Research Group 2: “Engagement, political life and the media”

Leads: Christophe Gimbert, Christine Guionnetand Bleuwenn Lechaux

The Research Group is made up of researchers from several disciplines (political science, sociology, information and communication sciences, history) interested in the sociology of actors taking part at both infrapolitical level (social movements) and institutional level (links to citizenship, study of political life and its key players), and in changes taking place in journalism and related areas (historic construction, professional identities and practices, discourse, socio-economics of the media).

Focal areas of the team’s work include the political engagement of invisible groups in the social space (young adults, women, working classes, or conversely, the ruling classes) and non-conventional types of political action (informal, amateur and low-profile engagements, or engagement as part of professional practice, and attempts to do politics “differently” or “elsewhere”).

In addition, the team investigates professionalisation and de-professionalisation processes in different fields, in particular politics and the media. Lastly, the mediatisation and construction of public issues are also central to the concerns of the team, whose ambition is to approach them through a multi-disciplinary perspective.

Team 2’s work on these different themes takes a highly international approach, in terms of both the fields involved and its scientific collaborations. Numerous comparative analyses range from infra-European comparisons (France, Germany, UK, Belgium, Italy), comparisons between France and countries outside Europe, in particular the Americas (United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Southern Cone), and at infra-regional international level (Brittany-Quebec-Wales). The socio-historical foothold of political life is also important, providing an occasion for regularly taking on new historian members, whose participation consolidates the multi-disciplinary and international aspects of the team.

Studies are associated with numerous joint research programmes (European and national) tackling key questions such as the engagement of young Europeans, the biographic repercussions of political activism in 1968, environmental health movements, and media treatment of diversity in sport on television.

The team’s research is divided into four hubs:

Youth and citizenship

With a constant aim to deconstruct the “youth” category, investigations in this hub look at forms of young people’s citizen involvement, and at the means of public intervention aimed at young people. The analysis of their participation is broken down into different categories: engagement practices, militant activity, notion of belonging to a territory, etc.

Other areas explored include situations of vulnerability and forms of discrimination targeting young people, exclusion of young adults distanced from public policy, public orders and measures aimed at different sectors of the public, in particular at school (personalised teaching at high school, attempts to prevent early school leaving), and education and vocational training in colonial situations.

These activities partly come under the Youth Research Chair secured in 2012.

Engagement and mobilisation

A second hub of studies looks at political activism and engagement, possibly as part of professional/trade union activities (in agricultural, artistic and teaching spheres), analysed in terms of contemporary changes to work. Varied types of action and forms of engagement are explored, i.e. civil resistance, radicalisation, use of new technologies, etc. These are all ways of “resisting” in contemporary societies, which, as well as drawing on tried and tested types of action, are reinventing themselves.

In addition, by observing the spatialised/topographic foothold of engagement, this hub highlights how militant strategies interconnect at different scales. Some of the group’s members work on the historical dimension of these kinds of mobilisation, paying particular attention to changes in political activism over time on micro-, meso- and macro-sociological levels.

The spatial dimension of engagement is explored within a seminar entitled, “engagement and (de)territorialisation”. Long-term immersion in the environment studied is central to our research methods. This requirement has led to recognition of the team’s expertise in ethnographic and historical studies of contemporary types of engagement (ANR, funding from ANSES, ADEME, regional PhD grants, symposia sponsored by AFSP, participation in ECPR networks, researcher invited to take part in a Marie Curie/European Union Chair).

Lastly, several studies undertaken in this research area involve an international/transnational and comparative dimension. Specifically, the work undertaken by several team members on political engagement on the American continent finds scientific continuity in different institutions, with membership of The Institut des Amériques (IdA)scientific interest group, and participation in the work of the MSH-B think tank “Armorica, Americas, Atlantic”.

Political and media life/lives

Another research hub centres on media and political (right- and far-left wing) organisations, and on research into personnel and figures in the media and politics (local representatives, members of parliament) in their socio-historical foothold. This involves looking closely at the organisational life of these groups and exploring the lives of people who invest in them, i.e. considering their social trajectories and professional careers. These studies aim, for example, to explore the respective value of resources in the hands of political figures (media visibility vs. institutional positions, which might be partisan, state-based or territorial). An analysis of the production processes of political information sheds light on the asymmetrical, shifting power balance between journalists and political representatives, and the forms of political mediatisation in its everyday aspects (e.g. political pages of daily newspapers) and events (e.g. televised political debates). The laboratory has recognised expertise in local and national political activities. This field of analysis, which is a traditional area of political science, continues to bring together historians and political scientists. Another of the laboratory’s recognised areas of expertise concerns the journalist profession and its boundaries, with a particular focus on changes in journalism jobs, related career paths and access to professional status (precarious workers, bloggers, etc.), and career entrances and exits.

Journalisms and the public space

This hub concentrates a significant proportion of research-lecturers working on the theme of journalism in France. Their backgrounds in information and communication science, political science and sociology bring an inter-disciplinary approach. The researchers are located at three academic centres (Rennes 1 University – in particular the Lannion and Rennes University Institutes of Technology – Sciences Po Rennes – Catholic University of the West), while several members live and teach abroad (Belgium, Brazil, Canada).

They closely study changes in the journalism profession and related activities, which can be grouped into four directions, i.e. the historic construction processes of professional groups, journalism boundaries and professional identities; the socio-economics of the media; processes to produce and represent information seen through gender; and the relationship of journalism with other social areas (politics, political activism, economics, etc.) and mediatisation of public issues.

Pursuing one and/or more of these perspectives, its members have worked or are working on varied research topics, such as: precarious producers of information; typographers and sub-editor journalists; French correspondents abroad; local press correspondents; narrative journalism; the impacts of multi-support journalism; regional and digital press; media business models; mediatisation of sport; transboundary information; gendered assignations in the media; pornographic press; participation of ethnic minorities in the journalistic space; politics on television; militant use of the media; online “citizen journalism”; the ethics debate in online articles; war correspondents; and the relationships between journalists and computer scientists.

The hub’s research covers a particularly wide geographical area (Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Italy, etc.). Its projects also readily transfer the hub’s scientific work into a teaching context (higher diploma in journalism at Lannion technical university, Master in journalism at Sciences-Po Rennes) and interaction with socio-economic environments.

Team activity and participation in cross-cutting projects

In addition to these areas of specialisation, the team puts together collective work by organising an annual in-house study day. The objective of this event is to tackle several types of collective work, such as: presentations by certain team members on their latest research or current work; seminars organised around key notions or studies and involving several members; and scientific workshops on methodological issues (collective lectures and theoretical and methodological discussions).

These meetings gather all members of Research Group to pursue several inextricably linked objectives, i.e. to improve mutual understanding of our researches; to identify common theoretical or methodological problems and approaches based on which we organise scientific events (such as the symposium “Exploring ‘unlikely’ engagement through its professionnal routine” in October 2015); and to encourage the formation of groups working on joint publication projects. The theme “engagement and professionalisation” will probably be the focus of a future study day for the team.

Lastly, the Research Group is actively involved in cross-cutting research projects at the heart of the Arènes five-year programme: “Policies related to Stages of Life”; “Environment, Political Ecology, Health, Sustainable Development”; “Mediatisation and Construction of Public Issues”; and “Ordinary Relationships to Gender”. It is worth noting that our investigations into the issue of gender reflect long-standing collective research in the laboratory, first as part of a subject tackled by the team, then at cross-cutting seminars devoted to gender for several years. The fact that this topic attracts the interest of numerous researchers in all of the Arènes teams prompted the decision to no longer connect it to the research group alone, but to make it a cross-cutting project.

A few examples of current research projects:

– ANR Sombrero (2012-2016): biographical repercussions of political activity in 1968. More information
Partispace – H2020(2016-2020): Areas and styles of participation, means of formal, non-formal and informal participation by young people in European cities.

Jeunes en TTTrans – PIA:Transversalité, Transitions, Transformations
REVERSEJ (2016-2017(a transversal, transition, transformation approach: reversibility and irreversibility in young people moving out of the family home)

Airin: air intérieur (inside air), public action and stakeholder interaction

Syposium Saisir l’engagement « improbable » dans sa routine professionnelle(Taking hold of  “unlikely” engagement in the work routine)

Radicalisations:CNRS themed school

– Immigration – Thematic Committee of the Population and Lifecourse Strategic Knowledge Cluster

– ANR RSJ MéDIS(Social Responsibility of Journalists, the Media, Diversity & Sport)

The research group members manage a mission of this ANR-funded project, which consists in conducting fieldworkto observe the production routines, constraints and managerial practices at work during sports events. The fields covered by the study are located in France, Spain and Italy. These observations are completed by interviews with different stakeholders, ranging from presenters to sound technicians and editors.

Our involvement in networks:

Editorial committees of the following:

Mots. Les langages du politique(journal with an interdisciplinary perspective involving language sciences, political science, and information and communication sciences)

Migrations Société(journal featuring investigations, debates and reflections on international migrations)

Sur le journalisme:Since 2012, several team members have been involved in directing and giving scientific advice to the trilingual international journal Sur le journalismein collaboration with other researchers working at foreign universities (Laval University in Quebec, Free University of Brussels, Brasilia University).

Presses Universitaires de Rennes(Res Publica, Le Sens Social and Des Amérique sseries )

Maison des Sciences de l’Homme de Bretagne(“Governance”; “Armorican and Atlantic Worlds”; “Arts and Creation” departments) 

Institut des Amériquesscientific interest group

M@arsouinscientific interest group. Research platform on the use of digital technologies, for which several team members provide scientific advice. The M@rsouin scientific interest group supports research projects on Breton stakeholder systems and on policies to open up public data in Brittany.

 

Journalism scientific interest group, which gathers research laboratories with public training programmes on journalism and organises an annual symposium: Elico (Sciences-Po Lyon and Lyon 2 Universities), Carism (IFP-Paris), GRIPIC (Celsa-Paris) and Arènes (Sciences-Po Rennes, Rennes 1 University)

Genre scientific interest group

Youth Chair

The French Sociological Association(AFS) thematic network on “media sociology”. The “media sociology” network aims to create a forum for dialogue open to all researchers working on the media with a sociological perspective, whatever their field of study.

Project group “COMPOL – Political sociology of communication. Mediatisation, controversies and political games”. COMPOL is part of the French Association of Political Science (AFSP) and encourages the creation of the creation of inter-institutional groups of researchers/lecturers.

Thematic network 15 (“Youth, stages of life and generations”) run by theThe French Sociological Association(AFS)
Research committee 28 (youth) run by the International Association of French-speaking Sociologists (AISLF) 
French Association of Political Science (AFSP)
Association of Higher Education Sociology Teachers (ASES)
Observatory of Transformations in the Arab World (OTMA)
Standing groups at the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR): Participation and Mobilisation, Political Sociology, Gender and Politics, and Environmental Politics
International Political Studies Association (IPSA)
Society for French Studies(United Kingdom)

Members of the team are regularly involved in organising and debating at the Assises internationalesdu journalisme(international journalism conferences) in Tours, in particular at round tables featuring researchers.

Regular collaboration with the International Alliance of Journalistson its series of booklets: “Journalisme responsable, regard sur l’éthique journalistique” (responsible journalism, a look at the ethics of journalism) and “Chercheurs et journalistes” (researchers and journalists), a recent publication of which was edited by researchers working on the hub “journalisms and the public space” as part of the project “ethics and ICT”: journalists on the web. 

The MEJORsymposiumwhich takes place in either Brazil or Quebec every other year in association with the Communication Faculty at Brasilia University (UnB) and Laval University in Quebec. The most recent editions were entitled Silences in Journalism (Florianópolis, 2016) and Powerlessness of Journalism (Laval, 2017).

Réalisation : Yann Le Sager - Zen At Work/Studio Ricom