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Research in the Sociology of Organizations


On Justification: Economies of Worth (Boltanski and Thévenot, 1991/2006) was a synthetic and comprehensive parsing of common goods, goods that could and had to be justified in public. In response to Bourdieu’s critical sociology, they rather provided a robust and disciplined sociology of critique, the situated requirements of justification. They refused power and violence as integral to the operability of justification. They emphasized the ways in which conventions of worth afforded coordination, not their constitution of or by domination. They refused to make either capitalism, or the state, into primary motors of social order. Indeed, they refused social sphere, structure or group as the ground of the good. They emphasized the cognitive capacities of agents. There was no passion, no desire, no bodily affect in these justified worlds. There wasn’t even any account of production of value, of children or money. And while they recognized the metaphysical aspect of the good and even used Christianity as a template for one of their cités, they rigorously excluded religion. The theory was designed to analyze moments of controversy, not quiescence or quietude. In his subsequent work, Boltanksi aimed to address these absences. In this essay, we examine how Boltanksi sought to restore love, violence, religion, production and institution across five texts: Love and Justice as Competences (1990/2012), The New Spirit of Capitalism, co-authored with Eve Chiapello (1999/2007), The Foetal Condition: A Sociology of Engendering and Abortion (2004/2013), On Critique: A Sociology of Emancipation (2009/2011) and La «Collection», Une Forme Neuve du Capitalisme - La Mise en Valeur Economique du Passé et ses Effets (2014) co-authored with Arnaud Esquerre.


This document is the author-approved version of an article published in Research in the Sociology of Organizations.

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