Research History and Experience
In my Ph.D. thesis on the commodification of information and knowledge in industrial societies, I proposed a new paradigm for information management—the informational eco-system—, I also coined information ecology, in which information is considered a common good and a patrimonial (inherited) resource, the management of which is based on multiple legitimacies, and which is defined by a compromise between conflicting ethical, civic, industrial, and commercial legitimacies. This approach, influenced by the concept of “économies de la grandeur” developed by the sociologists Boltanski and Thévenot (1991) on one hand, and by environmental ecology on the other, brought me to Japan in 1993 to join a research laboratory involved in developing scientific and technical information databases (National Center for Scientific Information Systems, University of Tokyo), where I developed a program to characterize the specificities of Japanese capitalism in terms of the production, circulation, and management of information and knowledge.
Next, after joining the CNRS as a research fellow in 1994, in conjunction with the research team of Prof. Jean Gadrey (University of Lille1), I expanded my interest in the forms and limits of the industrialization of information to include international comparative studies in the broader domain of the industrialization of service activities (1995-2008). Based on my empirical fieldwork in Japan—mainly conducted during my first Visiting Fellowship at the Maison Franco-Japonaise (1995-1998) in Tokyo, and then at several Japanese research centers (Nagoya, Kobe, Tokyo)—I contributed to a socio-economic perspective on the “tertiarization” process of industrial economies, analyzing the social construction of employment and job professionalization, particularly among women and youth. The objective was not only to provide comparisons between countries in terms of quantities (employment, working time, economic wealth creation) but also to pay attention to qualitative aspects of service economies and their differences and similarities. It was necessary to integrate sociological knowledge in order to better describe these qualities, in particular by re-embedding social and political conventions into the economic reality to which they belong. At the time, I was already experiencing the consequences of a process of production of ignorance. This was also an opportunity to understand how and why the relatively sustainable dimension of inequalities (mainly based on gender and age) that had been supporting the contemporary Japanese economy was actually being eroded in the 90’s while inequalities were becoming unsustainable, given that a growing part of the population was left behind in the precariousness trap.
Beginning in 2009 my research interest shifted to the ways in which some sections of Japanese youth on the “fringe” of society and in the midst of an economic crisis (as well a crisis of representations and institutions) were trying to resist and cope in the face of adversity by creating new forms of organization, exchange, and production: new representations, identities, and a new social construction of modes of realities beneath the “crisis.”
More specifically, my field work concentrated on individuals and groups who were searching for: a place where they would be protected and receive attention; for a link no longer provided by traditional sites such as the labor market or the educational system; and for a belonging to a whole that neither the “society” nor the “nation” were able to provide. Mobilizing resources from works of sociology and political philosophy, I was able to contribute evidence, definitions, and premises for a theoretical framework that would be able to identify an emerging reality.
This framework is organized around: 1) The formulation of a socio-economy of the ordinary and of radical democracy ie: ordinarily and spatially defined through the exploration of the low, the next and the common; 2) A redefinition of institutions within a context of “crisis” and of their relation to emergence 3) The premises of a pre-figurative economy and politics, in which actors have actually already situated themselves in the “after-crisis” by developing a de-hierarchized and multi-centered economic system within the existing one, operating a multiplicity of individual and irreversible micro-transformations, thus modifying the system.
This anthropological research experience, from which, apart from publications, I also made two research documentary films, provided me with resources to face, at least conceptually, the disaster to come. The March 11 disaster unveiled a deep shift in Japanese society, a shift which was somehow being prepared and that my work and observations have been approaching before the events of March. When the disaster happened, groups and individuals I met during my previous research became crucial actors in the intense panic that followed. They did what the State was unable to do: organize help for the population, try to convince people to leave the dangerous areas, assist them in restarting their lives, and, for the large majority who remained on the contaminated lands, establish an autonomous radiation control in order to inform everyone and to define health protocols and the terms of a “new life.” The Fukushima accident was not only an industrial accident; it upset not only lives, but also the course of human evolution. This is the main motive for my engagement in research related to the Fukushima disaster, and also for making a third research documentary film on the nuclear accident survivors’ condition.
Since January 1st 2013 and for a period of four years, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS, and its Institute for Human and Social Sciences) has acknowledged the existence of the International Associated Laboratory (LIA): “Human Protection and Responses to Disaster - Intensive Care in Industrial Societies.” A convention was signed in October 2013 (http://www2.cnrs.fr/presse/communique/3281.htm) with Japanese partners: The Graduate School of Global Studies - University of Doshisha, Kyoto, represented by Prof. Anne Gonon (co-scientific director), and The Fukushima Future Center for Regional Revitalization – University of Fukushima, represented by Prof. Ryota Koyama. I am the scientific director of the French side of this international and interdisciplinary collaboration that aims to bring together specialists in the human and social sciences and other disciplines such as engineering, agronomy, health and environmental studies, in order to develop: 1) Complementary approaches to the human and social sciences of nuclear energy; 2) New forms of ethical concerns (care and human security) and politics (citizenship claims); 3) An analysis of the present situation in the two countries with respect to the nuclear industry and the debates underway, in comparable forms, since the Fukushima accident. These three orientations have led us to develop a common approach to the challenge of analyzing vulnerability and various modalities of responses to it. Hence, the LIA aims to build on complementarities and shared reflection on the limits of the concept of human security, on questions linked to public policies in the context of Fukushima, and on the articulation of human protection and democracy, of politics and public choices.
Formally, the LIA has two broad research orientations: 1) Protection and Vulnerability: Public Policies and the Variety of Responses to Disasters: what kind of human protection can be conceived and enacted in situations of total vulnerability? 2) Knowledge, Society, and Democracy After Fukushima: this research action focuses the place of information and knowledge in a nuclear society, and it aims to bring out the articulation between information/knowledge and human protection.
As for the financial aspects, the CNRS Institute for Human and Social Sciences provides a yearly fund of 14,000 Euros for 4 years (renewable), dedicated to operation expenses: missions linked to the workshops and symposiums, traveling between the sites, documentation and activities related to hosting young researchers. The Japanese partners bring and manage their own budgets. Five researchers are now involved in the program on the French side, and five on the Japanese side.
Since 2016, I continued my investigation aiming at contributing to a new political sociology of knowledge and ignorance taking nuclear as a field study. In 2016-2017 I was laureate of the European programme EURIAS, European Institutes for Advanced Study Fellowship Programme, and visiting fellow at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study Bremen-Delmenhorst. My research theme was : « Nuclear in post-Fukushima societies : Risk conceptions and ignorance production ». Lately I dedicated my research to a critical analysis of the notion of resilience mobilized in disaster situations. I am now preparing a book on that topic.
Formation/Emploi actuel/Bourses et postes d'enseignement et de recherche
1983 Licence d’économie, Université Catholique de Lille, France.
1991 Doctorat d’économie appliquée: Espace Européen, Economique et Social. Thèse: « Formes et limites de la marchandisation de l’information – Vers une approche patrimoniale de l’économie de l’information », Directeur Prof. Jean Gadrey ; Membres du jury : O. Favereau, P. Grevet, G. Losfeld, M. Ronai, O. Weinstein) ; Mention « Très honorable », Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille, 4 octobre.
2015 Habilitation à diriger des recherches (HDR): « Connaissance, échappée et déraison dans la société industrielle - Itinéraire d’une recherche vécue » ; Jury: A. Gonon (Prof. Sociology Univ. Doshisha Kyoto); B. Guillarme (Prof. Political Philosophy Univ. Paris8); F. Jany-Catrice (Prof. Economics Univ. Lille1); A. Ogien (Senior Res. Sociology CNRS-EHESS); Y.Vanderborght (Prof. Political Sciences, St. Louis Univ. Bruxelles); R. Sobel (Prof. Economics Univ. Lille1), Université de Lille 1, 28 janvier.
1994- Chargé de recherche CR1, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), section 37 Economie ; Laboratoire: Centre Lillois d’Etudes et de Recherches Sociologiques et Economiques (CLERSE - UMR CNRS 8019, Université de Lille 1) ; Directrice: Bernadette Tillard (sociologue).
Bourses, postes d’enseignement et de recherche
1989-1991 Bourse doctorale de l’Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille (USTL France).
1992-1994 Chercheur invité au National Center for Scientific Information Systems (NACSIS), University of Tôkyô. Bourse postdoctorale de la Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science.
1994-1998 Chercheur détaché, Maison franco-japonaise, Tôkyô.
1999 Chercheur invité à la Faculty of Economics, University of Nagoya, Japan (Jan-May).
2000 Chercheur invité au Japan Institute of Labor, Tôkyô (Jan-March).
2002 Chercheur invité, Faculty of Management, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand (July-December).
2005 Professeur invité, Graduate School of Economics, Kwansei Gakuin University, Kobe, Japan (April-May).
2006 Professeur invité, Institut für Soziologie, Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena, Germany (April-July).
2009-2014 Chercheur détaché, Institut français de recherche sur le Japon, Maison Franco-Japonaise, Tôkyô (UMIFRE 19 CNRS-MAEE).
2015-2016 Pré-sélection par le European Institutes for Advanced Study (EURIAS) Fellowship Programme.
2016-2017 Sept-juin. Lauréat du programme européen EURIAS, European Institutes for Advanced Study Fellowship Programme, visiting fellow Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study Bremen-Delmenhorst. Thème de recherche : « Le nucléaire dans les sociétés post-Fukushima : conceptions du risque et production de l’ignorance ».