Archives par étiquette : Diaz-Bone

The peculiar connection between common good and self-interest

Valeska Cappel (University of Lucerne)

The question about the relationship between the common good and self-interest was the frame of plenary sessions, panel discussions and keynote-speeches at this year’s Congress of the Swiss Sociological Association (SSA), June 21 – 23th 2017 at the University of Zurich.

Relating to this topic Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne) and Luca Pattaroni (EPFL Lausanne) organized the plenary session “Experience, conventions and the common good”.

It was a great opportunity to give space and attention to different conventionalist researches in various fields of social science relating to the topic of common good and self-interest. Regula Leemann (School for education Basel) and Jean-Michel Bonvin (University of Geneva) talked about convention theory in the field of education and social welfare, before special guest Laurent Thévenot (EHESS Paris) shared his thoughts about convention theory (CT) in the urban studies.

The aim of Regula Leemann’s presentation was to show the explanatory power of the theoretical framework of the convention theory in the research field of education. First, she referred on post-compulsory education in Switzerland. Her concern was to show how different orders of worth in the public sphere (“compound communities”) are constitutive for supplying the post-compulsory education as a common good.

Secondly, she talked about the different modes of coordination of individuals with their environment (“compound personalities”). She investigated how individual academics in Europe coordinate themselves with their professional academic and private environment. By focusing on a situation, constructing the EU as a political project of establishing a common market with the fundamental treatments of free movement of people and capital, she pointed out how a dispositive of transnational academic mobility is shaping the individual coordination between professional status and the private conduct of life.

Referring to the main topic of the congress, Jean-Michel Bonvin highlighted in his speech the theoretical challenges to bring social welfare into social actions. Relating to the capability approach (CA), he depicts the need to understand that social politics is not just a technical matter that can be defined and implemented. He claimed that there are different normativities and rationalities depending on the level of interaction (parliamentary areas, street-level bureaucrats, beneficiaries), which have to be considered. In combining the CA and the convention theory (CT) he proposes a solution for this problem: The concepts of CT, like the “economies of worth” (Thévenot) or “pragmatic regimes of engagements”, allow to understand the situation and what matters in social action. The additional benefit of consulting the CT could be to understand, why sometimes the implemented social welfare, constructed from a specific point of view, in particular situations is not receiving.

The highlight of the session was the input of the cofounder of the convention theory, Laurent Thévenot. Besides his inspiring comments on the other lectures he presented his thoughts on newer developments in the convention theory and the recent pragmatic turn of urban studies.

In particular, he focused on three main issues: First he pleaded to abandon the comparison of a public and private sphere in urban environments and focus instead on the various ways how city dwellers engage with their environment. Building commonality in the end is a result of “orders of worth backed by conceptions of the common good and the “realism” of individual interest” (Thévenot).

Secondly, in considering this point, he developed the idea of an extended view on constructions of commonality in the plural. By doing that, he identified three grammars of communality in the plural:  1) the grammar of plural orders of worth, 2) the grammar of interested individuals choosing among options in a liberal public, 3) the grammar of personal affinities to multiple common-places.

Thirdly, he spoke about his transcultural comparative research in urban studies (Europe, Russia, America), where he discovered, that the grammar of personal affinities to multiple common-places is characterized by familiar, personal and local engagement but simultaneous instrumental by authoritarian populism.

Altogether, the session was a short but impressive proof to see how convention theory is growing forward in different fields of social science and develops its explanatory power. Of course, there remain some mutual reception issues based on language barriers – but what, if not at an inspiring congress like this one, would be a decent step to overcome these problems?

Dispositiv und Ökonomie. Diskurs- und dispositivanalytische Perspektiven auf Märkte und Organisationen

Rainer Diaz-Bone & Ronald Hartz (eds.) (2017)

Wiesbaden: Springer VS

Der vorliegende Band bietet einen aktuellen Überblick über die Vielzahl neuerer sozialwissenschaftlicher Forschungen zur Bedeutung, Funktion und Theorie von Dispositiven in und für die Ökonomie. Denn die Ökonomie ist „instrumentiert“ – Organisationen und Märkte sind durchzogen und ausgestattet mit Objekten, Materialitäten, Technologien, Diskursen und Subjektivierungsweisen, deren spezifische Verknüpfungen die Ökonomie hervorbringen. Für die Analyse der Dispositive muss „Ökonomie“ daher notwendig transdisziplinär gefasst werden, gerade um die bisher weitgehende Ausblendung von Dispositiven in der Analyse von Märkten und Organisationen zu überwinden und diese durch neuartige theoretische aber auch vielfältige methodologische Zugänge zu erschließen. Diese Erschließung der materiellen und immateriellen Ausstattung der Ökonomie erfolgt nun nicht nur transdisziplinär, sondern auch international. Der Band präsentiert Beiträge von Forschenden aus Deutschland, Frankreich, Großbritannien und der Schweiz.

Link to the book

Conventionalist plenary session at the congress of the Swiss Sociological Association (SSA) 2017

Plenary session “Experience, conventions and the common good”
The plenary session will take place at the congress of the Swiss Sociological Association (SSA) in Zurich, Thursday 22 of June 2017 (9.00-11.30)

Organization: Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne)/Luca Pattaroni (EPFL Lausanne)
Chair/Moderation: Vincent Kaufmann (EPFL Lausanne)

– Vincent Kaufmann (EPFL Lausanne)
Welcome address
– Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne)/Luca Pattaroni (EPFL Lausanne)
Introduction to the plenary session
– Regula Julia Leemann (Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz)
Common Good and Self-Interest in Education
– Jean-Michel Bonvin (University of Geneva)
The challenges of aiming towards the common good in social policies
– Laurent Thévenot (EHESS PARIS)
Critically differing in a Common City
– Rainer Diaz-Bone (University of Lucerne)/Luca Pattaroni (EPFL Lausanne)
Crossed discussions

For more details see program (9 MB)

Special Issue « Markets and Classifications. Categorizations and Valuations as Social Processes Structuring Markets » Historical Social Research

Karoline Krenn (Ed.) (2017)

Historical Social Research, 42(1).

In the last couple of years the discussion on market classifications has received new topicality through the unbounded possibilities offered by digital technologies to track behavioral data. Understanding the social foundations of categories and classification systems is a fundamental problem in sociology. In markets, classifications are present in the variety of goods traded, in quality differentiations and their association to goods, and, also their matching with consumers. From a pure business perspective such marking of market identities is based on objective characteristics. In contrast, it is the aim of social science studies to pay attention to the formation of market categories, to examine the social construction processes underlying these classifications and to demonstrate their contingencies. In this vein, the contributions to this HSR Special Issue, which come from various theoretical schools such as the new economic sociology or the economics of convention, present recent research across a range of economic settings: financial markets, fashion markets, consumer markets and others. Despite the varieties of markets and national institution settings, essential resemblances show. Among the topics covered: The case of the French impact investment market, arguing for a dual function of judgment devices, demonstrates the close connection between boundary-building and boundary-blurring. A study on Dutch marketing agents reveals that the same actors who promote new classifications have difficulties in implementing these differentiations in their own performances. The example of self-categorizations in the British ethical fashion industry shows that the relevance of classifications is connected to reputation and power. And, analyses into the US-credit market discuss the off-label of classifications and its adverse societal consequences.

Link to the review

Special Issue « Conventions and Quantification – Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Statistics and Classifications » Historical Social Research

Rainer Diaz-Bone & Emmanuel Didier (Eds.) (2016)

Historical Social Research, 41(2).

In the last few decades, the field of “quantification” – namely the “sociology of quantification” – has evolved and it has shown an impressing development. There are many different strands of science contributing research on processes of quantification and the impact of quantification within social contexts. The concept of quantification is positioned at the crossroad linking approaches such as accounting theory, convention theory (économie des conventions), sociology and history of statistics, analysis of commensuration, sociology of standards and of standardization, analysis of benchmarking, and others.

Alain Desrosières was an internationally renowned scholar in the fields of sociology of quantification and history of statistics. His work can be regarded as the most important contribution to this field. Desrosières was also a “compagnon de route” of the French movement of the so-called “économie des conventions” which postulated the convention-based (and therefore social) nature of qualities, categories and quantities. Consequently, Desrosières’ work was also one of the main inspirations for this HSR Special Issue.

This HSR Special Issue presents recent and transdisciplinary research on the history and sociology of quantification. Building upon the work of Desrosières, this issue includes contributions on the history of science from the eighteenth century to today, covering topics such as: the millennium development goals, financial quantification, and quantification in higher education environments. All in all, the contributions work out the “political economy” as well as the “political sociology” of statistics, categorization, and quantification.

Furthermore this HSR contains a Mixed Issue with one article on „Societal Malaise and Ethnocentrism in the European Union: Monitoring Societal Change by Focusing on EU Citizens’ Perceptions of Crisis ».


Special Issue « Law and Conventions from a Historical Perspective » Historical Social Research

Rainer Diaz-Bone, Claude Didry & Robert Salais (Eds.) (2015)

Historical Social Research, 40(1).

The institutional approach of economics of convention (in short, EC) has been established in France over the last three decades and since then received growing international recognition. From its beginnings, EC has introduced a pragmatic as well as a historical perspective on economic coordination and economic institutions. Also, EC has included law in its analysis from the start. EC conceives law not as an external constraint, but as internal to action and coordination open to interpretive and situational adoption by competent actors. Consequently, for the socio-historical analysis of law, EC analyzes the meaning of law from the standpoint of actors which rely in their coordination on conventions. This HSR Special Issue demonstrates that the approach of EC in the socio-historical analysis of law can be a real transdisciplinary alternative to approaches such as “Law & Economics” or economic neo-institutionalism.

  • Rainer Diaz-Bone, Claude Didry & Robert Salais: Conventionalist’s Perspectives on the Political Economy of Law. An Introduction.
  • Rainer Diaz-Bone: Institutionalist and Methodological Perspectives on Law – Contributions of the Economics of Convention.
  • Claude Didry: The Institutional Foundations of “Labor Conventions” in France between the Wars.
  • Christian Bessy: The Dynamics of Law and Conventions.
  • Michela Barbot: When the History of Property Rights Encounters the Economics of Convention. Some Open Questions Starting from European History.
  • Frédéric Marty: Towards an Economics of Convention-Based Approach of the European Competition Policy.
  • Edward Lorenz: Work Organization Conventions and the Declining Competitiveness of the British Shipbuilding Industry, 1930-1970.
  • Lisa Knoll: The Hidden Regulation of Carbon Markets.
  • Noel Whiteside: Who were the Unemployed? Conventions, Classifications and Social Security Law in Britain (1911-1934).
  • Simon Deakin: Juridical Ontology: The Evolution of Legal Form.
  • Robert Salais: Europe, Laboratory for A-Democracy?

Open Access