Historical Social Research

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Etienne Penissat, Cécile Brousse, Jérôme Deauvieau, Julien Chevillard, Emmanuelle Barozet & Oscar Mac-Clure: From Statistical Categorizations to Ordinary Categorizations of Social Space: History and Legacy of an Original Study Based on a Card Game [Abstract]

This article puts the sociology of quantification invented and promoted by Alain Desrosières into perspective regarding a fruitful but rarely addressed approach in this research stream: the relationships that are built between official (or scholar) classifications and ordinary categorizations of the social space. In order to achieve this, the article first sheds light on the history of an innovative study designed by Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot, a study which aimed to put ordinary people in the position to produce their own classification of the social space on the basis of a “card game.” In a second step, we aim to compare and analyze the later uses of this study in France and abroad (Germany, Chile and Switzerland). Beyond differences due to each study’s design and theoretical background, every study’s collected ranking clearly depicts hierarchical social structures, even though those rankings show some variations which rely on the kind of information indicated on each card games, national contexts and respondents’ dispositions.


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