Papers for the Doctoral Day. Summaries


Third Session --- 15:00-16:30

4 parallel workshops


Workshop 1-3: Medical and social issues standing the test of public participation

Discussants: Emmanuel Picavet (Laboratoire "Logiques de l'Agir", Université de Franche-Comté) and Marie-Gabrielle Suraud (CERTOP, Université Toulouse III)


In the 1990s, patients' delegates (patients themselves or relatives) became involved in health care institutions' boards. These delegates are members of non-profits or volunteer organizations and are chosen by state officials. As patients take a more active role in the health care system, their function and responsibilities need to be defined. We studied the efficacy of commissions for patients' well being located in Grenoble. Our research has shown that their role is still limited in efforts to help the patients. We want to explore the idea of patient representation and understand how delegates get their political knowledge. This will allows us to futher analyse the communication strategies of the delegates and to define their role.


This contribution is placed in the analysis of the political effects of the participation to present a situation altering the repertories of the collective action. To engage in the interaction with the authorities, and in the spirit of a participative democracy, one can observe a form of action mixing professionality, expertise and citizen participation. In this case, a "group citizen" sets up - being based on the support of professionalized associations, which take part in a public policy - with an aim of initiating a critic of institutional operation to improve it (here, the attribution of social housing).
First of all, we will see what this repertory of action draws from the memory of the feminist activities of the seventies - "women groups" or groups of conscientisation - and of the ideas of popular education.
Then, we will present the effects in terms of reorganization in the repertory of collective action which generates this public activity in a form that is semi-militant and semi-academic, by taking support on the development of a citizen participation.

Pierre-André JUVEN

The implementation of prospective payment system (PPS) in French hospitals since 2004 has been rendered possible thanks to the production of a link between tariffs and Diagnosis Related Groups (DRG). Such a link had been developed prior to 2004 but, before this date, it was considered as a mere management tool. The prospective payment system is based on a « pay for performance » principle. Tariffs are currently calculated by the Technical Agency for Hospital Information. Patient organizations are not involved in the discussions about these calculations (whereas these organizations are more and more regarded as "obligatory passage points" for health policy). Yet an organization called Vaincre la mucoviscidose (VLM, Overcome the cystic fibrosis) has recently questioned the tariffs produced by the Ministery of Health's tariffs, especially the cystic fibrosis one. To do so, physicians of this organization have worked with two professors in management and one consultant. This case demonstrates that while patient organizations are already important partners for public institutions, they are now able to discuss technical matters such as tariffs. My presentation focuses on the ways in which VLM challenges the ministry's tariffs and how it questions the public treatment of cystic fibrosis.


Workshop 2-3: From public consultation to public participation

Discussants: Nathalie Éthuin (CERAPS, Université Lille II) and Guillaume Gourgues (PACTE, IEP Grenoble)


In 1973, Joseph Fontanet, minister of education, organized a debate about educational questions. He decided to constitute a special commission and used opinion polls about education for the first time. The institution of these new forms of participative dialogue went beyond the traditional dialogue with union organizations. Joseph Fontanet sought to generate a new way of thinking about educational questions and to produce knowledge that would facilitate measures he wanted to implement.  A final conference that presented the ideas under debate represented a new form of communication with the French people. The minister sought to go beyond the legislative process, which he believed was not sufficient to ensure transformations in educational politics. The reaction of teacher unionists attests to their discomfort with this form of dialogue that extended beyond their purview. In this fashion, Joseph Fontanet introduced a style of dialogue, which would become generalized in political dialogue in the years to come. His direct engagement with the entire educational community prefigured a new form of democratic exchange about educational issues.


For over thirty years, Quebec has established formal institutions of public consultation. Across the decades of institutionalization, the culture of participation which resulting yet continues to shake up the management model of public administration. To what extent does the context of new governance, whose participation is one of its bases, change the practices of public administration? Are the style of the policies and practices related to it "merely" a continuum of what was done before? Despite the many spheres in which "acts of participation" take part, participation is not immune to simply reduce its role and its goals and that, both on the part of the actors in a position of decision and of those who are involved in participatory processes. The differences of perception and intention of the actors contribute to this reduction. Public participation is still a tool. A democratic tool. And democracy itself is sometimes reduced to some "consensus requirement" that is forgetting the legitimacy of disagreement.


Local authority-initiated referendums have been a cornerstone of the UK Government's drive to improve citizen participation at a local level. Authorities have increasingly made use of local referendums since the 1990s, but little research has been carried out to explain and qualify this surge. This paper analyses the different local referendums held in the UK over the past two decades in order to expose their causes. Was there any "participatory momentum" in UK local authorities or was it a political strategy serving other interests, as has already been the case in other countries at the national level? Findings reveal that referendums were most often held to smooth over divisions within local parties or assemblies, to legitimate a controversial decision or to weaken political adversaries. Local authorities therefore never employed referendums as genuine participatory tools, but rather as a pragmatic and tactical solution to a given political problem. Consequently, the long-term impact of local referendums on citizen participation remains questionable.


Workshop 3-3: The professionnals of public participation

Discussants: Laurence Bherer (Université de Montréal) and Luigi Bobbio (Università di Torino)

Jean-Nicolas BIRCK

Our paper aims to enrich the findings of the lack of inclusion of participatory devices observation by a second phenomenon present either at the doors of participatory bodies, but even within these devices. If the admission fees of participatory democracy are high, efforts to prosper will also need to be consistent. By bringing our attention not only on the sociological characteristics of the participants but also on the concrete conditions of conduct of the sessions, we observed the presence of asymmetric relations between the participants led to a distinction between them, even to a draft ranking of citizens more or less formalized. Participation is therefore partially confiscated by the actors better equipped to dominate the discussion through the assimilation of the codes and behaviours expected by the organizers but also through their strategic use of resources such as "knowledge of use". These "chosen ones" can therefore succeed in building "citizen careers" whose foundations are similar to the behaviour already observed in studies of the construction of activists career and professionalization of activism and describe the formation of a new "citizen elite".

Nicolas FERRAN

From a critical reading of the works led in the field of the participation and its effects on the work of the elective staff, the present paper suggests investigating the potentialities heuristics and the methodological stakes of an ethnographical follow-up of the municipal assistants asked to lead the participatory offer.
Against the first sociological observations realized around the districts councils, our work aims at enlightening the strategies of politicization of these spaces otherwise than by the only stakes: these participatory tools are a frame of top-grade opportunity for the elected in the process of construction of their political leadership. For them, these councils are instruments of recruitment and mobilization of their followers within the local political competition.

Julien O'MIEL

CERAPS, Université Lille II
Socio-historical perspective on the political conduct of the participatory requirement: the case of Nord-Pas de Calais regional council

This paper will try to understand how the green party appropriated the « participatory requirement », a French phrase for identifying a social need for participatory democracy, within a regional council, in the framework of a government coalition. It will analyze the impact on the shape and strategies of regional policy-making. By focusing on the actors' constructions of participation history, I will show that the monopoly which Ecologists claim on the « participatory democracy seal » is a specialisation. It was in fact conceded by their Socialist allies, who display a lack of interest in controlling the definition of this seal. Instead, tensions are rather located in the debate on the creation of a vice-presidency for participatory democracy within the regional council, which the Ecologists obtained following the March 2010 regional elections. The primary characteristic of these tensions is the shared belief that it is necessary for disembodying « participatory requirement » from the ecologist enclave and to convert it into an institution.


Workshop 4-3: Critique of the devices of public debate

Discussants: Sylvie Clarimont (SET, Univ. de Pau) and Gérard Monédiaire (CRIDEAU/OMIJ, Univ. de Limoges)


Following the approach of previous researches in Communication studies, this paper proposes the completion of the work focusing on a normative reflection on the procedures and the evaluation of participatory devices. Our goal is to analyze the types of commitments used in the public sphere by the anti-nuclear movements to resist the injunction of participatory public debates. These debates, related to the nuclear power policy, are implemented under the aegis of the National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP). Using a socio-historical approach, we contextualize the implementation of participative tools and the forms of resistance against them in a longer perspective. Understanding and analyzing this form of communication and the information issues at stake, the social processes and the political strategies of actors constitute the next step in our work. Doing so enables us to improve the common understanding, through the prism of activist commitment, of the modern transformations of the public sphere.


Beyond the eloquence of traditional media, there is a particular noise coming from the people from "sans-part" (no part) that Rancière has explored his book Proletarian Nights: The Workers' Dream in Nineteenth-Century France. Those who are not legitimate to speak do any time by using some media tools at their disposal. Internet is one of this, it is a field of expression, dissemination and exposure to criticism of others for ideas. Thinking of Habermas on the public space it is revived and many researchers as Castells and Cardon have noted in recent work. In this context, our work focuses more specifically on the debate concerning the exploitation of shale gas in the Saint-Laurent in Quebec. It is based on two sources: memories of citizens presented at the (Bureau of Public Hearing on Environment BAPE) articles and comments on the debate in the Quebec newspaper Le Devoir. The tools used here are the text analysis software: Sémato and SATO. With their contributions, we will try to better understand the dynamics of the citizens' speach in this particular political context.

Clément MABI

The goal of this paper is to demonstrate that the arrangements for consultation established in France represent a dynamic of the institutionalization of citizen expression and that their own materiality contains a number of values and choices relative to the public policies, which allow them. Our approach is to prove that the development of public policies that encourage dialogic democracy leads to an evolution of normative instruments for public communication, as evidenced by the establishment of public debates organized by the CNDP (National Commission for Public Debate). To analyze these new forms of public action we will use the theory of arrangement by Michel Foucault as read by Gilles Deleuze, which was conceptualized to capture new forms of political mediation. We will test this theory on a case study, a public debate organized by the CNDP on the "offshore wind farm project in the both sea sides". We will also aim to demonstrate that the design of the device, according to the formats of expression it offers, embodies the power relations that shape asymmetries between actors.