Volume 6, Number 2, 2011

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

Olivier Brossard and Gabriel Colletis

Présentation du thème : les économistes dans la Cité : expertise et statut des savoirs, aptitude à la prévision, responsabilité (p. 19-52)

Bernard Paulré

On Prediction in Political Economy (De la prévision en économie politique) (p. 53–85)


Because they did not forecast the 2007 crisis, or they had poorly forecasted it, economists are now in a position of defendants. It is therefore urgent and necessary to examine the way of thinking about economic forecasting with lucidity.

We identify what must be, in our view, the epistemological principles of a forecasting practice that recognizes its own shortcomings, and is opened on the world and on other disciplines. Our examination stems from three questions: (i) what are the nature and status of forecasting statements? (ii) what is the validity of these statements? and (iii) what is the relationship between science and forecasting?

In this review, we underline the conjectural nature of forecasting statements. We conclude by arguing for a semiotic conception of economic forecasting and the relevance of the “indicial paradigm”.

Keywords: Forecasting, conjecture, ergodicity, signals, index, index paradigm, predictability.

Jean-Marc Olivier

Prediction and Forecasting in Economic History: Were the Swiss and Scandinavian Successes Predictable? (Prédiction et prévision en histoire économique : les succès suisses et scandinaves étaient-ils prévisibles?) (p. 87–96)


Economic historians have several tools to analyze economic successes. Most often, they may seem logical and self-evident, yet by working on past events our reasoning cannot be contradicted because the outcome is known. However, the greatest successes – Swiss and Scandinavian – challenge the most commonly accepted models that explain economic success: such as the exploitation of abundant natural resources, an English-style industrial revolution, or the triumph of large factories. In fact, Swiss, Swedish, and Norwegian examples offer rich subjects for reflection, since their success was based more on small to mid-size companies, government intervention, and a longstanding mastery of statistics.

Keywords: Economic history, political economics, statistics, forecasts, created harmony, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Scandinavia, Bernadotte, Gunnar Myrdal.

Michel Armatte

The Economist in the City: Engineering and Expertise (L’économiste dans la Cité: ingénierie et expertise) (p. 97–131)


To a common view of mythical and autistic economics, reduced to its purely academic version, and disconnected from reality, we oppose an alternative vision of economics as an engineering, acting on this reality and transforming it to be like theory. We develop examples from finance, econometrics, or climate change, and we mobilize concepts from the history and the sociology of science, specifically in the tradition of science studies, as those of performativity (Callon) and regimes of knowledge and expertise (Pestre), which allow us to describe different forms of intervention by the economist in the city.

Keywords: Ingeneering, performativity, expertise, finance.

Jean Luc Demeulemeester and Claude Diebolt

Renewing Neoclassical Economics? Taking Historicity Seriously (Renouveler la science économique néo-classique? Prendre l’historicité au sérieux) (p. 133–160)


This article is an internal critic of the economic discipline and an attempt to reintroduce history and historicity in the discipline.

Keywords: Economics, methodology, history, cliometrics.

Jean-Robert Alcaras

The Economic Theory of Decision-Proof Quantification ‒ When a Symbol Is not necessarily Quantifying! (Les théories économiques de la décision à l’épreuve de la quantification – Quand symboliser n’est pas forcément quantifier!) (p. 161–194)


Economic theories of decision generally grant a central place to quantitative data without really questioning the processes of quantification from which they result. But the works of H.A. Simon show that decision is a socioeconomic and cognitive process of symbol construction and manipulation. Then, we understand that these processes can include all types of modelling which use calculable (and thus explicable) symbols.

Keywords: Decision making processes, procedural rationality, substantive rationality, bounded rationality, computation, symbol, quantification, constructivism.

Monique Dalud-Vincent and Romuald Normand

Between Measurement, Science and Politics: Construction and Analysis of a Network of International Co-Publications in the Field of Education (Entre mesure, science et politique : construction et analyse d’un réseau international de copublications dans le domaine de l’éducation) (p. 197–232)


Our study aims to locate some networks of experts and researchers at global level, who produce new standards and measurement tools to improve the effectiveness and quality of education. For this, we are using the methodology of network analysis (Pajek) to objectify and study the links between co-publications. The definition of these links comes from a previous work in the development of a data base including 5300 references from approximately 3 500 authors. Epistemic communities are clearly identified and related to a paradigm: school effectiveness, human capital theory, international surveys in numeracy and literacy.

Keywords: Network, measurement, co-publication, education, science, policy, Pajek, school effectiveness, human capital, international surveys.

Paul Chapron

Analysis of Networks of Power within a Social Organization (Analyse de réseaux de pouvoir au sein d’une organisation sociale) (p. 233–256)


The sociology of organized action aims to reveal the way an organization is actually working, beyond the formal rule that defines and codifies it. From a formalization of this theory that leads to a meta-model of social organizations, we are able to represent the structure of the interdependence relationships that ties the actors of an organization to one another. Some power relationship networks can be extracted from a model of an organization. On the other hand, the social network analysis provides various techniques to reveal and study the structure and the behavior of social networks, highlighting the concept of power and structural advantage within a network. In this paper, we explore how some of these techniques can be applied in power relations networks extracted from organizations models, in order to improve the understanding of power relationships.

Keywords: Sociology of organized action, organization modeling, concrete system of action, actor, power, influence, structural analysis, social networks analysis, centrality, Soclab.

Melchior Mbonimpa

Éthique des rapports Nord-Sud. Regards croisés, Gérard Verna et Florence Piron (dir.), Québec, Presses de l’Université Laval, 2010, 362 p. (p. 257–260)