Volume 3, Number 2, 2008

prise-deparole-logo-40This journal is published in French only.

Alvaro Malaina

Edgard Morin and Jesús Ibáñez: sociology and theories of complexity (Edgard Morin et Jesús Ibáñez : sociologie et théories de la complexité) (p. 9–39)


The article belongs to the so-called « theories of complexity » and to the attempts to apply them to sociology. It compares the theoretical points of view of Edgar Morin and of the Spanish sociologist Jesús Ibáñez, which belong to the « paradigm of complexity », analyzing their confluences and divergences, seeking the development of a « complex sociology ». Starting from a comparative approach, the article suggests some possible keys and orientations to build a « complex social science », which integrates ontology, epistemology, and ethics, seeking also to open, with a critical thinking, to current complexity modellings, such as agent-based modelling and simulation.

Keywords: Edgard Morin, Jesús Ibáñez, theories of complexity, sociology, agent-based simulation.

Pascal Roggero and Christophe Sibertin-Blanc

When Sociologists meet with Computer Scientists: Attempt to Formalization, meta-Modelling, Modelling, and Simulation of Concrete Action Systems (Quand des sociologues rencontrent des informaticiens : essai de formalisation, méta-modélisation, modélisation et simulation des systèmes d’action concrets) (p. 41–81)


The text results from a new collaboration between sociologists and data processing specialists. It presents a work of formalization of the sociology of organized action which led to the development of a meta-model of this theory. This meta-model makes it possible to model concrete systems of action and to simulate their operation. Through the exposure of the theoretical results and their application to a simple case, we wish to show that this step is of theoretical and methodological interest for sociology. It makes it possible to specify sociological concepts initially expressed in natural language in order to be able to evaluate them in a quantitative way. It makes possible the simulation of organizational situations and thus opens the way with an exploration of the possible states of a concrete system of action. These elements constitute, from our point of view, an enrichment of the sociological practice.

Keywords: Sociology of the organized action, formalization, modeling, social simulation, systems multi-agents, concrete system of action, resource, relations, power, satisfaction.

Geoffrey Carrère and Nicolas Malinowski

Observatories of Universities Student Life against the Ministry Student Portal: statistical, Territorial, or Organixzational Conflict (Observatoires de la vie étudiante des universités contre Portail étudiant du Ministère: conflit statistique, territorial ou organisationnel ?) (p. 83–111)


In France, unlike in Anglo-Saxon countries, university has been for a long time the object of a sociological indifference. This article contributes to the opening of the university black box and reflects on university autonomy and adaptability to the work field. In view of this problem, the French ministry of higher education and research has created a new Web site, the Portail étudiant, to which the observatories of student life (OVE) are opposed. The analysis of the methodological conflict raises a broader questioning on the importance of territorial dimension in the construction of statistical indicators realized by the OVE.

Keywords: University, observatory of student life, statistical indicators, territory, organizations, power, popularization.

Bernard Ancori

Space-Time Span of a Complex Socio-Cognitive Network. I: Propensity to communicate and Specious Present (Espace-temps d’un réseau sociocognitif complexe. I : Propension à communiquer et présent spécieux) (p. 113–181)


This article analyzes the borders and the internal structure of the space of a socio-cognitive network. As this requires a rigorous definition of the notion of resemblance between actors of such a network, the article proposes a specification of a currently widely used mathematical definition for the resemblance between two objects: the dual notion of the information distance as defined by work in algorithmic complexity. Here, the more two objects resemble each other, the easier it is to pass from the description of the first to the second, and vice versa. For the case of a complex network with individual cognitive actors, the degree of resemblance between actors is linked to their propensity to communicate. This propensity expresses a conditional probability for a given reticular situation and situates each actor with respect to others in the space thus defined. It provides a structure to the network, and this structure expresses the present of the network as dialectical tension between past and future of its temporal evolution. The concept of the propensity to communicate constitutes a formalization of the notion of specious present analyzed today by the philosophy of the mind and cognitive science, and it functions as a spacio-temporal marker in the evolution of a complex socio-cognitive network.

Keywords: Knowledge theory, situated learning, combinatory information, complex infra-individualism, propensity to communicate, cluster of actors, specious present, time as such, informational balance and enthropy, semantic of possible worlds, scientific revolution.

Julie Boissonneault

Note de lecture. La construction de savoirs pour l’action, Marie-José Avenier et Christophe Schmitt (dir.), Paris, L’Harmattan, coll. « Action & Savoir, Série Rencontres », 2007 (p. 183–186)