Volume 13, Number 1, 2017

Denis Mazouret

« Forward. Epistemological exploration tracks of reflexivity and critical distance » (p. 15-19)

Isabelle Lefort et Laura Péaud

« Reflexivity and French geographers in the XXth century. From an historical to an epistemological approach » (p. 21-55)

Abstract: During the XXth century, French geographers gradually adopted some reflexive approaches. Doing so, the importance, place and status of reflexive questions have deeply evolved. No longer being a neglected field in French geography, the reflexive perspective conquered a specific methodology as well as conceptual tools that assure its visibility and acknowledgement in the field of academic geography. From an historical project, which was thought to write the story of geography as a scientific discipline, to an epistemological one, the ways to build the geographical reflexivity substantially changed. Today, we observe a clear enthusiasm for that kind of researches, which is also accompanied by an enlargement of their themes, questions, and methods.

Keywords: geography, France, reflexivity, disciplinary history and epistemology.

Cyril Blondel

« Epistemological, Critique and Reflexive Gymnastics: Construction of a Research in “Former Yougoslavia” in front of Knowledge Coloniality » (p. 57-89)

Abstract: This article is a story narrating the evolution of my own reflections during my Ph.D.: “Planning at the Borders of European Peripheries: The Serbia/Croatia Borderland and the EU Cooperation and Reconciliation Injunctions” (Ph.D. thesis, Tours, Université François-Rabelais, 2016). Using auto-ethnographic methods, this article demonstrates a conviction, the necessity to engage with a reflexive and critical approach, before, during, and after the production of research. I show first how I built the thesis’ epistemological approach, by progressively deconstructing classical theoretical frameworks (nationalist, postsocialist, post-Yugoslav). I expose and discuss then the outcomes of such a reflexivity, in particular how I gradually became conscious of the coloniality of (my) knowledge. These mental gymnastics allowed me to occasionally overcome – but regularly report on – the limits of my research, but also to recognize the unsurpassibility of certain aspects of my work connected to the situation in which I stated and conducted it. Reflecting on epistemological reflexivity contributes to clarifying scientific (in)validity of research, and better situates researcher’s arguments, their position and positionality.

Keywords: reflexivity, decolonial option, epistemology, methodological nationalisms, post-socialism, post-Yugoslav.

Florence Bétrisey

« Desire, Conditions and Policies of Social Sciences Researchers’ Recognition: Reflections on Fieldwork and Writing Performances » (p. 91-116)

Abstract: In this paper, I propose to analyze the researcher-subjects’ behavior, during the research performance, through the prism of recognition, as a conceptual idea/notion. I question my own approach and my own subject-researcher behavior in the framework of my own doctoral research in Bolivia. In particular, I analyze two key dimensions of social science research: the fieldwork performance and the (eurocentrist) academic space in which I am enrolled.

Analyzing the fieldwork experience, understood as a social performance through the prism of recognition allows us first to clarify the tensions between the strategic conformism of the researcher and the reproduction of local social norms. Secondly, we highlight the researcher’s desire to obtain academic recognition and the way in which this desire enjoins her to reproduce the dominant grammar of academic recognition. In particular, this desire to obtain recognition, whether social or academic, is closely linked to the power relations that structure the academic space (which, moreover, is not considered as a neutral space).

Finally, we show that if the promise of recognition renders the contestation of recognition standards difficult, it does not prevent their circumvention, for example by adhering to alternative narratives of the quality of research (“slow science”). The latter can indeed act as alternative channels of recognition, producing new narratives and new grammars of recognition. However, these mechanisms of conformity, resistance, or circumvention of recognition standards, both in terms of field performance and academic space, often take place in the realm of the unconscious and the non-cognitive.

Keywords: recognition, research performance, scientific writing, academic space.

Souheil Essid et Yosra Essid Hamas

« Researcher’s disaffiliation for the development of knowledge: How to position yourself as a researcher and actor in an ethnoreligious school? » (p. 117-148)

Abstract: When the researcher invests in his research, he maintains a cognitive and affective relationship with his object of study. In this article, we would like to address this relationship, and to present how the question of the involvement of the researcher is an issue of research and how the analysis of the processes at work can become an object of reflection, which also allows an understanding of the research subject. Our immersion in a religious primary school in Quebec (as part of a doctoral research on the role of religion and school in the construction of youth identity) places us at the heart of a reflexive process on the position of the researcher to himself, to research subjects, and to data collection tools. In this study, we find ourselves at the heart of a continuous conversational process affecting conversations with subjects, data interpretations, and with our own values. This conversational process actually leads to some sort of religious disaffiliation, and to live and reflect on the intersubjective aspects of our research.

Keywords: researcher, religion, school, reflexivity, ethnography, vigilance, disaffiliation.

Marion Bourhis

« System, feedback, and research: A triptych to take into consideration? » (p. 149-176)

Abstract: To present an investigative report on how a research has been implemented remains a form of “endangerment” regarding the credibility of research mainly using qualitative methods. Moreover they did not carry out a real cumulativity related to the stakes and questions arising from them. Such a situation reveals a need in terms of analytical tools to which this article proposes to bring an initial proposal. Indeed, on the basis of the initial assumption that every researcher is part of his work environment – which he influences but also influences him in return – the article proposes to consider any research process from the point of view of systemic and to consider the slides realized as being transformations coming from loops of positive feedbacks. In this sense, this article wishes, starting from an actual research experience, to move forward a possible analytical generalization.

Keywords: system, feedback, research, modeling, transformations

Julie Descheneaux, Denise Aubé, Clément Beaucage, Rodrigue Côté

« The challenges of reflexivity and research-practice collaboration: the case of the implementation of a new first-line mental health services » (p. 177-209)

Abstract: The evaluation of the implementation process of a new mental health service in a heath and social services center demonstrates that this process must be accompanied with the creation of spaces of reflection amongst the team of workers in order to create positive conditions for implementation. Organizational complexity is an issue that needs to be taken into account. The role of research-practice collaboration in this process of implementing changes has been documented in order to better understand the challenges of opening spaces of reflection within an organization. While the spaces of reflection scheduled in the initial planning did not materialize, the ongoing interaction between research and practice allowed the mechanisms of reflection of this team to renewed themselves in an unexpected way in the midst of a process of transformation. That was made possible thanks to the spaces of collaboration that were put in place, to the mechanisms of knowledge translation carried out by the epistemological posture, to the creation of alliances and the cycle operation method.

Keywords: knowledge transfer, developmental evaluation, participatory research, health and social care, case study.

Camille Rouchi

« Reflexivity and action-research through a CIFRE contract, when field constraints become opportunities » (p. 211-224)

Abstract: This article proposes a feedback and a reflection on a critical research in human and social sciences, financed by its own field of research. The aim is to get a double point of view: academic and professional. It is a delicate position to adopt as it implies understanding and questioning the expectations and needs of both the professional and scientific worlds, within the framework of an «action-research» project. Participant observation is to be confronted with contradictory temporalities and diverse interests. We will see that the development of the research object, the obtaining of data and the methods of restitution, calls for the need to adopt a reflexive point of view, and for the researcher to transform constraints into opportunities.

Keywords: action-research, human studies, reflexivity, CIFRE, field.

Nathalie Brevet

« Coming out » (p. 225-249)

Abstract: The journal’s suggested topic in its call for papers gives me an opportunity to review my personal journey, which is based on two lines of work: as a teacher/researcher in urban planning and sociology, and as an artist. I’ve been a lecturer since 2009, and from the early 2000s – a time which coincides with the beginning of my thesis – I’ve also been working jointly with Hughes Rochette. Together we create site-specific installations in the field of contemporary art, giving precedence to place and space. This paper is an occasion for me to question the way objects of reflexion, practices, and even forms of expression move between one world and another. This is not about assimilating both domains into one, but rather about understanding their “brief encounters”, as described by the scientist Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond. I shall take a closer at look at my personal and professional development as a teacher/researcher and as an artist so as to challenge when and how such encounters took place. This paper will also be an opportunity to reflect on research itself by asking how much importance is given to experimentation within a context in which assessment leads to a standardisation of scientific productions.

Keywords: research process, experimentation, artist, researcher, contemporary art, human studies, site-specific installation, territorial narrative, poster, writing.

Dominique Loiseau

« Reflexive return about the thought process » (p. 251-270)

Abstract: The article is a reflexive return about the thought process of a researcher working on sex social relations and the working class movement, in history and sociology: reflection on the evolution of her research material (relation with oral sources, image), on the tools making easier a transmission on the confrontation with new languages in order to report on the research, on new practices to get out of the university microcosm, to enrich with the reactions of a public who was – or not – acting as stakeholder in the study.

And, up-stream, to facilitate the production of a reflection by the inquired persons so that they become, up to a certain point, subjects and not only objects, make the process their own and participate, for example, to the elaboration of the content of a theatrical text on the thematic of sex stereotypes.

Transversely, the question of the researcher’s position, of the relation between connivance, empathy, and alterity.

Keywords: sexual stereotypes, transmission, interaction, empathy, alterity, languages, position, commitment.

Antoine Delporte et Lionel Francou

« Doing Sociology. Between Relational Investment, Professional Constraints, and Social Utility » (p. 271-322)

Abstract: Confronted with processes of standardization and competition, but also with a loss of legitimacy in the public space, sociology seems to be in difficulty despite a growing number of organizations and social actors asking researchers to help them solve their problems. The authors invite us to engage both in sociology, by developing a demanding practice of this discipline, and for sociology in order to defend the specificities of science, in terms of investigative procedures and speeches in the public space. In order to draw up an inventory of the difficulties encountered by the discipline and those who practice it, as well as its strengths and assets, the article first presents the changes affecting the profession of the sociologist, as well as the ways a sociologist can commit in relation whether with the social actors, in the society, with organizations and in the public sphere.

Keywords: research, commitment, profession, public space, ethnography, restitution.

Off Topic

Pierpaolo Donati

« Which Relational Sociology? A Non-Relationist Perspective » (p. 325-371)

Abstract: In this paper, the author presents his original version of relational sociology, based upon critical realism, which is also called ‘relational theory of society’. It shares with other versions of relational sociology the aim to understand ‘social facts’ as relationally constituted entities. But it differs from the radically constructivist and relativistic versions (here referred to as ‘relationist sociologies’) as regard the way in which social relations are defined, the kind of reality that is attributed to them, the paths through which they are generated and changed (social morphogenesis), and how they configure social formations. The paper clarifies the advantages that this original perspective offers in explaining social phenomena as emergent. In particular, it can orient social research toward unseen and/or immaterial realities. Empirically, it can show how new social forms are created, changed, or destroyed depending on different processes of valorization or devalorization of social relations. Ultimately, this approach points to the possibility of highlighting those relational processes that can better realize the humanity of social agents and give them, as relational subjects, the opportunity to achieve a good life.

Keywords: relational sociology, relational social theory, emergentist ontology, relationism, relational subjects.

Paul Jalbert et Simon Laflamme

« Communication in Family Homes.
Further Proof of the Relevance of a Relational Analysis » (p. 373-401)

Abstract: In this article, we reiterate some components of a relational analysis by contrasting its conceptual apparatus to the one that operates in modelizations focusing on the individual. We enumerate some empirical studies which, among other things, have shown that the category intention is relevant only under very specific circumstances, although it is a basic concept in most analysis of the social actor. Finally, we present some results of a new study which, as an extension of the previous ones, highlights the relational analysis. This study is based on the observation of conversations that take place in family homes.

Keywords: relational approach, sociality, historicity, emoreason, intention, reason, action theories.

Claude Vautier

« A small world in Ontario.
Application of a trialectic and relational model to the life of a Canadian community » (p. 403-452)

Abstract: Faced with the still vivid controversies between those who support the approach by the subject and those who support the approach by the structures, between those who think that action is at the center of sociology and those who are convinced that societal systems are the source of social dynamics, we can open up new way.

In this article, I try to show that it is possible to break free of the actionist, structuralist as well as phenomenological approaches in order to better understand societal phenomena. To do this, I try to reintroduce a forgotten category, the event, as an important category of sociological research. But more importantly, I propose a relational model that studies not categories, but the relationships between categories. It does not do so as the models of the theory of networks by studying the «relations between», but by focusing on the hologrammatic character of societal systems, that is to say on the idea that individual, system and event are simply inseparable from one another.

The model is based on the study of the links that unite the categories in a very intimate way. Each category is studied in relation to the other two and then in relation to the relationship between the other two. The empirical application shows that we can thus better understand the pathways or life histories of members of a small community in northeastern Ontario, their evolutions and even bifurcations in some cases, than with the actionists models or structuralists or with the combined action of this two approaches.

Keywords: event, individual, hologrammatic, life histories, relational field, relational model, relationship, system, trialectic, relationship valence.

Book review

Roger Gervais

La recherche en action-IPMSH, Isabelle Tanguay, Montréal, Éditions du renouveau pédagogique Inc. (ERPI), 2017, 296 p. (p. 455-458)