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The politics of clarification: state experiments with labeling practices

Abstract : This paper considers the case of labeling practices in the construction sector. It discusses the ways in which current attempts at clarifying a landscape made of a multiplicity of public and private initiatives question the role of the state, and its very nature. It focuses on a " meta-label " called RGE ("Reconnu Garant de l'Environnement", meaning approximately Certified as Environment Friendly), produced by the French government and various stakeholders and aiming to identify labeling practices supporting the national objectives for sustainable construction. We will show that by inventing ways of describing, adapting and governing labels, the RGE initiative redefines public and private interventions. Thus, the politics at stake within this process of clarification enacts an experiment that engages the state: the state experiments with labeling practices in the same time as the modalities of state intervention are experimented. Accounting for this state experiment is of particular interest for the study of state-making operations. While the state can be envisioned as the outcome of processes that gradually construct infrastructures (e.g. by constituting data bases, mapping territories, etc.), the example of RGE illustrates another way of undertaking a sociology of the state, which considers the empirical sites where the state is problematized as a single entity acting on and within economic markets. We contend that this perspective is particularly useful for the critical analysis of contemporary policy-making areas in which the nature of the state is profoundly redefined.
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Contributor : Catherine Lucas <>
Submitted on : Monday, September 15, 2014 - 2:39:34 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, May 15, 2021 - 3:00:02 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-01064080, version 1


Brice Laurent, Alexandre Mallard, Aurélie Tricoire. The politics of clarification: state experiments with labeling practices. Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), Aug 2014, Buenos AIres, Argentina. ⟨hal-01064080⟩



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