Boltanski and the Sociology of Critique

Balázs Berkovits, Ágoston Fáber, Erzsébet Takács

Despite the fact that Luc Boltanski is probably the most well-known living French sociologist his works are hardly known in Hungary. Boltanski was influenced by Bourdieu but later “set himself against the former master’s sociology” and has developed his own sociology through a continuous debate with the master either explicitly, or—more frequently—implicitly. In this edition we endeavour on an impossible task: within the restricted space limits, we try to give an insight to his ever expanding, very diverse works that although encompassing many fields still can be considered coherent.

We try to give a comprehensive picture on the one hand by the diversity of the topics addressed in the papers of this publication; while on the other, by publishing—right after the introduction—a long interview with Boltanski carried out this February that concerns a wide range of fields. In this issue the theory of justification and the different reference principles (cités) are covered by Luc Boltanski’s own presentation in Th e Sociology of Critical Capacity and by Balázs Berkovits’ paper Boltanski’s “pragmatic sociology”: critique and theory of action. The latter presents the core components of Boltanski’s justification theory by contrasting them to Bourdieu’s approach. Boltanski’s paper What is it that Exists? Practice, Reinforcement and Critique as Modalities of Handling Social Uncertainty extends the previous theory with the reflections of two decades that have passed since the original development of critical sociology. The content and importance of Boltanski’s book Distant Suffering published in 1993 is the focus of Ágens Rényi’s paper Emotional research. In the mid-nineties Boltanski’s attention turned towards the topic of capitalism and he published the monumental work of The New Spirit of Capitalism together with co-author Eve Chiapello. In this edition Ágoston Fáber points out the diff erences and similarities between Boltanski’s and Bourdieu’s concept of capitalism and its critique. Connected to Boltanski’s work, the paper of Philippe Corcuff —published here with the aim of “broadening the perspective”—looks at the possible internal and external modalities of social critique and the difficulties raised by the different positions.

Released: Replika 62, 5–165.