Publications of Bruno Frère
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See detailFrom justification to phenomenology The moral Imaginary of Solidarity Economy
Frère, Bruno ULiege

E-print/Working paper (2020)

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See detailBeyond Critical Sociology Bourdieu’s Positivism and the Sociology of Critique
Frère, Bruno ULiege; Jaster, Dan

E-print/Working paper (2020)

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the value of French sociology of critique as a post-Bourdieusian critical sociology. We first show why this sociological paradigm correctly highlights positivistic ... [more ▼]

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the value of French sociology of critique as a post-Bourdieusian critical sociology. We first show why this sociological paradigm correctly highlights positivistic elements within the Bourdieuian paradigm. Bourdieu’s epistemological barrier between scientists and ordinary actors implies that critical sociologists’ judgments are scientifically true and must be distinguished from the latter’s own understandings of his/her action. This is epistemologically and normatively unsound due to the scientist’s own position within the social milieu. We then propose that critical scholars adopt the sociology of critique approach. This takes actors’ understandings of motivations and actions seriously, minimizing the distance between sociologists’ and actors’ understandings of the social world, better representing people’s social reality. This richer, more reflexive portrait of social life places social scientists in an advantageous position to understand and critically engage with the individuals and communities whom we study. [less ▲]

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See detailRéenchanter la ville ? Pour une appropriation égalitaire de l’espace public
Brahy, Rachel ULiege; Frère, Bruno ULiege

Article for general public (2019)

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See detailPositivism
Frère, Bruno ULiege

in Frère, Bruno (Ed.) Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2nd Edition (2019)

The 19th century was a century represented by its actors as one of irreversible progress – one that the advance of the sciences was driving towards an increasingly developed future. In this future, it was ... [more ▼]

The 19th century was a century represented by its actors as one of irreversible progress – one that the advance of the sciences was driving towards an increasingly developed future. In this future, it was thought, knowledge would allow man to emancipate himself once and for all; he would be freed from the heaviest and most punishing tasks, which would be carried out by machines and other new technologies. The control of fossil fuels allowed for the invention of the train, and electricity appeared, as did photography and the telegraph. Medicine progressed. Scientific research permitted an increasing number of illnesses to be cured and treated through, for example, the first vaccines, which were enabled by Pasteur’s discoveries. Amid this effervescence, science found itself placed at the centre of all scholarly thought, ripe for theorisation. The advances of chemistry, physics and biology fascinated those who Honneth has rightly called philosophers of the social (1994). And at the time, more than one of these philosophers envisaged the application of natural science’s methods to the study of human societies. The idea that it is possible to identify the principal natural laws that govern the development of human groups – just like it is possible to identify the laws that govern the physical world (in order to control it) – gained ground. Saint-Simon (1760-1825), envisaged a social physiology whose task would be to observe social phenomena as we observe natural phenomena. But it was Auguste Comte (1798-1857) who, theorising what we still understand today as sociology, would endorse the particular stand of social philosophy that constituted positivism. [less ▲]

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See detail“Politics without politics”: Affordances and limitations of the solidarity economy’s libertarian socialist grammar.
Frère, Bruno ULiege

in Frère, bfrere@uliege.be (Ed.) The Everyday Resistance (2019)

The “solidarity economy” is generally thought of as comprising four distinct classes of activity: community services consultancy, microfinance, Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS), community services ... [more ▼]

The “solidarity economy” is generally thought of as comprising four distinct classes of activity: community services consultancy, microfinance, Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS), community services and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Because they try to emphasise the citizen’s activism, these solidarity initiatives are thought to be deeply political in the philosophical sense of the term. But today an important question arises regarding the kind of formal political institution that might speak in the name of all these initiatives. Some commentators see solidarity initiatives as new economic models with the potential to solve the ethical impasse of advanced capitalism. They are eager for academic researchers and movement leaders to reach consensus about the kind of concrete political identity such initiatives may be expected to generate. My research examines the failure to move from micro-level initiatives to an overarching “macro” political entity. This chapter, using the insights of pragmatic sociology, aims to understand how the obstacles to this goal are rooted in the libertarian socialist grammar of the solidarity economy itself. [less ▲]

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See detailLet a thousand flowers bloom? Introduction to The Everyday Resistance. French Activism at the beginning of the 21st century.
Frère, Bruno ULiege; Jacquemain, Marc ULiege

Book published by Palgrave MacMillan (2019)

The societies of Western Europe – “Old Europe”, as George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, called it – has lived for three full decades through what one might call a “crisis of social ... [more ▼]

The societies of Western Europe – “Old Europe”, as George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, called it – has lived for three full decades through what one might call a “crisis of social conflict”. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the level of conflict has become lower – even if the hypothesis seems true for a fraction of this period – but rather that the conflict has become less structured and so less easy to grasp. We can say that “today’s world resembles the one in which classical Marxism emerged. In other respects, it is significantly different – above all, no doubt, in the absence of a clearly identified ‘subject of emancipations” (Keucheyan, 2014). This empirical work of identifying “grips” is more indispensable than ever. It is the necessary condition for rearming an effective critique, that is, a critique that dares to be radical but does not mistake its dreams for realities. Texts gathered in this volume suggest new grips by showing how several activist organisations (mainly) in France share a common practical utopia imaginary by trying to change the world here and now. [less ▲]

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See detailconclusion of The everyday resistance
Frère, Bruno ULiege; Jacquemain, Marc ULiege

Book published by Palgrave MacMillan (2019)

The historic power of the workers’ movement, inspired by Marx, was to “name” its shared condition of existence, the substrate of the multitude of injustices of which wage-earners, principally, were ... [more ▼]

The historic power of the workers’ movement, inspired by Marx, was to “name” its shared condition of existence, the substrate of the multitude of injustices of which wage-earners, principally, were victims: exploitation. The strength of this movement, which since the 19th century has made it possible to achieve so much in the social sphere, was precisely that it was fuelled by individuals driven by their shared experience to unite with a shared voice, beyond their neighbourhoods or their factories. Today, recognising shared reasons to struggle is not so simple in an extremely heterogeneous wage-earning society, which extends from the best-protected to the most precarious and encompasses a large part of the income spectrum. There is a great temptation to leave real political power in the hands of the (capitalist) institutions in order to content themselves with the modest and ordinary – but often more immediately effective – politics of the nearby. But this does not mean that the new precariat (Standing) all around the world is not active. It changes the world locally and is willing to be gathered in a new common imaginary, gathering working social movements and contemporary minorities social movements. [less ▲]

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See detailThe impasse of European critical theory: Attempts at a materialist renewal
Frère, Bruno ULiege; Tulle, Emmanuelle

in e-Legal : Revue de Droit et de Criminologie de l'Université Libre de Bruxelles (2019), 2

Many significant intellectual developments have taken place in 20th century European social theories. Notably the first Frankfurt School and Bourdieu’s work have successfully shown how workers, social ... [more ▼]

Many significant intellectual developments have taken place in 20th century European social theories. Notably the first Frankfurt School and Bourdieu’s work have successfully shown how workers, social actors, etc. are alienated or dominated by capitalist social structures. But according to Habermas, neither perspective successfully allows for the possibility that people could contribute to their own emancipation. The emergence of new forms of social resistance to domination such as those embodied by the Indignados, Anonymous, Femen, the practitioners of alternative economy, movements of unemployed people or illegals compels us to envisage the possibility for emancipation, but how? In this paper we explore opportunities for accounting for this by considering the work of a range of other European social theorists, more specifically Boltanski whose critical intent is embodied in his pragmatic sociology, and evident in his coining and use of the concept of the world. In addition we will consider Latour’s own pragmatic stance as we believe that despite his disinterest in new social movements, his work, informed by pure immanence, might offer potential solutions. But we would argue that even in these innovations there is either a persistent tendency to imagine emancipation primarily as a return to some ideal state or a lack of critical engagement with alienation. In response, we propose a materialist renewal, which will lead us to ponder on the political role of sociologists. [less ▲]

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See detailFrench Sociological Pragmatism: Inheritor and Innovator in the American Pragmatic and Sociological Phenomenological Traditions
Frère, Bruno ULiege; Jaster, Dan

in Journal of Classical Sociology (2019), 19(2),

Philosophical pragmatism has seen a revival within the sociological discourse. We bring three strands of this approach into direct dialogue with one another. Anglophone and German scholars have brought ... [more ▼]

Philosophical pragmatism has seen a revival within the sociological discourse. We bring three strands of this approach into direct dialogue with one another. Anglophone and German scholars have brought pragmatists such as George Herbert Mead back to the forefront of our understandings of social action. In a parallel development, scholars such as Alfred Schütz incorporated Husserlian phenomenology with American pragmatism, reinforcing a specific micro-interactionist model. In Francophone sociology, Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot challenged the hegemonic structuralist approach in the 1980s by developing their own pragmatic framework. In this synthetic review, we illustrate why this recent French pragmatic sociology adds interesting cultural, sociological and psychological dimensions to the American pragmatic and to phenomenological lineages. We then show how these innovations provide a richer understanding of the interaction between individuals and institutions and provide a way to understand something American pragmatists and phenomenological sociologists often struggle to engage with: social conflict. [less ▲]

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See detailChapter 8: Ordinary Resistance to Masculine Domination in a Civil Disobedience Movement
Frère, Bruno ULiege; Cervera-Marzal, Manuel

in Frère, Frère; Jacquemain, Marc (Eds.) Everyday resistance. French activism at the beginning of the 21 Century (2019)

How a militant organization that adheres to feminist values and engages in antisexist actions can strengthen masculine domination within itself? Based on an ethnographic investigation into the anti ... [more ▼]

How a militant organization that adheres to feminist values and engages in antisexist actions can strengthen masculine domination within itself? Based on an ethnographic investigation into the anti-globalization group of Les Désobéissants, this chapter examines how masculine domination hierarchies the militant space and and how this militant space reconfigures the relations between men and women. By combining the contributions of the sociology of social movements and gender studies, it shows how the sexual division of activist labor and the pervasiveness of sexism in activist circles consolidate men power and privileges. However, this domination does not equally work for each woman and each situation, and is not without limits. Female defections and microresistance introduce breaks in the rock of masculine domination. [less ▲]

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See detailAlternative and Resistance Movements: The Two Faces of Sustainability Transformations?
Pellenc, Jérômepell; Wallenborn, Grégoire; Milanesi, Julien et al

in Ecological Economics (2019)

The goal of this commentary is to bring to the forefront four majors ideas/hypotheses to stimulate the debate regarding sustainability transitions: (i) we argue that “local environmental resistances” (the ... [more ▼]

The goal of this commentary is to bring to the forefront four majors ideas/hypotheses to stimulate the debate regarding sustainability transitions: (i) we argue that “local environmental resistances” (the environmental justice movement) and “local economic/community alternatives” (the Transition, degrowth and alike movements) constitute the two faces of the same coin i.e. “the great transition toward sustainability” when transition is considered from a citizen, place-based and socio-political perspective; (ii) we argue that both of these two global decentralized movements are place-based, they are participating in the emergence of a place-based alterglobalism. Then, the role of place in creating spaces of re-politicization through opposition and experimentation should be acknowledged and more researched; (iii) if resistances and alternatives share some features in common, they also present differences that should be further investigated regarding their empowerment and politicization potential; and (iv) last but not the least, we stress the need for a more incarnated, politicized and place-based approach to “sustainability transitions” thus distancing us from the Transition Management approach. [less ▲]

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See detailSolidarity economy and its anarchist grammar
Frère, Bruno ULiege

E-print/Working paper (2018)

‘Solidarity economy’, a widely used term for which the most common French equivalent is economie solidaire, is generally thought of as comprising five distinct classes of activity : Micro-finance, Local ... [more ▼]

‘Solidarity economy’, a widely used term for which the most common French equivalent is economie solidaire, is generally thought of as comprising five distinct classes of activity : Micro-finance, Local Exange Trading Systems, proximity services, organic community supported agriculture and fairtrade distributions. Because they try to answer to the Aristotelian theoretical question “what can we do to live harmoniously together?”, these solidarity initiatives are deeply political in the philosophical sense of the term. They galvanize civic commitment at the “micro” level. But today, an important question arises regarding the kind of formal political institution that would speak in the name of all these initiatives. In France, some intellectuals who have an interest in these solidarity initiatives see them as new economic models with the potential to solve the current financial crisis, and they are eager for academic specialists and leaders of the movement to achieve some kind of consensus about the kind of concrete political identity such initiatives may be expected to generate. However this paper studies their way of establishing a basis for moving from micro level initiatives to substantial “macro” polity unity. Using the insights of french pragmatic sociology, and particularly the notion of grammar of justification, it aims to understand what the obstacles to this aim being realised are. [less ▲]

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See detail« Proudhon, le premier pragmatiste? Petite histoire de l’autre sociologie »
Frère, Bruno ULiege

E-print/Working paper (2018)

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See detailDe prémisses pragmatiques et phénoménologiques d’un nouveau style sociologique.
Frère, Bruno ULiege

in Nachi, Mohamed (Ed.) La sociologie pragmatique et l'étude des société maghrebines (2018)

Si beaucoup de choses s’écrivent aujourd’hui sur et avec ce nouveau style sociologique, il reste que peu de travaux ont insisté sur les anciens courants sociologiques dont il se raporche et qu’il permet ... [more ▼]

Si beaucoup de choses s’écrivent aujourd’hui sur et avec ce nouveau style sociologique, il reste que peu de travaux ont insisté sur les anciens courants sociologiques dont il se raporche et qu’il permet, pour ainsi dire, de relancer. Le présent chapitre voudrait contribuer à l’archéologie théorique de la sociologie pragmatique initiée partiellement çà et là. L’enjeu sera plus précisément de rendre apparents les liens qui unissent la sociologie pragmatique aux grands courants de pensée que furent la phénoménologie et le pragmatisme américain. Car nous avons là deux des traditions les plus importantes dans le sillage desquelles les chercheurs pragmatistes contemporains confirment poursuivre leurs recherches et dont Laurent Thévenot et Luc Boltanski9 eux-mêmes reconnaissent l’influence. [less ▲]

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See detailLocalisme et capitalisme Des difficultés de l’engagement pour « une autre économie ».
Frère, Bruno ULiege

in Nachi, Mohamed (Ed.) LE SENS DE LA JUSTICE. Exploration sociologique d’histoires d’injustices en Tunisie et en France (2018)

L'économie solidaire couvre diverses initiatives allant des nouvelles coopératives de consommation (Associations pour le Maintien de l’Agriculture Paysanne, etc), aux services de proximité en passant par ... [more ▼]

L'économie solidaire couvre diverses initiatives allant des nouvelles coopératives de consommation (Associations pour le Maintien de l’Agriculture Paysanne, etc), aux services de proximité en passant par le commerce équitable, les associations d'échanges non monétaires, les coopératives de (micro)crédit qui financent des entreprises « alternatives » et les structures qui en accompagnent la mise sur pied . Dans un premier temps, notre contribution a essentiellement consisté à pointer ce qu'il y avait de commun entre ces initiatives aux allures très disparates à l'aide des outils de la sociologie pragmatique. Il s'est agi d'attester la pertinence historique, sociologique et philosophique de la notion d'économie solidaire en prouvant qu'elle a en propre, depuis le 19e Siècle, une grammaire morale que ses acteurs cherchent à respecter à la fois dans leurs pratiques et dans leurs prises de parole dans les arènes publiques. Il a été établi que cette grammaire morale reposait sur quatre valeurs : le care (et/ou le convivialisme), le militantisme, la créativité et l'autogestion . Depuis une même posture cet article voudrait aujourd'hui jeter un coup de projecteur sur les fragilités de cette grammaire morale. On constate actuellement que ces valeurs mobilisées par les acteurs des circuits courts, des services de proximité, des coopératives de crédits ou des échanges non monétaires sont aussi mobilisées par ces derniers pour alimenter des disputes et des critiques à l'encontre de leurs pairs Tout en proposant de nouveaux éléments épistémologiques pour la sociologie pragmatique, l'enjeu du présent texte sera de résumer ici le dispositif théorique susceptible d'éclairer ces disputes ou critiques face auxquelles les chercheurs restent souvent encore démunis. Ce dispositif a aujourd’hui pour ambition de s’étendre de l’analyse de l’économie solidaire à celle d’autres mouvements sociaux. [less ▲]

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See detailBack to materialism Reflections on Marx’s conception of labour, praxis, cooperatives and libertarian socialism
Frère, Bruno ULiege

in International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society (2018), 31(1), 69-94

From Marx to Althusser, the materialist approach has tended to assume that individuals (that is, workers, proletarians and other social actors), unconsciously reproduce the social structures of capitalism ... [more ▼]

From Marx to Althusser, the materialist approach has tended to assume that individuals (that is, workers, proletarians and other social actors), unconsciously reproduce the social structures of capitalism which alienate them. It is assumed that individuals accept the conditions forced upon them and no longer seek to rebel against a world which substantially impoverishes their labour, their spirit and their creativity. In this paper, I will try to show that by dint of favouring almost exclusively Marx's concept of alienation, there is a considerable risk that materialist thought will adopt only a negative path. Whilst I acknowledge Marx’s significance to materialism, I wish to argue that his stance should be combined with that of the anarchist and libertarian French thinker Proudhon. Proudhon has succeeded in presenting a conception of the worker as more than just alienated. Workers can also cooperate and experience a reciprocity seemingly at odds with the character of capitalism. Under Proudhon’s influence materialism takes a positive turn, enabling us to avoid falling into the utopianism that the theory of social economy employs to critique capitalism – a utopianism that renders its critique even less effective than that of Marx. [less ▲]

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See detailMai 68 : la révolution silencieuse ?
Jacquemain, Marc ULiege; Frère, Bruno ULiege

Article for general public (2018)

L'article revient, à l'occasion du cinquantième anniversaire de l'événement "mai 68" sur la signification rétrospective de la période. Le texte choisit de porter le regard sur le contexte global dont mai ... [more ▼]

L'article revient, à l'occasion du cinquantième anniversaire de l'événement "mai 68" sur la signification rétrospective de la période. Le texte choisit de porter le regard sur le contexte global dont mai 68 ne fut que l'instantiation française. Sans nier l'importance et la spécificité de l'exemple français, il reprend, en s'appuyant sur les travaux de Ronald Inglehart, Luc Boltanski et Serge Audier, entre autres, l'analyse du contexte de l'époque et ce qui a pu produire ce mode spécifique de protestation sociale. Il défend que mai 68 fut la forme particulière à la France de la profonde transformation culturelle qui affecte l'ensemble de la jeunesse scolarisée du monde occidental dans les années 60 et se prolonge la décennie suivante. Il tente aussi de montrer quelles ont été les racines de cette transformation culturelle, et comment elle a produit de nouvelles lignes de clivage socio-politique dans les sociétés concernées, lignes de clivage dont les effets se prolongent partiellement aujourd'hui. [less ▲]

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See detailNi utopie ni solidarisme. Une refonte matérialiste et critique de l'association est-elle possible ?
Frère, Bruno ULiege

in Delaunay, Catarina (Ed.) Democracia, promessas, utopias e (des)ilusoes : dilemas e disputas nas arenas publicas (2017)

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See detailThe existentialist moment. The rise of Sartre as a public intellectual
Frère, Bruno ULiege

in Revue française de sociologie (2017), 58(1), 41-44

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