Lausanne 2015

Welcome to the congress
of the Swiss Sociological Association in Lausanne

Theme: “Collective Dynamics, Social (De-)Regulation and Public Spheres”
Date: June 3 – 5, 2015
Location: University of Lausanne

Keynote Speakers:

» Luc Boltanski
» Jacques Commaille
» Sighard Neckel
» Katherine Stovel

Congress program: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday


Collective Dynamics, Social (De-)Regulation and Public Spheres

Beyond their empirical and theoretical divergences, most sociologists would agree that these two last decades have been characterized by a weakening of social cohesion, a « decline of institutions », the dissolution of collective actors, and the dismantling of the public sphere. A number of studies have shown that the trend towards social deregulation, which usually goes hand-in-hand with “neo-liberal” inspired policy measures, tend to undermine collective structures and destabilize traditional instances of regulation (trade unions, professional associations, rights-based welfare protection systems, etc.). Not only do these processes of decollectivisation weaken public institutions, they also jeopardize any reference to the general interest, to the common good and to a universal system of rights and obligations. By placing high value on private initiative, personal autonomy and individual responsibility, such processes lead to the individualization of life courses and to reduced engagement with public life, thereby increasing the vulnerability of certain fringes of the population (migrants, the elderly, the unemployed, the working poor, poorly-qualified young people, etc.). Furthermore, the usually opaque functioning of political institutions, further reinforced by the growing number of political decisions made in the name of economic imperatives, tends to bypass public processes of deliberation.

Although significant, these processes of individualization and deregulation are nevertheless accompanied by unprecedented forms of collective action. Some research has revealed the emergence of new forms of social and political mobilization (mainly via social networks), innovative modes of coordination (e.g. the Anonymous collective) and groups structured by new organizational principles (e.g. the Indignant Citizens Movement). The definition of certain public problems (e.g. same-sex couples, ecology) also contributes to the emergence of new – individual or collective – actors on the political scene and in the media. Although they often appear in fluctuating and ephemeral forms, these actors contribute to the reconfiguration of the public sphere and to the elaboration of new systems of regulation, including through law. They are also characterized by new kinds of social, political and identity claims that should encourage sociologists to renew their approach to regulation. Indeed only an broad conception of politics, extending far beyond formal institutions, can account for the plurality of practices and the multiple arenas where new norms are potentially created, and sometimes translated into law and policy measures.

Sociological investigation into the processes of social fragmentation should therefore be articulated with the study of new and diverse forms of social cohesion, and with the examination of new instances of social regulation, both on the microsocial scale of intimate relationships, social networks and the life course, and on the more macrosocial scale of the social groups that attempt to impose new identity, cultural or religious landmarks in the public sphere. Such issues are fundamentally sociological in nature, because they focus on new individual and collective dynamics of social regulation. But such they also raise political questions, since these dynamics may generate new processes of social differentiation, hierarchisation and exclusion that current policy measures are unable or unwilling to address.

The aim of the Congress is to examine how these issues are tackled in different contexts and in different research fields. This requires addressing questions of theory and of research methods. For instance, how central should material inequalities and structural configurations be to the study of collective dynamics across the life course? How can research on the semantic and normative properties of public processes be attentive to the influence of structural configurations? Can we analyze social phenomena of this kind from an individualist perspective or should we favor analytical tools that immediately stress their collective dimension?

The 2015 Congress will focus on these fundamental questions.

Program overview

Wednesday, 3 june 2015

Download the congress program (Wednesday)…

From 11h00

11h30 – 14h00
Meeting research committees

14h00 – 15h30

14h30 – 15h30
Keynote lecture: Luc Boltanski

15h30 – 16h00
Coffee/Tea Break

16h00 – 18h00
Panel Session 1 – parallel sessions

Panel 1: Re-assembling the public? From collective action to invited participation
Panel 2: Dé-régulations, individualisation des parcours de vie et recompositions des synamiques collectives: quels impacts sur la sociologie
Panel 3: “Socialités et controverses sociotechniques”

18h00 – 19h00
Keynote lecture: Prof. Dr. Sighard Neckel

Ab 19h00
Apéro dinatoire + PDRS
Event – Ma thèse en 180 secondes – Fête des 10 ans du PDRS

Thursday, 4 june 2015

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9h00 – 11h00
Panel Session 2 – parallel sessions

Panel 4: Soziale (De)Regulierung öffentlicher Räume in den Städten
Panel 5: De la Publicité à la “transparence”? Les transformations du rapport des institutions à leurs publics
Panel 6: Résistance et transgression par l’art et la musique. Mobilisations sociales et politiques en migration
Panel 7: Conventions, collective moralities and pluralist publics – economics of convention as an intergrating sociological approach

11h00 – 11h30
Coffee/Tea Break

11h30 – 12h30
Keynote lecture: Jacques Commaille

12h30 – 14h00
Lunch Break + General Assembly Swiss Sociological Association

14h00 – 15h30
Workshop Session 1

15h30 – 16h00
Coffee/Tea Break

16h00 – 17h30
Workshop Session 2

17h30 – 19h00
Round-table « L’engagement de la sociologie dans l’espace public »/« Engagement der Soziologie in der Öffentlichkeit », organized by SSS

Ab 19h30
Social Event at Watergate

Friday, 5 june 2015

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9h00 – 11h00
Panel Session 3 – parallel sessions

Panel 8: Le délitement du lien social? Exemples de reconfigurations collectives
Panel 9: Ethnographier l’espace public : de l’organisation sensibles aux dispositifs institutionnels
Panel 10: Transformation sozialer Beziehungen im Nahfeld sozialer Vergemeinschaftung
Panel 11: Entre excellence individuelle et (r)appels d’égalité: processus d’individualisation, action publique et mobilisations collectives

11h00 – 11h30
Coffee/Tea Break

11h30 – 12h30
Keynote lecture: Prof. Katherine Stovel

12h30 – 14h00
Lunch Break

14h00 – 15h30
Workshop Session 3

15h30 – 16h00
Coffee/Tea Break

16h00 – 17h30
Workshop Session 4

Keynote Speakers

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Luc Boltanski

Luc Boltanski is a Directeur of studies at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris. After receiving his PhD in sociology, he became an assistant professor in the same institution and contributed to the creation of the Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales journal, working with Pierre Bourdieu and his group at the Centre de sociologie européenne. In 1983, he co-founded, with Laurent Thévenot, the Groupe de Sociologie Politique et Morale and contributed actively to the development of a pragmatic sociology that is attentive to the critical skills of social actors.

His early research focused on early childhood education processes, focusing on the links between moral and social class. Moral issues remain at the heart of his research today. A decade later, his research on the transformations of dominant ideology was pursued through a sociological study of practical social arrangements and forms of public justification. He focuses in particular on the critical skills manifested by social actors and especially the transformation of the critical repertoires under the “new spirit of capitalism”. Later, he studied the decision-making processes related to childbearing and abortion (La condition fœtale 2004). After having written a book on the relation to institutions and the opportunities for criticism (De la critique 2009), Luc Boltanski studied the different forms of inquiry outlined in the detective novel (Enigmes et complots 2012). His current research focuses on the transformation of valorization processes in current capitalism, in relation to the growing role of heritage.

Luc Boltanski has published numerous books and articles, including Le bonheur suisse (1966, et al.), Prime éducation et morale de classe (1969), The making of a class : cadres in French society (1987), Distant suffering : morality, media and politics (1999), Love and justice as competences (2012), On justification : economies of worth (2006, with L. Thévenot), The new spirit of capitalism (2005, with E. Chiappello), La Condition fœtale (2004), On critique : a sociology of emancipation (2011), Enigmes et complots (2012), Vers l’extrême : extension des domaines de la droite (2014, with A. Esquerre).

Jacques Commaille

Jacques Commaille is a researcher at the Institut des sciences sociales du politique (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Cachan), Emeritus Professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan. He holds a PhD in Sociology, and he also has a State Doctorate in Arts and Social sciences, and an Honoris Causa from the University of Brussels. He was awarded the Law and Society Association’s Stanton Wheeler Mentorship Award for 2014.

His studies have made a significant contribution to a political sociology of law and justice linked with a sociology of public action in a multidisciplinary perspective, based on sociology, political science and law. His research has focused on the elaboration process of law in the field of family policies and more generally on different public policy issues: on justice policies and their institutional and political dimensions, on the relationship between legal and political regulation. They aim at building a more general theory of political regulation articulated to legal regulation.

Jacques Commaille has published numerous books, chapters and journal, articles), including : Familles sans justice ? : le droit et la justice face aux transformations de la famille (1982), Les stratégies des femmes : travail, famille et politique (1993), L’esprit sociologique des lois : essai de sociologie politique du droit (1994), Misères de la famille, question d’Etat (1996), Les nouveaux enjeux de la question sociale (1997), La question familiale en Europe (1998, with F. de Singly), Les métamorphoses de la régulation politique (1999, with B. Jobert), La politique de la famille (2002, and al.), La fonction politique de la justice (2007, et al.). Many of these publications have been translated and published in English, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish. He is currently preparing a book to be published by Gallimard, provisionally entitled: Les sens politiques du droit.

Sighard Neckel

Sighard Neckel studied sociology, philosophy and law at the University of Bielefeld and at the Free University of Berlin. After PhD graduation in 1990, he defended a habilitation thesis in sociology, in 1996. After teaching at the Free University of Berlin, he has held professorships in sociology at the universities of Siegen, Wuppertal, Giessen and Vienna. Since 2011, he is Professor of Sociology at the Goethe University in Frankfurt and he is also on the Board of the Institute for Social Research.

His research topics range from economic sociology and inequality research to cultural sociology and the sociology of emotions. After his early work on “Status and Shame”, he examined the relationship between achievement and success in free-market societies and the role of emotions in the economy. His recent research projects on the world of banking and financial markets focus on the question of ethics and responsibility in the financial sector. In close connection is his current research on the process of “refeudalization” within contemporary society. His empirical research often uses ethnographic methods, and always aims to articulate sociological theory with a concern for the practical implications of the phenomena under study in contemporary societies.

Sighard Neckel has published numerous books and articles, including, Status und Scham. Zur symbolischen Reproduktion sozialer Ungleichheit (1991), Waldleben. Eine ostdeutsche Stadt im Wandel seit 1989 (1999), Die Macht der Unterscheidung. Essays zur Kultursoziologie der modernen Gesellschaft (2000), Flucht nach vorn. Die Erfolgskultur der Marktgesellschaft (2008), Kapitalistischer Realismus. Von der Kunstaktion zur Gesellschaftskritik (2010), Sternstunden der Soziologie (2010), Strukturierte Verantwortungslosigkeit. Berichte aus der Bankenwelt (2010), Leistung und Erschöpfung. Burnout in der Wettbewerbsgesellschaft (2013).

Katherine Stovel

Katherine Stovel is the Director of the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences and an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Washington. In January 2013, she became the (North American) Editor of the British Journal of Sociology. Stovel holds a BA in Political Science from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She spent a year as a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. In her extra-professional life, Stovel enjoys a multitude of outdoor activities, cooking, and learning about early 20th century expressionist art.

Stovel is a sociologist whose research addresses basic questions concerning the sequential dynamics of social organization and relations. Her work, which follows in the tradition of social networks analysis, is motivated by a desire to understand how common social processes are expressed in particular historical contexts, and why these processes occasionally result in new institutional arrangements or new identities for individuals. A distinctive feature of Stovel’s work is the range of methods she employs, methods that emphasize the dynamic, sequential, interactive, and multi-level nature of social phenomena.

These methods allow her to tackle questions traditionally asked—often in a much less systematic way– by historical sociologists and others concerned with the dynamic interaction of individuals and their local context. Stovel’s research spans a variety of topics, including the micro-dynamics of brokerage relations, the impact of networks on employment segregation, the emergence of modern career systems, the process of becoming a Nazi, and temporal patterning in lynching in the Southern US. She also has a long-standing interest in how social context affects the health of adolescents.

Stovel’s research has been published in major journals in sociology and related disciplines, and has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and private foundations. Her 2004 article, “Chains of Affection” (, a study of the structure of adolescent sexual networks, was awarded the Roger Gould Prize by the American Journal of Sociology.

Round table

Round table – Thursday, 4 june

« L’engagement de la sociologie dans l’espace public »

Périodiquement, la question de « l’utilité » sociale des sciences humaines et sociales, et de la sociologie en particulier, est débattue. Quels peuvent donc être dans le contexte actuel les apports de la sociologie pour différents publics (autorités, organisations, associations, entreprises, médias, collectifs ou individus concernés par les problèmes sociaux, etc) et comment les publiciser ? Les sociologues sont-ils assez, voire trop visibles dans les médias ? Sur quels sujets leur demande-t-on de s’exprimer et sont-ils capables de rendre compte de leurs travaux et de leurs réflexions en suscitant l’intérêt ?

La Société suisse de sociologie considère qu’il est important de mener une réflexion collective et continue sur ces thématiques. Cela est d’autant plus nécessaire en Suisse où les critiques à l’égard des sciences sociales et humaines savent se faire entendre au sein de l’espace politique, comme l’ont montré les récentes polémiques sur le nombre et le devenir des étudiants en sciences sociales et humaines. A travers ces interrogations, c’est aussi l’avenir et le développement de la discipline qui est en jeu. La sociologie ne devient-elle pas de plus en plus spécialisée et « technicisée », non seulement pour faire face à la complexification des sociétés contemporaines, mais aussi pour répondre aux critères de « scientificité » et de financement actuellement en vigueur ? Et si oui, ne court-elle pas le risque de devenir inaudible pour un large public ? Dès lors, quelle place les procédures d’évaluation des instituts de recherche ou des chercheurs et chercheuses doivent-elles réserver aux initiatives de « valorisation », « communication », médiatisation », termes devenus incontournables mais aussi passe-partout ?

Prof. Muriel Surdez (Université de Fribourg, Présidente de la Société Suisse de Sociologie)


Organization Committee (UNIL)

Felix Bühlmann, Farinaz Fassa Recrosio, Jacques-Antoine Gauthier, Olivier Glassey, Laurence Kaufmann, Nicky Le Feuvre, Olivier Moeschler, Stéphanie Nagy, Marta Roca i Escoda, Olivier Voirol und das Sekretariat des Instituts für Sozialwisschenschaften : Alba Brizzi, Fabiana Carrer Joliat, Anne-Sophie Chappuis et Annick Despont

Scientific Committee

Felix Bühlmann, Farinaz Fassa Recrosio, Jacques-Antoine Gauthier, Olivier Glassey, Laurence Kaufmann, Nicky Le Feuvre, Olivier Moeschler, Marta Roca i Escoda, Muriel Surdez et Olivier Voirol


Le Congrès en images