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The main purpose of this essay is to reflect on the nature of justification. To this end, the analysis draws on Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot’s De la justification…
The main purpose of this essay is to reflect on the nature of justification. To this end, the analysis draws on Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot’s De la justification. Les économies de la grandeur 1 [On Justification: Economies of Worth 2 ]. More specifically, the article aims to examine the extent to which Boltanski and Thévenot’s conceptual framework, widely known as ‘the sociology of critical capacity’, 3 permits us to demonstrate that processes of justification 4 are vital to the symbolically mediated construction – that is, to both the conceptual and the empirical organization 5 – of social life. In order to prove the validity of this contention, the inquiry explores the meaning of ‘justification’ in relation to the following dimensions: (1) existence, (2) ethics, (3) justice, (4) perspective, (5) presuppositions, (6) agreement, (7) common worlds, (8) critique, (9) practice and (10) justification itself. By way of conclusion, the article maintains that processes of justification constitute an essential ingredient of human reality.
On Justification: Economies of Worth (Boltanski & Thévenot, 1991/2006) was a synthetic and comprehensive parsing of common goods, goods that could and had to be justified…
On Justification: Economies of Worth (Boltanski & Thévenot, 1991/2006) was a synthetic and comprehensive parsing of common goods, goods that could and had to be justified in public. In response to Bourdieu’s critical sociology, they rather provided a robust and disciplined sociology of critique, the situated requirements of justification. They refused power and violence as integral to the operability of justification. They emphasized the ways in which conventions of worth afforded coordination, not their constitution of or by domination. They refused to make either capitalism, or the state, into primary motors of social order. Indeed, they refused social sphere, structure, or group as the ground of the good. They emphasized the cognitive capacities of agents. There was no passion, no desire, no bodily affect in these justified worlds. There wasn’t even any account of production of value, of children, or of money. And while they recognized the metaphysical aspect of the good and even used Christianity as a template for one of their cités, they rigorously excluded religion. The theory was designed to analyze moments of controversy, not quiescence or quietude. In his subsequent work, Boltanski aimed to address these absences. In this essay, we examine how Boltanski sought to restore love, violence, religion, production, and institution across five texts: Love and Justice as Competences (1990/2012), The New Spirit of Capitalism, co-authored with Eve Chiapello (1999/2007), The Foetal Condition: A Sociology of Engendering and Abortion (2004/2013), On Critique: A Sociology of Emancipation (2009/2011), and La «Collection», Une Forme Neuve du Capitalisme – La Mise en Valeur Economique du Passé et ses Effets (2014) co-authored with Arnaud Esquerre.
Boltanski and Thevenot’s Economies of Worth framework and the project world introduced by Boltanski and Chiapello are well known in the fields of sociology and…
Boltanski and Thevenot’s Economies of Worth framework and the project world introduced by Boltanski and Chiapello are well known in the fields of sociology and organization theory, but have been largely ignored in the project management literature. The purpose of this paper is to introduce them into the literature on projects and projectification.
The framework and the project world are described in detail and compared with two streams of writings that are well known in the field of project management: Making Projects Critical and the project as a complex self-organizing emergent network.
The paper shows that the framework and the project world are relevant to research in project management and the understanding of the projectification of society.
The framework and the concepts presented could be used in both conceptual and empirical research in project management, particularly the analysis of projects in which disputes occur among stakeholders. Several paths that future developments could follow are identified.
The framework can be used to better understand disputes and identify how they can be resolved or compromises can be found.
The analysis by Boltanski and Chiapello showed that the evolution of management practice is linked to changes in society and in the dominant ideology.
The paper introduces a very valuable framework into the project literature.
In this article, we make the point that managerial domination as described by pragmatic sociology is an appropriate notion to make sense of complex forms of domination in…
In this article, we make the point that managerial domination as described by pragmatic sociology is an appropriate notion to make sense of complex forms of domination in contemporary organizations. Based on Lemieux’s work on ‘grammars’, we complement approaches of complex domination put forward by pragmatic sociologists such as Boltanski and Thévenot. We illustrate these ideas by means of an ethnographic study of the financial intermediation industry. Our analysis sketches out an alternative conceptualization of power in such environments, and by so doing, helps us delineate the features that characterize complex financial domination. We conclude by arguing that this type of domination is the result of specific contradictions inherent to the grammars of financial intermediation.
This volume presents state-of-the-art research and thinking on the analysis of justification, evaluation and critique in organizations, as inspired by the foundational…
This volume presents state-of-the-art research and thinking on the analysis of justification, evaluation and critique in organizations, as inspired by the foundational ideas of French Pragmatist Sociology’s economies of worth (EW) framework. In this introduction, we begin by underlining the EW framework’s importance in sociology and social theory more generally and discuss its relative neglect within organizational theory, at least until now. We then present an overview of the framework’s intellectual roots, and for those who are new to this particular theoretical domain, offer a brief introduction to the theory’s main concepts and core assumptions. This we follow with an overview of the contributions included in this volume. We conclude by highlighting the EW framework’s important yet largely untapped potential for advancing our understanding of organizations more broadly. Collectively, the contributions in this volume help demonstrate the potential of the EW framework to (1) advance current understanding of organizational processes by unpacking justification dynamics at the individual level of analysis, (2) refresh critical perspectives in organization theory by providing them with pragmatic foundations, (3) expand and develop the study of valuation and evaluation in organizations by reconsidering the notion of worth, and finally (4) push the boundaries of the framework itself by questioning and fine tuning some of its core assumptions. Taken as a whole, this volume not only carves a path for a deeper embedding of the EW approach into contemporary thinking about organizations, it also invites readers to refine and expand it by confronting it with a wider range of diverse empirical contexts of interest to organizational scholars.
How is moral legitimacy established in pluralist contexts where multiple moral frameworks co-exist and compete? Situations of moral multiplexity complicate not only…
How is moral legitimacy established in pluralist contexts where multiple moral frameworks co-exist and compete? Situations of moral multiplexity complicate not only whether an organization or practice is legitimate but also which criteria should be used to establish moral legitimacy. We argue that moral legitimacy can be thought of as the property of a dynamic dialogical process in which relations between moral schemes are constantly (re-)negotiated through dynamic exchange with audiences. Drawing on Boltanski and Thévenot’s ‘orders of worth’ framework, we propose a process model of how three types of truces may be negotiated: transcendence, compromise, antagonism. While each can create moral legitimacy in pluralistic contexts, legitimacy is not a binary variable but varying in degrees of scope and certainty.
While the use of the pragmatic sociology of critique has enjoyed increasing academic popularity, the relationship between justification and broader power relations remains…
While the use of the pragmatic sociology of critique has enjoyed increasing academic popularity, the relationship between justification and broader power relations remains unclear. Recent attention to the concept of ‘domination’ suggests the need for a greater focus on how employed public goods reinforce prevailing social arrangements. In this article we explore the public debate over the expansion of hydraulic fracturing of shale gas (so-called ‘fracking’) in the United Kingdom (UK). This technology has generated significant debate and controversy. Through a detailed examination of public inquiries into the technology we explore how different actors employ discursive strategies to justify their claims for the expansion or rejection of fracking. Through this analysis, the article identifies how some of these justifications enjoy precedence over others within the prevailing neoliberal political regime. By explaining how such a political regime is constituted, our study contributes to better understanding how different justifications support hegemonic political ideologies.
This article will consider the various ways in which accounting can be conceptualized within Boltanski and Thévenot’s economies of worth theoretic. Drawing on two case…
This article will consider the various ways in which accounting can be conceptualized within Boltanski and Thévenot’s economies of worth theoretic. Drawing on two case illustrations, a not-for-profit welfare agency and a government-owned water utility, we follow the unfolding of disputes and the variety of outcomes in which accounting is implicated. We illustrate the role of accounting in justificatory actions and the ways in which it “holds things together” in compromise arrangements. We also illustrate the situations which challenge the “test” of worth and the innovative accounting responses that either facilitate coordination and agreement or become controversial and be the object of organizational and institutional dispute.
Multinational resource companies (MRCs) are under pressure to become responsible corporate citizens. In particular, stakeholders are demanding more information about the…
Multinational resource companies (MRCs) are under pressure to become responsible corporate citizens. In particular, stakeholders are demanding more information about the deals these companies negotiate with the host governments of resource-rich nations, and there is general agreement about the need for industry commitment to transparency and the benefits that a mandatory disclosure regime would bring. This paper examines the production of one attempt to regulate disclosures related to payments between MRCs and the governments of nations with resource wealth: Section 1504 of the Dodd–Frank Act.
Drawing on Boltanski and Thévenot's (2006) Sociology of Worth, the authors examine the comment letters of participants in this process with a view to revealing how stakeholder groups produce justifications to promote their positions vis-à-vis transparency to regulators.
The authors show how justifications were mobilised by various constituents in an effort to shape the definition of transparency and the regulatory architecture that governs disclosure practices. In this case, the collective recognition of desirability of transparency enabled the SEC to suture together the views of constituents to create a shared understanding of the role of the common good as it relates to transparency.
This paper explores an alternative approach to the consideration of comment letters advanced during the process of disclosure-related rule-making. The authors show how a sophisticated regulator may be able to draw together elements stemming from different constituents in a way that appeals to a shared sense of the “common good” in order to produce Final Rules.
Particularly in governance and policy processes, critique is embedded in highly institutionalized formats. In this chapter, the authors apply Boltanski’s concept of…
Particularly in governance and policy processes, critique is embedded in highly institutionalized formats. In this chapter, the authors apply Boltanski’s concept of critical tests to examine accepted forms of expression in the context of an institutionalized policy setting, the annual Conferences of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The authors find that different policy actors’ uses of critique reflect embedded field positions and interests. While marginal actors drew upon existential tests to construct radical critique, the highly ritualized performance of critique called into question its efficacy in promoting change within the overall structure of a highly institutionalized event. The authors discuss inroads to studying the relations between critique, power, and microfoundations of institutions.