The Critical Sociology and the Sociology of Criticism

Luc Boltanski



The aim of the present article is to shed light on the background of the analytical frame that has been developed by the author himself and his colleague L. Thévenot in De la justification. Les économies de la grandeur. It has been conceived as an instrument to be applied in the analysis of the critical operations (criticism and justification in situations of conflict) carried out by the actors in their everyday lives. Yet the position of the sociologist and therefore of his work is challenged at the same time. The critical actor and the “classical” sociologist that pretend to have access to a more genuine reality than ordinary people have and that thus assume a critical position, appear to be much closer to each other than it is usually believed. In order to make the analysis of the critical operations possible, this position of the “classical” sociologist must be abandoned. This is how our critical societies, in which actors are endowed with critical resources and use them quasi-permanently, can be grasped as an object of sociological analysis. The author then examines the conditions of possibility of such a sociology of criticism and the sociologist’s new position he is conducted hereafter to occupy.


critical operations; everyday life; critical sociology; sociology of criticism; sociologist and his position

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TEORIE VĚDY / THEORY OF SCIENCE – journal for interdisciplinary studies of science is published twice a year by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Centre for Science, Technology, and Society Studies). ISSN 1210-0250 (Print) ISSN 1804-6347 (Online) MK ČR E 18677 web: /// email: