La communauté Bitcoin

André Orléan (2019)

Esprit, juil./août

Introduction. “Selon l’approche institutionnaliste, la monnaie est avant tout un lien social, dont le fondement n’est pas dans l’État, mais dans la communauté de paiement, ce que confirme le bitcoin. Aujourd’hui comme hier, la question monétaire est au cœur de nos interrogations et de nos débats. Il n’y a pas lieu de s’en étonner dans la mesure où la monnaie occupe une place centrale au sein de l’armature institutionnelle qui règle notre vie collective. Cette position privilégiée s’illustre de manière exemplaire lors des grandes ruptures socio-politiques que connaissent périodiquement nos sociétés par le fait que la reconfiguration de la norme monétaire y joue un rôle structurant. Autrement dit, mutation politique et mutation monétaire vont de pair. Elles prennent appui l’une sur l’autre pour se consolider et ­s’imposer.”

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Flucht, Rassismus, Bildung

Kenneth Horvath (2019)

In: Baader M., Freytag T., Wirth D. (eds) Flucht – Bildung – Integration? Bildungspolitische und pädagogische Herausforderungen von Fluchtverhältnissen. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp.  63-78

Zusammenfassung. In diesem Beitrag werden Implikationen einer rassismustheoretischen Perspektive für die Auseinandersetzung mit aktuellen Bildungs- und Migration-verhältnissen diskutiert. Rassismus wird als Element diskursiver Formationen definiert, die Ungleichheiten, die entgegen anerkannter Gleichheitspostulate bestehen, naturalisierend erklären und dadurch legitimieren. Ausgehend von einer von Foucault inspirierten Problematisierungsheuristik werden typische Eigenschaften rassistischer Wissensordnungen identifiziert, allen voran die Vielseitigkeit und Adaptivität rassistischer Argumentationsweisen. Auf dieser Grundlage werden vier zentrale Implikationen für die aktuelle Bildungs- und Migrationsforschung besprochen: i) die Notwendigkeit, die strukturelle Verankerung rassistischer Problematisierungen in den institutionellen Formen schulischer Bildung zu berücksichtigen; ii) die Anregung, Formen professionellen pädagogischen Unterscheidens spezielle Aufmerksamkeit zu schenken; iii) der Bedarf an interdisziplinären Zugängen, die verschiedene gesellschaftliche Teilfelder in ihrem Wechselspiel in den Blick nehmen; sowie iv) die Forderung nach neuen Formen eines kritisch-reflexiven Theorie-Praxis-Dialogs.

Excerpt. “Boltanski (2010, S. 60) argumentiert ganz in diesem Sinne, dass Rassismus zwangsläufig zur Begleiterscheinung der Moderne wird: „Eine sich meritokratisch verstehende Gesellschaft entgeht nur schwerlich der Bedrohung durch irgendeine Form von Rassismus oder zumindest von biologisierendem Naturalismus.“ Rassismus ist als Wissensordnung im Verhältnis zum Problem der Deutung und Gestaltung einer von Ungleichheiten durchzogenen, dem Anspruch nach aber egalitären Gesellschaft zu verstehen. Sie ist daher notwendig beides: Teil einer (wenn auch notwendig spannungsreichen, weil eigentlich „illegitimen“) Rechtfertigungsordnung (Boltanski und Thévenot 2007, S. 116 ff.) […]”

(p. 66/67)

Link to the chapter

Profit as Social Rent: Embeddedness and Stratification in Markets

Sascha Muennich (2019)

Sociological Theory, 37(2), p. 162-183

Abstract. This article shows how research on the social structure of markets may contribute to the analysis the growing income inequality in contemporary capitalist economies. The author proposes a theoretical link between embeddedness and social stratification by discussing the role of institutions and networks in markets for the distribution of economic profits between firms. The author claims that we must understand profit and free competition as opposites, as economic theory does. In the main part of the article the author illustrates six typical mechanisms of rent extraction from networks or formal and symbolic rules that embed markets. They emerge from material as well as symbolical access to and influence on the orientation of other market actors. Social structures in markets lead to unequal chances for rent extraction, even if actors produce them for coordination rather than for accumulation purposes. This is how market sociology and theory of capitalism can be linked more closely.

Keywords: economic sociology, profit, capitalism, embeddedness, stratification

Excerpt. “[…] since the 1980s, labor flexibility strategies and an increasing reorientation of management activities toward shareholder value within firms have reduced stakeholder influence within large corporations, especially those directly financed through capital markets (Boltanski and Chiapello 2005; Fligstein 2002; Krippner 2012). […] These resources concern not only material things or formal rules but also informal rules, group structures, and symbolic orders that define who is socially entitled to parts of the economic value (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006:32–35). Who may appropriate value without facing resistance from the social environment, as capitalists’ entitlement to labor surplus is often described? […] Boltanski and Thévenot (2006:37) argued that all social conflicts have a symbolic side in which actions are criticized or justified by referring to mutually acknowledged criteria for unequal distributions of value and hierarchies of ‘worthiness’.”

(p. 168/170/176).

Link to the review

Werten und Verwerten. Konventionen der Beschäftigung von Menschen mit Behinderungen in Wirtschaft und Wohlfahrtstaat

Valuating and exploitating. Conventions of employment of people with disabilities in economy and welfare state.

Eva Nadai, Alan Canonica, Anna Gonon, Fabienne Rotzetter, Martin Lengwiler Wiesbaden: Springer VS (2019)

https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783658257255

 

“Der Wohlfahrtstaat kann die Arbeitsmarktinklusion von Menschen mit Behinderungen fördern, aber  die Entscheidung über die Beschäftigung liegt bei der Wirtschaft. Diese Studie untersucht die Koordination von Arbeitgebern und Invalidenversicherung in der Schweiz und fragt, wie die Wertbestimmung von Arbeitskraft in politischen und betrieblichen Arenen verhandelt wird. Sie rekonstruiert historisch und ethnografisch die Strukturen und widersprüchlichen Rechtfertigungen der beruflichen Eingliederung, die im Konzept der begrenzten freiwilligen sozialen Verantwortung von Arbeitgebern zum Ausdruck kommen.”

[“The welfare state can promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the labour market, but the decision on employment lies within the economy. This study examines the coordination of employers and disability insurance in Switzerland and asks how the valuation of labour is negotiated in political and business arenas. It reconstructs historically and ethnographically the structures and contradictory justifications of occupational integration that are expressed in the concept of employers’ limited voluntary social responsibility”.]

Fourth book in the series „Soziologie der Konventionen”

 

Commensuration, compromises and critical capacities: Wage determination in collective firms

Nina Pohler (2019)

Social Science Information, Online first

Abstract. This article analyses pay determination as a process of commensuration as well as a process in which commensuration can fail. The analysis is based on an empirical study of two collective firms in Germany and the United Kingdom and their attempts to self-determine fair pay. Due to the formal equality of members and their democratic decision-making processes, these cases are a specifically interesting context for studying the determination of pay. Through the analysis of a failed attempt at finding a formula for fair pay, as well as a fragile compromise formula, a contribution is made to the literature on commensuration and the construction of compromises. The article also extends this literature by explaining the obstacles to the creation of a compromise that would go beyond the need for a common interest. Callon and Muniesa’s work on calculation is used to clarify the steps that are necessary to move from questions of worth to the assessment of worth and its expression in measures. To introduce the question of legitimacy in evaluation processes, Callon and Muniesa’s framework is supplemented with Boltanski and Thévenot’s work on critical capacities.

Résumé. Cet article analyse la détermination des salaires comme un processus de commensurabilité, mais également comme un processus au cours duquel la commensurabilité pourrait échouer. Cette démarche s’appuie sur une étude empirique réalisée au sein de deux entreprises collectives, en Allemagne et au Royaume-Uni, et sur les tentatives que ces dernières ont faites pour déterminer par elles-mêmes une rémunération juste. En raison de l’égalité formelle entre leurs membres et des processus de décision démocratiques qui définissent leur fonctionnement, ces cas constituent un contexte particulièrement intéressant pour étudier la détermination des salaires. En analysant à la fois une tentative infructueuse de trouver une formule qui permette de déterminer une rémunération juste, et la découverte d’un compromis fragile, cet article vient contribuer à la littérature sur la commensurabilité et la construction du compromis. Il enrichit également cette littérature en éclaircissant ce qui peut faire obstacle à la création d’un compromis qui chercherait à dépasser le besoin d’un intérêt commun. Le travail de Callon et Muniesa sur le calcul y est utilisé afin de clarifier les étapes nécessaires pour passer des questionnements autour de la valeur à son évaluation et à son expression en unités de mesure. Pour introduire la question de la légitimité dans les processus d’évaluation, le cadre théorique établi par Callon et Muniesa est complété par le travail de Boltanski et Thévenot sur les capacités critiques.

Keywords: calculation, commensuration, compromise, critical capacities, evaluation, valuation, wages

Link to the review

Ethical dimensions of quantification

Wendy Espeland & Vincent Yung (2019)

Social Science Information, Online first

Abstract. The ethical dimensions of quantification are seldom analysed. We examine three ethical features that are characteristic of quantification – its capacity to express or mediate power, focus attention, and shape opportunity structures. We do so in the context of three recent examples of new types of quantification : university rankings, the racial classification of Asians in the US, and facial recognition algorithms. Our examples highlight the importance of understanding the varied and complex ways that quantification creates and organizes social relations, and the effect of this on multiple forms of inequality.

Résumé. Les dimensions éthiques de la quantification sont rarement étudiées. Nous analysons ici trois particularités éthiques qui sont caractéristiques de la quantification – sa capacité à donner du pouvoir ou à servir d’intermédiaire à ce dernier, sa capacité à attirer notre attention et enfin sa capacité à façonner des structures d’opportunité. Notre étude s’appuie sur trois exemples récents de nouvelles formes de quantification : les classements des universités, la classification raciale des personnes asiatiques aux États-Unis, et les algorithmes de reconnaissance faciale. Nos exemples soulignent à quel point il est important de comprendre les manières diverses et complexes avec lesquelles la quantification crée et organise les relations sociales, et leur effet sur les formes multiples d’inégalité.

Keywords: algorithms, census, ethics, quantification, rankings

Link to the review

Theorising measures, rankings and metrics

Special issue of Social Science Information (2019), Online first

David Jaclin & Peter Wagner: Measurements and their limits (editorial)

Excerpt. “From the 1980s onwards, though, the interest in understanding how one had arrived at the state the social sciences were in grew. This interest generated a confluence of historical, philosophical and sociological investigations in the practices of the social sciences, many of which with an explicit focus on tools and methods. One would not be wrong in seeing here a spill-over of the work in the social studies of science, with the qualification that the strong focus on dismantling the image of superior and cumulative knowledge, which had characterised the analysis of mathematics or physics, was absent, given that the contextual nature of social-science knowledge was widely recognised anyway. We may single out here some path-breaking works, such as those by Lorraine Daston on objectivity (e.g., Daston, 1992), by Alain Desrosières on the tools of statistics summarised in his impressive The Politics of Large Numbers (1993), Ian Hacking’s The Taming of Chance (1990) or Theodore Porter’s Trust in Numbers (1996).”

Andrea Brighenti: Umwelt-measures. On extensive and intensive measures: Introduction to the special issue “Theorising measures, rankings and metrics”

Abstract. In modern science, we usually associate value with a numerical determination – such as, for instance, the value of the Planck constant. However, once we examine value as a co-original facet of measure, we are led to distinguish – with Spinoza – what we could call the natura naturans of measure from what we understand by measurement as its natura naturata. First, I discuss the tensions and the connections between the extensive side of measures (molis, magnitude) and their intensive side (virtus, worth) to provide a preliminary map for plotting the relations between measures and the social– moral–technical environments where they are performed. The second part of the text presents the articles in this special issue, highlighting how they tackle the social ecology of measures drawing from distinct theoretical lineages.

Résumé. Le regard scientifique moderne tend à associer la notion de ‘grandeur’ à une détermination numérique – telle que, par exemple, ‘la grandeur de la constante de Planck’. Néanmoins, à partir du moment où nous concevons la valeur comme l’une des facettes originelles de la mesure, nous sommes amenés à distinguer – avec Spinoza – ce que nous pouvons appeler la natura naturans de la mesure de sa natura naturata. J’aborde tout d’abord les tensions et connections existant entre le côté extensif des mesures (molis, grandeur) et leur côté intensif (virtus, valeur) afin de donner une cartographie préliminaire nécessaire pour tracer les relations entre les mesures et les environnements sociaux–moraux–techniques où ces dernières sont produites. La deuxième partie du texte présente les articles de ce numéro spécial, soulignant comment chacun aborde l’écologie sociale des mesures à partir de lignées théoriques distinctes.

Keywords: extensive/intensive measurement, magnitude/worth, measures-as-monsters, value-measure environments, unit of measure

Power through empowerment? The managerial discourse on employee empowerment

Mirela Ivanova & Christian von Scheve (2019)

Organization, Online first

Abstract. Informed by the sociology of knowledge approach to discourse, the current study explores how employee empowerment is discursively constructed as a management technique. Combing insights from labour process theory, Foucauldian approaches to governmentality and neo-Weberian interpretations of the ideological basis of capitalism, we develop an empirically informed theoretical framework that accounts for the multifaceted character of employee empowerment. Results show, first, that discourse justifies the necessity of this technique by presenting it as an efficient answer to perceived increases in competitive pressures and an ever-changing economic environment since the beginning of the 1990s. The discourse promotes advanced liberal modes of (self-)governance, which are created and maintained through a complex set of means for the control of labour. Second, although the ideological structure of the empowerment discourse is in accordance with the third spirit of capitalism, as identified by Boltanski and Chiapello, it also introduces changes by removing the neo-manager and granting the empowered employee a central role. Furthermore, our analysis suggests that empowerment is associated with strategies for reducing labour costs, such as de-layering and work intensification.”

Keywords: Capitalism, discourse, empowerment, labour, management

“Boltanski and Chiapello’s (1999) concept of the new spirit of capitalism provides additional valuable insights for the study of employee empowerment as a management technique. Referring to the foundational ideology of capitalism, the concept departs from an orthodox Weberian understanding and treats the spirit of capitalism as ‘a form that can contain different things at different points in the development of the modes of organising firms and processes of extracting capitalist profit’ (Boltanski and Chiapello, 1999: 11). Hence, there is not just one ideology supporting capitalism, but a plurality of possibilities. A ‘spirit of capitalism’ depicts a set of legitimised beliefs that sustain worldviews, action models, and predispositions attuned with this spirit, hence greasing the functioning of the capitalist economy.”

p. 3

Link to the review

La fabrication du travail non qualifié

Didier Demazière et Emmanuelle Marchal (coord.) (2018)

Travail et emploi, 2018/3-4 (n° 155-156)

Sommaire

  • Didier Demazière, Emmanuelle Marchal : La fabrication du travail non qualifié. Analyser les obstacles à la valorisation (en accès libre)
  • François-Xavier Devetter, Emmanuelle Puissant : Mécanismes économiques expliquant les bas salaires dans les services à la personne. Une analyse centrée sur les aides à domicile
  • Hadrien Clouet : La qualité au guichet : négocier le travail peu qualifié à Pôle emploi
  • Sylvie Monchatre : Embaucher ou habiliter ? Recrutement et espaces de (non-)qualification dans l’hôtellerie-restauration
  • Lucas Tranchant : L’intérim de masse comme vecteur de disqualification professionnelle. Le cas des emplois ouvriers de la logistique
  • Pauline Grimaud : L’extension du travail dominical dans le commerce. Vers une redéfinition sous tensions de la qualification des emplois

Extrait de l’introduction: “La perspective privilégiée dans ce dossier est tracée autour d’une question centrale : par quels processus le travail est-il non qualifié, comment certaines activités et certains travailleurs sont-ils considérés comme non-qualifiés ou traités comme tels ? Ces questions ne reçoivent pas de réponses générales ou invariantes, car le phénomène de la « non-qualification » a des limites différentes d’un pays à l’autre, évolue avec le temps, se déplace entre les secteurs d’activité, touche des populations diverses. Ces variations indiquent que le travail non qualifié ne peut être rabattu sur un ensemble de traits intrinsèques ou de propriétés stables. Les impasses de l’approche substantielle sont d’ailleurs bien connues. Un argument majeur, reposant sur la critique de l’équation « non-qualification = absence de qualités », a été déployé dans plusieurs directions : un travail qui n’exigerait aucune qualité n’aurait aucune utilité et donc n’existerait pas, de sorte que toutes les formes de travail impliquent la mobilisation de qualités ; tout travailleur est dépositaire de qualités accumulées à travers sa formation et ses expériences qu’il actualise dans le cours de son activité ; tout processus de recrutement compte des opérations de sélection qui sont adossées à des procédures et critères visant à repérer des qualités chez les candidats, etc. Et pourtant l’expression « non qualifié » est une catégorie pertinente. Pertinente quand on la considère comme le résultat de processus d’attribution, dont nous proposons l’exploration.
Car il ne s’agit pas seulement de soutenir que tout poste de travail et tout travailleur mettent en jeu un nombre minimal de qualités ou de compétences, mais plutôt de considérer le travail non qualifié comme la résultante d’un déficit de leur reconnaissance et de leur valorisation. Il incorpore un « voir comme », un « compter pour » : ce qui est non qualifié, c’est ce qui est vu comme tel, ce qui est compté pour tel. Cette posture théorique, déjà expérimentée ailleurs (JANY-CATRICE, 2007 ; CHAUVIN, 2010), n’est pas relativiste pour autant. Car si l’expression « non qualifié » est désormais admise et retenue comme pertinente pour rendre compte d’évolutions contemporaines du travail, c’est parce qu’elle est adossée à des conventions sociales ; des conventions de perception, de mesure, de valorisation, qui sont suffisamment cristallisées et stabilisées pour qu’elles fassent sens, circulent et organisent des rapports sociaux de travail. Ces conventions, plus ou moins institutionnalisées, ne couvrent pas de manière uniforme le spectre des emplois et des postes. Ainsi, dans nombre de secteurs industriels, des conventions collectives ont fixé des classifications professionnelles ouvrières. Et celles-ci délimitent la frontière entre des emplois d’ouvrier professionnel ou qualifié, correspondant à des métiers dont l’exercice exige une formation et un apprentissage, et des emplois d’ouvrier spécialisé et de manoeuvre ne nécessitant aucune formation ou, au plus, une adaptation rudimentaire. Mais ces catégories n’ont pas d’équivalent dans l’archipel des employés, où la différenciation entre qualifié et non qualifié est plus flottante, alors même que s’y développe le travail non qualifié. De manière convergente, la nomenclature des professions et catégories socioprofessionnelles distingue de longue date les ouvriers « qualifiés » et « non qualifiés » (à l’échelle des 24 postes) (DESROSIÈRES, THÉVENOT, 1988) mais n’introduit pas explicitement ce critère pour les employés, même si des définitions des employés non qualifiés sont proposées (AMOSSÉ, CHARDON, 2006).”

(Demazière & Marchal, p. 5-6)

Lien vers la revue (Cairn.info)

Lost in translation? Transferring creativity insights from arts into management

Annick Ancelin-Bourguignon, Chris Dorsett & Ricardo Azambuja (2019)

Organization, Online first

Abstract. Since the early 2000s the business sector has, as a matter of both professional and academic concern, repeatedly advocated the transfer of artistic practices, especially those deemed exemplary forms of creativity, to a management world grappling with new challenges – a claim we here call the ‘transferability thesis’ in order to consider the responses made to what Boltanski and Chiapello define as an artistic critique of capitalism. Drawing on the wide range of relevant academic literature, this article critically examines the plausibility of the ‘thesis’. To this end, we review analytical literature advocating artistic transfers alongside empirical work that examines art interventions within organizations. Both are important components of a broader organizational aesthetics approach even though, we contend, neither strands of research provide a plausible argument for meaningful transferability. We then draw on arts-based literature, management theory and psychology to compare notions of creativity at both ends of the proposed transferral process. We highlight convergence and variance in art and business thinking, noting fundamental mismatches with regard to utility, rationalization and heteronomy – three levels of incompatibility that make a genuine transplantation of art ideas highly unlikely. Finally, we discuss our critical contribution in relation to the specious status of the ‘thesis’ and the centrality of Boltanski and Chiapello’s triadic model of capitalism to our investigation. By way of a conclusion, we suggest that further research is needed to examine the symbolic nature of appeals to artistic creativity by management.

Keywords: Artistic critique of capitalism, arts, creativity, management, organizational aesthetics

Link to the reiew

Understanding authentication processes and the role of conventions: a consideration of Greek ethnic restaurants

Elena Chatzopoulou, Matthew Gorton & Sharron Kuznesof (2019)

Annals of Tourism Research, 77, p. 128-140

Abstract. Drawing on convention and social identity theories, this paper explores how actors utilize conventions and identities to claim legitimacy and defend their judgements in processes of hot authentication. It does this through a qualitative study of Greek ethnic restaurants, considering both in-group (Greek restaurant owners and diaspora diners) and out-group (tourist and non-Greek) perspectives. We identify three orders of worth (market, domestic and inspirational) which embody contrasting notions of authenticity (pragmatic iconicity, ancestral indexicality and innovative iconicity, respectively). Each order of worth incorporates notions of quality as well as legitimate actors in authentication processes. While hot authentication is a diffuse process, some actors nonetheless possess privileged positions in particular orders of worth.

Keywords: Authenticity, Quality convention theory, Identity, Tourism, Ethnic restaurants, Greece

Link to the review

The practice of jurisdictionalizing: How engineers use documents to shape and maintain professional authority

Marie Leth Meilvang (2019)

The Sociological Review, Online first

Abstract. This article explores via the concept of professional jurisdiction how engineers shape and maintain authority in practice, and points to the important role of specific professional documents in this practice. Drawing on the sociology of conventions, the article shows how the documents work as standardized and ‘invested’ forms that help professional actors coordinate internally in the profession, as well as compromise, maintain boundaries and forge alliances with actors outside the profession. Empirically, the article analyses historic documents, called writings, from a professional committee under the Danish Society of Engineers, and shows how these documents have helped engineers shape and maintain authority over the Danish field of urban water management.

Keywords: engineers, jurisdiction, professional authority, professional documents, sociology of conventions

Link to the review

Multistakeholder initiatives in global production networks: naturalizing specific understandings of sustainability through the Better Cotton Initiative

Lone Riisgaard, Peter Lund‐Thomsen & Neil M. Coe

Global Networks, first online

Abstract. In recent years, various academics, consultants, companies and NGOs have advocated a move towards more cooperative approaches to private sustainability standards to address the widely identified shortcomings of the compliance paradigm. However, is it possible to address these limitations by moving towards stakeholder inclusion and capacity building while at the same time catering to the demands of lead firms supplying the mainstream market? In this article, we analyse how the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) seeks to do just that, in the process identifying three key tensions and competing policy concerns with which standard‐setters have had to grapple – (a) stakeholder inclusion vs process‐control/efficiency; (b) stringency of the standard vs scale of production; and (c) capacity building vs auditing. Combining theoretical considerations about governance in global production networks (GPNs) with a convention theory perspective, we explore these inherent tensions and show that due to pre‐existing power relations in the cotton GPN, it is hard to develop more cooperative approaches because market and industrial values tend to win out despite efforts to follow current best practice on sustainability standard‐setting.

Link to the review

The elusive “good” : how performance measures shape the US child support enforcement program, by Ana Carolina Macatangay

PhD thesis. University of St. Andrews.

https://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/handle/10023/17890

ABSTRACT

“Performance measures do not just capture an organization’s ‘good performance’; they intervene in the valuation and construction of what counts as ‘good’ so it can be valued, enacted, and measured. This is the central theme of this thesis. Using a performativity lens, and drawing on valuation studies and the sociology of quantification, this research investigates the framing processes and mechanisms by which the federal performance measures, through a network of actors and devices, enable a U.S. child support enforcement agency to enact the ‘good performance’ that can be measured. Using ethnographic and case study methods, the study examines how actors and devices, through a framing process, qualify and negotiate the boundaries of their interactions to produce the ‘good performance’ that can be counted and measured. The boundaries they establish, however, produce overflows that potentially threaten the production of the qualified and quantified ‘good’. Such overflows emerge due to unexpected events, different versions of ‘good’, and conflicting frames of valuation of what counts as ‘good’. Based on the findings, the study offers a taxonomy of performative framing to explain how measures stimulate the organizing work of an agency so the ‘good performance’ can be organized, articulated, produced, and validated. It also offers a taxonomy of counter-performation to describe the uncertainties, multiplicities, and rivalries that the measured ‘good performance’ generates.”

EXCERPT

“Individuals, organizations, and societies use categories to make sense of and interact with the world. Categories (e.g. car types by engine size or hotel quality by star rating), which have been ‘collectively crafted, sustained, and enforced’ (Fourcade, 2016: 176), often are held as fact and used for determining how things are similar and, by implication, different from others that have been excluded from a ‘category’. They enable the ordering of things based on a general principle of worth (Boltanski &Thévenot, 2006) and guide or format people’s choices and actions. They are used to assess, compare, or assign values (e.g. price or scores) to things, and to interpret the social and physical world. When things or entities are qualified into some type of ‘thing’, their qualities are reduced to a finite number that will unify them, establish their ‘equivalence’ (Desrosières, 1998), and turn them into realizable and recognizable categories (Diaz-Bone & Didier, 2016). The qualities that make the ‘thing’ (e.g. engine size for car type) become the parameter for sorting and grouping entities into a category to which other entities could be assigned through a process of encoding. As Desrosières (1998) explained, coding signifies a ‘reduction’, a ‘sacrifice’, as other qualities have been disregarded. But by doing this, entities could easily be coded to discrete categories and compared to others based on their selectively compressed qualities (Espeland & Lom, 2015) that had been articulated through the coding’s evaluative form. By making entities and their selective qualities visible, they become measurable ‘objects of reference’ (Centemeri, 2012) for interpretation, coordination and action, supported by huge ‘investments in conventional forms’ (Thévenot, 2015) – such as the use of indicators, statistics, ratings, etc. – to formalize the categories and classifications of information. It may be said therefore that while qualification defines categories, quantification formalizes them. The very forms that help name or construct them also reveal them; and by revealing them, they are made ‘real’ (Desrosières, 1998; Fourcade, 2016).” (p. 44)

Supervisors: Philip Roscoe and Shona Russell

Download link: https://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/10023/17890/AnaMacatangayPhDThesis.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y

How do think tanks qualify their expertise? Exploring the field of scientific policy advice in France

Thomas Laux (2019)

Journal of Science Communication, 18(03), A07.

Abstract. This study explores the field of scientific policy advice in environmental and energy policies in France to gain insights into the role of think tanks. The field evolved along with the growth of think tanks. The think tanks refer to several orders of worth and combine them in their communication in order to qualify their expertise. The results of the study reveal that the think tanks have become more independent actors and that the field of scientific policy advice has gained autonomy. Both aspects indicate that the relationship between politics and expertise has gradually changed in France.

Keywords: Environmental communication; Science and policy-making; Science communication: theory and models

“For capturing the different cultural logics in the field of scientific policy advice, the study draws upon the modes of justification developed by Boltanski and Thévenot [2006]. The “orders of worth” [Boltanski and Thévenot, 2006] serve as an analytical framework for capturing the different cultural logics in society and within the field of scientific policy advice in France. To do so, the ways in which think tanks legitimate themselves and qualify their expertise are assigned to different modes of justification. By referring to these cultural logics, the think tanks also signal specific qualities of their expertise to their potential clients […].”

p. 2

Link to the article (Open access)