• Nathalie Berny (Sciences Po Rennes)
  • Jean-Pierre Le Bourhis (CNRS)

Public action, democracy and territories in transition

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  • Researchers in research area 3 share an interest in government and organization activities, ranging from studies of politicians and electoral competition to sectorial public policies and the instruments, measures and methods of intervention, analysed from their conception right through to their implementation at the numerous territorial levels. This research area encourages a range of viewpoints, epistemologies and disciplinary perspectives on actors, organizations and government practices: sociology of public action and organizations, management methods, economics, current history, and studies of cultural regions. The priority scale of observation is territories, using the local as a laboratory to explore multi-level processes and broader interactions between powers (interdependence between national and local political markets in terms of electoral competition; inclusion of the analysis of regulations and government action in European and international areas).

    In terms of method, the research takes care to base analyses on a range of data investigation and interpretation techniques, working inclusively, and a priori avoiding methodological and theoretical approaches, i.e. employing mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative); making comparisons with small or moderate numbers of cases; and mobilizing mass data (big data, digital repositories resulting from social media).

    1 / Governance, inequality and territories in transition:

    Research on this theme investigates the territorialization of social, economic and environmental inequalities and their political impacts (social movements, public action involving multiple levels and actors). A specific focus – driven by the collective associated with the chair: “Territories and shifts in public action” (TMAP) – considers the effects of the numerous transitions faced by territories and organizations. The key research questions can be grouped into three types: territorial differentiations and institutional experiments (1); the governance of human and territorial solidarity in the face of social and territorial inequality (2); support for transitions and territorial resilience (3); organizational resistance and adaptation (e.g. CSR, participation) to deal with transitions (4).

    2 / Government dynamics and public policies:

    This second theme centres on sectorial public action, with a focus on growth areas involving key societal issues (the environment, environmental health, management of illegal and marginal activities in urban policies, regulation of service platforms by cities, etc.). The group works on research questions related to development approaches, and the determinants and impacts of regulation actions when they concern new domains of intervention (“indoor environment”, regulation of platform capitalism, the ecological transition, the massive erosion of biodiversity, etc.) or employ tools with specific approaches (management schemes for the environment, economics instruments and expertise to support policies, nature-based solutions).

    3/ Democracy and political life from national to local levels:

    This research looks at the various dimensions of the political profession and political life in a democracy, to produce analyses of the politician profession, parties and their environments, campaigns, electoral competition and its treatment in the media. Studies are based on political social sciences (electoral sociology, sociology, history, communication sciences) and take a mainly qualitative approach leaving room for projects employing mass data (following on from the ANR MUTADATA project). Several members recently participated in the national research network, CREMI (research collective on municipal and inter-municipal elections).

     4/ Public and private organizations: CSR, mission, and contribution to the transition

    Work on this theme springs from the observation that any study of transitions necessarily involves looking at organizations. This is partly because they have considerable impact and power to act. Yet they are also political objects concerned by issues of environmental impact, democratization, and the horizontalization of work relationships. Moving beyond traditional approaches (self-proclaimed CSR, labels, extra-financial notation, etc.), the PACTE law (action plan for business growth and transformation) establishes the notions of companies’ raison d’être and, in particular, their mission. The case studies carried out to date highlight unusual trajectories that combine territorial engagement, new forms of organization, and societal/environmental commitment.

    Research area seminars (in parallel with general seminars) set the pace of meetings between researchers and include different types of session. Sessions featuring presentations and discussions of the work done by the researchers (doctoral students, permanent members) alternate with sessions featuring guest researchers. 

    A federating project in-the-making: Due to the relative diversity of approaches and objects, it would be unrealistic to want to federate all of the researchers around a single scientific project or priority. However, given the scientific grounding of the laboratory, which centres on social and public action issues, an umbrella project on the environment could be developed. Such a project would likely bring together approaches in terms of public action, territorialization and political sociology (i.e. how the environment issue affects the political sphere and vice versa).

    Publié le 14 Oct 2021