Questions de recherche

Questions de rechercheTextes scientifiques à caractère exploratoire issus d’une recherche en cours (réflexions théoriques, discussion de concepts, méthodologie, études de terrain…). La collection vise à faciliter une première diffusion des travaux et permettre aux auteurs de tirer profit des commentaires et critiques. Elle est publiée sous format électronique sur ce site

- Recommandations aux auteurs

Responsables scientifiques:
Gilles Favarel-Garrigues, gilles.favarelgarrigues@sciencespo.fr, tél. + 33158717070
Sandrine Perrot, sandrine.perrot@sciencespo.fr, tél. +331158717081

Comité éditorial :
Antonela Capelle-Pogacean, Gilles Favarel-Garrigues, Laurent Gayer, Sandrine Perrot, Sandrine Revet, Daniel Sabbagh.

Contact presse :
Karolina Michel, karolina.michel@sciencespo.fr, tél.+33158717007

Rehana Ebrahim-Vally, Denis-Constant Martin

Viewing the “New” South Africa
N°19
December 2006

Apartheid was based on particular perceptions and hierarchical classifications of the human body. It aimed at separating people with different physical appearances in order to preserve the purity of the “white race” and its domination in South Africa. To understand the changes that have taken place in South Africa since 1990, to go beyond the surface of observable events and reach the social representations of these transformations that have developed among South Africans, the body, or more precisely images of the body, provide a good point of departure. The present study presents an experimental small scale survey aiming at uncovering social representations of the “new” South Africa shared by young South Africans at the dawn of the 21st Century. It argues that studies of social representations require, at least in their initial stage, the use of non-directive collective interviews; it shows that images of the body as displayed in TV commercials can be used as efficient prompts to start discussions about the present state of South African society. The survey used four commercials taped on South African TV in 2003; these clips were used as prompts in three non-directive collective interviews with young South Africans, to which was added a test group consisting of French students. TV commercials were analysed using methods inspired by the semiology of cinema; the transcripts of the interviews were analysed using methods borrowed from the French school of political sociology. The results of this experimental survey show that, if the transition from apartheid to a democratic non racial society is considered positive, it is perceived with ambivalences and sometimes contradictory feelings: the future of South Africa may at the same time be envisioned with great optimism and heavy anxieties; relations between South Africans can be described as harmonious and be lived amidst acute tensions. Ambivalences and tensions, which remain very often untold, are precisely the dimensions of the representations of the “new” South Africa among young South Africans that non-directive collective interviews help to apprehend more clearly.

Les sciences sociales et le « moment colonial » : de la problématique de la domination coloniale à celle de l’hégémonie impériale
N°18
June 2006

The idea that the colonial past keeps surfacing in contemporary political situations has been turned by some post(-)colonial theoreticians and militant writers into an irrefutable statement of fact. Yet this analytical stance is supported by little empirically grounded research. A host of creative new literature about modern age “colonial situations” indeed help us reach a better, more nuanced understanding of what colonial domination was all about. But they often fail to capture the vernacular, non-European historicity of the “colonial encounter”. In the case of Southeast Asia, local political societies were engaged in state-formation processes long before the arrival of the Europeans: In Insulindia and in Indochina, there actually existed local imperial societies, into which the European colonial order of things became embedded. Viewed from this perspective, the “colonial situation” was a moment in long-term Euro-Asiatic imperial histories that mixed together numerous and sometimes contradictory understandings of imperial power and prowess. Talking about imperial hegemonies hence might help us escape modernist analytical dead-ends.

Myriam Désert

Le débat russe sur l’informel
N°17
May 2006

What are the roots of the informal sector and what effects does it have? Is it a blessing or a curse? Changes in post-Soviet Russia contribute new food for thought to a debate that had previously been nourished primarily by considerations on the situation in developing countries. In Russia can be observed processes of formalization - and “deformalization” – of the rules governing not only the practices of economic actors, but also in the rarified distribution of public services publics. The analysis of actual informal practices feeds thinking about the relations between economic and political changes: what impact do they have in setting up a market economy and the rule of law, and in the reconfiguration of both the economic and social arena? An investigation into the way Russian academic circles and social actors view the informal sector sheds light on the various behavioral determinant: reaction to the economic context, cultural roots, social beliefs, and so on. The case of Russia illustrates how the informal sector is not only a mode of action that circumvents legal guidelines, but also a mode of sociability that rejects anonymous social relations. It helps examine ways to reinject the social aspect into economics

Amélie Blom

"Qui a le bâton, a le buffle". Le corporatisme économique de l'armée pakistanaise
N°16
December 2005

"He who has the stick, has the buffalo". This Punjabi proverb applies well to Pakistan's armed forces, a majority of which, in fact, hail from this province. They have gradually formed an economic interest group with many industrial and commercial activities that have become an integral part of Pakistan’s everyday life. Oddly enough, this patent fact has been neglected by the academic research on Pakistan or, at best, has only been addressed in a descriptive manner. The present study attempts to explain the transformation of Pakistan's armed forces into a significant economic actor by reinterpreting Charles Tilly's thesis about the dependent militarization of Third World states. It emphasizes the crucial role played by local capital, especially land. It also stresses how endogenous historical factors (the colonial legacy) and political factors (the delicate civil-military balance of power) have helped the army to consolidate itself institutionally. Yet, since the 1980s, the expansion of military economic corporatism has provoked increased tensions between the army and its civilian partners, primarily the bureaucracy, which is the main loser in this unfair competition for state property. It also produces social resistance: unprecedented civil disobedience movements have appeared, and old grievances emanating from ethnic groups under-represented within the army have been reawakened. The phenomenon also creates friction within the armed forces themselves. Nevertheless, these tensions do not seriously undermine a corporatist rationale that is far too effective and functional to disappear. Paradoxically, the military's "privatisation" contributes to its internal cohesion. Indeed, military patrimonialism in Pakistan can usefully be analysed as one of the many processes that has helped the armed forces maintain a strong "esprit de corps" and which has given rise to what can be termed "military syndicalism".

Laurent Scheeck

Solving Europe’s Binary Human Rights Puzzle. The Interaction between Supranational Courts as a Parameter of European Governance
N°15
October 2005

As the European Union has become ever more powerful in terms of political output, it has also turned out to be a potential source of human rights violations. While national governments have disagreed on setting up consequential control mechanisms for several decades, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights pre-empted intergovernmental choice. The European courts’ paths unexpectedly crossed when they were both impelled to work out a way to deal with a twofold human rights conundrum situated at the EU level. Turbulent interaction between Europe’s two supranational courts has not only led to a relative improvement of the protection of human rights, but has also deeply transformed the course of European integration. The courts’ increasingly nested linkage has given rise to new forms of supranational judicial diplomacy between European judges. As a result of their evolving relationship, which is simultaneously underpinned by competitive and cooperative logics, the traditional opposition between an “economic Europe” and a “human rights Europe” has been overcome and the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights is high on the political agenda. Yet, this process of integration through human rights remains a fragile and incomplete endeavour. Just as in co-operative binary puzzles where two players must solve the game together and where both lose as one of them tries to win over the other, solving Europe’s binary human rights puzzle has required of European judges a new way of thinking in which it’s not the institutions, but their linkage that matters.

Françoise Daucé

Les analyses de l’engagement associatif en Russie
N°14
June 2005

Collective mobilizations in post-Soviet Russia constitute an enigma for Western political sociology due to their numerical weakness and their incapacity to strengthen democratic practices in the country. This perplexity can be explained by the unsuitability of the research tools used for their study. Academic research on social mobilization has long been based primarily on postulates concerning the modernization of social movements in a economically and politically liberal context. Western and Russian leaders involved in the transition process demonstrated a will to foster the constitution of organizations independent from the State and the creation of a civil society as an opposition force. In the early 90’s, the practices of voluntary organizations in Russia became closer to Western ones. Notions such as “associative entrepreneurship”, “professionalization” or “frustration” were shared by Russian movements. However, later evolutions showed the unsuitability of these concepts to understanding the full complexity of these movements. That is why this issue of “Research in question” aims to suggest new theoretical perspectives for studying associations in Russia. These are at the crossroads of various grammars, where civic and liberal principles are combined with domestic and patriotic preoccupations. This complexity, which resists a purely liberal vision of social organizations, draws convergent criticisms against their action. In order to investigate this complexity of practices as well as criticisms, the tools produced by a pragmatic and multiculturalist sociology are useful to show the diversity of social and political bonds that link militants in contemporary Russia.

Rahaël Pouyé

‘Shadow States’? State building and national invention under external constraint in Kosovo and East Timor (1974-2002)
N°13
February 2005

Kosovo and East Timor have often been jointly considered for their common experience of new ‘international protectorate’. These two territories were ‘liberated’ in 1999 by multilateral ‘interventions’ and thereafter ruled by United Nations transitional administrations. This feature is at the core of nearly all comparative exercises about the two territories to this day. However, another less obvious set of resemblances calls for renewed attention: it was indicated by the post-liberation resilience of indigenous institutions that had emerged during the 20 to 25 years of resistance. From this initial observation, I spent months in the field between 2000 and 2003 and uncovered a wider array of similarities. Three main parallels appeared. In both, the clandestine resistance networks, described here as ‘crypto-states’ have 1) directed their strategic choices on the resort to violence according to perceived international opinion, 2) while remaining a hybrid association of anti-state kinship groups and ‘modern’ urban elites, 3) with the result of producing a dual discourse on nationhood: exclusive and militant on the one hand, inclusive and ‘liberal’ on the other. After empirically discovering what may well be a singular political object, a necessary step was to assess its relevance to social science research. This required testing its set of similar features against established political theory on state and nation building: First by assessing the very ‘stateness’ of these clandestine administrations, then by exploring their rich and often contradictory production on national identity. In conclusion, this preliminary exploration suggests that the parallel trajectories of Kosovo and East Timor during the past 25 years point to a new way of nation-state building in a context of external constraint, directed by the changing post-cold war norms on international intervention. I argue here that this type of ‘externalized’ state construction and nation building is perhaps ill-fitted for the post-conflict construction of stable institutions.

Guillaume Colin

Russian Foreign Policy Discourse during the Kosovo Crisis : Internal Struggles and the Political Imaginaire
N°12
December 2004

As the European Union has become ever more powerful in terms of political output, it has also turned out to be a potential source of human rights violations. While national governments have disagreed on setting up consequential control mechanisms for several decades, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights pre-empted intergovernmental choice. The European courts’ paths unexpectedly crossed when they were both impelled to work out a way to deal with a twofold human rights conundrum situated at the EU level. Turbulent interaction between Europe’s two supranational courts has not only led to a relative improvement of the protection of human rights, but has also deeply transformed the course of European integration. The courts’ increasingly nested linkage has given rise to new forms of supranational judicial diplomacy between European judges. As a result of their evolving relationship, which is simultaneously underpinned by competitive and cooperative logics, the traditional opposition between an “economic Europe” and a “human rights Europe” has been overcome and the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights is high on the political agenda. Yet, this process of integration through human rights remains a fragile and incomplete endeavour. Just as in co-operative binary puzzles where two players must solve the game together and where both lose as one of them tries to win over the other, solving Europe’s binary human rights puzzle has required of European judges a new way of thinking in which it’s not the institutions, but their linkage that matters.

Anastassios Anastassiadis

Religion and Politics in Greece : The Greek Church’s ‘Conservative Modernization’ in the 1990s
N°11
January 2004

This article addresses the sensitive question of Church-State relations in Greece. Recent studies have suggested that the Greek Church’s discourse was plainly incompatible with modern conceptions of liberal democracy. Populism and nationalism have been the two theoretical concepts used in relation with the Church. Discourse analysis based on public declarations of Church officials has been the main methodological tool. The Greek identity cards’ crisis of the nineties has been its testing ground. Through an analysis of this “crisis” this article intends to show that these methods can offer only very limited perspectives of understanding the process for two main reasons. First, they show little interest for sociological analysis and especially for the internal functioning of the Church. Second, discourses are one outcome of the actors’ strategies but have to be deciphered and not taken for granted. Analysts disregard one of the main presuppositions of semantics theory: discourses are produced within a specific socio-historical context and according to certain prefabricated schemes. This dual pattern of production allows for continuity as well as for change. Thus, this article also argues that a Church¹s conservative discourse may be closely related to the efforts of certain actors within this institution to renovate it. While refuting the “clash of civilizations” thesis, this article finally intends to suggest that the renewed interest for religion in general and orthodoxy in particular due to this thesis should be put to use by researchers in order to acquire new and more comprehensive socio-historical accounts of the Greek Church.

For a theory of nationalism
N°10
June 2003

Nation is state-oriented, whereas nationalism is an ideology which may simply promote one’s own identity against Others. Therefore, theories of nation-building do not explain nationalism. Other theories adopting a materialist approach do, like Gellner’s model in which nationalism appears as resulting from socio-ethnic conflicts, but they ignore the inner mechanism of this ideology. Theories looking at nationalism as an export product from the West also miss this point too. In contrast, a convincing body of theories anchor nationalism in socio-cultural reform. The intelligentsia which undertakes it in order to resist the threat posed by some dominant Other – often from the West, that fascinates them -, eventually develops a nationalist attitude, because it is not willing to imitate the West but strive to restore its culture by incorporating into it prestigious features of the West through the invention of a convenient Golden Age, the cornerstone of nationalism.
This approach finds a parallel in the theories of ethnicity which do not apply the primordialist paradigm but focus on the making of group boundaries. Barth highlights the decisive role of the relationship to the Other and the little importance of cultural contents – compared to the maintenance of group boundaries – in the making of ethnic identities, in such a way that there are more affinities between his theory of ethnicity and theories of nationalism than between the latter and theories of the nation.
However, one can construct an integrated model of nationalism by organising different theories in a sequence. While the ideology-based approach comes first, the creation of a nationalist movement implies the rise of socio-economic conflicts and the massification of nationalism, a process of nation-building.

Laurent Gayer

Le voleur et la matrice : Les enjeux du « cybernationalisme » et du « hacktivisme »
N°9
May 2003

Cyberspace, of which the Internet is a major but not the exclusive component, is more than an informational or an economic network : it is also a political space, which deserves to be analysed as such, through the collective mobilisations, the imaginary and the surveillance practices that it conveys. Rather than looking at the internet’s world politics, this paper focuses on transnational political solidarities that are now emerging on and through the Internet. This differentiation suggests that the Internet is both the vector of social struggles focused on the “real” world, and the cradle of new identifications and new modes of protest that remain and will remain primarily virtual. Activists operating through transnational “advocacy networks” may use the Internet to receive or spread information, but their use of the Information Technologies (IT) remains purely instrumental and does not imply any paradigmatic shift in the tactical uses of the media by protest groups. “Hacktivism” and “cybernationalism” appear far more promising, as far as the invention of new repertoires of collective action is concerned. “Hacktivism”, which refers to the use of hacking techniques for political ends, emerged during the 1990s, at the crossroads between activism, play and art. The emergence of “hacktivism” was made possible by the meeting of two social actors that epitomize our late modernity : new social movements and the “digital underground”. “Cybernationalism”, for its part, was given shape in the last decade by ethnic entrepreneurs who rely on the IT to challenge the political authorities of their home states and to materialise, through words and images, the communities they are (re)inventing beyond borders.

Javier Santiso

Les marchés de la vertu : la promesse des fonds éthiques et des micro-crédits
N°8
February 2003

Ethically correct policies sometimes, even often, skeptics will say, simply reflect a good grasp of where one's interests lie. The creation of an ethical fund or involvement in a micro-finance program may only be a way of pandering to the times or improving one's self-esteem in a convoluted fashion. However, these tributes to virtue nevertheless raise a number of contemporary questions and issues. The sums invested in ethical funds are far from merely symbolic. In the United States, one out of every ten dollars is invested in "ethical" financial instruments. In Europe, they are developing quickly. As for micro-loan experiments, from Bangladesh to Bolivia, the profitable results they have yielded to all parties are proof that they warrant taking an interest in them. As the present research emphasizes, the use of ethical funds and micro-loans, although it may not bridge the gap between past and future, nevertheless shows promise for the years to come: it provides a temporal horizon that the commonly-called international civil society takes part in shaping

Analyser le massacre. Réflexions comparatives
N°7
September 2002

This text aims to examine a particularly difficult phenomenon to study — slaughter —, although it is at the center of many wars today and yesterday. Slaughter is defined as a generally collective form of action that aims to destroy non-combatants, usually civilians. Slaughter is viewed as an extremely violent, both rational and irrational practice growing out of an imaginary construct pertaining to someone to be destroyed, whom the torturer perceives as a complete enemy.
The aspiration of this text is to show the relevance of exploring slaughter from a comparative standpoint. It will go beyond the mere case study, or rather it will put the best of these studies (on ex-Yugoslavia, Rwanda, etc.) into perspective.
To better understand the process by which the slaughter is put into action, two main directions guide the analysis:
- historic depth: it is in fact difficult to attempt to understand the slaughters that took place in 1990 without taking into account occurrences in the 20th century, including those termed "genocides."
- transdisciplinary overture: slaughter as a phenomenon is so complex in itself that it requires the eye of the sociologist, anthropologist and psychologist, as can be seen in the following pages.

Sabine Saurugger

Analyser les modes de représentation des intérêts dans l'Union européenne : construction d'une problématique
N°6
June 2002

This article presents conceptual tools to analyse interest representation in the European Union. On the European level, no formal system of representation can be found, but rather a patchwork of representation modes. These modes are influenced by forms of political exchange specific for each country and each political domain, which interact with opportunity structures at the European level. Analysing interest representation in a system of governance, either national, European or international requires taking into account the relations which link interest groups with political and bureaucratic actors at the national level, acknowledging the changes in these relations and to insert all that in a system of governance where actors must find solutions to problems in the management of public policies and not to forget political power games and hierarchies amongst actors. The first part of the article analyses briefly the development of interest group studies in comparative politics as well as in international relations and presents the attempts to systematize these studies undertaken since the 1990. In the second part, I analyse more specifically the network approach, which allows to overcome the cleavage between pluralism and neocorporatism in the study of the relationships between interest groups and state actors. In presenting a critical analysis of the general ideas of the network approach, I propose specific conceptual instruments helping to structure research on interest groups in the European Union.

Renéo Lukic et Jean-François Morel

Les relations civilo-militaires en Croatie, 1990-2001
N°5
February 2002

In contrast to most of Eastern and Central European countries that underwent their post-communist transition peacefully, Croatia had to undergo its transition during wartime. The outbreak of the Serbo-Croatian war in Spring 1991 forced Croatia to build rapidly an army to protect its territory. However, at this time, Croatia was an emerging democracy and after the European Community recognised its independence on January 15, 1992, the parliamentary institutions were unable to exert their authority over the Croatian army (Hrvatska vojska, HV). The Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, and the political party he presided, the HDZ, dominated the HV by way of political penetration. Tudjman, who led Croatia to independence, benefited from a triple legitimacy (political, constitutional and charismatic) that allowed him to exert his power over the HV, much the same as the legitimacy Josip Broz-Tito enjoyed over the Yugoslav National Army in Communist Yugoslavia. The result is that the civil-military regime in Croatia after 1990 suffered from a democratic deficit. After the death of President Franjo Tudjman in December 1999 and the change of majority in the January-February 2000 elections, the new Croatian leadership, particularly President Stjepan Mesic, tried to establish democratic control over the armed forces. However, this aim clashed with the opposition of the Ministry of Defense and of numerous officers still committed to the HDZ. For these reasons, a democratic civil-military regime in Croatia is not yet a reality. However, Croatia has made some progress toward the establishment of a democratic civil-military regime. By trying to join some international organizations (NATO), or by being compelled to cooperate with others (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY), Croatia is now in the process of interiorizing the norms concerning the civilian and democratic control of the armed forces upon which these organizations are based. Being a member of the Partnership for Peace (PfP), and wishing to join as soon as possible NATO's Membership Action Plan (MAP), Croatia is obliged to move in this direction.