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Contemporary Social Sciences 2

  • ECTS

    3 crédits

  • Composante

    UFR Institut Humanités Sciences et Sociétés

  • Volume horaire


  • Période de l'année

    Semestre 2


Over the last 20 years, political sociologists/ ethnographers have been observing and assessing countless ‘processes of citizen participation’ in numerous domains of public policies (urban planning, environment, health, culture, etc.) and in many countries (we will focus here on Western Europe and North America). One shared finding in this body of empirical research is that most of these initiatives, while insisting on discussion, debate, dialogue, etc., actually create situations where ‘communicative action’ —in Habermas’s sense of using language with an orientation ‘toward reaching understanding’ (1984) — is improbable. While such a framework of ‘dialogue’ is still needed by the authorities organizing the participation (no one would understand that they invite people to participate without even suggesting the possibility of a dialogue), it most often proves to be inapplicable in a ‘straight mode’. What are then the ‘secondary frameworks’ (Goffman, 1974) that are used by the organizers and participants to make some sense of what they are doing together? And what are the consequences of such ‘transformations’ on people’s understanding of what (participatory) democracy means?

After a general introduction presenting the main principles of both  Jürgen  Habermas’s  theory of communicative action and Erving Goffman’s frame-analytical perspective on communicative interactions, we will examine ten contemporary transformations of democratic practices, ten ‘secondary frameworks’ or  ‘modes’  that  are today systematically used to alter the principles, conditions, constraints and meanings related to the implementation of participatory democracy (playfulness, comedy, ritual, agôn, therapy, training, testing, reflexivity, reduction and muting). Each of these frameworks will be illustrated and discussed on the basis of specific empirical research (from political ethnographers such as N. Eliasoph, C. Lee, F. Polletta, P. Lichterman, D. Cefaï, E. Luhtakkalio, J. Charles, M. Berger, etc.) that students will be asked to read prior to each session.

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Heures d'enseignement

  • Contemporary Social Sciences 2Cours Magistral24h