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.
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.
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.
The purpose of our article is to contribute to the further understanding of individual responses to pluralism, by studying in particular the role played by critiques and…
The purpose of our article is to contribute to the further understanding of individual responses to pluralism, by studying in particular the role played by critiques and compromises in the formulation of such responses. Drawing on theoretical insights from the sociology of conventions, we look at the various modes of justification publicly advanced by French co-operators when engaging with co-operative principles. Our analysis allows us to identify three main instantiations, that is situated and flexible enactments, of these principles: pragmatic, reformist, and political. Our contribution to the understanding of pluralism and its instantiations by organizational members is threefold. First, in contrast with studies drawing on an institutional-logics perspective, our study shows that individual instantiations of pluralism rely not only on positive affirmations of logics but also on critical mobilizations of competing logics. Second, our study shows that pluralism can be understood not only as co-existing multiple logics, but also as different possible instantiations of the same logic, the ambiguity of which allows compromises to be settled with other logics. Third, we suggest that organizational members’ responses to pluralism often involve more than two logics, which are combined into a complex set of interdependent judgments. In addition, in relation to co-operative studies, our proposed typology provides a mapping that usefully extends the range of possibilities found in co-operators’ instantiations of co-operative principles, thus furthering our understanding of the diversity of the co-operative movement.
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.
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.
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.
In his influential study The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1971 ), Erving Goffman provides an insightful account of the formation of social selves. Goffman’s work has been extensively discussed in the sociological literature. Yet, the presuppositional underpinnings, let alone the socio-ontological implications, of his conception of personhood have not been rigorously scrutinized.
The main reason for the lack of methodical engagement with the principal assumptions that lie at the heart of Goffman’s theory of the self is that his approach is widely regarded as an eclectic narrative that, while drawing on different sociological traditions, does not make any claim to universal validity.
The persuasiveness of the contention that Goffman’s analysis of the self cannot be reduced to a general theory of human personhood appears to be confirmed by the fact that both supporters and detractors of his sociological project tend to agree that it would be erroneous to deduce a foundational framework of investigation from his numerous studies concerned with the interaction between self and society.
Attention will be drawn to several controversial issues that arise when faced with the task of assessing both the strengths and the weaknesses of Goffman’s understanding of the self.
The aim of this paper is to challenge the aforementioned contention by demonstrating that Goffman provides a fairly systematic account of human personhood. More significantly, this enquiry suggests that a fine-grained examination of his key concepts permits us to propose an outline of a general theory of the human self.