Volume 8, Number 1, 2012

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

Simon Laflamme and Claude Vautier

Avant-propos (p. 13–14)

Simon Laflamme

Dialectic of Homogeneity and of Difference (Dialectique de l’homogénéité et de la différence) (p. 15–33)


The twentieth century is dominated by two great visions: one maintains that human societies tend toward differentiation, the other tells us that they tend, rather, toward homogeneity. Both visions, however, are mainly supported by self-reflection, fleeting observations and little empirical data. The empirical works which have focused on this question speak of a twofold evolution. In this paper, we outline the contradictory postures of the main theoretical frameworks in the human sciences; we attempt to provide an explanation to the dual movement revealed through the above stated empirical works by treating as dialectical its elements; and we discuss some of our works in which we have observed this theorized dialectic.

Keywords: Homogenization, differentiation, social structure.

Franck Dorso

For a Sociology of the Gap. Affiliation and Differentiation in the Processes of Socialization and Urbanization (Pour une sociologie de l’écart. Affiliation et différenciation dans les processus de socialisation et d’urbanisation) (p. 35–59)


The text addresses the tension between homogenization and differentiation from the informal and illegal uses of the city. Beyond the condemnations they are subjects, these uses perform essential roles of regulation, both North and South, in economic, urban, social, political. They are forms of valve into the processes of urbanization but also, more generally, of socialization. They allow episodes of retreat or transgression toward the normative context, without calling into question the social order. This logic of yaw/swerve is an analyzer on the tension between normative affiliation and differentiation which innervates socialization. The text explores the dynamics of this tension, as a form of the couple homogenization-differentiation, and its implications into sociology and urbanistic action.

Keywords: yaw/swerve, valves, socialization, urbanization, standards, tension, retreat, transgression.

Christian Le Bart

The Injunction to Be Oneself: Seeking between Singularity and Standardization (L’injonction à être soi-même : entre quête de singularité et standardisation) (p. 61–81)


The order to be oneself is an essential standard in the contemporary societies. In a context of relative decline of the prescribed identities, everyone is incited to make a specific work to discover his true identity. This identity, real mythology of our time, is thought as hidden and singular. The individuals try to approach it with identity experiments. We shall use in this text a research about the French fans of the Beatles.

Keywords: Identity, individualization, music, fan, identical experiment.

Sylvain Aquatias

Differentiate or Comply: Issues of Research in Sociology on Youth Culture, Issues of Youth Culture (Se différencier ou se conformer : enjeux de la recherche en sociologie sur les cultures juvéniles, enjeux des cultures juvéniles…) (p. 83–117)


Since a few years, the sociologists who studied youth cultures are in desagreement. Some describe either a standardization, due to the mighty influence of the young people’s peers, or a dispersion through a widespread eclecticism. Others reassert the primordial strength of the family and school socializations and of the distinctive effects of the cultural tastes. The results of the present research demonstrate that the influences are created by the interactions of the familial situations, the school sociability and the friends network, ascertained by the social cohesion inside these groups. The quality of the family’s relations, the school career and the internal cohesion of the classes are important variables who explain the durability of the teenagers’s cultural tastes. Conformity and singularity become significant in the confrontation of these influences.

Keywords: Teen-agers, culture, youth culture, transmission, music listening, reading, school influence, distinction, conformity, socialization.

Raymond Boudon

The roots of “good sociology” (Aux racines de la « bonne sociologie ») (p. 119–160)


The sociological works considered as genuine scientific achievements follow three rules common to all scientific disciplines. They are at the roots of the sociological paradigm becoming popular today under the label analytical sociology. These rules are crucial notably as far as the sociological explanation of beliefs, both representational and normative, of their over-time change and inter-societal differences is concerned, as examples drawn from the work of classical and modern social scientists illustrate.

Keywords: Analytical sociology, methodological singularism, methodological individualism, cognitive equilibrium, representational beliefs, normative beliefs, methodological holism, micro-macro link, Verstehen, rationality.

Ulrich Beck

A Cosmopolitan Sociology: Sketch of a Paradigm Shift (Une sociologie cosmopolite : esquisse d’un changement paradigmatique) (p. 161–190)

Abstract not available.

Emmanuel d’Hombres

From Biological Differentiation to Social Differentiation (Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries): Some Historical Milestones (De la différenciation biologique à la différenciation sociale (XIXe-XXe siècles): quelques jalons historiques) (p. 191–220)


Morphogenesis and differentiation are the words which are used today to indicate the two basic modalities of ontogenesis in biology. Morphogenesis refers to the process of progressive ‘complexification’ during embryonic development, whereas differentiation refers to that of the functional specialization of the egg’s cells. Paradoxically, for more than a century, the term of differentiation has been employed to express the first of these variables, mainly if not exclusively. How did it come in developmental biology to name the physiological phenomenon which is parallel to structural complexification and which 19th century naturalists readily called the division of physiological labour? In fact, it appears that this inversion is only the latest episode in a series of semantic adventures affecting the history of the concept over nearly two centuries. We intend to explain them in this communication.

We shall retrace the following steps: the term ‘differentiation’ appears in the field of animal anatomy at the beginning of the 19th century, because of its resemblance to ‘complication’, which is currently used by morphologists at this period (term which is itself practically synonymous with what 18th century naturalists called the “composition of the organization”). From comparative anatomy the term will migrate to embryology when the principle of epigenesis triumphs, and will know a considerable rise in epistemological status, reaching its climax when ranked by Von Baer as a fundamental concept of new scientific embryology. Its pairing with the concept of the division of physiological labour will confer on differentiation the role of criterion with which anatomists on the one hand, embryologists on the other hand, will judge the degree of improvement reached by embryonic formations and adult forms, respectively. Then the morphological significance of the term is enriched with a new evolutionary meaning, through the diffusion of the Darwinian theory and the adoption of the biogenetic law. At this degree of conceptual elaboration, we witness an extension of differentiation’s field to the phenomena concerned with anthropology (comparative analysis of different societies) and history (comparative analysis of different formations of the same society) thanks to sociologists such as Spencer who adopted the principle of cultural evolutionism. Evolutionary meanings of differentiation will regress correlatively, in life sciences and social sciences, during the inter-war period, to such an extent that its legitimate field of extension is reduced only to developmental biology. Consequently with the invalidation of the problem of the organic basis of living beings, differentiation loses its quasi etiological function (degree of differentiation as criterion of organic improvement) and comes back to its modal and descriptive primitive status.

We shall focus in this paper a part of the history of this complex and interdisciplinary concept of differentiation, of which contemporary social sciences inherit to some extent, showing particularly the benefits of such an inquiry for the understanding of cultural evolutionism, which was so influent in the past social sciences, and even today.

Keywords: Differentiation, complication, division of labour, evolution, development, improvement, ‘anatomophysiological pair’, series parallelism.

Catherine Ghosn

French Audiovisual Instances and Programming: The Place of Studies on the Representation of Ethnic Minorities on TV (Instances audiovisuelles françaises et programmation : la place des études sur la représentation des minorités ethniques à la télévision) (p. 221–236)


Is it possible to associate “representation of ethnic minority” with “television”? To answer this question, we first consider the scientific origins, often from abroad, that took into account subjects “out of standards” and different from those usually treated in research. In France, these researches are mostly limited to the academic and scientific field. We must wait until the year 2000 and the year 2008 to read the two studies conducted by researchers, for audiovisual instances. What impact these scientific results have on the television policy?

Keywords: Representation, television, ethnic diversity, CSA, France Televisions.

Anahita Grisoni

From Tural Naturopathy to Natural Health: Distance and Assimilation around the Concept of Space (De la naturopathie rurale à la santé naturelle : distanciation et assimilation autour de la notion d’espace) (p. 237–259)

Abstract not available.

Daniel S. Larangé

Francophonie et mondialisation, Anne-Marie Laulan et Didier Oillo (dir.), Paris, Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), 2008 (p. 261–289)