Public Lecture by Laurent Thevenot

Unaccounted Discontents: Governing through standards and objectives

Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 14:00 to 16:00

Unaccounted Discontents: Governing through standards and objectives

‘Governing through objectives and standards’ is a phenomenon intended to circumvent public regulation and is quickly spreading within urban planning, welfare and work policy and global governance. Investigating the enforcement of objectives and standards, and their resulting pressures and oppressions, requires new ways of grasping various ways in which human beings engage with the world and place value on various ‘regimes of engagement’.

While promoting individual autonomous choice between different certification options, these new modes of governing severely reduce the plural (e)valuations of what actors count as worthy of consideration. Drawing on comparative international research, in this presentation Laurent Thévenot identifies a plurality of grammars of commonality that have distinct modes of making personal concerns communicable and of allowing certain differences to be taken into account in the composition of commonality.

These analytical tools help us understand that contemporary modes of resistance, discontent and resentment are not only limited to public debate and critique, but also include various forms of communication of personal concerns.

About Laurent Thévenot
Laurent Thévenot is Directeur d'études (Professor) at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and Senior researcher at Centre for Research on Economics and Statistics (CREST), Paris. With Luc Boltanski, he created the ‘Groupe de Sociologie Politique et Morale’ in 1984 and co-authored On Justification (2006 [1991]) which analyzes the most legitimate repertoires of evaluation governing political, economic and social relationships.

The book has been influential in the new French social sciences (‘Pragmatic sociology’) and in ‘Convention Theory’, a strand of Institutional Economics and Economic Sociology. In his later work (L'action au pluriel: sociologie des régimes d'engagement, 2006), he offered an extension of the analytical framework of justification to deal with a plurality of ways people engage with the environment and with others, from intimacy to the level of public conventions.

Preliminary program:

14:00-14:10 Introduction (Stefano Ponte, DBP)

14:10-15:10 Lecture by Laurent Thevenot (EHESS, Paris)

15:00-15:20 Discussants remarks (Søren Jagd, RUC; Grahame Thompson, CBS)

15:20-16:00 Open discussion


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The page was last edited by: Department of Business and Politics // 12/17/2017