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Théorie des pratiques sociales, concepts et méthodologies


4 au 5 octobre 2018


Marlyne Sahakian (UNIGE), Philip Balsiger (UNINE)


Bente Halkier (Université de Copenhague), Marie Plessz (INRA), Marlyne Sahakian (UNIGE), Philip Balsiger (UNINE)


This module is designed for PhD candidates in sociology, based in French-speaking western Switzerland, who wish to explore concepts in relation to methods. We plan to bring together 8 to 10 students in a unique setting of the La Sage, to discuss recent developments in social practice theories, and bridge concepts with qualitative and quantitative methods. Social practice theory builds on earlier developments by Giddens and Bourdieu, among others, and is presented as a conceptual alternative to other forms of social and cultural theory. In this session, the conceptual lens will be discussed, as developed in the work of Shatzki and Reckwitz, among others, with direct implications for methodological issues – such as how to observe and analyse practices, avoiding methodological individualism. Several additional questions will be addressed, including: How to go beyond action and discourse, to engage with collective understandings and material arrangements? How to move from descriptions to a typology of practices? How to bring together both qualitative and quantitative approaches, specifically in the translation of qualitative data analysis into survey formats?

The program will be delivered in English with more personalized discussions possible in French, as needed. Walk-and-talk sessions are also planned, to encourage discussions between the lecturers and PhD candidates on their topics, and on more general issues related to the PhD, as well as a series of workshops to encourage learning by doing.



Hotel La Sage, La Sage, Evolène 1985 (Valais), Suisse


Travel information :


Thursday October 4

Train to Sion - departure 8.30 (Geneva), 9.17 (Lausanne)

Bus from Sion to Les Haudères - La Sage, Arrival 11.30


Friday October 5

Departure at 15.04 (La Sage) - Arrival 17.43 (Lausanne), 18.30 (Geneva)









Thursday October 4



Working lunch: welcome and introductions; notes on a board: what merits further clarification from the reading materials? What burning questions do doctoral candidates want to address?



Introducing practice theory (Philip Balsiger and Marlyne Sahakian); Why the focus on practices? What is a practice? What is not a practice? What are the elements of a practice? Key concepts and limits of the approach.



Drawing practices, the elements and how they inter-relate (Philip Balsiger and Marlyne Sahakian); Students work individually or in groups on describing the practice of food provisioning; plenary discussion around findings, specifically the similarities and differences between practices, and how practices inter-relate.



Coffee/tea break, followed by a "Walk and Talk". PhD candidates are invited to participate in a walk, in small groups, with lecturers - to discuss and address any more specific questions related to their work.



From methodological individualism to practice-based typologies (Bente Halkier). Presentation, discussions and "learning by doing".







Friday October 5







Practice approach and quantitative data: application to time-use surveys (Marie Plessz)



Coffee/tea break



Workshop on how to capture practices using survey questions: "learning by doing" (Marie Plessz)







Wrap up: Looking forward: where practice theory is headed (in relation to cultural dimensions, emotions, theories of change, power relations, action research, etc.)



Addressing the points of clarification of day 1.











Hôtel de la Sage (Val d'Hérens)




Readings prior to the course (required readings in bold)


Halkier, B. (2011). "Methodological Practicalities in Analytical Generalization" Qualitative Inquiry 17(9): 787-797.

Plessz, M. and Etile (in press). "Is cooking still a part of our eating practices? Analysing the decline of a practice with time-use surveys." Cultural Sociology.

Note to participants: you can skip the most technical details and the Appendices


Reckwitz, A. (2002). "Toward a Theory of Social Practices: A Development in Culturalist Theorizing." European Journal of Social Theory 5(2): 243-263.


Further reading:


Dubuisson-Quellier, S. and M. Plessz (2013). "La théorie des pratiques: Quels apports pour l'étude sociologique de la consommation ?" Sociologie 4(4).


Halkier, B. (2009). "Suitable cooking? Performances and positionings in cooking practices among Danish women." Food, Culture and Society 12(3): 357-377.


Sahakian, Marlyne, and Harold Wilhite. 2014. "Making practice theory practicable: towards more sustainable forms of consumption." Journal of Consumer Culture 14(1):25–44.


Be prepared to share questions that have emerged from your readings at the start of the PhD workshop: what needs to be further clarified?




Délai d'inscription 18.09.2018
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