-2019) for the Ministry of Ecological Transition. Their study only concerns the agricultural sector, which is one part of the set of evaluations requested by the government. Gaël Plumecocq explained how this valuation of ecosystem services in agriculture has been the scene of the confrontation between two evaluation conventions.
The first one comes from the ministry requesting the evaluation, which seeks to impose a conceptual framework as a tool on all the research organisations working on the final report. Imposing this evaluation convention would, theorically, allow the aggregation of the different field results of all the evaluation work in order to produce global results. Even though it concerns very different fields. The second evaluation convention is the one carried out by INRAE (Institut national de recherché pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement), whose procedures guarantee its independence from political injunctions. Thus, INRAE develops its own assessment framework and proposes a new way of assessing ecosystem services. These services are no longer reduced to their monetary aspect, quantifiable dimension or to a correspondence between service flows and value flows. On the contrary, elements such as the geographical specificities of the studied area or the social situation of farmers are taken into account. Therefore, the monetary values proposed at the end of the report, imposed by the ministry’s economists, are given for information purposes only. Imposing this monetary valuation is based on a market representation of ecosystem services, which ensures the social validation by the market by matching the market value with the production of that value. But in the case of nature, even if standard economists agree that environmental demand can be reconstructed using questionnaires, social validation by the market is not theoretically assured.
Géraldine Rieucau (CRIISEA, University of Picardie Jules Verne) Employment and ecological and social transition: elements for an analytical framework
Géraldine Rieucau presented a recent ongoing research project, financed by the Agence de l’environnement et de la maîtrise de l’énergie (ADEME), whose objective is to analyse the relationship between employment and the ecological and social transition. The project is called COMETE (COMunauté Écologie et TErritoirs). This study articulates the issues of employment, training and social justice with questions relating to the effects of the ecological transition on work (industrial closures, development of “green” jobs and the quality of these jobs). Using the theoretical framework of the economics of conventions, this research aims to understand the institutional arrangements and conventions supposedly shared by the actors. In other words, the researchers involved in this project attempt to answer the following question: How does the emergence, reconfiguration and development of green jobs depend on the convention of valorisation and coordination considered as legitimate?
This survey seeks to take into account the plurality of ecological realities, linked to two different territories, in the departments of Seine-St-Denis and Oise, affected by unemployment and poverty, in which different actors are involved. Géraldine Rieucau presents the first results concerning the activities of reuse, carried out by the structures of the social and solidarity economy, pioneering actors in these new sectors of activity. The study concerns different jobs and the first ones focus on “recovery agents”. These agents work on subsidised jobs, linked to integration through economic activity, specialising in sorting, dismantling and recovery of recycled products. However, at the end of the subsidised employment period, the trained individuals hardly work in the recycling centres or, more broadly, in the social economy sector, but seek jobs in traditional market activities (such as logistics or sales).
Education policy is considered an important instrument for equal opportunities and social mobility as well as a prerequisite for high productivity and high employment. Hence, it is a significant instrument of social policy to implement some of the core elements of the Nordic welfare model. Rather than to contrast myths and realities of this model, this session proposes to distinguish conflicting justification orders, notions of justice and moralities in education which require compromises in order to consolidate reality claims of plural educational worlds. The emergence of New French Pragmatism and the sociology of conventions offer promising analytical tools to analyze the different aims and facets of post-secondary education at the intersection of the educational system and the labor market. Beyond orders of justification, conventions in education also refer to value orders and plural notions of educational quality, as well as to logics of action for the analysis of governance, transformations and reforms of educational institutions and organizations. The application of convention theory in education thereby represents an alternative to structuralist traditions which tend to focus on rules that act outside of individuals (Durkheim) or the role of incorporated class-dispositions (Bourdieu), as well as rational choice theory, which advocates a more individualist and utility-maximizing model of actors and society (Boudon). Rather, the new pragmatic approach emphasizes the agency of individuals (e.g. students, teachers, headmasters) when coordinating their social actions in the context of situational cultural orders. While convention theory has been applied in France since the late 1980, and for some time in the German-speaking countries, it has only more recently received serious scholarly attention in the Nordics. This session brings together ongoing research on post-secondary education (folk high schools, higher vocational education, municipal adult education), which serves societal aims at the crossroads of the different priorities of the welfare state, civil society, and the demands for labor market. Paper 1 looks at the plural worth of education, justificatory regimes and forms of student engagement in Arts Education programs at Swedish Folk High Schools (Fürst & Nylander), a type of school which has a long-standing and strong association with Nordic culture and civil society. Paper 2 analyses different justificatory logics of skilling in the plural worlds of higher vocational education, a more recent educational institution in Sweden which is supposed to serve local labor market demands (Ye & Nylander). Paper 3 investigates how tendering-based procurement as a management tool shapes the very nature and value of Swedish municipal adult education between welfare service and market good (Holmqvist). Paper 4 presents a book-project which will show how pragmatism as a theoretical analytical viewpoint can contribute to new takes on both the micro level and macro level processes in the Norwegian educational setting (Haugseth & Smeplass). The session ends with some concluding remarks against the background of previous European research on education and conventions by the session chair (Imdorf). In sum, this session offers an in-depth introduction to the usefulness of pragmatic sociology for analyzing the plural realities of post-compulsory education in the Nordics through a variation of different cases and examples.
Henrik Fürst, Uppsala University & Erik Nylander, Linköping University: Variety of Values in Arts Education: Engaging in Music, Creative Writing, and the Visual Arts at the Folk High School
Erik Nylander, Linköping University & Rebecca Ye, Stockholm University: Justificatory logics of skilling: the plural worlds of higher vocational education participation
Diana Holmqvist, Linköping University: Between welfare service and market good – how tendering-based procurement as management tool shapes the value of Swedish municipal adult education
Jan Frode Haugseth, Eli Smeplass, Norwegian University of Science and Technology: Social Pragmatism in Education – New Directions in Educational Research and Practice
Auszug: “Die Darstellung von Wirklichkeit durch Zahlen ist bereits auf ganz unterschiedliche Weise und in verschiedenen Disziplinen zum Forschungsgegenstand erhoben worden. In ihrem Beitrag in der Annual Review of Sociology geben Andrea Mennicken und Wendy Espeland (2019) einen umfassenden Überblick über die Entwicklung der Beschäftigung mit Zahlen und Statistiken in der geistes- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Forschung. Sie benennen hierin verschiedene »intellectual traditions in scholarship on quantification«, die die »study of quantification« bereichert haben (Mennicken und Espeland 2019: 226). Mennicken und Espeland verfolgen mit ihrer Aufzählung unterschiedlicher Bereiche der Quantifizierungsforschung, auf die im Folgenden näher eingegangen wird, jedoch ausdrücklich keinen umfassenden Darstellungsanspruch des gesamten Forschungsfeldes. Genauso wenig wollen sie damit den Versuch einer Vereinheitlichung unterschiedlicher Forschungsgebiete unternehmen. Doch demonst- riert ihr Aufschlag bereits die Vielfalt der Forschungslandschaft, zu der sich noch ein paar weitere Bereiche hinzufügen lassen, ohne auch hier einen Anspruch auf Vollständigkeit erheben zu wollen. Die Autorinnen nennen erstens die »French school of quantification « […], deren zentrales Anliegen es ist, die historische Entstehung und gesellschaftspolitische Funktion von Kategorien und Klassifikationssystemen im Kontext von staatlichen Statistiken zu untersuchen […]. Hierzu gehören insbesondere Alain Desrosières, Robert Salais und Laurent Thévenot, die sich am Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques (INSEE) zusammen mit Pierre Bourdieu und Luc Boltanski an der École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) intensiv mit der sozialen Konstruktion von Statistiken beschäftigt haben. Ihre Forschung setzt sich zusammen aus historischen Untersuchungen zur Entstehung einer staatlichen Erfassung der Bevölkerung in Zahlen (vgl. Desrosières 2005) wie auch aus wissenschaftsphilosophischen Überlegungen zur Abbildung von »Realität« durch Statistiken (vgl. Desrosières 2001). Hinzu kommen Untersuchungen, die ebenfalls an dem Objektivitätsverständnis von Statistiken ansetzen. Im Mittelpunkt steht die Frage, wie statistische Kategorien durch soziale Konventionen beeinf lusst werden (vgl. Salais 2016). Zentral sind hierzu ebenfalls die Arbeiten von Thévenot, dessen Untersuchungen zu statistischen Berufsklassifikationen und den gesellschaftspolitischen Hintergründen ihrer Entstehung, die er u. a. mit Desrosières und Boltanski durchgeführt hat (vgl. Desrosières und Thévenot 1979; Boltanski und Thévenot 1983; Thévenot 2016), zudem eine entscheidende Grundlage für den zusammen mit Boltanski entwickelten Ansatz einer Soziologie der Kritik (Boltanski und Thévenot 1999; Boltanski und Thévenot 2007 ) gelegt haben.” (p. 53-54)
Extract: “The representation of reality through numbers has already been elevated to the status of a research object in very different ways and in different disciplines. In their article in the Annual Review of Sociology, Andrea Mennicken and Wendy Espeland (2019) provide a comprehensive overview of the development of the study of numbers and statistics in research in the humanities and social sciences. In it, they identify various “intellectual traditions in scholarship on quantification” that have enriched the “study of quantification” (Mennicken and Espeland 2019: 226). However, Mennicken and Espeland’s enumeration of different areas of quantification research, which will be discussed in more detail below, is explicitly not intended as a comprehensive description of the entire field of research. Neither do they want to attempt a standardization of different research areas. However, their presentation already demonstrates the diversity of the research landscape, to which a few more areas can be added, without claiming to be exhaustive. First, the authors mention the “French school of quantification” […], whose central concern is to investigate the historical emergence and socio-political function of categories and classification systems in the context of government statistics […]. These include, in particular, Alain Desrosières, Robert Salais, and Laurent Thévenot, who have worked intensively on the social construction of statistics at the Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques (INSEE), together with Pierre Bourdieu and Luc Boltanski at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). Their research is composed of historical studies on the emergence of a state registration of the population in numbers (cf. Desrosières 2005) as well as philosophical considerations of science on the representation of “reality” through statistics (cf. Desrosières 2001). In addition, there are studies that also start from the understanding of the objectivity of statistics. The focus is on the question of how statistical categories are influenced by social conventions (cf. Salais 2016). Central to this is also the work of Thévenot, whose studies on statistical occupational classifications and the socio-political background of their emergence, which he conducted with Desrosières and Boltanski, among others (cf. Desrosières and Thévenot 1979; Boltanski and Thévenot 1983; Thévenot 2016), also laid a crucial foundation for the approach to a sociology of critique developed with Boltanski (Boltanski and Thévenot 1999; Boltanski and Thévenot 2007 ).” (p. 53-54)
In: Mary Godwyn (ed.), Research Handbook on the Sociology of Organizations. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 329-346
Abstract. Techniques of quantification have long been integral to the rationalization of modern organizations. However, only in recent decades has measurement become the core method by which managers track how well organizations and individuals within them are performing across functions, units and levels. This article traces the emergence of performance measurement in the 1980s and 1990s, showing how developments in management accountancy and strategic management led to a demand for better information that the new field answered. Yet, this was also the period during which research into organizational effectiveness had failed to reach consensus about the features of successful organizations and how to measure them. In fact, performance measurement is a pragmatic accountancy enterprise that has never been validated as quantitative social science. Claims that it can derive reliable representations of performance from simplistic measurement of complex, changing activities and social situations that are shaped by numerous agents and factors do not stand up to scrutiny. I argue that performance measurement actually arose not because it was accurate or fair, but because it facilitated the economization of organizations in line with increasingly influential neoliberal economic theory. Above all, it provides a language by which actors can be held accountable through and motivated by quantification of performance, regardless of whether associated decisions, rewards and sanctions are reasonable. Hereby it provides a formal language of oversight through which principals can – as a matter of organizational routine and implicit or explicit contract – demand greater value from agents. I assess how this plays out in shareholder-value capitalism, marketization of the public sector and for labor politics.
Extract: “Performance measurement (PM) is now common practice across organizations. Key performance indicators (KPIs), targets and performance data inform the institutional lives of millions of people around the world. Metrics are found to track almost anything that can be seen as pertinent to the success of almost any kind of activity in the private, government and non-government sectors. But this new normal is surprisingly recent. Techniques of quantification have long been integral to the rationalization of modern organizations, principally in the forms of accountancy, operational statistics and engineering calculations upon which production processes depend. No doubt they have also included attempts to track and record how well actors undertake activities and with what degree of success in outcomes (such as classic time and motion studies in industrial production). However, only in recent decades has measurement become a core method by which managers routinely track how well organizations and those within them are ‘performing’across functions, units and levels. Digital corpus analysis of texts on Google shows that before the 1980s terms such as performance indicators, accountability, transparency, benchmarks and metrics were hardly used (Espeland and Sauder, 2016, p. 3; Muller, 2018). That decade saw the rapid development of thinking around the concept of ‘performance’and its measurement. This discourse normalized assumptions that performance levels can be transparently quantified, that actors can be held accountable for them, and that organizations can use performance data to improve future performances (Redden, 2019). In other words, it assumes that quantitative methods can reliably represent how effective an organization itself is across multiple dimensions, resulting in information that helps to improve that effectiveness.”
Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, 32, pp. 313-335
Abstract. In this article, I argue for an interpretive approach to digitalization research that analyzes the concepts, narratives, and belief systems in digitalization debates. I illustrate this methodological proposal by assessing the spread of network ideas. Many political actors and digitalization researchers follow network ideas, e.g. by claiming that the rise of a network society must lead to network governance. In contrast to this narrative, I argue that there are multiple visions of the digital society, each of which follows a specific pattern of epistemology, social imaginary, and political proposals. These competing self-interpretations must be investigated by digitalization research in order to map and evaluate different pathways into a digital society. For doing so, critical conceptual analysis draws on political theory, critical conceptual history, and the sociology of knowledge. It offers two major benefits for digitalization research. Firstly, it provides a systematic overview of competing governance rationalities in the digital society, enabling a critical evaluation of their potentials and proposals. Secondly, it enhances the methodological rigor of digitalization research by reviewing the narratives researchers themselves tell. I substantiate these claims by analyzing and historicizing the above network narrative. Tracing it back to cybernetics, I show that it has been used multiple times in efforts to reshape the way we think about society and politics, including our concepts of subjectivity, power, and governance.
Extract: “For a more comprehensive analysis, digitalization research can draw on interpretive approaches that addresses the link of social self-interpretations and governance practices through critical conceptual analysis. To better grasp how such an approach may enhance our understanding of competing governance rationalities in the digital society, let us have a look at two standing proposals that combine political theory, intellectual history, and the sociology of knowledge—the decentered theory of governance by political theorist Mark Bevir (2010, 2013, 2020; Bevir and Rhodes 2003) and the pragmatic sociology proposed by Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot (1999, 2000, 2006) and continued by Boltanski and Chiapello (2005).” (p. 317)
Economics is a reflexive science. Unemployment, convention and capacity in the work of Robert Salais
Christian Bessy & Claude Didry (eds.) (2022)
Villeneuve d’Ascq: Presses Universitaire du Septentrion.
A paraître / Forthcoming
A propos de l’ouvrage. Si l’œuvre de Robert Salais s’inscrit dans le courant de l’économie des conventions qu’il a contribué à fonder, c’est à partir d’une réflexion singulière articulant « détour par l’histoire », intérêt pour le droit et questionnement philosophique. En cela, l’économie telle que la pratique Robert Salais se présente comme une science réflexive procédant d’un renouvellement constant de ses interrogations, à partir des résultats obtenus. Par son souci d’inscrire les analyses menées sur la France dans une perspective internationale, elle est aujourd’hui largement reconnue. Les contributions à cet ouvrage éclairent les quatre grands moments de sa recherche qui s’enchaînent par la « mise en réflexivité » des étapes précédentes : travail, emploi et chômage, mondes de production, question européenne et approche des capacités, quantification et démocratie. Car c’est bien la question politique qui anime la carrière et l’engagement de Robert Salais. Comment redonner aux collectivités humaines l’entendement des fins et la maîtrise de la définition et de l’usage des moyens nécessaires à se gouverner librement ? Ce qui suppose, entre autres, un renouveau de la démocratie et, plus largement, des capacités à penser, agir et réaliser.
About the book. If the work of Robert Salais is part of the current of the economics of convention that he helped found, it is from a singular reflection that articulates a “detour through history”, an interest in law and philosophical questioning. In this way, economics as practiced by Robert Salais is presented as a reflexive science proceeding from a constant renewal of its interrogations, based on the results obtained. By its concern to place the analyses carried out on France in an international perspective, it is now widely recognized. The contributions to this book shed light on the four major moments of her research, which are linked by the “reflexivity” of the preceding stages: work, employment and unemployment, worlds of production, the European question and the capabilities approach, and quantification and democracy. For it is indeed the political question that animates the career and commitment of Robert Salais. How can we give back to human communities the understanding of ends and the control of the definition and use of the means necessary to govern themselves freely? This presupposes, among other things, a renewal of democracy and, more broadly, of the capacities to think, act and achieve.
Abstract. The individualistic methodology that largely dominates economic thought is incapable of thinking of social facts as anything other than the aggregation of individual facts. In so doing, it ignores the powerful sui generis forces that emanate from the social sphere itself and that shape individual behaviour and subjectivity. Moral, aesthetic, and religious values are the paradigmatic illustration of this. But economic value is also a force of this nature. It cannot be identified with a substance, be it utility or labour. This new perspective provides the economist with new tools for thinking about what a monetary community is. In so doing, it lays the foundations for a renewed dialogue with the social sciences in general and sociology in particular.
In: Katharina Block, Anne Deremetz, Anna Henkel & Malte Rehbein (eds.): 10 Minuten Soziologie: Digitalisierung. Bielefeld: Transkript, pp. 117-131.
Auszug: “Es sind diese kontroversen Debatten über das Wirken oder den Schaden digitaler Technologien im Kontext von Nachhaltigkeit, die im Mittelpunkt dieses Beitrages stehen. Denn wie Gesellschaften aussehen, die bestrebt sind, beides zu realisieren, bleibt zunächst offen und ist gegenwärtig Gegenstand von normativen und ethischen Aushandlungsprozessen. Ohne Befürwortern oder Skeptikern das Wort zu reden, geschweige denn die tatsächlichen Wirkungen zu prüfen, wird hier eine Perspektive gewählt, die den zugrundeliegenden legitimatorischen Grundlagen nachspürt und dabei die Perspektiven aller Beteiligten ernst nimmt: Die Soziologie der Rechtfertigung. […] Die Soziologie der Rechtfertigung geht davon aus, dass Prozesse des Wertens, Bewertens und Abwägens konstitutiv für soziale Ordnung und die Konstruktion von Wirklichkeit sind (vgl. Wagner 1993). Dabei beziehen sich Akteure auf eine Vielzahl legitimer Rechtfertigungs- und Wertordnungen um Handlungen, Personen, Objekte oder – wie in unserem Fall – Entwicklungsprozesse und Instrumente zu bewerten, d.h. zu legitimieren oder zu kritisieren (vgl. Boltanski und Thévenot 2007). Im alltäglichen Leben kommt es dabei vor, dass Menschen, die gemeinsam etwas tun – in der Politik, sozialen Bewegungen oder Unternehmen – feststellen, dass etwas ›falsch läuft‹. Um diesen krisenhaften Zustand zu überwinden, muss sich etwas ändern. In den meisten Fällen folgt auf derartige Erkenntnisse eine Diskussion unter den Beteiligten. Diese artikulieren Interessen, formulieren Wünsche und kritisieren diejenigen der anderen, die sie für ungerecht und unangebracht – oder schlicht falsch – halten. Im Idealfall gelangen sie zu einer Einigung, sodass sie zusammen weiter Handeln können. Solche reflexiven und ›kritischen Kompetenzen‹ sind der mikrosoziologische Ausgangspunkt für sozialen Wandel und werden besonders in jenen Situationen empirisch evident, die durch einen hohen Grad an Unsicherheit oder durch Konflikte charakterisiert sind (vgl. Boltanski und Thévenot 2011: S. 44). Legitimation und Kritik sind in dieser Perspektive zwei Seiten derselben Medaille und gleichermaßen fundamental für soziales Handeln.” (S. 119-120)
Extract: “It is these controversial debates about the impact or harm of digital technologies in the context of sustainability that are the focus of this paper. For what societies look like that strive to realize both remains open for the time being and is currently the subject of normative and ethical negotiation processes. Without taking the word of proponents or skeptics, let alone examining the actual effects, a perspective is chosen here that traces the underlying legitima-tory foundations and takes the perspectives of all participants seriously: The sociology of justification. […] The sociology of justification assumes that processes of valuing, evaluating and weighing are constitutive for social order and the construction of reality (cf. Wagner 1993). In doing so, actors refer to a variety of legitimate justification and value systems in order to evaluate, i.e. legitimize or criticize, actions, persons, objects or – as in our case – development processes and instruments (cf. Boltanski and Thévenot 2007). In everyday life, it happens that people who do something together – in politics, social movements or companies – realize that something is ‘going wrong’. In order to overcome this crisis-like state, something has to change. In most cases, such findings are followed by a discussion among those involved. They articulate interests, formulate wishes and criticize those of the others that they consider unfair and inappropriate – or simply wrong. Ideally, they reach an agreement so that they can continue to act together. Such reflexive and ‘critical competences’ are the micro-sociological starting point for social change and become empirically evident especially in those situations characterized by a high degree of uncertainty or by conflict (cf. Boltanski and Thévenot 2011: p. 44). Legitimation and critique, in this perspective, are two sides of the same coin and equally fundamental to social action.” (pp. 119-120)