Mittwoch, 10.1.2018, 10:30h

Laurent Thévenot

Populism and Common-Places

My approach to populism, and more broadly politics, focuses primarily, not on
institutions and parties, nor on strategies of mobilization on the part of leaders,
but on the ways in which actors participate in the dynamics of disputes that
claim legitimacy for the whole community. The practical operations that this
requires—firstly, communicating personal voices and, secondly, composing or
integrating acceptable differences—yield different pluralist constructions of
which differ in the degree to which they welcome, transform, or
suppress intimate attachments.
Democratic models of building commonality and difference are usually premised
on the construction of deliberative public spaces, disregarding what I call the
grammar of personal affinities to common-places, even though this grammar is
a widespread feature of ordinary communication. How does this form of
communication operate with the multiplicity of common-places and variety of
their personal and emotional investment? And what transformations does
populism make when it configures unanimity at the expense of pluralism, and
links it to hostility toward the enemies of substantialized community?

Laurent Thévenot is professor (Directeur d’études) at the École des hautes
études en sciences sociales (Centre Simmel) and a member of the editorial
board of the journal Annales, Histoire, Sciences Sociales. Following his
research on “social coding” and “investment in (conventional) forms” that
contribute to the coordination of economic and social action, Laurent Thévenot
inititated with Luc Boltanski what has become known as “pragmatic sociology”
(De la justification. Les économies de la grandeur, 1991; English: On
Justification: Economies of Worth,
2006). To understand the everyday sense of
injustice, they studied the practical tests met and the “rise in generality” that
occurs when raising one’s voice in disputes over the common good. He also cofounded
with economists the critical institutionalist current of “convention
theory.” More recently, in addition to the grammar of orders of worth for the
common good, he has also identified other constructions of commonality in the
plural (the liberal grammar of interests, the grammar of personal affinities to
common-places) which confer both consistency and dynamism on the
community (L’action au pluriel: Sociologie des régimes d’engagement, 2006). In
support of these theoretical developments, his empirical investigations have
focused on governance by standards and objectivity, and have drawn on
comparative research programs on architectures of communities in Western
Europe and Russia (Revue d’Études Comparatives Est-Ouest, 2017, 3-4), the
United States (e.g. Rethinking Comparative Cultural Sociology: Repertoires of
Evaluation in France and the United States,
co-edited with Michèle Lamont,
2000) and Brazil.

Veranstaltung in englischer Sprache