Research Topics

Image de Patrick Tomasso

After graduating from a Master in management, I began to learn about sociology during my doctoral research years.  My PhD thesis in management Science (1994) addressed the modes of organization of arts organizations. In retrospect I think I was particularly interested in these organizations because they seemed particularly resistant to management ! To understand their effectiveness, it was then necessary to rely on theoretical corpuses other than those of management sciences. This first door into sociology was extended over the years. My publications were more and more inscribed in sociology until my change of institution in 2013, which enacted my disciplinary shift. All the works I developed after my Ph.D constitute different facets of an economic sociology of capitalism that relies on management practices and management tools.

My work on the transformations of capitalism began with the book co-authored with Luc Boltanski in 1999 (The New Spirit of Capitalism). This work was based on a comparison of managerial texts from the 1960s and the 1990s put in relation with transformations of the ways companies are organized and managed. I then broadened the temporal focus to take into account other transformations of capitalism, older or more recent than the 1970s turning point that was at the heart of the book. This is namely the case with financialization, which has been my focus since 2014.

I have also widened my approach to these issues. To the study of the discourses, I have added the study of management techniques, particularly of accounting.  My more recent work is thus inspired by STS (Sciences and Technologies Studies) and the sociology of quantification. In a 2013 book with P. Gilbert, we proposed a framework for the sociological analysis of management tools and techniques, accounting being one of them.

In my recent work, I use this critical eye (on the socio-technical devices as well as on the normative discourses that fabricate the economic world) to understand financialization and in particular the way public policies are transformed by the implementation of financialized techniques and cognitive frameworks.  While companies claim to be committed to sustainable development policies and to be concerned about their social and environmental performance, we are witnessing a financialization of social and environmental policies. In the age of financialized capitalism, a particular way of dealing with social and environmental issues, based on the tools and cognitive frameworks of finance,  is strongly developing. This leads me to reflect on how the motives and interests of finance meet social and environmental concerns.