From a sociology of mediation to a pragmatics of attachments

Antoine Hennion: An intellectual journey within the CSI revisited

SociologieS, the journal of the International Association of French Language Sociologists, has recently published an article where Antoine Hennion retraces his Entretien avec A Hennion par A Monnin_ 2012intellectual journey, and in particular his shift from a sociology of mediation to what he now labels a « pragmatics of attachments ». Full text is available online.

This paper has been written after an interview with Antoine Hennion by Alexandre Monnin, a young philosopher interested in the relations between the present expansion of the Web and the Actor-Network Theory invented at the CSI in the 80’s, with notions like translation, association and mediation. The paper focuses on a reflexive return made by Antoine Hennion on his own trajectory, not to congeal the history but on the contrary to reread it from present issues. The author shows Lucien Karpik’s will, from the foundation of the CSI, to do a sociology more sensitive to the objects it deals with (law, science and technology, business, culture), and discusses convergences and differences between fieldwork then undertaken on science and technology (STS) and on culture: for instance, the use of terms like translation or mediation, or the different relation to Pierre Bourdieu’s critical sociology, that had not the same impact on every field. The paper then considers the slow emergence of pragmatist approaches in France and the great variety of conceptions it gave rise to, in particular through debates with close groups like the GSPM (Groupe de sociologie politique et morale) and the CEMS (Centre d’étude des mouvements sociaux), about the status of objects, or theories of action coming from the USA. Leaning on this genealogy, the author concludes by suggesting a reformulation of such pragmatist claims in sociology from his own work on amateurs and attachments.

Photo from the film: Entretien avec Antoine Hennion by Alexandre Monnin, 13 July, 2012.