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Journal ArticleDOI

Book Review: On Critique: A Sociology of Emancipation by Luc Boltanski:

24 Jul 2012-Vol. 19, Iss: 4, pp 525-527

AbstractMay 1968 continues to cast a long shadow over radical social movements. Then was a time, those who say they were there persistently lament, during which the radical imagination held optimistic sway, where the impossible could still be demanded, when the beach beneath the streets wasn’t posited and pursued by Pied Pipers alone. Those days of hope are now long gone, dentured mouths lament, giving way to the pessimism of Generation X, the pragmatism of Generation Y, and the cynicism of what might eventually come to be known as Generation JJB. Emancipatory critique can no longer emerge, it seems, given what reality has gradually but irreversibly become. All that is left for us to do now, it seems, is to have a pint and a whinge and be done with the whole lot. A nice new pair of Nikes probably wouldn’t go amiss while we’re at it though. Luc Boltanski knows only all too well how that once great populist spirit of social critique became progressively and eventually defanged. His co-authored New Spirit of Capitalism demonstrated in exhaustatively depressing detail how the impassioned pursuit of alternatives to capital became the very basis for capitalist re-constitution, post-1968. Whereas that book took the evolution in business and management thinking and practice as the basis for a predominantly empirical narration of how critique has been co-opted by the representatives of capital, his most recently translated offering challenges critique’s co-optation by capital along undoubtedly polemical lines. The book seeks to provoke action on the part of its audience—social theorists—to renew their links with the inherently critical nature of their vocation, on the one hand, and to renew the links of their vocation to broader social movements, on the other. Its argument carries weight beyond sociology, of course: herein exists an argument which critical management studies (CMS), as well management and organization studies more generally, cannot afford to ignore. Summarily, On Critique offers a quasi-biographical account of a prominent tradition of French critical social theory, undergirded by the biographical significance of the events of May 1968 upon that tradition’s leading contemporary proponent. Against the romanticizing nostalgia which serves to make frustrated epigones out of us all, and against the poisoned chalice of fatalism offered to us by The New Spirit, this is a book which re-affirms the possibility of critique as well as underlining the renewed need for it. Contextually, the book is based upon a series of lectures Boltanski gave at Humboldt University (on the invitation of the Centre Marc Bloch) and the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research (on the invitation of Axel Honneth) towards the end of 2008. Politically, the backdrops of thesis 11 and critical theory are entirely reliable scene setters since, over the six incrementally related chapters collected here, Boltanski demonstrates how he and his colleagues continue to 430571ORG19410.1177/1350508411430571Book ReviewOrganization 2012 more

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Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: La sociologie pragmatique francaise (SP), inspiree des travaux de Luc Boltanski et Laurent Thevenot, est de plus en plus utilisee par les etudes organisationnelles en management. Pourtant, la dimension critique de cette approche n'a pas encore ete integree au profit de la connaissance en management et organisations (MOK). Dans cet article, nous explicitons l'apport que cette sociologie peut representer pour les etudes critiques en management (CMS). En tant que science de la science des acteurs, nous suggerons que la SP est fertile pour developper une approche de performativite critique. En particulier, nous demontrons que l'approche permet de mettre en lumiere les nouvelles formes de domination plus complexes s'exercant dans les organisations contemporaines. En utilisant des etudes empiriques d'organisations mobilisant la SP, nous montrons comment les concepts de compromis et d'epreuve developpes par cette approche presentent un outillage permettant de renouveler la critique des organisations au profit de la MOK.

4 citations

Cites background from "Book Review: On Critique: A Sociolo..."

  • ...Plusieurs voix ont ainsi récemment appelé (Dunne, 2012 ; Cloutier & Langley, 2013, p. 17) au développement d’un agenda de recherche visant au rapprochement entre la SP et les l’analyse des mécanismes d’oppression au profit des études organisationnelles....


  • ...L’outillage conceptuel que nous avons présenté permet une problématisation politique plus nette des caractéristiques des dispositifs gestionnaires (Friedlender, 2010, p. 16 ; Dunne, 2012)....


  • ...…ne réussissent pas à saisir les conditions contemporaines de domination complexe fondées sur la pratique, comme, par exemple lorsque la classe dominante est la classe qui se place dans une position, inaccessible à la majorité, de double relation vis-à-vis des règles qui s’imposent  (Dunne, 2012)....


  • ...La transposition d’un tel agenda au profit des CMS apparaît comme prometteuse (Dunne, 2012)....


  • ...La domination complexe met en scène des acteurs à la poursuite constante de nouvelles réalités (Dunne, 2012)....


Book ChapterDOI
01 Jun 2017
Abstract: 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 Thevenot 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