Conflicts and Normative Production: A Pragmatic Approach

Posted: 1 Mar 2006

Date Written: December 2005


How to study local development when it seems that local societies are torn in a lot of "fragments", in different groups that do not communicate between them, do not understand them, do not accept them? What could be the contribution of political sociology to the study of development in polarised local societies? Considering different bodies of literature, the paper examines the reasons why it is necessary to examine conflicts and local development in relation to the forms of institutional mediation. To study the normative dimension involved in a conflict I studied some cases of allocative conflict at the urban level. Particularly, I tried to understand if, and how, in these cases the contentious process enacts a common normative tissue and social ties based on publics goods, recognized like commons. I consider normativity like a result, enacted in the dynamics of a conflict, and I develop my analysis within a public action theory that I elaborate from the pragmatic research program of the "political and moral sociology" (Boltanski, Thévenot 1991): I consider conflicts like "sequences of tests, submitted to a categorization more or less binding, that enact an arena of actors, which is composed of different stages, each one with its own temporality". So, I elaborate questions about the quality of mediations, about the public character of the conflict arena and about the normative competences of actors in conflict.

Keywords: Political Sociology, Urban Conflict, Normative Conflict, Governance, Social Norms

JEL Classification: D74, O18

Suggested Citation

Vitale, Tommaso, Conflicts and Normative Production: A Pragmatic Approach (December 2005). Available at SSRN:

Tommaso Vitale (Contact Author)

Sciences Po ( email )

27 Rue St. Guilllaume
Paris, 75007
+33.1.4549.8320 (Phone)


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