illustration : Books

Books

The Books heading gathers critical reviews of selected social-sciences books.

La Suisse s’étale : c’est grave, docteur ?

Christian Schwick, Jochen Jaeger, René Bertiller, Felix Kienast, L’étalement urbain en Suisse — Impossible à freiner? Urban sprawl in Switzerland — unstoppable ?, Bern, Haupt, 2012.

| 18.03.2013

Schwick, Jaeger, Kienast and Bertiller have attempted to measure urban sprawl for the first time in Switzerland and evaluate its evolution over the past 50 years. In recent years, urban sprawl has been considered a phenomenon that must be restrained, both by political and scientific communities. The book reviewed in this paper contributes to the political awareness of the phenomenon. [...]

L’angle mort du monde.

Pierre Assouline, Une question d’orgueil, Paris, Gallimard, 2012.

| 18.03.2013

Le dernier Roman de Pierre Assouline retrace le parcours de Georges Pâques, un haut fonctionnaire français, gaulliste de droite, qui travailla durant deux décennies pour les services secrets soviétiques. L’auteur dépeint avec beaucoup de finesse les ressorts psychologiques qui mènent à trahir, au profit d’un système dont on ne partage pas l’idéologie. [...]

L’espace global parcouru par la philosophie occidentale.

Chris Younes, Thierry Paquot (dirs.), Espace et lieu dans la pensée occidentale, de Platon à Nietzsche, Paris, La Découverte, 2012.

Hervé Regnauld | 11.03.2013

Space is said to be « the dark side of thought » in continental philosophy. It is an extended substance thought by a thinking substance confined in a limited body. The problem is the union between the soul, which is supposed to be infinite, and the body, which is finite. Chris Younes and Thierry Paquot’s book lists, in a chronological way, a series of studies carried out by various philosophers and novelists who all offer a solution to escape [...]

Ciel ma vue aérienne !

Alex MacLean, Sur les toits de New York. Espaces cachés à ciel ouvert, Hors collection Essais & Documents, Paris, La Découverte, 2012.

Laurent Devisme | 25.02.2013

Contemporary to the growing place of visual cultures, many photographical projects become popular today through aerial views such as those offered by Google Earth. In this paper, Alex MacLean’s « Up on the roof : New York’s Hidden Skyline Spaces », recently published in France, is discussed and put into perspective. Although it shows the interest of a fifth urban façade, the book is disappointing in its overhanging photographies that remind us of the opposition between the map and [...]

Un regard pragmatique sur les controverses publiques.

Daniel Cefaï et Cédric Terzi (dir.), L'expérience des problèmes publics, Paris, Éditions de l'École des hautes études en sciences sociales, 2012.

Arthur Vuattoux | 18.02.2013

This book review is an opportunity to look back on the contribution of pragmatist sociology. The case studies discussed by the authors allow us to reflect on the complexity of a school of thought that has applications in a number of other areas, including the study of controversies and public issues. Through epistemological and methodological considerations, this paper discusses the relevance of a microsociological approach in the study of controversies. [...]

Comment comprendre les risques liés aux inondations ?

Nadia Dupont (dir.), Quand les cours d’eau débordent. Les inondations dans le bassin de la Vilaine du XVIIIème siècle à nos jours, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2012. Graeme S. Cumming, Spatial resilience in social-ecological systems, Dordrecht, Springer, 2011.

Patrick Pigeon | 11.02.2013

La parution récente de deux livres concernant les risques dits naturels, associés aux inondations, incite à comparer les approches systémiques et non systémiques que mobilisent les chercheurs sur la question. D’un côté, nous avons une lecture qui continue à valoriser la place de l’aléa dans l’interprétation des dommages, au moins dans un premier temps. De l’autre, nous constatons une approche délibérément plurifactorielle, qui mobilise explicitement et immédiatement l’analyse systémique. L’article montre les limites et la complémentarité de ces deux [...]

La théorie critique d’aujourd’hui à hier.

Jean-Marc Durand-Gasselin, L'École de Francfort, coll. « Tel », Paris, Gallimard, 2012.

| 04.02.2013

What is the current relevance of a critical social theory ? By broadly reconstructing the path that the Frankfurt School has taken from its origins in the late 1920s until today and with a historical as well as an intellectual point of view, Durand-Gasselin points out the contemporary theoretical issues that are raised by a critical attitude towards the present time. [...]

Performing Democracy.

John Parkinson, Democracy and Public Space : the physical sites of democratic performance, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012.

Patsy Healey | 10.12.2012

John Parkinson argues in his new book, Democracy and Public Space, that the physicality of public spaces matters for the quality of democracies. Drawing on deliberative democracy ideas, he shows why and how this physicality is important to the quality of democratic practices. He draws on studies of eleven capital cities from around the world. He is particularly interested in the staging and setting of democratic life. He identifies four roles which these public spaces play : as stages [...]

Les intellectuels français ont-ils perdu la raison ?

Pascal Engel, Les lois de l’esprit. Julien Benda ou la raison, Paris, Éditions Ithaque, 2012.

| 19.11.2012

In his latest book, Les lois de l'esprit : Julien Benda ou la raison, Pascal Engel presents the harsh criticism that Julien Benda addressed to the French intellectuals of his time, the first half of the 20th century. Benda accused them of having betrayed reason. Engel explains why Benda was led to this criticism, and approves of it. He even suggests that the same could be done with a large part of French intellectuals today. [...]

Ne croyez pas en la littérature.

Yves Citton, Zazirocratie. Très curieuse introduction à la biopolitique et à la politique de croissance, Paris, Éditions Amsterdam, 2011.

Gaspard Turin | 13.11.2012

Yves Citton’s book is as curious as its title suggests, and as unusual as its subtitle proclaims. Professor of French literature, Citton, who is also a political philosopher, takes interest in an obscure and forgotten Norman physician, Charles-François Tiphaigne de la Roche (1722-1774), author of L’Empire des Zaziris sur les humains. Through an exhaustive reading of Tiphaigne’s work — his writing is thoroughly covered as well as sometimes slated —, Citton refers to motifs and themes as various and [...]