CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition
“S’arrêter à un moment de l’histoire, en suspendre en esprit le devenir pour considérer les forces qui s’y affrontent, les tensions qui y sont cachées, le jeu de la nécessité avec le hasard”. [1]

1Although there is an impressive bibliography covering the history of the social sciences, little is known as regards the field of organizational sociology, as well as that of political science in France. [2] The Revue française de science politique (RFSP), however, has been open to critical discussion of the scholarly work of the “French school of organizational sociology”. [3] In fact, the number of RFSP articles that cited the work of Michel Crozier – prominent author of The Bureaucratic Phenomenon and founding figure of this school – more than tripled from 1951-1975 to 1976-2000. [4] Several studies have indeed explored the role of organizational sociology in how the “problems of the state” have been formulated and acted upon. [5] A number of publications have also analyzed Crozier’s political and intellectual commitments, [6] and documented his involvement in an array of networks, particularly those that were political or administrative. [7] These works have shown that Crozier’s career was marked by a series of reversals and “ruptures”, [8] but they ultimately offer a rather impoverished portrait of the social context of Crozier’s career and his intellectual project within the dynamic of French sociology. In an attempt to fill this gap, this article aims to respond to the demands of a historical sociology of the social sciences, connecting “the requisites of the description of [intellectual] products, and that of the analysis of the producers as well as the constraints that they encounter”. [9] Setting the aim of this article out in these terms seems all the more necessary, given that a trend towards establishing the narrative of the “French school of organizational sociology” began nearly twenty years ago with the publication of a volume devoted to Michel Crozier’s work [10] and the production of the “Archives vivantes de la théorie des organisations” [“Living Archives of Organizational Theory”], a project begun by Erhard Friedberg ; [11] a trend which continues to be apparent in the particular nature of the tributes paid to the founder of the Centre de sociologie des organisations (CSO, Center for the Sociology of Organizations) following his death in May 2013. [12]

2The Association pour le développement des sciences sociales appliquées (ADSSA, Association for the Development of the Applied Social Sciences) was founded as a nonprofit organization by prominent French sociologists Henri Mendras, Michel Crozier, and Jean-Daniel Reynaud in 1971. [13] It brought together researchers, scholars, consultants, and civil servants around a major educational and training initiative in the field of sociology. Beginning in 1972, the association offered short continuing education courses and a longer, fifteen-month course that was primarily intended for graduate students. During an experimental three-year period, the curriculum was gradually adjusted and modified, lending increasing prominence to organizational sociology, which Crozier was responsible for teaching. In 1975, after sweeping reform of postgraduate education in France and the creation of the Diplômes d’études approfondies (DEA, equivalent to a Master’s degree), the long courses were integrated into the programs of the Paris Institute of Political Studies (IEP, or Sciences Po) as a DEA in “Sociologie (organisation, décisions)” (Sociology – organization, decisions) that was overseen by Crozier alone. The short courses became one of the continuing education offerings of the IEP’s parent institution, the Fondation nationale des sciences politiques (FNSP) in 1980 under the title “Méthodes sociologiques d’analyse des situations de travail” (Sociological methods for analyzing work situations), led by a former student of Crozier, Renaud Sainsaulieu.

3This article is grounded in the assumption that examining the ADSSA provides a means of both reconstituting the central issues and struggles in the French field of sociology after 1968, and of locating Crozier’s scholarly project within this field. Adopting a relational perspective allows us to explore conflicts of legitimacy, as well as tensions between individual trajectories and the social structures of the discipline. [14] The article pursues two lines of interrogation. The first asks what it means to “form a school” in the social sciences. The notion of an academic enterprise – understood as having a double meaning, both pedagogical and scientific – directs the analytical gaze towards the process of forming schools, traditions, or movements by examining the constraints and concrete conditions of an academic field that is not merely an arena for the production of knowledge. Furthermore, in contrast with the too-frequent “Kropotkin’s hypothesis” that attributes creativity in the sciences to marginality or to a subordinate position within the field, [15] this essay uses the case of the ADSSA to support a perspective that focuses on the possible openings and strategies which result from the relatively strong fit between attitudes developed over the long-term and the configuration of the disciplinary field under consideration.

Prologue : from “social sciences engineer” to “social analyst”

4In order to understand the early development of the ADSSA and its intake at the beginning of the 1970s, we need to consider briefly what might have been Henri Mendras’ point of view in early 1968. Mendras, a research director at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), held a position as associate professor of sociology at the Paris Institute of Political Studies. It was during a presentation at a meeting of the Futuribles association on 2 February 1968 that he proposed the establishment of an advanced “school of the applied social sciences”. The proposal was not entirely new – Mendras had been advocating for a “social sciences section” at Sciences Po for some time, but with no success. [16] A “neutral place”, [17] the Futuribles meeting brought together academics and researchers in social psychology and sociology, who were generally interested in the applied aspects of their fields, as well as high-level civil servants and bosses with reputations as “reformists” and “modernizers”. [18] The presentation began with a prophetic observation about teaching, the social sciences, and the creation of “new careers”. Mendras’ proposal would in essence create an advanced school for preparing “social science engineers”. As his introduction reminded his audience, the project emerged shortly after the failure of a proposal for a College of the Social Sciences at the University of Paris. [19] His presentation illustrated most of the commonplaces of the discourse of this elitist and Americanized avant-garde : describing the university as “poorly-adapted” and as “lagging behind”, he insisted on the necessity of training “new elites” in a “grande école”, [20] and sang the praises of applied social sciences. Mendras – with his sights initially set firmly on French national planning – argued for a school that would train the higher echelons of the state institutions (a grand corps[21]) responsible for national and regional planning. [22] Although, in terms of form, he was clearly inspired by the two grandes écoles, the École normale supérieure (ENS) and the École nationale d’administration (ENA), as well as the Centre d’étude des programmes économiques (CEPE, Center for the Study of Economic Programs, an institution typical of the modernist and Keynesian paradigm of the postwar decades), his guiding vision was imported from America, where as a Fulbright scholar in Chicago he had discovered the applied social sciences model. [23] Despite widespread in-principle agreement with Mendras’ proposal, support was not unanimous among the meeting participants, and most of them politely rejected it, arguing either that such a program already existed in another form, or that it was simply too vague. Only Paul Lazarsfeld voiced regret that it was insufficiently imperialistic. In proposing the launching of a new administrative grand corps, trained in an École d’application that would be able to confer nationally certified diplomas, the project was certain to be met both with the disapproval of high-ranking civil servants who were trained at the traditional elite French institutions, and with criticism from other organizations inside the French administration. [24] Ultimately, as was the case with a number of other initiatives, “May’68” was to sabotage the efforts of a group of sociologists who believed they could benefit from their participation in the “modernist” and “reformist” alliance. [25] According to Crozier, a more detailed version of the proposal, presented to high-ranking officials after the decline of the planning craze, “led to contemptuous rejection”. [26]

A grande école for “social science engineers” (Mendras, 1968)
“Because the University does not want a College of Social Sciences, and the best young French students are enrolling at the Grandes Écoles instead of the University, creating a School of the Applied Social Sciences is the only solution for training the new elites that France and Europe need if they are going to meet the ‘American challenge’ on the threshold of post-industrial society.”
[…] “The argument presented here is therefore that there exists a social science that is simultaneously a rigorous intellectual discipline capable of forming young minds, and an instrument of analysis and intervention which post-industrial society needs.”
[…] “Because the objective is not to form armchair economists or theoretical sociologists, but social science engineers, we attach little importance to the theory of each of these disciplines and we insist on the relationships between analysis, method, technique, and ‘reality’. Ultimately, teaching should focus on practical epistemology and contribute to a science for applying Science.”
Source : Henri Mendras, “Pour une école d’application des sciences sociales”, Analyse et prévision, 5(5), 1968, 329-48
“The social analyst”, a specialist “half-way between research and action” (credited to Crozier, 1978)
“The teaching and use of the social sciences have experienced prodigiously rapid development in France for the past thirty years […] In parallel, the uses of the social sciences in analyzing and managing society have become common : public opinion polls, the study of motivations, systemic analysis, etc. provide a living for numerous firms. The opinion of the sociologist is endlessly consulted and quoted. Furthermore, it seems that the beginnings of a new specialty are being fleshed out – the social analyst, mid-way between research and action. It is therefore time to explore these new uses, theorise these practices, and design a new pedagogy to train specialists in new skills.
A society in the midst of rapid change resorts to the social sciences to perfect itself and improve how it functions, but also to critique its routines and principles. Far from being a contradiction, these two uses complement and support each other. Spurred by this conviction, the founders of the ADSSA aimed to promote this situation and organize teaching that is both theoretical and practical.”
Source : Association pour le développement des sciences sociales appliquées, Cycle supérieur de sociologie de l’Institut d’études politiques de Paris. Initiation au diagnostic et à l’intervention sociologiques, 1972-1978 (Paris : ADSSA, 1978)

5The association of Mendras with Reynaud and Crozier occurred because of a somewhat more modest experience involving the Fondation Royaumont. [27] The three men shared an ambition to set up a program focusing squarely on sociological training for students who were interested in research, and not a simple overview of applied sociology for managers undertaking career development. The training envisioned by the three founders was ultimately made possible by a subsidy from the Prime Minister, as part of a new law covering funding for continuing education (the so-called “Delors” law of 1971). This two-year windfall allowed the first students to enroll on the long course in the 1972-1973 academic year. Crozier’s involvement in the project offered access to a different network : “I made use of my friendship at the time with Jacques Delors”, [28] as Crozier put it. In fact, the project’s sponsors and their interlocutors shared numerous points in common : one axis centered on the Esprit review and the Club Jean Moulin ; [29] a second axis centered on the groups that later gave rise to the “Second Left” (or “deuxième gauche”) – Catholic Left movements such as La Vie Nouvelle as well as labor unions (including the Confédération française démocratique du travail, CFDT) and political groups like the Parti socialiste unifié (PSU). I do not suggest a direct link between these various relationships and the securing of funding. However, if, despite some opposition, a subsidy was obtained just before the Chaban-Delmas government collapsed in July 1972, it was far more likely due to the interest and credibility enjoyed by the project itself once it had circulated inside these networks.

6For the purposes of this analysis, individuals involved in the ADSSA are grouped into five working categories : 1. the “founders” (Crozier, Mendras and Reynaud) ; 2. the “mandarins” (Raymond Boudon, François Bourricaud and Jean Cuisenier) ; 3. the “youngsters” (Jacques Lautman, Renaud Sainsaulieu and Jean-Pierre Worms) ; 4. the consultants (Guy Lajoinie, Pierre Morin and Alain de Vulpian) ; and 5. the high-ranking civil servants (Jean-Louis Gergorin and Michel Ternier). [30] These categories are based on two types of sources : they either emerged in the discourse of the actors themselves (whether at the time – in minutes of meetings and correspondence – or retrospectively – in autobiographical reports and interviews) ; or they corresponded to the need to reconstitute the different status of individuals within the project, while reserving the possibility of later uncovering similarities between their social trajectories and dispositions.

7The next section situates the ADSSA and its members within the field of French sociology. I propose to follow members’ trajectories and how their shared principles and worldviews were formed. This step allows us to understand the affinities between individuals who occupied heterogeneous positions in the discipline. The second part of the article connects the trajectories of ADSSA members to the forms of legitimacy and academic practices that they promoted and claimed. The final section links the academic enterprise represented by the ADSSA to the expansion of the research fields that Crozier claimed for organizational sociology circa 1970.

The shaping of dispositions and the crisis of the order of succession [31]

“It all started with a group of pals…”

8Crozier, Reynaud, and Mendras, co-founders of the ADSSA, were members of the same social generation : a small group that had experienced socio-historical changes and were shaped by these simultaneous experiences, without strictly being members of the same age group (see Table 1 for a summary of the significant individual properties). [32] They were all born in the 1920s and were students during the Occupation. They did not participate in resistance movements or join the French Communist Party. [33] All three entered the CNRS in the early 1950s and were part of labor sociologist and philosopher Georges Friedmann’s circle at the Centre d’études sociologiques (Center for Sociological Studies). Theirs was a “reformist” generation, influenced by their sojourns in America. They supported the call for “applying” the social sciences and saw sociological fieldwork as a substitute for political engagement and manual labor. [34] They ultimately rose to senior positions in the 1960s, but within institutions that were either peripheral to or outside the university system. Although Reynaud (a graduate of the ENS) succeeded Friedmann in the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers’ History of Labor Chair (a Full Professor position) in 1959 at the age of 32, Mendras and Crozier, on the other hand, achieved the comparable rank of CNRS Research Directors in their early forties. [35] Dominated up until that point, on the eve of 1968 they finally attained positions of academic power (leading research teams, as members of the CNRS national committee, on research finance committees, roles within scholarly organizations, and as dissertation supervisors) or intellectual influence in the political-administrative field (political nominations, planning commissions). Finally, the three founders belonged to the same social generation because they entered the field of sociology at nearly the same time : i.e., during a specific state in the development of its social structure and with a given distribution of the chances of access to positions within the field. As a result, it is not so much the impact of “1968” itself that ought to be taken into account, but rather how the event and its consequences interacted with the positions occupied by the actors at the time.

9The “youngsters” also shared significant elements in their trajectories, especially political and union activism. More broadly, though, indicators of the political inclinations of ADSSA members suggest generational and positional convergences towards “reformist” movements - the “Second Left” and the Catholic Left movements as mentioned above. Thus, among the young researchers that Crozier recruited in the early 1960s to form the first Groupe de sociologie des organisations (GSO, Organizational Sociology Group), most had been UNEF (Union Nationale des Étudiants de France, a left-wing student organization) activists while at university in the context of the AlgerianWar, and/or were later active in the PSU (including Sainsaulieu, Worms, Grémion, Lautman) ; some maintained close relationships with the CFDT and the SGEN (Syndicat général de l’Éducation nationale). Other political affiliations were divided along lines defined by Esprit and the Club Jean Moulin (Crozier, Reynaud, Lautman, Worms, and de Vulpian). As an indication of the type of left-wing affinities characteristic of the ADSSA, none of its participants published in Sartre’s Les Temps modernes between 1960 and 1972.

10Widening the perspective to include members whose contributions were more symbolic (the “mandarins”) highlights additional connections between trajectories and positions. A period spent in the United States was one major connection, but it remained generational and varied considerably depending on whether the trip occurred during the 1950s or the 1960s, as the pioneering aspect of such experiences gradually lost its value. The productivity missions [36] characteristic of the 1950s that focused on application of the social sciences are also relevant indicators of the relationships between individuals and how they defined the profession ; this was particularly true of Crozier and Reynaud.

“…who’d had enough…”

11As stated above, I suggest that the noticeable similarities and connections in the individual trajectories of the members of the group are to be taken as an explanatory factor for the coherence, or, better, the conformity – in a Durkheimian sense – of their stances on the issues of the day. Although the ADSSA represented a “reaction to the state of sociology”, in Crozier’s words, this was because it was grounded in shared categories of perception. Three intertwined characteristics can be distinguished in the discourses of the ADSSA co-founders, whether in texts composed at the time [37] or in subsequent pronouncements whose purpose was to justify the movement : 1. criticisms of the French university system ; 2. appeals for empiricism ; and 3. praise for an “American model”. Reflecting later on the movement as a whole, Reynaud’s observations are grounded in this perspective :


“It all started with a group of pals who were sick of the [French] University as it was and of the impossibility of getting anything done there. […] Our strategy from the beginning was a strategy of rupture that consisted in saying ‘since the university system can’t do a bloody thing, well, we’re happy to do it’.” [38]

Table 1

Summary of significant individual properties

Table 1
Year of birth Academic institutions attended/degrees (as at 1972) Sojourns in the US (as student, teacher, or researcher) Age at which attained senior position Position held in 1972 Crozier, M 1922 HEC Paris, Faculties of Humanities & Law, PhD 1956 : prod. mission, 1959-1960 : CASBS 1966-1967 : Harvard, 1968-1969 : Harvard 1973-1974 : CASBS 42 RD CNRS Mendras, H 1927 Sciences Po, Faculty of Humanities, PhD 1950-1951 : Chicago 40 MR CNRS Reynaud, JD 1926 ENS, agrég. philo. 1953 : prod. mission, 1963-1964 : Columbia, UCLA 1971 : Harvard 32 PR CNAM Bourricaud, F 1922 Faculty of Humanities, agrég. philo, PhD 1950-1952 : Harvard 1964-1965 : CASBS, Harvard 39 PR Paris-V Boudon, R 1934 ENS, agrég. philo, PhD 1961-1962 : Columbia 1972 : CASBS 33 PR Paris-V Cuisenier, J 1927 Faculty of Humanities, agrég. philo, PhD – 44 RD CNRS & Dir. ATP Museum Sainsaulieu, R 1935 Faculties of Humanities & Law, Psychology Institute of Paris University 1959-1960 : Cornell 40 RA CNRS Worms, JP 1934 Faculty of Humanities, Liverpool University 1964-1966 : Berkeley, Harvard, Columbia – RA CNRS Lautman, J 1934 ENS, agrég. philo 1961-1962 : Columbia 38 MR CNRS Morin, P 1927 Faculty of Humanities 1970 : Harvard, Michigan, MIT (business schools) – Consultant SEMA Lajoinie, G 1923 Faculty of Humanities – – Consultant COFROR Vulpian, A de 1929 Sciences Po – – Consultant COFREMCA Ternier, M 1938 École Polytechnique, École des Ponts et Chaussées – – Gov’t official, Budget forecasting unit (Ministry of Finance) Gergorin, JL 1946 École Polytechnique, Harvard, ENA 1969-1970 : Harvard, Rand Corporation – Gov’t official, Conseil d’État

Summary of significant individual properties

Abbreviations : HEC Paris = École des hautes etudes commerciales, equivalent to a business school ; PhD = doctorate (doctorat d’État) allowing its holder to compete for permanent senior positions (University and CNRS) ; ENS = École normale supérieure ; agrég. philo. = agrégés de philosophie are those who have been successful in a selective exam to hold permanent positions as philosophy teachers in secondary education ; ENA = École nationale d’administration ; prod. mission = productivity mission ; CASBS = Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Palo Alto) ; PR = Full Professor (senior position) ; RD = Research Director (senior position) ; MR = Maître de recherche (senior position just below a RD) ; RA = Research Associate (junior position) ;
ATP Museum = Museum of the popular arts and traditions of France ; COFROR = Compagnie française d’organisation ; COFREMCA= Compagnie française d’études de marché et de conjonctures appliquées ; SEMA : Société d’économie et de mathématiques appliquées.
Source : Table created by author.

13The interest of the ADSSA founders in the American higher education model doubtless owed much to their sojourns at elite American institutions. This idealized model appeared to lack the “flaws” that afflicted French universities and included a number of concrete specifications that served as cornerstones for their thinking. These specifications included linking teaching and research, the ability to self-finance through contracts to free research projects from dependency on the university system or public funds, and different teaching practices from those that prevailed in France at the time (e.g. small groups seminars instead of lectures). It was in this spirit that Raymond Boudon, referring to his invitation to teach an ADSSA seminar shortly after the publication of his book L’inégalité des chances (1973), [39] recalled :


“Crozier, the American way ! It was very intensive, I had to speak for two days in a row. [He] was very impressed by the way American universities worked, so he had reproduced this to an extent”. [40]

15Furthermore, all three men had been trained at highly selective institutions that were largely isolated from the classic university system. They took their first steps as CNRS sociologists as members of a strongly empiricist team, without previous apprenticeships in the field, and having rarely, if ever, taught at university. As an ENS graduate, Reynaud had not defended a doctorat d’État, [41] but that did not prevent him from inheriting Friedmann’s Chair at the age of 32. However, the tense atmosphere that clouded the defense of Crozier’s theses is well known. He was 42 years old when he presented his doctorat d’État and assumed a permanent senior position. Conversely, Boudon, who had followed the high road and had “played the academic game” by its mandarinal rules, was only 33 when he attained the same level in his own career. Indeed, May’68 occurred at a moment of considerable frustration and resentment towards members of the earlier generation (Aron, Gurvitch, Friedmann, Stoetzel, etc.), who expressed their power through the pace that they imposed on the careers of those who came behind them. [42] For the social sciences, and especially for sociology, May’68 broke the “order of succession” in academia and led to “a sort of generational change that was as premature as it was abrupt”. [43]


“It wasn’t a reaction to’68, it was a reaction to the state of sociology. So’68 had shown up the cracks in a system that appeared unbearably rotten, and we wanted to be realistic and serious, and the group of the ADSSA, that made the ADSSA, we had skills, knowledge, things already experienced and we were capable of doing effective sociology instead of dreaming and telling wild stories. That was the illusion.
[…] We were people who had done empirical sociology, very different from what was being done at the University, we didn’t have time to wind up at the University, and the University seemed to us to be completely out of it based on both the old, classical vision, the classics of sociology, Durkheim, et cetera, and on the other hand, Marxism. And that doesn’t even approach reality. We’d worked on reality, it had been difficult for us, and now we were getting to the age of forty more or less, everything was broken, and there was nothing to work with, we were starting to change the university system, and then it was the revolution. So it was at the same time a situation where there was a fairly large gap between what we had done, our profession, we’d started to develop a new profession of sociologist able to analyze reality, and the teaching, which was either traditional or revolutionary, in fact, it was a mix of the two that didn’t quite work, and with students who were classically French, fairly theoretical, and who didn’t understand anything about reality.”

17Although the heroic posture of the pioneers was revived as part of their move to establish their academic enterprise, it appears that their “strategy of rupture” was only made possible by the window of opportunity created by May’68, and the brutal reconfiguration of the field of sociology along political as well as academic lines that followed. The ADSSA should thus be envisioned as a position and a stance inside this disciplinary field. Hence, it appears as a relevant site of inquiry to identify the specific issues at stake in the field of sociology circa 1970, which will then be used to propose a sociological reading of the proximities and affinities (both structural and intellectual) that determined the alliance between individuals occupying heterogeneous positions.

The multiple levels of conformity

18Three intersecting battlefields can be identified as common and distinctive stakes within the field of sociology for the period I address : 1. the reproduction of the profession ; 2. the types and sources of legitimacy ; and 3. the professional model. However, if for the ADSSA’s founders the central question was to define, defend, and promote an alternative professional model to rival the “sociological excellence à la française” [45] of which Raymond Aron was the main proponent (“It was an opposition to a certain type of sociology, of which an eminent representative whom I respect, was Raymond Aron”, Reynaud told the author), it may appear surprising to note the participation of the three “mandarins” – Raymond Boudon, François Bourricaud, and Jean Cuisenier – all agrégés de philosophie, and extremely close to Aron (especially during the events of’68).

“People give their names, and then they show up or they don’t”

19At the University of Paris-V, Bourricaud and Boudon were professors in a college dominated by medicine where they enjoyed little autonomy. [46] They were linked to the ADSSA founders by friendship. According to Boudon, Bourricaud and Crozier were very close – they were the same age and had both spent time in the United States early in their careers. They had been colleagues at Nanterre and shared an opposition to Henri Lefebvre during a turbulent couple of years (1967-1968). However, these two figures were not central in the cause, and the relative weakness of their commitment reveals a more symbolic logic. In Crozier’s words, “there are people who give their names and then they show up or they don’t”. As a consequence, the three “mandarins”, who demonstrated only loose commitment to the project, served essentially as purveyors of legitimacy and symbolic capital (“It lent the project legitimacy, the fact that there was a group of heavyweight mandarins at the time, Cuisenier was the Director of the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions, he was a well-established person”, according to Coutrot, referring to his political connections.) [47] The association of Boudon, Bourricaud, and Cuisenier with the ADSSA followed this pattern. They seldom attended the association’s business meetings, following the project from afar and settling for occasionally contributing when called upon to do so. However, the similarities between trajectories discussed above were complemented by a number of shared representations and categories of perception. They were all, to varying degrees, directly and closely linked with Raymond Aron – who had served on the dissertation defense committees of Crozier, Mendras, Bourricaud, Boudon, and Cuisenier. Several of them also joined the “Comité de défense et de rénovation de l’Université française” (Committee for the Defense and Renewal of the French University), of which Aron was the founder, in May and June, 1968. [48] The ADSSA’s founding members and the “mandarins” also shared intellectual references to Alexis de Tocqueville and Max Weber, as reappraised by Aron. [49] Weber’s work was used in different – although congruent – registers : for some it served to develop “methodological individualism”, while others based the legitimacy of a seemingly value-free science on the concept of “ethical/axiological neutrality”, and the distinction between Science and Politics. Lastly, this collective enjoyed a fairly consensual political concord – from, Bourricaud, technical adviser to De Gaulle’s Minister of National Education Alain Peyrefitte in 1968, to Crozier, who gradually drifted from his Marxist youth towards the conservative right. Hence, in the context of the reorganization of the intellectual networks that evolved out of the anticommunist movement, this politicized core would later collaborate with Aron’s journal Commentaire (founded in 1978). [50] This alliance was therefore based on deep affinities in trajectories that contributed to the emergence of shared representations. Put another way, the members of the ADSSA were united by a relatively homogeneous stance on what it meant to be a social scientist of empiricist orientation (“The shared outlook was essentially one of social engineering, unblocking society, and so on ; there was a certain consensus around that”, in Coutrot’s words ; [51] the basic unit of analysis being actors and agency).

20Despite the lukewarm level of their commitment, the involvement of the three “mandarins” should not be overlooked. It has to be taken as a sign of the existence of internal dynamics and relative autonomy between the two poles of the discipline, i.e. university (teaching) and research. It is, however, difficult to find indicators that would help gauge the distribution among actors of the two kinds of capital that are specific to a scientific/academic field, i.e. (pure) scientific capital and (temporal) capital of power over the scientific/academic institutions. [52] In fact, the intermingling and the absence of clear differentiation in the holding of these capitals serve as indicators of the weak autonomy of the field of sociology itself during the period under review. Thus, far from being a project that emerged out of the dominated segment of the profession, the ADSSA brought together individuals who held complementary positions of power inside the two principal poles : the university system (positions at the Sorbonne, and in committees for recruitment and career management), and the research system (the management committee of the CNRS, and positions as research center directors). Similarly, they accumulated scientific capital that was both temporal (positions on journal editorial boards, and in research funding organizations) and pure (publications, translations, and dissertation supervision).

The coalition of opponents

21The ADSSA should be interpreted as a collective stand because it presented itself as “a reaction”. It was a movement that was significant because of those who participated in it as much as because of those who did not. The names of Touraine and Bourdieu were mentioned during interviews as antithetical figures. A rapid examination of other positions in the field reveals that the few figures who remained either turned towards ethnology (G. Balandier, É. de Dampierre), occupied positions in peripheral institutions (P.-H. Chombart de Lauwe, L. Karpik, J. Duvignaud), belonged to an earlier generation (J. Cazeneuve, J. Dumazedier, H. Lefebvre), or had already been marginalized by the effects of’68 (J. Stoetzel, R. Aron). Divisions that had been quashed up to that point by the weight of academic traditions, the power of patrons, and generous research funding policies [53] became evident in the aftermath of the Faure Law that restructured the French university system after 1968. Sociology then experienced the formation of sub-groups on the basis of both political and scientific kinship. These trends surfaced during interviews and were also clearly evident in the debates in the 1970s and 1980s. [54] Although during the 1960s the weight of university hierarchies and the need to share funding had more or less dulled political antagonism, now calls for empiricism were reanimated as a mark of scientific rigor, but also of neutrality. The desire for a break with the model of excellence that had prevailed during the earlier period led to efforts to completely disavow philosophy and to discredit any moves that might approach it :


“[Touraine] was extremely ideologically committed, he was not a member of a party to my knowledge, but I mean… and we had the feeling of being the proponents of empirical research compared to Touraine”.
(J.-D. Reynaud)

23Establishing distance with Alain Touraine in this way is only surprising if one fails to take into account the underlying dynamic of scientific careers and the competition between academic projects. Although he was part of the same social generation as Crozier, Reynaud, and Mendras (he graduated from the ENS, belonged to the circle that gravitated around Friedmann and, with Crozier, Reynaud, and Tréanton, was one of the founders of the journal Sociologie du travail[55]), Touraine’s career advanced more rapidly within the EPHE (École pratique des hautes études). Friendly relations continued, [56] but they were marred by rivalries over funding, influence, and theoretical ambition, [57] as well as by tensions that arose in May’68 at Nanterre. This adversarial view of the field of sociology is exemplified in “intellectual isolation”, as one young ADSSA team member trained by Reynaud and Crozier described it :


“ADSSA training was also theoretical, and what Michel Crozier contributed was obviously dominant, but there was also Jean-Daniel Reynaud on social conflict, and Henri Mendras on rural sociology and social change […], they contributed to the creation of a theoretical trend that I would summarize as revolving around the notion of interactionism, which was quite vigorously opposed to Pierre Bourdieu and to Alain Touraine, of whom it was practically forbidden to speak, it’s true that ADSSA people, and especially Michel Crozier, you’ve got to remember that he was 50 at the time [1972], were concerned with imbuing people with a certain perspective, and if we strayed from it, you left the school, you know. […] We had no relationship with other research centers, things were highly partitioned ; no relations with Touraine’s center, none with the centers for the sociology of labor. Our environment was locked. There was this desire to create something different from the others. […] I didn’t have time to read much, and we were also in an intellectually cloistered environment that our masters wanted, because they wanted to create a school of sociology that distinguished itself as much from the old sociology of Gurvitch, who everybody had sweetly forgotten, as from the Marxists and the directions of the kind led by Bourdieu”. [58]

25Coutrot reported the same kind of isolation as regards the sociology of labor, whether concerning Touraine, Benguigui, Durand, or Marxist industrial sociology. This partitioning was reinforced by a summons to empiricism.


“I came to sociology like a lot of people at the time ; others were normaliens [graduates of the ENS], I wasn’t, but we had done a lot of philosophy, and we were under orders… I remember Michel Crozier telling me ‘Martin, if you go back to philosophy your place is no longer with the ADSSA’, because Michel Crozier didn’t mince words, meaning that we were summoned to do empirical sociology, fieldwork […], in other words I learned sociology in the field and was out of touch to an extent that it took me a long time to get over, which meant that, in the end, even Jean-Daniel Reynaud, there was also Jacques Lautman, were people who had side-lined philosophy […], which meant for some of us, like me, a big gap because we had a hard time situating ourselves, we were supposed to abandon big ideas and listen to what people were saying instead.” [59]

27“Forming a school”, gaining a following, is both a sign of academic prominence in the field, as well as an institutional strategy to routinize the reproduction of the profession :


“We wanted to succeed in a difficult, different project in our field that seemed crucial to us : training future researchers for our research teams who were capable of developing with us a living, useful sociology that would illuminate French society as never before.” [60]

29It was only from the mid-1960s that training in sociology developed, and that the first textbooks were published. The integration of teaching and research was not achievable inside the university system. [61] The 6th Section of the EPHE (that would soon become the École des hautes etudes en sciences sociales, or EHESS) launched a program in 1963 that was to become known under the name EPRASS, “Enseignement préparatoire à la recherche approfondie en sciences sociales” (Preparatory Teaching for Advanced Research in the Social Sciences). The program consisted of two years that combined training and research. On the one hand, nearly every sociologist in the EPHE was involved, including Touraine, Bourdieu, and Isambert, as well as Boudon and Lautman. Based on the number of registered theses and requests for supervision, the most popular teachers were Bourdieu and Touraine. [62] On the other hand, throughout its entire existence (from 1963 to 1974), none of the future founders of the ADSSA would take part in the EPRASS. In 1965, Crozier, observing that the Centre de sociologie européenne (Center for European Sociology, directed by Aron) of which he was still a member was responsible for a large portion of the program, complained to Clemens Heller, the administrator of the 6th Section, that he had been excluded from participating in the initiative :


“I would be happy to participate in the development of a more substantial program, which would be easy to offer in Paris. I am a bit astonished, I must say, to hear about this project for the first time. You have amicably chided me for not being sufficiently interested in the problems of the Center and the Maison [the 6th Section]. Well, I would have needed to be kept up to date about the Maison’s initiatives and be considered a full-fledged member of the Center (which seems to have been very much in charge of the sociology section of this initiative).” [63]

31Likewise, although he was a specialist in rural sociology and the head of the Groupe de sociologie rurale (Rural Sociology Group), Mendras was not involved in setting up the program of a “preparation for research in rural sociology”. [64] He often referred his Sciences Po students to the EPRASS, however, and felt irritated when one of their applications was denied :


“[X] is an intelligent boy, cultivated and generous, and it would be a shame for him to be made to waste a year at the Sorbonne. […] I hope that you can repair this regrettable situation and thank you in advance, because it is precious for me to be able to offer a serious program of study for the vocations I generate at rue St Guillaume [where the IEP premises are situated].” [65]

33Initially at least, the EPHE and the EPRASS appear to have provided an alternative to the traditional model of excellence as it stood in the 1960s. In the configuration that developed after 1968, however, the group that founded the ADSSA took a more distant view (Mendras pointed out “the very different spirit from our own”), [66] to the point of describing it as an antithetical model (“the EPRASS was more university-like”, according to Crozier). In fact, the “Report on the Activity of the EPRASS in 1968-1969” noted that “the ties between the EPRASS and its corresponding department at Nanterre has been particularly close for social anthropology. The same is true of the relationship with the Centre de Vincennes for certain areas of sociology teaching.” [67] The frustration and the distance established with the university structure could not have been greater following the events of 1968, considering the high level of commitment to the idea of attempting to transform it [68] (during the student unrest “we saw Crozier coming back from Nanterre completely exhausted”, said Sainsaulieu [69]) and the ambition of pursuing a career there. [70]

Making a scientific virtue of necessity

34During the associative period, the curriculum of the ADSSA was gradually adjusted before it became Sciences Po’s DEA in “Sociology (organization, decisions)” headed by Crozier and associated with the CSO. The central role occupied by Crozier’s theoretical option is understandable both in view of the fact that gaining a following gradually became a valued resource (a capital) in the field of sociology, and also because of the material constraints which affected the association and its courses. [71] During Crozier’s sabbatical year, which he spent at Stanford (1973-1974), the financial situation of the association declined as the “Delors” subsidy came to an end.


“When Crozier returned, there was a meeting, and everybody understood he was the only one who could resolve the situation. […] Crozier did it, and from that moment on, the idea of a revolving presidency was forgotten, and the ADSSA became Crozier’s property.”
(J. Lautman)

36Once again, it was Crozier’s network of relationships that enabled the association and program to stay afloat. [72] Similarly, Crozier and Sainsaulieu’s contacts were critical in finding internships for students and for continuing to run the short courses, which fed the association’s coffers. [73] For Reynaud, “in fact, that’s why Crozier became the overall director of the association and the program”.

37The advocacy of a professional model drawing its legitimacy from fieldwork must ultimately be connected to the circumstances under which the founders of the ADSSA learned the tricks of the trade in the 1950s : an apprenticeship in the field, learning-by-doing, with no methodological preamble or theory of fieldwork. [74]


“At the time – this is important for the history of research – the monograph as an exhaustive study of a particular local circumstance, in a period during which sociology had fallen once again into its infancy, appeared as the means of restarting fieldwork studies because there was no need for extremely elaborate tools, and we didn’t know of any at that time”. [75]

39A similar implicitly inductive epistemology [76] is visible in the first village monographs that Mendras produced (his final thesis at the IEP for instance) and in Crozier’s doctoral thesis, which was modeled on American sociological studies of bureaucracy. In the early 1970s, all three men used case studies in their scholarly work. Mendras used it to develop a typology of French rural societies and Reynaud to study labor conflicts, while Crozier always drew on case studies of government agencies or business in his seminars at Sciences Po, the ENA, and the École Polytechnique. A more thorough examination of the origins of this methodological trend in this context would reveal that it was closely connected with the policy of contractual funding that had characterized French sociology since the 1950s. Thus, the emphasis on the scientific choice in favor of being “in the field” and in contact with “reality”, just like the choice of producing “actors of social change”, ultimately appear to be the result of necessity : [77] the necessity to satisfy the funding needs of the research centers and degree programs against a background not only of increasingly contract-based research, but also, despite a seeming increase in the number of research and university positions, of the pressure of greater competition to fill these positions due to a rise in both the number of graduates and the population of contractual researchers. [78] In the early 1970s Crozier seemed the only member of the group able to perpetuate a model that owed much to academic habits of the 1950s and 1960s. This new context enabled Crozier’s specific set of dispositions to find their clearest expression ; dispositions, which had been shaped during the former configuration of the discipline by his particular trajectory and the constraints of the social fields in which he had circulated over the long term. Just as in the case of Paul Lazarsfeld, the subject of a nuanced study by Michael Pollak, [79] Crozier’s habitus was one of academic entrepreneur, who combined practice, method, project, and strategy.

A new rationale for organizational sociology [80]

40This final section discusses the academic enterprise represented by the ADSSA in connexion with the expansion of the research fields that Crozier claimed for organizational sociology from the late 1960s. I will take as a starting point the collaboration of consultants and high-ranking civil servants with the ADSSA program. These partnerships outside academia had practical outcomes, such as providing employment for students and new fields for conducting research studies. They were also among the signs of a reorientation of organizational sociology’s interlocutors within the French administration, as well as an opening towards the corporate world.

Looking towards management

41The participation of consultants in the ADSSA program was partly a response to the need to find openings for students. This need was cited on several occasions to justify the presence of the consultants : if the “mandarins” brought symbolic capital to the project, it was the “practitioners of sociology who were most effective” (Lautman) ; “they were employers” (Reynaud). However, additional reasons also explain the involvement of outside figures. Firstly, there were networks of friendships built up over the long term through people working together or coming across one another frequently over the course of their careers : “All of these people, Morin, Vulpian who was a personal friend of Crozier, we frequented them throughout our entire professional lives” (Reynaud) ; “[Lajoinie] was a pal” (Crozier).

42Alain de Vulpian discovered the applied social sciences through his friend Jacques Sauerwein, who had recently returned from the United States. During the 1950s, they went through Ifop (French Institute of Public Opinion) together, then COFROR (Compagnie française d’organisation or French Company of Organization), where they created what would become the COFREMCA, a market research firm. A highly active member of the Club Jean Moulin, de Vulpian had been acquainted with Crozier ever since the early 1950s. Guy Lajoinie had studied philosophy at the Sorbonne before joining Friedmann’s circles after the war. After deciding not to undertake a thesis he was steered by Friedmann towards COFROR, where he began a career as a consultant. He also collaborated in studies conducted by Touraine and Reynaud, published in Sociologie du travail, and taught sociology as a continuing education instructor. He became a project manager for the Agence nationale pour l’amélioration des conditions de travail (National Agency for the Improvement of Working Conditions) when it was created in 1974.

43A second connection between the ADSSA and consulting firms was the Société d’économie et de mathématiques appliquées (SEMA – Society for Applied Economics and Mathematics). SEMA was run by Jacques Lesourne, who was an École Polytechnique and École des Mines graduate born in 1928 and who had spent part of the 1950s in the United States. Lesourne had brought American operations research methods back to France with him. After spending time at the Rand Corporation, he was personally acquainted with Herbert Simon. He and Crozier shared similarities in their trajectories as well as strong intellectual affinities, and he invited Crozier onto the scientific council of the SEMA in the late 1960s. The connection with SEMA reflected the desire to shape sociologists capable of working in business but also provided access to new research opportunities. Pierre Morin was among SEMA collaborators who became active in the ADSSA. Morin’s career was partly the result of a career reversal : a philosophy student in Dijon in the 1950s, he was preparing the entrance examinations for the Institut des hautes études cinématographiques (Institute of Advanced Cinematographic Studies). The latter being cancelled, he began to teach operations research at Dijon’s Institut d’administration des entreprises (IAE, University business school) and joined the offices of André Vidal, a consulting firm in Paris, in 1958. In 1965, he joined the SEMA and met Crozier through Lesourne. When the SEMA offered to sponsor a study tour in the United States, Crozier provided recommendations to East Coast business schools. It was there that he discovered the field of organizational development and published a report inspired by what he learned during this trip entitled Le développement des organisations, a management best seller in the 1970s. [81]

44The consultants who participated in and contributed to the ADSSA also shared a number of common traits. They were self-taught consultants with degrees in philosophy or psychology, or from Sciences Po. Having left teaching and research (or having only briefly engaged in them), they reinvented themselves through consulting work, often for financial reasons. Here, they continued to maintain ties to research by keeping abreast of academic studies (particularly through Sociologie du travail), publishing articles in journals that served as bridges between the academic and economic sectors, and they did not rule out a return to academia. Thus, they occupied an intermediary position between teaching, research, and practice, and they personified a dominated segment of the profession, who possessed skills – the social sciences – that were undervalued in firms run by engineers. Where the American social scientist represented the ideal of the professional that so fascinated some French sociologists, for the consultant this ideal was achieved in the business school professor.


“Maurice de Montmollin [82] and I always said that the profession of consultant was only well executed if one taught and published. […] One has to remain aware of what is happening, of the research going on, etc. The consultant is not a researcher, nor is he an operational actor. He is there to enable the link between business and what is being done in research by finding how to apply it. He transfers it and allows one to be enriched by the other. So, naturally, from 1970 the model for me was the American business school professor, because he is both a consultant and a teacher, and the system compels him to publish.”
(P. Morin)

46Crozier, meanwhile, was actively extending the scope of organizational sociology from public administrations to private organizations. [83] Through Lesourne he had connections to the executives of large French firms, and both men took part in the Centre de recherche et d’études des chefs d’entreprise (later restructured as the Institut de l’entreprise, or Enterprise Institute). For example, under the auspices of the ADSSA, Crozier supervised a study over a period of more than two years of “The attitudes of managers at Saint-Gobain-Pont at Mousson”. [84] The study was paid for by SGPM and financed ADSSA’s long course, with the fieldwork being conducted by its students as part of their training. On the institutional level, Crozier was involved in the creation of the Fondation nationale pour l’enseignement de la gestion (FNEGE, National Foundation for Management Education) in 1969, which provided training scholarships as a way of supplementing the ADSSA budget. [85] Around the same period, he approached the École polytechnique (where he was teaching) and its new Centre de recherche en gestion (Center for Management Research) with a proposal for closer collaboration and possible relocation. [86]

Shifting alliances within the state

47Philippe Bezes has effectively demonstrated how Crozier and organizational sociology contributed to turning administration into an “object of knowledge” and an “object of reform”. [87] To illustrate the links between high-level civil servants and the ADSSA, I will examine two actors whose participation, although uneven, says a great deal about the various dimensions of Crozier’s project (academic, intellectual, political). A committed and long-standing participant in the ADSSA,Michel Ternier was an École Polytechnique and École des Ponts graduate, and a pioneer of the French output budgeting technique, the Rationalisation des choix budgétaires (RCB, Rationalization of Budgetary Choices), inspired by the American PPBS (Planning Programming Budget System). From 1970 to 1972 he was secretary of the Interministerial Commission for the RCB, of which Crozier was also a member. [88] Jean-Louis Gergorin, a young graduate from the École Polytechnique, received a FNEGE grant to attend Stanford that he ultimately relinquished to accept a position as a research fellow at the Kennedy School of Government (Harvard), in turn followed by a period as consultant to the Rand Corporation (1969-1970). When he returned to France, he attended the ENA before joining the Conseil d’État. From 1971 to 1972, he was the co-rapporteur of the forecasting working group for the 6th National Plan – along with Crozier, Lesourne and Roger Martin – and was involved in the inter-ministerial committee for the RCB, again with Crozier and Ternier. In institutional terms, Crozier conducted a seminar with Morin, Ternier, and Thoenig at the ENA on administrative decision-making and began developing an interest in public management. [89]

48The connection with management consultants, along with the alliance with new types of civil servant, reveals the series of shifts in which Crozier’s project was embedded, from the modernizing paradigm typical of the postwar decades to one of neo-rationalist design of administrative action. From his contacts with these groups of actors, Crozier formulated research problems for new studies, generated interest in his analyses, and opened up new terrain for fieldwork, all the while extending the reach of his theory to include private organizations. [90] Turning to the internal context of the CSO, these shifts, as well as the references of the research team, had a clear impact illustrated by this excerpt from an informal collective discussion :


“EF : It seems to me that we are slowly moving in the direction of the Rand Corporation formula, Very High-Level Consultants (VHLC !), but was that what brought us together ?
MC : For the DATAR [Crozier refers to a research contract in forecasting awarded by the aforementioned organization], there was a combination of circumstances. I knew that they were giving millions to Herman Kahn [at the Rand Corporation] just to think. I thought to myself, why not us ? – Other ideas could come to us, but it’s difficult and as Erhard has noted, the idea is not to become the Rand Corporation.
– But maybe a high-level consulting center, but not involved in any particular policy.” [91]

What’s in a school ?


“After listening to and discussing the report by Michel Crozier, director of the CSO, the members of the executive committee [of the CSO] met in a smaller group after the director and others CSO members had withdrawn.
They unanimously arrived at the following conclusions.
[…] The CSO powerfully unites applied research and the passage to theory. It is more than a research organization – it is a true ‘school’ in the various – and best – senses of the term.” [92]

51The remainder of this article will not develop a complete account of the history of the GSO/CSO as a research collective. [93] What is important for my argument is to note that it grew in the 1960s as a community-based structure. Breaking with the hierarchical relations that prevailed in the French university system as it was expressed during those years (between a professor and his assistants, for example), the GSO/CSO gradually defined an alternative way of managing social relations of domination within the group, albeit under the leadership of a man who enjoyed a comparatively more favored status than the other members in terms of career stability. [94] The term “coopérative” (co-op) started appearing in activity reports of the GSO/CSO. [95] Thus the “Scientific Report for the Year 1969-1970” reads as follows :


“Institutional objectives :
Experiment with the development of a new type of research institution to rival the great traditional centers : the research team to be limited in size but highly qualified, based on flexibility and mobility, and because of this capable of innovating both in terms of types of cooperation as well as in the area of methods and scientific hypotheses.”

53In this spirit, candidacies for CNRS permanent positions were strictly managed (one or at most two per campaign). This ambition was nevertheless stymied by the group’s actual working conditions. The “excessive dependence on outside contracts” was deplored because it prevented young researchers from acquiring competences “other than by learning-on-the-job”. [96] In addition, for material reasons as well as because of a lack of stable resources at the level of the CNRS, a number of classes were given in various higher education and continuing education institutions. Resorting to contractual funding was therefore a vicious circle created to keep researchers in the group. Ultimately, the lack of theoretical training was presented as a perverse effect of this situation, impacting the junior researchers and reflecting on teaching.

54Theoretical concerns led to the emergence of two projects from the end of 1968. First, the organization of an internal seminar devoted to the discussion of the body of studies conducted by the members of the research center, [97] with the goal of writing and publishing a collective textbook on organizational sociology. [98] Second, because the teaching offered by the team was primarily delivered in schools and training structures situated outside the classical university system, [99] consideration was also given to how to rationalize teaching practices, particularly on the level of pedagogical instruments, leading to the idea of writing and publishing “case studies” in organizational sociology. The first overview of the studies conducted by Crozier’s team was undertaken by Erhard Friedberg and was later known as “Le Petit livre rouge de l’analyse sociologique des organisations” (The Little Red Book of the Sociological Analysis of Organizations), because of its red cover. [100] This text played a key role in training on strategic analysis and in disseminating knowledge about it. Eventually, the initial project of creating a textbook became lost amid political and theoretical disagreements.


“We were tired of an organizational sociology that was seeking the truth in diversions of the rules. We were unionized students. We all originally had a kind of interest in democracy, we had experienced’68 as a moment during which direct democracy was revived […]. At the time, in the ADSSA, I was more and more marginalized, and Crozier didn’t tolerate my presence anymore. I was marginalized because I was teaching something different. Several people had left, and it was becoming a small clan surrounding Michel, that’s all. I had the impression that I was contributing through my research, but I felt marginalized.” [101]

56The hopes of independence that young researchers of the GSO/CSO harbored as a result of “the mood of’68” became translated into theoretical terms that were largely in conflict with Crozier’s model. [102] Disagreements on more political levels and within the research center’s management provoked the gradual side-lining of the generation which was born in the 1930s in favor of the youngest members (children of the 1940s, such as E. Friedberg, J.-C. Thoenig, C. Schmid-Grémion), who were then able to put their energies into developing the ADSSA program, the functioning of which was increasingly embedded in the center’s activities.

57* * *

58In a radically different tone, but ultimately not so different to the way in which Pierre Bourdieu invented a “heterodox scientific style” that allowed him to transcend his “cleft habitus”, [103] Crozier’s defense of “applied sociology” can only be understood within the relationship of his individual trajectory to the successive configurations of the field of sociology. If he was the most able to bring the ADSSA’s academic enterprise to successful fruition, and then to appropriate that success, it was because his habitus as a scientific entrepreneur, developed through intense circulation between different social fields – intellectual, scientific, and politico-administrative – endowed him with dispositions and resources that he was able to reinvest in order to take advantage of the openings offered by the reconfiguration of the field of sociology. Although he was neither dominated nor marginal during the period covered by this study, it was clearly his practical sense as a go-between that allowed him to take full advantage of the discipline’s weak autonomy and to attempt to redefine its hierarchy.

59The reconfiguration phase that characterized French sociology in the 1970s contrasts with the clear hierarchies of the 1960s. In breaking “the order of succession”, the sociologists’ May 1968 temporarily toppled the domination of a single group as well as the idea of a hegemonic principle of legitimacy within this social field. This in turn reactivated the struggle to define the criteria for excellence. Everything about the ADSSA indicates that it positioned itself against the dominant model of the 1960s : a nonprofit organization versus “the French university system” ; the combination of teaching and research as opposed to “classical formalist culture” ; the seminar as opposed to the lecture ; the Harvard style as opposed to “the typically French intellectual style” ; fieldwork as opposed to “isolation from the outside world” ; inductive learning as opposed to “abstract and deductive reasoning”. [104] In this context, “forming a school” (an institution and a following), appeared very much to be both a resource in the struggle to determine how to reproduce the profession’s succeeding generations, and the advocacy of a distinctive professional model.

60Finally, because Michel Crozier’s organizational sociology and its variations are among those intellectual enterprises that are interlinked with the transformations of the political-administrative field, it merits particular attention. The ADSSA’s integration into Sciences Po in the mid-1970s thus reflects a profound transformation of both the state and its grandes écoles, [105] as the emergence and success of new arts of the state and tools of government [106] – strategic analysis, welfare economics, policy analysis, (new) public management – taught to future high-ranking civil servants, would soon serve to support efforts to reform public administration. [107]

Appendix : Sources

61This study was based on a series of interviews conducted between 2006 and 2007. The following interviews are cited in the article (interviewee’s names are followed by his or her title or function in the early 1970s and role within the ADSSA) :

62– Jacques Lautman (CNRS Maître de recherche, and Assistant Professor at Nanterre, Treasurer), 6 April 2006 ;

63– Dominique Martin (CRESST Research Associate, Supervisor of the student fieldwork workshop), 11 April 2006 ;

64– Jean-Daniel Reynaud (Full Professor at the CNAM, Founding Member), 20 June 2006 ;

65– Laurence Coutrot (Research assistant at Nanterre, Secretary of the ADSSA), 18 September 2006 ;

66– Raymond Boudon (Full Professor at Paris-V, Founding Member), 19 September 2006 ;

67– Michel Crozier (CNRS Research Director, Founding Member), 28 September 2006 ;

68– Pierre Morin (Consultant to the SEMA, Founding Member), 29 September 2006.

69A second period of research was spent consulting the papers of the Centre de sociologie des organisations, housed at the Centre des archives contemporaines de Fontainebleau under the reference numbers CAC 2009 0319 (cited as “AMC”, followed by the item number). I also consulted the dossier 30.418-P “Association dite ‘Association pour le Développement des Sciences Sociales Appliquées’”, housed at the Archives de la Préfecture de Police de Paris ; the “Sciences Po : Institut d’études politiques, Fondation nationale des sciences politiques 1945-1979” papers, housed at the Archives d’histoire contemporaine du Centre d’histoire de Sciences Po (cited as “2SP”, followed by the item number) ; as well as the “Louis Velay” papers, housed at the archives of the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (cited as “LV”, followed by the item number).


  • [1]
    “Stopping at a moment in history, suspending awareness of what it will become to consider the forces at work within it, the tensions hidden inside its inner workings, and the interplay of necessity with chance”. Yves Bonnefoy, Rome, 1630 (Paris : Flammarion, 2012 [1st edn 1970]), 5.
  • [2]
    It would not be very demanding to make an inventory of studies devoted to political science in France in the twentieth century. For an overview, see Yves Déloye and Bernard Voutat (eds), Faire de la science politique. Pour une analyse socio-historique du politique (Paris : Belin, 2002), in particular the chapter by Loïc Blondiaux, “Pour une histoire sociale de la science politique”, 45-63.
  • [3]
    The following articles published in the Revue française de science politique merit special mention : Bruno Jobert and Jean Leca, “Le dépérissement de l’État. À propos de L’acteur et le système de Michel Crozier et Erhard Friedberg”, 30(6), 1980, 1125-70 ; Stéphane Dion, “Erhard Friedberg et l’analyse stratégique”, 43(6), 1993, 994-1008 ; Patrick Hassenteufel and Andy Smith, “Essoufflement ou second souffle ? L’analyse des politiques publiques ‘à la française’”, 52(1), 2002, 53-73 ; special issue on “L’analyse politique de l’action publique : confrontation des approches, des concepts et des méthodes”, 55(1), 2005. See also Bruno Jobert, “L’essentiel est le résidu (bis). Pour une critique de l’analyse systémique stratégique”, Revue française de sociologie, 17(4), 1976, 633-40. For a genealogical perspective, see Philippe Bezes, Frédéric Pierru, “État, administration et politiques publiques : les dé-liaisons dangereuses. La France au miroir des sciences sociales nord-américaines”, Gouvernement et action publique, 1(2), 2012, 41-87.
  • [4]
    For present purposes, only articles citing Michel Crozier have been counted here (1951-1975, N = 18 ; 1976-2000, N = 58) ; book reviews and other miscellanea have not been included. This indicator appears preferable to citation counts, which can introduce bias by including articles that extensively discuss the author, significantly increasing, and hence distorting, the total citation count. The period under scrutiny in this article has the advantage of coinciding with Crozier’s earliest publications. Data were collected from <>.
  • [5]
    Vincent Spenlehauer, “L’évaluation des politiques publiques, avatar de la planification”, unpublished doctoral dissertation in political science, Grenoble, Université Pierre Mendès France-Grenoble 2, 1998 ; Philippe Bezes, Réinventer l’État. Les réformes de l’administration française (1962-2008) (Paris : PUF, 2009).
  • [6]
    Pierre Grémion, “Michel Crozier’s long march : the making of The Bureaucratic phenomenon”, Political Studies, 40(1), 1992, 5-20 ; Dominique Damamme, “Michel Crozier, intellectuel, sociologue, expert”, in Dominique Damamme and Thomas Ribémont (eds), “Expertise et engagement politique”, Cahiers politiques, May 2001, 95-117.
  • [7]
    François Chaubet, “Michel Crozier et le CSO, un entrepreneur sociologique de la réforme de l’État (début des années 1950-fin des années 1970)”, Revue historique, 663, 2012, 659-81.
  • [8]
    Isabelle Berrebi-Hoffmann, Pierre Grémion, “Élites intellectuelles et réforme de l’État. Esquisse en trois temps d’un déplacement d’expertise”, Cahiers internationaux de sociologie, 126, 2009, 39-59.
  • [9]
    Bernard Lacroix, “L’importation de la référence sociologique dans les sciences politiques : éléments d’analyse réflexive”, in Antonin Cohen, Bernard Lacroix, and Philippe Riutort (eds), Les formes de l’activité politique. Éléments d’analyse sociologique, 18e-20e siècle (Paris : PUF, 2006), 1-35.
  • [10]
    F. Pavé (ed.), L’analyse stratégique, sa genèse, ses applications et ses problèmes actuels. Autour de Michel Crozier (Paris : Seuil, 1994).
  • [11]
    “This project began in 1998 thanks to the generous support of the Communications Division of Ernst and Young Consulting (who later became Cap Gemini Ernst and Young). It received public financial support from the National Education Ministry, the CNRS, Sciences Po, and La Poste, and private support from Renault, Air France, Cogema, Total, Vivendi, and AGF. Additional sponsors have subsequently provided support, including Faber (Italy), Lego SA (Sweden), and IDRH (France). The National Education Ministry also again offered assistance, without which L’encyclopédie multimedia des sciences de l’organisation. De Taylor à aujourd’hui (2010) and its English version, The Multimedia Encyclopedia of Organization Theory. From Taylor to Today (2011) would not have been possible.” <> (accessed 7 February 2014).
  • [12]
    See “Tribute to Michel Crozier, died May 23, 2013”. “The Center for the Sociology of Organizations has lost its founder”, <> (accessed 7 February 2014), which contains most of Crozier’s obituaries.
  • [13]
    How this came about is described in several sources, in particular in Henri Mendras, Comment devenir sociologue. Souvenirs d’un vieux mandarin (Arles : Actes Sud, 1995) ; Michel Crozier, “Comment je me suis découvert sociologue. Réflexions sur un apprentissage qui ne sera jamais terminé”, Revue française de science politique, 46(1), 1996, 80-95, as well as in Crozier, À contre-courant. Mémoires (1969-2000) (Paris : Fayard, 2004).
  • [14]
    The theoretical perspective adopted here follows Pierre Bourdieu, Science of science and reflexivity (Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2004 [1st edn 2001]). The clearest general presentation of this approach is set out in Pierre Bourdieu and Loïc Wacquant, An invitation to reflexive sociology (Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1992) See also Philip Gorski (ed.), Bourdieu and historical analysis (Durham : Duke University Press, 2013).
  • [15]
    Lewis S. Feuer, Einstein and the generations of science (New Brunswick : Transaction Books, 1982 [1st edn 1974]), 3.
  • [16]
    2SP art. 4, “Pour une section ‘sciences sociales’ à l’IEP”, 25 January 1961 (Note from Mendras addressed to Jacques Chapsal, Director of the IEP). Mendras had been involved with the IEP since 1956. From 1962, he taught the “elements of sociology” course – initially with Reynaud and later alone.
  • [17]
    The idea of “neutral places” originates in the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Luc Boltanski (“La production de l’idéologie dominante”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 2(2-3), 1976, 3-73). They refer to the collective production of a new social philosophy among fractions of the dominant class in the postwar decades, especially in places connected with French economic planning (commissions, committees, associations, colloquia). According to Bourdieu and Boltanski, the functions of such neutral places are “to expose and to produce the logical and moral integration of the dominant class”. In paying particular attention to the the nebulous character of the groups, individuals, and networks that encounter each other in places like the Futuribles association, I lay particular emphasis on their argument that “the illusion of objectivity produced by neutral places results essentially from the eclectic structure of the groups assembled in them”. See also Loïc Wacquant, “Pointers on Pierre Bourdieu and democratic politics”, Constellations, 11(1), 2004, 3-15.
  • [18]
    The text of the presentation is reproduced in Henri Mendras, “Pour une école d’application des sciences sociales”, Analyse et prévision, 5(5), 1968, 329-47. Among the participants were J. Stoetzel (Sorbonne), P. Lazarsfeld (Columbia), G. Friedmann (École pratique des hautes études), R. Daval (Sorbonne), J. Touchard (FNSP), L. Karpik (École des Mines de Paris), R. Grégoire (Conseil d’État, head of the French civil service from 1945 to 1954), E. Pisani (politician), M. Massenet (Conseil d’État), B. de Jouvenel (Futuribles). M. Demonque (Ciments Lafarge, CEO) and P. Piganiol (DGRST, research administrator) sent apologies for their absences, expressing “agreement in principle” with Mendras’ text.
  • [19]
    First proposed in 1955 by F. Braudel and C. Heller, and resuscitated in 1964-1965 by C. Fouchet, F. Braudel, and P. Aigrain. The IEP and the FNSP, represented by F. Goguel, J. Touchard, and J. Chapsal, were no strangers to these two failures. See 2SP art. 2 (“1954-1955 – création d’un diplôme supérieur de sciences politiques”), and art. 11 (“Enseignement des sciences sociales 1963-1965”). These episodes highlight the difficult struggle for the autonomy of the social sciences in the French higher education setting.
  • [20]
    Translator’s note : in France, these are advanced higher education institutions outside the state university sector, which select their students via competitive examinations.
  • [21]
    On the characteristics of the French state and civil service see the classic study by Ezra N. Suleiman, Politics, power and bureaucracy in France : the administrative elite (Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1974).Online
  • [22]
    “If we take Jean Ripert and Jacques Lesourne as typical examples of these new men, we should ask : how can we train [more] Riperts and Lesournes, who are needed in great numbers around the world ?” he wrote.
  • [23]
    See his praise of the “consulting sociologist” : Henri Mendras, “Du diagnostic et de l’ordonnance thérapeutique en sociologie”, Revue française de sociologie, 4(4), 1963, 438-44.
  • [24]
    The audience included Roger Grégoire, conseiller d’État and former head of the French civil service.
  • [25]
    See Vincent Spenlehauer, “Intelligence gouvernementale et sciences sociales”, Politix, 48, 1999, 95-128, and “Pour une déconstruction des légendes sur les rapports État/sciences sociales”, in Bénédicte Zimmermann (ed.), Les sciences sociales à l’épreuve de l’action. Le savant, le politique et l’Europe (Paris : Éditions de la MSH, 2004), 119-44. On the broader issue of French planning and “modernization” see Richard F. Kuisel, Seducing the French : the Dilemma of Americanization (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1993) ; Luc Boltanski, “Visions of American management in post-war France”, Theory and Society, 12(3), 1983, 375-403.
  • [26]
    Except when otherwise specified, all quotations are taken from interviews conducted by the author. They are quoted verbatim.
  • [27]
    “Formation aux sciences sociales appliquées”. These were continuing education workshops (1970-1971). Renaud Sainsaulieu, a CNRS research associate at CSO, was responsible for the running of the program.
  • [28]
    Jacques Delors, then a close adviser to Prime Minister Jacques Chaban-Delmas, was in charge of the reform of continuing education.
  • [29]
    Translator’s note : The Club Jean Moulin was a left-wing think tank founded in 1958 by Daniel Cordier and Stéphane Hessel. Other notable members included Crozier, Maurice Duverger, Georges Vedel and Georges Suffert.
  • [30]
    For the purposes of this study, individuals not significantly involved in teaching at the ADSSA have not been included (although many of the study’s findings could be extended to them ; this is particularly true of CSO members) ; conversely, individuals have been included in the study whose contribution might be considered marginal but who were implicated in shaping strategies for presenting the initiative.
  • [31]
    The latter concept is borrowed from Pierre Bourdieu, Homo Academicus (Stanford : Stanford University Press, 1988 [1st edn 1984]).
  • [32]
    Karl Mannheim, “The problem of generations”, in Essays on the Sociology of Knowledge (New York : Oxford University Press, 1952 [1st edn 1928]), 276-320.
  • [33]
    They all claimed – retrospectively – to be anti-communist. See Anni Borzeix, Gwenaële Rot, Genèse d’une discipline, naissance d’une revue :Sociologie du travail” (Nanterre : Presses Universitaires de Paris Ouest, 2010).
  • [34]
    Luc Boltanski, The making of a class : cadres in French society (Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1987 [1st edn 1982]) ; Johan Heilbron, “Pionniers par défaut ? Les débuts du Centre d’études sociologiques (1946-1960)”, Revue française de sociologie, 32(3), 1991, 365-79. This theme is frequently encountered in autobiographical accounts.
  • [35]
    The Conservatoire national des arts et métiers (CNAM) was primarily a continuing education school ; the CNRS was totally separate from the universities.
  • [36]
    See R. F. Kuisel, Seducing the French ; L. Boltanski, “Visions of American management”.
  • [37]
    See, for examples, the following pieces by Michel Crozier, “Révolution libérale ou révolte petite-bourgeoise ? Note sur les structures de l’Université et la signification de la crise de Mai”, Communication, 12, 1968, 38-45 ; “French students : a letter from Nanterre-La Folie”, The Public Interest, 13, 1968, 151-9 ; The Stalled Society (New York : Viking Press, 1973 [1st edn 1970]).
  • [38]
    Another example among many : in his memoirs Mendras wrote that “we have reconstructed sociology outside the university, one might even say against it” (Comment devenir sociologue, 252).
  • [39]
    Translated as Education, Opportunity and Social Inequality : Changing Prospects in Western Society (New York : Wiley, 1974).
  • [40]
    “Like at Harvard”, wrote Michel Crozier (“Comment je me suis découvert sociologue”, 90). As he put it during the interview : “I had the American example, perhaps I exaggerated the importance of sociologists in America, certainly, nevertheless it corresponded to something, so I had a practical perspective.”Online
  • [41]
    The doctorat d’État was equivalent to a PhD, and a requisite to compete for a permanent university senior position.
  • [42]
    P. Bourdieu, in Homo Academicus, devotes considerable analysis to the issue of “time and power”.
  • [43]
    Marc Joly, Devenir Norbert Elias. Histoire croisée d’un processus de reconnaissance scientifique : la réception française (Paris : Fayard, 2012), 188.
  • [44]
    In The Stalled Society Crozier wrote : “The recent taste for sociology among students in the humanities has not helped at all to spread the findings of scientific sociology, and the explosion of May 1968 temporarily compromised the cautious progress we had made” (4).
  • [45]
    M. Joly, Devenir Norbert Elias, 188-231.
  • [46]
    Boudon complained of not having succeeded in implementing more than an undergraduate course in the sociology of education.
  • [47]
    Laurence Coutrot was Mendras’ research assistant in the Rural Sociology Group ; she coordinated ADSSA meetings until 1975.
  • [48]
    This Committee was formed mainly in opposition to the students’ movement. Aron, who was columnist for Le Figaro, the conservative newspaper, published extensively throughout the events.
  • [49]
    Raymond Aron, Main Currents in Sociological Thought, 2 volumes (New York : Basic Books, 1965-1967). See Roland Lardinois, “L’invention de Tocqueville”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 135, 2000, 76-87 ; Claire Le Strat, Willy Pelletier, “Tocqueville ‘liberal’, ou les fortunes d’Aron”, in A. Cohen, B. Lacroix, and P. Riutort (eds), Les formes de l’activité politique, 227-47 ; Michael Pollak, “La place de Max Weber dans le champ intellectuel français”, Droit et société, 9, 1988, 195-210 ; Derek Robbins, “Social theory and politics : Aron, Bourdieu and Passeron, and the events of May 1968”, in Simon Susen, Bryan S. Turner (eds.), The Legacy of Pierre Bourdieu : Critical Essays (London : Anthem Press, 2011), 301-27.
  • [50]
    See Kil-ho Lee, “Les revues intellectuelles. La construction sociale d’un espace intermédiaire”, Unpublished doctoral dissertation in political science, Nanterre, Université Paris X, 2009, 94-15.
  • [51]
    A reference to Crozier’s Stalled Society, the French title being La société bloquée.
  • [52]
    P. Bourdieu, Science of science, 55-62.
  • [53]
    Philippe Masson, “Le financement de la sociologie française : les conventions de recherche de la DGRST dans les années soixante”, Genèses, 62, 2006, 110-27.
  • [54]
    The Darbel versus Boudon debate concerning “L’inégalité des chances” (Revue française de sociologie, 16(1), 1975), like François Bourricaud’s piece “Contre le sociologisme : une critique et des propositions” (Revue française de sociologie, 16 (supplement), 1975), seem to exemplify how academic divisions were overlapped by oppositions of a more political nature. It should be noted that several ADSSA participants are prominently featured in P. Bourdieu and L. Boltanski’s critical piece, “La production de l’idéologie dominante”.
  • [55]
    A. Borzeix, G. Rot, Genèse d’une discipline.
  • [56]
    In particular with Crozier, as the correspondence between the two men shows.
  • [57]
    Each had his own political/administrative “patron” (Gruson for Touraine and Ripert for Crozier). Furthermore, differences of opinion between the founders of Sociologie du travail led them to hand over the reins by appointing a new editorial committee in 1966. See A. Borzeix, G. Rot, Genèse d’une discipline.
  • [58]
    Dominique Martin, who had an agrégation de philosophie and was a graduate of Sciences Po ; and who was at the ADSSA from 1974, supervising the student fieldwork workshop.
  • [59]
    Dominique Martin, as above.
  • [60]
    M. Crozier, À contre-courant, 23-4.
  • [61]
    The 1968 reforms increased professors’ administrative workload, while the University remained separate from the CNRS, and, as a result, research only developed at that time in institutions that were devoted to it. The move to bring together universities and research centers only really began in the latter half of the 1970s. (Johan Heilbron, “Chapter 6 : Sociology as an organized academic field”, work in progress ; manuscript communicated by the author, 2010.)
  • [62]
    LV art. 54, Denise Pop, “Les formations à la recherche de l’école pratique des hautes études (sections des sciences économiques et sociales). De 1962 à 1974”, Paris, EPHE VIe section, September 1974.
  • [63]
    LV art. 55, “Initiation Sociologie” : Letter from Michel Crozier to Clemens Heller, 20 July 1965.
  • [64]
    LV art. 55, “Sociologie rurale”.
  • [65]
    LV art. 55, “Administration de l’EPRASS” : Letter from Henri Mendras to Clemens Heller, October-November 1966.
  • [66]
    H. Mendras, Comment devenir sociologue, 260.
  • [67]
    LV art. 55, “Administration de l’EPRASS” : “Rapport sur l’activité de l’EPRASS en 1968-1969”.
  • [68]
    AMC art. 36, “Université de Paris, Faculté des LSH de Nanterre, 1967-1968” : untitled notes by Michel Crozier proposing the reorganization of sociological studies at Nanterre, 1967-1968.Online
  • [69]
    Renaud Sainsaulieu, “Entrepreneur des liens sociaux”, in Stéphane Rizet (ed.), Itinéraires de sociologues. Histoires de vies et choix théoriques en sciences sociales (tome IV) (Paris : L’Harmattan, 2012), 273-314 (280).
  • [70]
    Crozier spent most of his career at the CNRS. However, he left the CNRS in 1966 to teach at Harvard, expecting a prestigious position, i.e. a university position, when he returned to France. In fact, he was recruited at the Faculty of Nanterre in 1967 and served as Assistant Professor (a permanent position) during the worst months of the student unrest. He returned to Harvard at the end of 1968 and applied to rejoin the CNRS the following year.
  • [71]
    “The main seminar was Crozier’s, which he taught by himself, then it was Crozier with Friedberg. It was the cornerstone seminar in organizational sociology, with mandatory fieldwork in pairs or groups of three.” (J. Lautman).
  • [72]
    It is likely that this refers to the negotiation with Roger Martin of a two-year study contract at Saint-Gobain Pont-à-Mousson. Roger Martin (an École Polytechnique and École des Mines graduate, CEO of SGPM), rubbed shoulders with Crozier when they were both members of the prospective study group for the 6th National Plan, as well as at the Centre de recherches et d’études des chefs d’entreprises (CRC ; the Corporate Executives’ Center for Research and Studies was a business-affiliated think tank), and also through Jacques Lesourne (also an École Polytechnique and École des Mines graduate).
  • [73]
    “We were always working with the same people” to place students, with “big companies that were implementing the continuing education law” (such as IBM and Kodak) (L. Coutrot).
  • [74]
    J. Heilbron, “Pionniers par défaut”.
  • [75]
    Jean-Louis Briquet, Guillaume Courty, “Observer le changement social. Entretien avec Henri Mendras”, Politix, 2(7-8), 1989, 17-20 (17).
  • [76]
    Which is the opposite of the deductive epistemology expressed in the 1968 volume The Craft of Sociology : Epistemological Preliminaries, by Pierre Bourdieu, Jean-Claude Chamboredon, and Jean-Claude Passeron (New York : de Gruyter, 1991 [1st end 1968]), which drew on the authors’ teachings at the EPRASS.
  • [77]
    “I had understood that the model that we had experienced as full-time junior researchers had outlived its usefulness. […] Radical change was needed that based operations on the work of young doctoral students. The DEA was intended to provide them with an in-depth grounding in methodology and enable them to conduct low-cost, exploratory studies” (Michel Crozier, À contre courant, 113). Crozier was particularly aware of this issue, having been involved in plans to reform the CNRS in the 1970s and was to contribute significantly to the Massenet Report (1979), an administrative report that proposed getting rid of the status of “lifetime” researcher and removing the human and social sciences from the CNRS in order to integrate them into the universities.
  • [78]
    J. Heilbron, “Chapter 6. Sociology as an organized academic field”.
  • [79]
    Michael Pollak, “Paul F. Lazarsfeld : a sociointellectual biography”, Science Communication, 2, 1980, 157-77.
  • [80]
    I refer to Michel Crozier, “A new rationale for American business”, Daedalus, 98(1), 1969, 147-58.
  • [81]
    Pierre Morin, Le développement des organisations (Paris : Dunod, 1971).
  • [82]
    A colleague of Pierre Morin at the SEMA, he contributed to the beginnings of the ADSSA. He left consulting and began an academic career in ergonomics following the award of a doctorate in 1977.
  • [83]
    Michel Crozier, “The present convergence of public administration and large private enterprises, and its consequences”, International Social Science Journal, 20(1), 1968, 7-16.
  • [84]
    AMC art. 42, Dossier Centre de recherches et d’études des chefs d’entreprise (CRC), 1965-1981. The study was presented and acclaimed in CNPF. Patronat, la revue des entreprises, the journal of the employers’ organization defending the interests of large firms. It led to several reports and served as a training exercise for students enrolled in the long course.
  • [85]
    His interlocutor there was Philippe Agid, a Sciences Po and ENA graduate, and a member of Chaban-Delmas’ cabinet between 1969 and 1972. AMC art. 40, “Compte-rendu de la réunion du 28 novembre 1973”.
  • [86]
    AMC art. 4, “Activités du directeur. Suivi : chrono départ (France), 1973-1979” : 1975.
  • [87]
    P. Bezes, Réinventer l’État.
  • [88]
    “He was the government representative on the executive board of the transport organization authority for the Ile-de-France region, and he located internship placements, he was especially helpful finding sites for the students’ fieldwork studies” (J. Lautman).
  • [89]
    AMC art. 33, ENA. The position of organizational sociology at the ENA was marginal. It was J.-C. Thoenig who worked to align organizational sociology and public management. See P. Bezes, Réinventer l’État.
  • [90]
    The first studies in the computerization of business came about in this way, as did those on industrial groups.
  • [91]
    AMC art. 1, “Compte-rendu des journées d’Andé (9-10 novembre 1971)”. “EF” were the initials of Erhard Friedberg, and “MC” Michel Crozier. The team had got into the habit of meeting roughly every two years at the Moulin d’Andé for a group seminar on in-progress studies, presentations of recent American research, and reflection about the group itself, where it was headed, etc.
  • [92]
    AMC art. 1 : “Note annexe au procès-verbal de la réunion du comité de direction du 10 janvier 1978 [1968]” (this was a typographical error – the document actually dates from 1968).
  • [93]
    From a chronological point of view, it should nevertheless be noted that Crozier first used the associative (nonprofit) form to respond to contracts and organize his research activities with a relatively stable group of collaborators (circa 1960). The Groupe de sociologie des organisations became a team associated with the CNRS in 1966, after separating from Aron’s Centre de sociologie européenne. It became the Centre de sociologie des organisations when it achieved the status of a solely CNRS-sponsored research team in 1969.
  • [94]
    M. Joly also stresses this point when discussing Pierre Bourdieu’s scientific project (Devenir Norbert Elias).
  • [95]
    AMC art. 6, “Activités scientifiques. Bilan du groupe. 1967-1972” : “Rapport scientifique pour l’année 1969-1970”.
  • [96]
    AMC art. 6, “Activités scientifiques. Bilan du groupe. 1967-1972” : “Rapport scientifique pour l’année 1967-1968”.
  • [97]
    AMC art. 7, “Séminaires internes et groupes de discussion”.
  • [98]
    The practice of drafting the textbook in the seminar sessions, in which proposals for chapters were presented, began at the end of the 1970s. The idea of a textbook was also suggested by Pierre Tabatoni, a management professor and series editor for the Presses Universitaires de France.
  • [99]
    Team members did not teach in “central” or prestigious places of sociology, and none of them had conducted sociological studies in France before they joined Crozier’s team (except for Catherine Grémion, a graduate of Sciences Po who held a bachelor’s degree in sociology). Their courses always seemed to follow the seminar model (as opposed to the lecture model).
  • [100]
    The book was an order from the Groupe de recherche et d’éducation populaire pour la promotion (GREP, Group for Research and Popular Education for Promotion). The journal was intended for an audience of educators. Erhard Friedberg, “L’analyse sociologique des organisations”, Pour, special issue 28, 1972. AMC art. 1, Various minutes.
  • [101]
    R. Sainsaulieu, “Entrepreneur des liens sociaux”, 285-6.
  • [102]
    R. Sainsaulieu, “Entrepreneur des liens sociaux”, 280.
  • [103]
    Johan Heilbron, “Practical foundations of theorizing in sociology. The case of Pierre Bourdieu”, in Charles Camic, Neil Gross, and Michele Lamont (eds), Social Knowledge In The Making (Chicago : The University of Chicago Press, 2011), 181-205 ; M. Joly, Devenir Norbert Elias.
  • [104]
    Quotes are excerpted from M. Crozier “Révolution libérale ou révolte petite-bourgeoise”.
  • [105]
    As noted earlier, Michel Crozier and his team collaborated with the ENA, but they were also close to the École polytechnique.
  • [106]
    Christopher Hood, The Art of the State. Culture, Rhetoric, and Public Management (Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1998).
  • [107]
    I am indebted to the encouragement and advice of Antonin Cohen and Nicolas Mariot, organizers of the thematic section “Pour une socio-histoire de la science politique” during the 11th Congress of the Association française de science politique, Strasbourg, 2011. I would also like to express my gratitude to Laurène Le Cozanet, Laurent Jeanpierre, and Marc Joly for their helpful criticisms and suggestions at different stages of the writing of this paper. Needless to say, any errors or misinterpretations are my own.

A nonprofit organization, the Association pour le développement des sciences sociales appliquées (ADSSA) was established by prominent French sociologists Michel Crozier, Henri Mendras and Jean-Daniel Reynaud in 1971 to train prospective sociologists. By 1975 it was settled at Sciences Po. This article takes this enterprise inside academia as an entry point for understanding both the state of French sociology between 1968 and 1975, and the internal dynamic of Michel Crozier’s scientific ambition. First, the author shows that becoming a school – and a school of thought – fulfils a need to shape young professionals fit to collaborate in research projects as well as to find positions outside academia. Second, the ‘applied sociology’ creed – opposed to the traditional university-based model of excellence – reveals a set of dispositions shaped during a former configuration of the discipline.

Alexandre Paulange-Mirovic
Alexandre Paulange-Mirovic is a doctoral candidate at the Université Paris-Dauphine and a member of the Institut de recherche interdisciplinaire en sciences sociales (IRISSO, Institute for Interdisciplinary Research in the Social Sciences, UMR 7170). He is the author of “Genèse d’une sociologie des organisations en France : l’importation des savoir-faire de la psychologie sociale américaine par Michel Crozier (années 1950)’, in Martine Kaluszynski and Renaud Payre (eds), Savoirs de gouvernement. Circulation(s), traduction(s), réception(s) (Paris : Economica, 2013, 86-101). His research interests center on the historical sociology of the social sciences. (Université Paris-Dauphine, IRISSO, Place du Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny, 75775 Paris cedex 16)
Translated from French by
John Angell
Uploaded on on 05/05/2014
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