Archives mensuelles : février 2023

The Ordering of Green Values. Ecological Justification in Public Fracking Controversies in Germany and Poland

Claudia Foltyn, Reiner Keller & Matthias S. Klaes (2023)

Nature & Culture, 18(1), pp. 88-125. Open access.

Abstract. The article presents a comparative study of shale gas media debates in Germany and Poland. Drawing from the Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse (SKAD), it addresses discursive conflicts over the use of hydraulic fracturing and its environmental impacts in both countries. The authors relate their analysis to the theoretical debate that emerged in the 1990s in French sociology concerning the question of “green justifications” that form a specific way of how social actors intervene, dispute, and build compromises in public discussions to protect non-human entities. Referring to these discussions, this article identifies several ecological justification clusters and the associated social actors that are ‘compromised’ or enclosed in existing orders of worth.

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Justifying creative work. Norwegian business support and the conflicting narratives of creative industries

Åsne Dahl Haugsevje (2022)

Cultural Trends. Online first

Abstract. The article explores and unfolds the conflicting narratives of the work and competences of creatives in the era of creative industries. Based on a French pragmatic approach, the analysis sheds light on a mismatch between how bureaucrats in the Norwegian business support system valuate creative work, and how creatives valuate their own work. I find that the bureaucrats mobilise a narrow and stereotyped grammar when talking of creative work, while the creatives themselves seem to express far more complex and pragmatic understandings. I argue that the Norwegian creative industries policy seems to have limited capacity to embrace the hybridity and complexity of creative work, which also reduces its relevance and accuracy. The analysis is based on qualitative interviews with creatives and bureaucrats on a local level and contributes to the knowledge on the individual bureaucrats as non-creative outsiders, but still, actors highly significant to creative industries.

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Finance’s Wrong Turns. A New Foundation for Financial Markets, Asset Management, and Social Science

Richard O. Michaud (2023)

Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

About the book. There is a foundational crisis in financial theory and professional investment practice: There is little, if any, credible evidence that active investment strategies and traditional institutional quantitative technologies are able to provide superior risk-adjusted, cost-adjusted return over investment relevant horizons.
Economic and financial theory has been in error for more than fifty years and is the fundamental cause of the persistent ineffectiveness of professional asset management. Contemporary sociological and economic theory, agent-based modeling, and an appreciation of the social context for preference theory provides a rational and intuitive framework for understanding financial markets and economic behavior.  The author narrates his long-term experience in the use and limitations of traditional tools of quantitative asset management as an institutional asset manager in practice and as a quantitative analyst and strategist on Wall Street.  Monte Carlo simulation methods, modern statistical tools, and U.S. patented innovations are introduced to redefine portfolio optimality and procedures for enhanced professional asset management.  A new social context for expected utility theory leads to a novel understanding of modern equity markets as a financial intermediary for purchasing power constant time-shift investing uniquely appropriate for meeting investor long-term investment objectives.
This book addresses the limitations and indicated resolutions for more useful financial theory and more reliable asset management technology. In the process, it traces the major historical developments of theory and institutional asset management practice and their limitations over the course of the 20th century to the present, including Markowitz and the birth of modern finance, CAPM theory and emergence of institutional quantitative asset management, CAPM and VM theory limitations and ineffective iconic tools and strategies, and innovations in statistical methodologies and financial market theory.

Excerpt: “Negative and Positive Feedback Markets
Orléan (2014) is a contemporary economist whose views are heavily influenced by Keynes’ sociological framework for financial markets and Knight’s concept of economic uncertainty. His perspective of financial markets questions the importance of objective or fundamental value for security pricing. Orléan argues that liquidity in an equity market is the primary justification for price. His rationale focuses on a parsing of the characteristics of negative and positive feedback capital markets.” (p. 114)

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Le droit des inventeurs À propos de : Christian Bessy, L’expropriation par le droit : propriété intellectuelle, valeur et travail, EHESS

The right of inventors
About : Christian Bessy, L’expropriation par le droit : propriété intellectuelle, valeur et travail, EHESS

Sophie Harnay (2023)

La Vie des Idées, online.

Extraits : “Disons-le d’emblée, l’ouvrage de Christian Bessy soulève des questions essentielles. Il s’agit en effet d’étudier l’expansion des droits de propriété intellectuelle (DPI) durant les dernières décennies et leurs conséquences, notamment pour les travailleurs. L’auteur développe à ce sujet une thèse originale et stimulante, qui alimente la réflexion actuelle en sciences sociales sur l’appropriation généralisée comme fondement de la dynamique du capitalisme contemporain, en contrepoint utile à plusieurs analyses récentes sur des thématiques proches.
[…] Du point de vue théorique, l’ouvrage mobilise principalement la grille de lecture de la théorie des conventions, le concept de convention étant très précisément défini « au sens d’un accord inter-subjectif informel et auto-émergent » (p. 49). L’idée centrale est en effet que, selon les époques, le brevet repose sur des conventions de valorisation des créations intellectuelles différentes, « qui soutiennent son institutionnalisation et qui se renforcent bien qu’elles puissent aussi parfois entrer en tension » (Ibid.). Ces conventions évoluent en fonction notamment de la nature des acteurs impliqués, des usages et des espaces de diffusion des brevets et des conceptions de l’entreprise et de l’innovation sous-jacentes. Un apport essentiel de l’ouvrage est à cet égard de montrer comment l’évolution des conventions de valorisation dans le temps a permis la transformation des DPI en actifs négociables sur un marché et, in fine, la constitution d’un marché des brevets.”

Excerpts : “Let us say it from the start, Christian Bessy’s book raises essential questions. It is indeed about studying the expansion of intellectual property rights (IPR) during the last decades and their consequences, notably for workers. The author develops an original and stimulating thesis on this subject, which feeds the current reflection in social sciences on generalized appropriation as the basis of the dynamics of contemporary capitalism, as a useful counterpoint to several recent analyses on similar themes.
[…] From a theoretical point of view, the book mainly uses the grid of convention theory, the concept of convention being very precisely defined “in the sense of an informal and self-emerging inter-subjective agreement” (p. 49). The central idea is indeed that, according to the times, the patent is based on different conventions of valorization of intellectual creations, “which support its institutionalization and which are reinforced although they can also sometimes enter into tension” (Ibid.). These conventions evolve according to the nature of the actors involved, the uses and spaces of diffusion of patents, and the underlying conceptions of the enterprise and of innovation. An essential contribution of the book is in this respect to show how the evolution of valuation conventions over time has allowed the transformation of IPRs into marketable assets and, ultimately, the constitution of a patent market.”

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Conventions, Business Model, and Entrepreneurship

Thierry Verstraete (2023)

In Rainer Diaz-Bone & Guillemette de Larquier (eds.), Handbook of economics and sociology of conventions. Cham: Springer, Online first

Abstract. This chapter presents how convention theory has shed light on the entrepreneurial phenomenon and its artifacts, the business model. The term “business model” appeared and spread with the advent of Internet start-ups. Beyond its systemic meaning (modeling a business to make it intelligible), the term has become part of the register of entrepreneurship, irrespective of whether it concerns for-profit or nonprofit organizations. An organization is taken here to be an arrangement of tangible and intangible resources coordinated into tasks, activities, and processes. Led by an entrepreneur or an entrepreneurial team, the organization gives “body” to the convention. Putting this theory into practice through managerial valuation of the convention theory perspective may serve the design of entrepreneurial projects and their deployment, with the development of tools for entrepreneurs, managers, and their advisors in an engineering approach to research (including the deployment of action research aimed at improving practices). Beyond the issue of competition, these tools may help them grasp the conventions of business function and considerably enrich their strategy. Indeed, the entrepreneurial convention is one of the many forms of interactions that structure the social spheres in which a project evolves, and which are not limited to the mere competitive dimension of a market.

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Die Theorien in der Kulturproduktion. Aspekte der Performativität oder „How to do things with theory”

Theories in Cultural Production. Aspects of Performativity or “How to do things with theory”

Guy Schwegler (2022)

PhD thesis. Lucerne: University of Lucerne.

The thesis was defended Monday 16 January 2023 at University of Lucerne

Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne), supervisor, referee, jury member
Günter Mey (University of applied Science Stendal), referee, jury member
Michael Hartmann (University of Lucerne), jury member

Zusammenfassung. Kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliches Wissen hat über die letzten 50 Jahre eine beständige Verbreitung erfahren und wurde zu einem festen Bestandteil gegenwärtiger Gesellschaften. Dies bezieht sich allerdings nicht nur auf die Ergebnisse der Disziplinen, sondern trifft im besonderen Maße auf deren grundlegende theoretische Konzepte zu. In verschiedensten gesellschaftlichen Bereichen repräsentiert dieses Wissen eine Ressource für die Akteur*innen, um Produktionsprozesse anzuleiten. Die Theorien liefern daher nicht nur Beschreibungen des Sozialen, sondern sie wirken „performativ“. Die Arbeit fokussiert auf den Bereich der Kulturproduktion und zeigt auf, welche Bedingungen zur Verwendung der theoretischen Konzepte außerhalb der Wissenschaft geführt haben, wie diese Konzepte in Prozessen zur Anwendung kommen und welche Veränderungen daraus folgen. Hierzu wird zuerst ein konzeptioneller sowie methodologischer Rahmen präsentiert, bevor die empirische Studie einer Kulturwelt detaillierte Einblicke in die Wirkungsweisen ermöglicht. Anhand der so verdeutlichten Aspekte der Performativität von kultur- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Theorien lässt sich schlussendlich aufzeigen, wie Kulturproduktion in gegenwärtigen Gesellschaften eine zentrale Stellung einnehmen konnte.

Abstract. Cultural and social science knowledge has experienced a steady spread over the last 50 years and has become an integral part of contemporary societies. However, this does not only refer to the results of the disciplines, but is especially true for their basic theoretical concepts. In various social fields, this knowledge represents a resource for actors to guide production processes. Therefore, the theories do not only provide descriptions of the social, but they have a “performative” effect. The thesis focuses on the field of cultural production and shows which conditions have led to the use of theoretical concepts outside of academia, how these concepts are applied in processes and which changes follow from this. For this purpose, a conceptual as well as methodological framework is presented first, before the empirical study of a cultural world provides detailed insights into the modes of action. Based on the thus clarified aspects of the performativity of cultural and social science theories, it can finally be shown how cultural production could take a central position in contemporary societies.

Auszug: “Mittels des zweiten Unterkapitels [2.2] wird das Ziel verfolgt, die aus der Wirtschaftssoziologie stammenden theoretischen Überlegungen zu übersetzen, um die Verwendung der kultur- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Theorie durch die Akteur*innen in der Kulturproduktion analysieren zu können. Hierzu werden zuerst allgemeine Überlegungen gemacht, welche „Blaupausen“ zur Ausrichtung von Prozessen in diesen theoretischen Konzepten stecken könnte. Anschließend wird die Perspektive der Arbeit auf mehrere Weisen geöffnet und erweitert: Mittels einiger aktueller Gesellschaftsdiagnosen (u.a. Reckwitz 2017; Boltanski und Esquerre 2018) sowie dem Konzept der Valorisierung wird diskutiert, wie die kultur- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Theorien insbesondere in einem gegenwärtigen Kulturkapitalismus eine Rolle spielen könnten. Um die Wertigkeiten zu konzeptualisieren, die in den Theorien stecken, wird anschließend das Modell der Qualitätskonventionen aus der sogenannten „Economie des conventions“ (EC) vorgestellt (Boltanski und Thévenot 2007; Diaz-Bone 2018a) und mit weiteren theoretischen Überlegungen zur Anwendung von Theorien in der Kulturproduktion ergänzt. Diese ergänzte und erweiterte Perspektive der Arbeit soll allgemein fassen können, in welchen Zusammenhängen die Performativität der kultur- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Theorie auftritt.” (S. 23/24)

Extract: “By means of the second subchapter [2.2] the aim is pursued to translate the theoretical considerations originating from economic sociology in order to be able to analyze the use of cultural and social science theory by the actors in cultural production. For this purpose, first general considerations are made, which “blueprints” for the orientation of processes could be found in these theoretical concepts. Then, the perspective of the paper will be opened and broadened in several ways: by means of some recent social diagnoses (including Reckwitz 2017; Boltanski and Esquerre 2018) and the concept of valorization, it will be discussed how the theories of cultural and social sciences could play a role especially in a contemporary cultural capitalism. To conceptualize the valorizations inherent in the theories, the model of quality conventions from the so-called “Economie des conventions” (EC) is then presented (Boltanski and Thévenot 2007; Diaz-Bone 2018a) and complemented with further theoretical considerations on the application of theories in cultural production. This supplemented and expanded perspective of the work should be able to grasp in general terms in which contexts the performativity of cultural and sociological theory occurs.” (p. 23/24)

Smashing the glasshouse. Diminishing the prestige of measures of higher education

Andrea Saltelli, Alexandra Theben, Rosario Scandurra (2022)

SocArXiv Papers

Abstract. According to many authors the ranking of institutes and universities of higher education (HE) has provoked dramatic consequences in terms of transforming these institutions into a global market, sending the university prices skyrocketing and generally modifying the landscape of HE. While these measures, developed worldwide by several actors, abound in terms of measures of excellence, and in subjective indicators of prestige, none of them include as one of the criteria the price to the students of attending their courses and campuses. Substantial doubts have also been raised about the methodologies adopted by developers. If costs were included the panorama of HE in terms of desirability for students and their family would change considerably. In the present work we test this idea with a sample of universities for which data are available. We also poll the existing literature to gauge what the scholars thinks of HE rankings in terms of risks versus desirability. Finally, we use these elements to build a case against rankings of HEIs, including various strands of scholarship, including from sociology of quantification.

Extract: “Indeed, the toolbox of statactivists offers a rich repertoire of strategies that could be deployed in an effort to reduce the impact of HE rankings. For example, showing the true cost of different HE institutions goes in the direction of the example just mentioned of exposing the true costs of expulsions policies. As shown by Desrosières (2014), statistics can be a tool of liberation or oppression, and this is very well described, for the concrete case of employment statistics, by Salais (2022): those statistical concept laboriously put together between the end to the XIX century and the seventies to give concrete meaning to the concept of employment have been radically altered by the new public management policies, aimed at maximizing the rate of employment, but where employment has become of a very intermittent and precarious nature. Both when entering the labour market, and when entering a university, the panorama offered to newcomers is that of a new world, one that does not correspond to old and familiar concepts.” (p. 13)

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Bridging the gap between wellbeing and evaluation: Lessons from IBEST, a French experience

Thomas Delahais, Fiona Ottaviani, Annabelle Berthaud & Hélène Clot (2023)

Evaluation and Program Planning, 97, Online first

Abstract. While evaluators and advocates of alternative indicators both reflect on values and the collective construction of judgements, they do not talk much to each other. The ambition of this paper is to bridge this gap between evaluators and proponents of alternative indicators, by highlighting how an approach dedicated to the construction of alternative indicators can support evaluation practice. To do so, we draw on a participatory project conducted in Grenoble (France), that focused on the construction of indicators of sustainable wellbeing (IBEST). The project and its outputs have been used to support three evaluations over the past five years, which were each conducted with the aim of challenging policy objectives and evaluating interventions in terms of their contribution to the wellbeing of local people. Our results show that the work carried out within the framework of this type of project can feed into every stage of an evaluation. It is therefore in the interest of evaluators to integrate these alternative indicator approaches into evaluation. Moreover, this enrichment of evaluation could be useful in other places that have developed or wish to develop wellbeing indicators to support alternative policy making.

Extract: “The “economics of convention” field has coined the term “quantification” to describe the full process of developing indicators (Desrosi`eres and Kott, 2005). Quantification is not only about measuring; it also includes “convening” about (i.e. agreeing collectively), for instance, the object to be measured, how it should be measured, the norms, values and beliefs associated with the measurement, etc. (see Box 1). In this process of convening and measuring, reality is not just reflected, but is constituted in a certain way. This convening process is often passed over in silence in standard approaches to indicator-building and remains opaque. This is an issue in that the “framing” of reality has consequences for the practices of policy stakeholders: indicators are not neutral and can be used as instruments of power and domination by imposing a certain perspective on problems and available solutions (Bruno, Didier, & Vitale, 2014; Espeland and Sauder, 2007). However, to use a metaphor familiar in the evaluation realm, the quantification process can open the black box of indicator-building and shed a light on its “machinery” and its consequences on policy.” (p. 3)

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