April 3 and 4, 2023, Campus Condorcet, Aubervilliers-Paris, France.
Deadline: May 31, 2022
Robert Castel, Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) from 1990 until his death, in 2013, founded the Department of Sociology at the University of Vincennes (Paris) (now the University of Paris 8), where he taught until moving to the EHESS. He left behind him an impressive body of work, widely acclaimed by sociologists, as well as historians and legal scholars. And today? How widely can his influence be traced in contemporary reflections on social protection, wage society, the precariat, social supports, and the politics of the individual? Do sociological analyses of psychiatry still mobilise his critiques of psychological knowledge and practices, in order to observe the current upheavals related to the ambiguities of mental health policies, crisis of its institutions and renewal of its scientific paradigms? From Manual Workers to Wage Laborers: Transformation of the Social Question, Routledge, 2002), originally published in 1995, remains an essential reference. Yet a second key work, La gestion des risques [The Management of Risk] (Ed.de Minuit, 1981), launched at the turning point between the two moments of his intellectual trajectory, from psychiatry to the salaried society, remains far less visible internationally despite the great lucidity with which the book anticipated today’s actuarial logic of regulation policies. Nevertheless, Castel’s analysis of the extension of the ‘psy’ fields and the rise of a society supported by ‘therapists for normals’ has fueled a number of analyses and studies of the proliferation of practices related to the psychologisation of social relations, including personal development.
As Castel’s work prefigures and critically analyzes a politics of the individual that unfolds in a singular way in each political, social and cultural space, revisiting his legacy would allow us to better understand current developments in contemporary societies and the contrasts among their ways of realizing the commons. This international conference will take stock of Castel’s contributions and provide an opportunity to question the intellectual logics on which their pertinence in the contemporary world rests, in particular the national contexts of the reception of his work which allow us to understand its international circulation.
Examining the decade since his death will allow us to begin to take stock of the reception of his work, especially how it has been transmitted and mobilised in academic and political spaces beyond France. Framing this at the international level allows us to shift focus and fill a gap. If Latin America, where he was regularly invited, was undoubtedly the continent most attentive to his work during his lifetime, what about elsewhere? Above all, what about today? Where are his works still read? And for what purpose? How has his work contributed to generating innovative work?