Sociologica <p><strong>Socio<em>logica</em> – International Journal for Sociological Debate – ISSN 1971-8853</strong> an international, peer-reviewed journal committed to fostering rigorous debate not only about theoretical and methodological issues but also about the practice of the sociological craft. Founded in 2007, Socio<em>logica</em> is one of the first international journals of sociology issued solely online and fully open access.</p> en-US <p>The copyrights of all the texts on this journal belong to the respective authors without restrictions.</p><div><a href="" rel="license"><img src="" alt="Creative Commons License" /></a></div><p>This journal is licensed under a <a href="" rel="license">Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License</a> (<a href="">full legal code</a>). <br /> See also our <a href="/about/editorialPolicies#openAccessPolicy">Open Access Policy</a>.</p> (Ester Cois) (OJS Support) Wed, 15 Mar 2023 17:17:49 +0100 OJS 60 From Innovation to Markets and Back. A Conversation with Michel Callon <p>In this conversation, Michel Callon reviews the major events and questions that have marked his scientific career. He begins by presenting the personal and political path that led him, after completing his engineering studies, to join the Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation at the École des Mines de Paris in 1968. His early work on the theme of innovation was conducted in a context where science and technology were the focus of multiple questions in economics and sociology. Michel Callon explains the collective research approach that led to the creation of the concept of translation, and the efforts to develop co-word analysis, an automated textual processing method designed to study the products of science and technology. It is from these questions on the processes of innovation, and from this long-standing dialogue with economists, that Michel Callon will develop, from the end of the 1990s, his work on markets. From research on the performativity of economic knowledge to the analysis of market agencements, this work has developed an original perspective on the dynamics of the economy, which goes beyond the criticisms usually levelled at capitalism by the social sciences. It invites us to develop a reflection on the plural roles that markets play not only in production and consumption, but also in the genesis of diverse social relations, in political organization and in crisis situations.</p> Alexandre Mallard, Michel Callon Copyright (c) 2022 Alexandre Mallard, Michel Callon Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0100 Introduction to the Flashback: Setting the Scene for John Hall’s “The Spectacle of Performance” <p>Introduction to John R. Hall’s “The Spectacle of Performance. The Postmodern Hyperreal and Medieval European Play (1992–2022)”.</p> Giovanni Zampieri Copyright (c) 2022 Giovanni Zampieri Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0100 The Spectacle of Performance. The Postmodern Hyperreal and Medieval European Play <p>A postmodernist claim concerning contemporary displacement of reality by "simulacra" that subsume reality can inspire a broader genealogy of reality, representation, play, and imaginaries. This essay examines: (1) the supposed postmodern displacement of modern boundaries between reality and representation; (2) medieval European performance; and (3) implications for understanding reality construction as a genealogical project. Any overly binary distinction between the modern and the postmodern is problematic. The social construction of reality, representation, play, and imaginaries occurs in societies in general. Consideration of medieval European venues (the Church, courts, and others) reveals contestation about performances of jugglers and acrobats, minstrels and mimes, courtly poets, and religious performers of spectacular ritual. Myriad medieval practices created a "near imaginary" of enchantment that permeated even quotidian reality with magic, angels, devils, and monsters, nevertheless resisting dramatization as such. Modernization, marked culturally by the emergence of realist Renaissance theater, established stronger boundaries between reality and imaginaries. Postmodern developments undermine rationalized modern policings of objective reality and representation. However, in contrast to medieval enchantment through a near-imaginary, simulacra organize life through more free-floating representations. This analysis offers a prototype for further histories of cultural constructions of reality in relation to performance and imaginaries.</p> John R. Hall Copyright (c) 2022 John R. Hall Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0100 After “The Spectacle of Performance” <p>The publication of “The Spectacle of Performance” three decades after it was written offers the opportunity to reflect upon the intellectual circumstances of its production; on what was and was not distinctive about it then; on where sociological and interdisciplinary studies of performance have come to in the years since; and about what the framing of Spectacle might still contribute so long after it was written. I suggest that performance, when understood not only in interactional terms but more broadly, in relation to temporally structured social formations, offers a basis for reorienting sociohistorical inquiry in a synthetic way.</p> John R. Hall Copyright (c) 2022 John R. Hall Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0100 “Spectacle of Performance” as a Spectacle of Interdisciplinarity. Comments on John Hall <p>Comment on John R. Hall's <em>The Spectacle of Performance. The Postmodern Hyperreal and Medieval European Play (1992-2022)</em>.</p> Andrea Cossu Copyright (c) 2022 Andrea Cossu Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0100 Explaining Machines: Social Management of Incomprehensible Algorithms. Introduction <p>This short introduction presents the symposium ‘Explaining Machines’. It locates the debate about Explainable AI in the history of the reflection about AI and outlines the issues discussed in the contributions.</p> Elena Esposito Copyright (c) 2022 Elena Esposito Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0100 The Crisis of Social Categories in the Age of AI <p>This article explores the change in calculation methods induced by deep learning techniques. While more traditional statical methods are based on well instituted categories to measure the social world, these categories are today denounced as a set of hardened and abstract conventions that are incapable of conveying the complexification of social life and the singularities of individuals. Today AI models try to overcome some criticism raised by rigid social categories by combining a "spatial and temporal expansion" of the data space, producing a global transformation of the calculation methods.</p> Jean-Marie John-Mathews, Dominique Cardon Copyright (c) 2022 Jean-Marie John-Mathews, Dominique Cardon Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0100 Does Explainability Require Transparency? <p>Dealing with opaque algorithms, the frequent overlap between transparency and explainability produces seemingly unsolvable dilemmas, as the much-discussed trade-off between model performance and model transparency. Referring to Niklas Luhmann's notion of communication, the paper argues that explainability does not necessarily require transparency and proposes an alternative approach. Explanations as communicative processes do not imply any disclosure of thoughts or neural processes, but only reformulations that provide the partners with additional elements and enable them to understand (from their perspective) what has been done and why. Recent computational approaches aiming at <em>post-hoc explainability</em> reproduce what happens in communication, producing explanations of the working of algorithms that can be different from the processes of the algorithms.</p> Elena Esposito Copyright (c) 2022 Elena Esposito Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0100 A Plea for Inexplicability <p>Explanations have long played a crucial role in the west’s metaphysics of control by providing levers by which we exercise control, but also by grounding our assumption that we are the legitimate and rightful masters of the world. Within this metaphysics, inexplicability looks like a failure. But machine learning may be teaching us a different lesson: Explicability is not a property of the universe, but inexplicability is. In short, the world is the ultimate black box. Accepting this may lessen our one-sided commitment to the general rules, principles, and laws that make western-style mastery seem possible. We may instead be entering a time when we are willing to value the particular at least as much as the general, and can embrace the hiddenness of the universe that grounds all that shows itself to us.</p> David Weinberger Copyright (c) 2022 David Weinberger Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0100 Qualification and Quantification in Machine Learning. From Explanation to Explication <p>Moving beyond the conundrum of explanation, usually portrayed as a trade-off against accuracy, this article traces the recent emergence of explainable AI to the legal “right to an explanation”, situating the need for an explanation in the underlying rule of law principle of contestability. Instead of going down the rabbit hole of causal or logical explanations, the article then revisits the Methodenstreit, whose outcome has resulted in the quantifiability of anything and everything, thus hiding the qualification that necessarily precedes any and all quantification. Finally, the paper proposes to use the quantification that is inherent in machine learning to identify individual decisions that resist quantification and require situated inquiry and qualitative research. For this, the paper explores Clifford Geertz’s notion of explication as a conceptual tool focused on discernment and judgment rather than calculation and reckoning.</p> Mireille Hildebrandt Copyright (c) 2022 Mireille Hildebrandt Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0100 Mapping Value(s) in AI: Methodological Directions for Examining Normativity in Complex Technical Systems <p>This paper seeks to develop a multidisciplinary methodological framework and research agenda for studying the broad array of 'ideas', 'norms', or 'values' incorporated and mobilized in systems relying on AI components. We focus on recommender systems as a broader field of technical practice and take YouTube as an example of a concrete artifact that raises many social concerns. To situate the conceptual perspective and rationale informing our approach, we briefly discuss investigations into normativity in technology more broadly and refer to 'descriptive ethics' and 'ethigraphy' as two approaches concerned with the empirical study of values and norms. Drawing on science and technology studies, we argue that normativity cannot be reduced to ethics, but requires paying attention to a wider range of elements, including the performativity of material objects themselves. The method of 'encircling' is presented as a way to deal with both the secrecy surrounding many commercial systems and the socio-technical and distributed character of normativity more broadly. The resulting investigation aims to draw from a series of approaches and methods to construct a much wider picture than what could result from one discipline only. The paper is then dedicated to developing this methodological framework organized into three layers that demarcate specific avenues for conceptual reflection and empirical research, moving from the more general to the more concrete: ambient technical knowledge, local design conditions, and materialized values. We conclude by arguing that deontological approaches to normativity in AI need to take into account the many different ways norms and values are embedded in technical systems.</p> Bernhard Rieder, Geoff Gordon, Giovanni Sileno Copyright (c) 2022 Bernhard Rieder, Geoff Gordon, Giovanni Sileno Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0100 The Political Flexibility of the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy <p>The article analyzes Robert K. Merton’s theory of the self-fulfilling prophecy, focusing on how the theory was used in US legal proceedings after 1954 concerning how state authorities should enforce racial desegregation in public schools. In those encounters, Merton's theory was used to support both immediate integration of schools and a much more gradualist reform program. The article argues that the self-fulfilling prophecy served opposite political ends because of its endogenous properties, notably its generality and ambiguity, and because of certain exogenous factors, notably the adversarial nature of U.S. court proceedings and the different political cultures that theory users inhabited. </p> Federico Brandmayr Copyright (c) 2022 Federico Brandmayr Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0100