The Sociology of Vocational Prizes: Recognition as EsteemReport as inadecuate

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1 CRAL - Centre de recherches sur les arts et le langage

Abstract : Artistic and scientific activities, pertaining to the world of -vocation-, are here closely linked to recognition issues. Referring to recent trends in French, German and American sociology and political philosophy, this paper addresses the very status of recognition in present day sociology. Grounded on two empirical surveys about literary and scientific prizes, conducted according to the methods of comprehensive sociology, it displays some of the axiological problems raised by such a mode of recognition, namely the issue of justice, through the fair ways to award a prize, and the issue of envy, through the fair ways to accept one. On a more theoretical ground, it aims to demonstrate that the place of prizes in vocational activities can be better understood through, first, a close examination of the symbolic dimensions of recognition which questions the limits of materialism and utilitarianism; second, an awareness of the interdependency between competitors and their judges in prize competitions which upends traditional simplistic denunciation of recognition systems in theories of dominations; third, an acknowledgement of the fundamentally unequal dimensions of esteem against the reduction of recognition to an egalitarian respect. It thus illustrates the necessity of a triple shift: first, from material to -symbolic- or, rather -intangible- outcomes; second, from a concern with power and domination to a concern with interdependency; and third, from recognition conceived as egalitarian respect to recognition conceived as un-egalitarian esteem.

Keywords : 1900-1999 french literature relationship to science role of literary prizes sociological approach

Author: Nathalie Heinich -



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