The constitution of individuals and collectives: mediation, attachments and forms of experience

The sociology of translation, situated in a pragmatist perspective, does not assume the existence of predefined groups or actors with interests, knowledge and needs. On the contrary, the aim of its analysis is to describe the transformation of socio-technical networks as a process of mediation that “performs” both users and uses, groups and their causes, the identity of diseases and that of patients, the business world and its actors, and so on.

Research under this theme takes the issue of the constitution of individuals or collectives as a focal point. The aim is to explore and explain the modalities of the construction of our attachments, that which attaches us and that to which we are attached, and the way in which these attachments make it possible to account for specific forms of experience.

The fields concerned vary and cut across the preceding two themes: starting out from an investigation around taste and amateurs, the reflection has shifted to: business education and notably devices such as the case study method; disabled persons as they are grasped/formed by the multiple aid devices in which they are caught; TV series fans in a digitized world; the emerging forms of mobility in Paris and its users; and the role of biomedical entities in the constitution of patient collectives.

Projects related to this theme

Taking account of the relatives’ word: comparative ethnography of varied institutions for people with Alzheimer’s disease: Laurence Tessier was granted a post-doctoral fellowship by the Fondation Plan Alzheimer for this research project. This ethnographic research is designed to compare how, in four institutions (a hospital and a nursing home, in Canada and in France), the word of the relatives of people with Alzheimer’s disease is taken into account: contents, the different more or less formalized procedures being used, type of relationship established. The nature and the intensity of this consideration vary greatly and in a very significant way because of the ambivalent status of the relative, who is as much a co-caregiver as a “co-sick person”: caregivers, but whose aid relationship is interpreted, and who may themselves need support; precious informants about the disease of their relative, but as subjects, means and objects of diagnosis (their opinion is heard, the accounts of these more or less reliable witnesses are decrypted, they are observed as a possible carriers of the gene).
Contact : laurence.tessier@mines-paristech.fr

PERFORMABUSINESS : one of the sections of the project concerns business education and notably the use of certain educational methods, including the case method, which incorporate the performance and simulation of business decisions and situations.
Project website : http://www.csi.mines-paristech.fr//performabusiness/
Contact : fabien.muniesa@mines-paristech.fr

HANDICAP : the aim is to understand disability and dependence not only as a condition to be taken care of, but also as a collective situation defined through the many links and relations constituted through forms of assistance provided by professionals and family members. Disability is thus described as a network of active interdependence rather than passive dependence.
Contact : antoine.hennion@mines-paristech.fr

Practices, forms and objects of «seriphilia»:«Seriphilia» (TV series fans) is characterized by the affirmation of a pronounced taste for TV series, a specific audiovisual genre, and is based on the dematerialization of content and the new possibilities of appropriation linked to ICTs. This Clement Combes’s doctoral thesis explored the way in which seriphiles’ attachments to this TV content are woven, and notably the material, relational or conventional underpinnings of these attachments.
Contact : cecile.meadel@mines-paristech.fr

Users, technology and sustainable mobility: this Martin Tironi’s doctoral thesis on the origins and functioning of Vélib’, the self-service bicycle system in Paris, described the multiple technical and organizational devices that enable the emergence of users of a new type of collective/individual transportation system provided in the framework of a sustainable urban development project.
Contact : madeleine.akrich@mines-paristech.fr