10th Congress of the French Association of Political Science (AFSP) 7–9 September 2009

10th Congress of the French Association of Political Science (AFSP), Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Grenoble, 7–9 September 2009

Workshop No. 44:
Sociology and History of the Mechanisms of Depacification of the Political Game

Workshop organisers:
Paula Cossart (GRACC, Université Lille III), cossart.paula@free.fr
Emmanuel Taïeb (IEP of Grenoble), emmanuel.taieb@iep-grenoble.fr

Many studies in historical sociology have investigated the processes through which the political game within the western democracies has become pacified. They have highlighted a civilising process in political manners, a ‘routinisation’ of non-violent repertoires used during social protest, a debarment of violence through the practice of elections, and more generally a delegitimisation of the use of physical violence in the political contest. Henceforth, for participants in politics, beyond political divsions between them, pacification and its effects have become the common rule, leading to frequent condemnation of those who do not comply with it.

But this pacification is never finished. And in fact, opposite processes, of depacification, are at work in the political game – processes that contest, resist, or misappropriate the benefits of pacification, and force political participants and groups to define and reconstruct themselves with respect to them. These mechanisms of depacification are consubstantial with the political game, and challenge its limits. They imply new definitions of deviant or ‘off-side’ actionsm which may eventually be made illegal, even defined as crimes.

The aim of this workshop is to study the forms taken by these mechanisms of depacification in the political struggle, and the way that pacification is sometimes corrupted in order to get involved in different ways in the political game. We think that political depacification has three complementary dimensions, along which contributions to this workshop can be oriented:

1. First, verbal or symbolic forms of depacification – such as a public insult, defamation, a loss of self-control, a blow ‘below the belt’, the use of arguments seen as non-political, inappropriate references (regarding sexual preference, social origin, religion, skin colour), excessive caricaturing, or lynching by the media.

2. Second, depacification characterised by the use of violence. For example, terrorism, political assassinations, ‘state violence’, sporadic low intensity violence, such as public disorder, taking people captive, sit-ins or arson in places of work, the outbreak of violence during a demonstration or an election campaign, etc.

3. Third, a more subtle form of depacification which this workshop wishes to explore: the notion of depacification in regard to related ideas like decivilising processes, brutalisation, and all forms of informalisation of political manners.

Proposals may be written in either English or French. All abstracts and proposals should be submitted electronically, and sent to one of the two organisers.

Deadline for submission of proposals: 15 October 2008.

More information about the Congress: http://www.congresafsp2009.fr/

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