1 | 2017 - Facing the challenge of the event in the Social Sciences and the Humanities

The wave of attacks that shook France in January 2015 and the multiple explanatory interpretations given to them by the media raised a question among the members of our program: how can we give an immediate scientific response to a factual phenomenon of such complexity? In other words, how can an event - that is, a temporal marker distinguishing a before and an after - call into question our scientific practice, which is based on duration, or even the long term? This issue contains both polemical texts to which it is not our place to respond directly, and theoretical and methodological articles focusing either on the notion of the ‘exceptional case’ or on the notion of the ‘event’ itself. Other, more empirical contributions illustrate the different ways of understanding the event, depending on the definition of the term and the working method specific to each discipline in the humanities and social sciences.

1. Projet scientifique et description de la revue Sociétés plurielles

Marie-Louise Pelus-Kaplan ; Gabrielle Chomentowski ; Liliane Crips ; Madalina Vartejanu-Joubert.
The Journal “Sociétés Plurielles” is part of the homonymous Interdisciplinary Research Programme whose aim is to approach the fundamental topic of plurality and pluralism by creatively associating humanities and social sciences. “Sociétés Plurielles” is an academic journal publishing, in thematic or Varia issues, papers showing a strong interdisciplinary commitment. When preparing the inaugural issue, in 2015, the editorial board had to face the tragic events that occurred in France at that time, mainly the attacks against Charlie Hebdo and against the kosher store at Porte de Vincennes. Those circumstances led us to interrogate, on an epistemological as well as methodological level, the very place of the “event” in the social and human sciences. The present volume gathers together historians, sociologists, geographers and political scientists who address this question through several and specific case studies.
Section: Introduction

2. Lessons learned from the January 2015 Paris attacks: Double standards and Universalism

Jean-Loup Amselle.
“Lessons learned from the January 2015 Paris attacks: Double standards and Universalism”. This paper revisits the notion of republican universalism which has been challenged for by the highly publicized statements of right- and left-wing political leaders for several years, as well as by intellectuals and associations. The author’s intent is to warn against the predominance of a racialized view of French society, reflected in the challenge of the “double standard” principle by certain associations and in the competition created between the various victims of racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
Section: Free column

3. Village for social inclusion: a territorial event?

Elise Roche.
The event is a regular topic of history and sociology. Crossing historic field and social geography, we suggest the concept of « territorial event ». This article examines how the spatial approach could improve the concept of event, exceeding the time or media analysis approach. This study is focused on two specific housing projects for Roma, named « Village for social inclusion » and both located in Saint-Denis (93). Roma people live specific social difficulties, because of their migratory status. Characteristics of « territorial event » are in number of three: (1) the new territorial structure bring out surprise and a lack of comprehension; (2) the event is established as “event” for specific actors and specific scale: it depends of the context and it allows to detect several territorial and historical structures; (3) the shortage in the structure of territory: it will be different before and after the territorial event.
Section: Articles

4. The Institutions of Stupor. Review of Event Sociologies

Nagisa Mitsushima.
“The institutions of stupor. Review of event sociologies”. This article argues that events, deemed to be defined through the scope of contingency and disruption, are actually tied to a strong institutional framework that greatly constrains what could be done and said during the event. A literature review shows that social sciences should take better account of historical and conventional dimensions of events. By putting forward proposals to study the infrastructure of events, the article’s goal is to specify a complementary analysis of the object "event", through the prism of historical sociology and sociology of institutions.
Section: Articles

5. « In sentinel in its own house ». Reflections on the terrorism as civil war - the case study of the French wars of religion (1562-1598).

Jérémie Foa.
This paper offers to think about the problems faced by a society confronted with the presence - real or fantasized - of the « enemy within ». In this society, the identification of the other and the self-presentation do not only serve to protect the social honor but are matters of life and death. What are the skills mobilized for identifying the "suspects"? The wars of Religion (1562-1598) can help to think of a society confronted with sudden violence and, just like the terrorism, from the inside of the community.
Section: Articles

6. Music, religion, multiple belongings: an even approach

Monika Salzbrunn.
The first part of this article deals with a critical review of the notion of event. Instead of predefining social groups, the author uses events as entry points to the field. She shows how multiple belongings in the Lake Geneva region are celebrated during religious events: music is a central mode of expression of diversity in a translocal context.. The research process starts with a focus on events and the analysis of actors who put on stage their multiple belonging. These festive events are situated in a political, geographic and social context.
Section: Articles

7. Epistemology of the exception

Ivan Ermakoff.
Exceptional cases are at odds with the typical : they stand out as bizarre and rare. What then could justify their systematic analysis? Elaborating the analytical distinction between anomalies, exceptions and outliers, this paper outlines three potential epistemic contributions of exceptional cases. First, exceptional cases reveal the limits of standard classification categories. In so doing, they problematize usual classificatory grids. Their input is critical. Second, exceptional cases point to new classes of objects. They acquire paradigmatic status when they exemplify the characteristic features of these new classes with utmost clarity. Third, exceptional cases magnify relational patterns that in more mundane contexts lack visibility. Here their contribution is heuristic. These three contributions become possible when we put at bay normative expectations of what should happen, and specify cases by reference to an analytical space of constitutive dimensions. To underscore the general significance of these observations, I draw on examples borrowed from different quarters of the social sciences: the sociology of organizations, ethnomethodology, comparative historical sociology and the history of science
Section: Articles

8. Confronting the non-event: Reflections based on fieldwork in Algiers

Thomas Serres.
This article studies the production and the reception of a "non-event" by drawing on the Algerian presidential elections of 2014. It argues that a non-event must be understood as the product of a publicization, of the expectations of the observers and actors who anticipate a revolutionary or catastrophic future, and of social and political routine activities that also contribute to its appearance. While the non-event is not a clear break, it can still be interrogated in order to reveal the social structures and imaginaries that lead to its production. In the meantime, a certain distance from the "non event" is necessary to grasp less spectacular phenomena that it tends to obscure
Section: Articles