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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the emergence of the economy of conventions/pragmatic sociology and its actual and potential contribution to organization studies. The discussion ranges from the early work of Luc Boltanski on French cadres through the development of economy of conventions as a distinct paradigm, and on to more recent work on the new ‘spirit’ of capitalism and on critique. Both the intellectual roots—e.g. in American pragmatism and classical French social theory—and the intellectual milieu of the approach are discussed. With respect to the latter, the chapter stresses the emergence of this approach out of a reaction against Pierre Bourdieu’s critical sociology. Some comparison is made to other perspectives influential within organization studies—notably neo-institutionalism—and the main lines of criticism are also considered. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the direct influence of the economy of conventions on organization studies via the work of David Stark.

Keywords: David Stark, Luc Boltanski, critique, economy of conventions, Laurent Thévenot, new spirit of capitalism, pragmatic sociology.

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