Love and Justice as Competences
July 2012, Polity
People care a great deal about justice. They protest and engage in confrontations with others when their sense of justice is affronted or disturbed. When they do this, they don’t generally act in a strategic or calculating way but use arguments that claim a general validity. Disputes are commonly regulated by these ‘regimes of justice’ implicit in everyday social life. But justice is not the only regime that governs action. There are some actions that are selfless and gratuitous, and that belong to what might be called a regime of ‘peace’ or ‘love’. In the course of their everyday lives, people constantly move back and forth between these two regimes, that of justice and that of love. And everyone also has the capacity for violence, which arises when the regulation of action within either of these regimes breaks down.
In Love and Justice as Competences, Boltanski lays out this highly original framework for analysing the action of individuals as they pursue their day-to-day lives. The framework outlined in this important book is the basis for the path-breaking work that he has developed over the last twenty years – work that has examined the moral foundations of society in and through the forms of everyday conflict. For anyone who wants to understand what a critical sociology might mean today, this book is an essential text.
Part One: What People Can Do
1. A Sociology of Disputes
2. The Political Basis for General Forms
3. Ordinary Denunciations and Critical Sociology
4. The Sociology of Critical Society
5. A Model of Competence for Judgement
6. Principles of Equivalence and Justifiable Proofs
7. Tests and Temporality
8. Four Modes of Action
9. Below the Threshold of the Report
Part Two: Agape: An Introduction to the States of Peace
1. Disputes and Peace
1.1 The Limits of Justice
1.2 Anthropology and Tradition
1.3 The Theological Tradition
2. Three Forms of Love
2.1 An Initial Inventory
2.2 Love as Reciprocity: Philia
2.3 Eros and the Construction of General Equivalence
2.4 Agape and the Withdrawal of Equivalence
2.5 The Insouciance of Agape
2.6 Duration and Permanence
2.7 The Example of Little Flowers
2.8 Parable and Metaphor
3. Agape and the Social Sciences
3.1 Agape: Practical Model, Ideal or Utopia?
3.2 Marx and the Theory of Justice
3.3 The Paradoxes of Gifts and Counter-gifts
4. Toward a Sociology of Agape
4.1 The Model of Pure Agape
4.2 Access to the States of Agape
4.3 From Love to Justice
4.4 From Justice to Love
4.5 Agape and Emotion
Part Three: Public Denunciation
1. The Affair as a Social Form
2. The Actantial System of Denunciation
3. The Requirement of Desingularization
4. The Difficult Denunciation of Kith and Kin
5. Maneuvering to Increase One's Own Stature
6. What One Must Not Do Oneself
7. Generalization and Singularity
8. Dignity Offended
9. Confidence Betrayed
Annex 1. Building the Factorial Analysis
Annex 2. A Sampling of Typical Letters
- A major new book by one of the world’s leading sociologists.
- Forms the basis for the path-breaking work that Boltanski has developed over the past 20 years, work that has examined the moral foundations of society in and through the forms of everyday conflict.
- Analyzes ‘regimes of justice’ and ‘regimes of love’ that are implicit in everyday social life, and examines the capacity for violence that arises when these regimes break down.
- This cutting-edge book will be of great interest to advanced students and scholars in sociology and the social sciences and anyone concerned with what a critical sociology means today.
'When an injustice is committed, most of us simmer in anger and indignation and feel compelled to denounce the perpetrators. Yet, despite its widespread character, the actual social and emotional experience of injustice has hardly been studied. This book is the first major sociological study of denunciation, that most ordinary act present in personal and public life. Boltanski is the leading sociologist of his generation, and this book's virtuosity shows why.'
Eva Illouz, Hebrew University of Jerusalem