How do we associate?

What binds men together and makes them a society?? In an ambitious book, sociologist Serge Paugam addresses this subject by crossing the fields of sociology and psychology.

In his new book, Social attachment. Forms and foundations of human solidaritySerge Paugam, takes up the fundamental sociological question, what binds men together and what makes society? For Serge Paugam, the answer lies in the forms of attachment that human beings develop throughout their existence: attachment to their family, attachment to the loved ones they have chosen, attachment to their colleagues and their workplace, attachment to their country. No one will doubt the Durkheimian lineage in which Serge Paugam subscribes by analyzing the elementary forms of social attachment. He defends the idea that a theory of social bond cannot be based on the analysis of the two forms of solidarity (mechanical/organic), but on the different forms of morality which hold individuals together and society which establishes a sociological theory of social attachment.

This postulate allows us to understand the shift, rare enough to be noted, by a sociologist from sociology towards psychosociology and more particularly towards the work of Bowlby and his successors on imprinting and attachment, concepts that Paugam undertakes to relate to the theory of habitus in Bourdieu (p. 71-82).

This first part of the work establishes the theoretical bases of the author, a very rich part since it mobilizes works as diverse as those of Durkheim, Weber, Tnnies, Weber, Elias, Halbwachs, and more contemporary authors without forgetting Bowlby and his successors. Secondly, Paugam reconnects with the typology of social links which, obviously, is the heart of his system of thought: link of filiation, link of elective participation, link of organic participation, link of citizenship. THE parentage link is based on emotional recognition and intergenerational solidarity. Protection and recognition are based on others (friends, relatives, associations) in the reader participation link. THE organic participation link is based on contractual protection associated with job stability and recognition (material and symbolic) through work. Finally, the citizenship link results from belonging to a nation which provides legal protection (rights) and recognition of the sovereignty of the individual.

Each social bond can be defined based on two dimensions: recognition and protection. The articulation of these two dimensions makes it possible to distinguish four configurations: the links which liberate (providing both), the links which weaken (conferring recognition, but not protection), the links which oppress (providing protection, but not recognition) and finally the links which broken (which bring neither).

In an approach similar to that of Gsta Esping-Andersen in The three worlds of the welfare state, Serge Paugam distinguishes four dominant societal forms of attachment within contemporary societies: the familialist type regime, the voluntarist type regime, the organicist type regime and the universalist type regime. Each society represents an unequal combination of the four types of links. Depending on the type of link that dominates, in a given society, it will be classified more on the side of the type regime familyist, proactive, organicist Or universalist.

Based on international statistical data concerning 34 countries on five continents, Paugam, in collaboration with the Swiss team led by Christian Suter, attempts to specify the attachment regimes specific to the countries of Europe, North America, South America and Asia (chapter 11). This complex comparative research results in classifying France in a dominant organicist regime, the United States and the United Kingdom in a mainly voluntarist regime, the Mediterranean and Latin American countries in a dominant familialist regime, while the Scandinavian countries are more compliant. to the universalist regime.

This summary of the architecture of this large book of more than 600 pages does not do justice to Paugam's analyses. In a very dense set, let us highlight the pages that Serge Paugam, in line with his previous work, devotes to disqualified work and the process of social disqualification in assistance which masterfully illuminate the process of social devaluation which affects entire fringes of French society In the inability to project oneself into the future and a social position permanently judged inferior on a prestige scale (p. 250), now referred to as those who live on social assistance, a name which foreshadows the emergence of a police force for the poor. Also remarkable is the analysis of social movements as forms of strengthening social ties with particular attention to the study of the yellow vest movement. We will also read the beautiful developments in chapter 10 on the public space between resources and oppression, in particular the developments on the limited resources of public libraries for Homeless or the pages devoted to familyism in southern societies or the very enlightening passages on social dynamics in Japan as well as in the United States, in Chile, Argentina or Brazil.

Funds necessarily on limited indicators, the results of the international comparative analysis are however ready for discussion; thus of the character typically organicist of French society whose analysis reveals more the prevalence of the social state than the central place of labor relations; we would rather wait for Germany. More generally, the typological exercise runs the risk of obscuring the internal contradictions of the different regimes, long-term contradictions or contradictions born of social evolution. Reading the different parts devoted to the different national attachment regimes sometimes gives the impression that all developments necessarily fit into the model from which the author derives them. This methodological bias sometimes leads to questionable analyses; we will only take two examples of the analysis of the politics of the Bolsa Familia in Brazil and the analysis of the evolution of the Nordic universalist model against the backdrop of anti-immigrant policies.

There Bolsa Familia (B.F.) As Serge Paugam writes, is it part of the clientist heritage of family-based societies or is it, on the contrary, a break with the political and cultural heritage of Brazilian society?? There B.F. is one of these innovative social programs combining social allowance and family compensation (school obligation) which originated in Latin America (Progress in Mexico since 1997, B.F. in Brazil since 2003) before spreading through mimicry throughout South America and a large number of countries emerging. Despite their diversity, training programs conditional cash transfers were originally promoted as a break with the clientist practices of social assistance in the countries of the South, then for their effectiveness as a means of combating poverty. If Paugam does not reject the positive effects of Bolsa Familiahe also does not hesitate to write that B.F. prolonged the ancestral reproduction of practices which reflect a relationship of domination between local elites and the poorest population (p. 473) and what lends itself to political-electoral use of social assistance () The granting of B.F. depends in part on personal relationships between beneficiaries and elected officials or candidates for political elections (p. 470). This analysis is based on a single source, that of a doctoral thesisEHESS supported in 2017 dedicates a municipality of Ceara in the Northeast. Generalizing a local study requires great caution. There is a large scientific literature aimed at measuring the political and electoral effects of the B.F.; However, the literature is far from confirming this thesis. If certain studies tend to confirm that the Bolsa Familia leads to the political capture of beneficiaries (Hall, 2008), others conclude that the political impact is zero or non-existent (Layton, Donagby, Renno, 2017; Correa and Cheibub, 2016; Bohn, 2011). Paugam's postulate and the analyzes which result from it appear fragile to say the least.

Secondly, the analysis of recent changes in societies classified in the universalist model (Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden) does not fail to raise questions. In the typology of forms of attachment, the universalist regime appears for Paugam as the most accomplished form of citizenship. It is characterized by a strong coefficient of citizenship, good citizenship, equality, and universality of social protection and a pluralist and consensual democracy. Faithful to his method, Serge Paugam seeks to account for the historical origins of social-democratic universalism by favoring the hypothesis of historical continuity. However, how can we reconcile the principle of universalism with the radical anti-immigrant turn taken by Nordic societies??

Serge Paugam is not unaware of this evolution in public policies in the Nordic countries. Paugam does not ignore this development. He writes one of the sensitive points of the modern conception of social democratic solidarity concerns the treatment of immigration (p. 578) and that the Nordic countries are now part of a let's say minimalist version of the universalist principle (p. 580). It seems legitimate to ask another question: can we characterize as universalist a political regime which protects nationals as a priority and only opens sparingly and selectively to populations from elsewhere ? As soon as countries transform attachment to the national community into a xnophobic feeling of refusal of foreigners of non-Western culture and withdrawal into the national community, they escape from the universal. Reading the passage in which Serge Paugam compares integration policies in France and Finland causes a certain uneasiness. If we can share the observation of the minimal character of French policy, it is difficult to endorse without reservation the praise of the efforts of Finnish social workers to integrate migrant women and move from their relative marginality to complete citizenship (p. 581), nor that the contemporary social policies of the Nordic countries towards migrant populations can become a source of inspiration for countries like France (p. 582).

Should the notion of universalism be re-examined?? Let us simply remember that in history, the desire to build a community of similar people has sometimes led the Nordic countries to certain errors, today recognized and denounced. So universalist ambition of the Nordic countries (p. 583) authorized large-scale eugenics policies for decades (from 1929 to 1977).

Despite the scientific debates that this or that passage may give rise to, Social attachment is an important work that deserves to be read and discussed. Drawing on his more targeted previous studies, Serge Paugam gives us a vast treatise on sociology in which he does not hesitate to confront in a very educational manner the most current theories of contemporary sociology: the sociology of habitus, the sociology of networks, the sociology social capital, etc. The work can also be read as the testimony of an intellectual and research journey in which the author does not hesitate to mobilize his subjective impressions during field missions Sao Paulo (p. 467, 489), Crdoba (p. 438), Buenos Aires (p. 439), or even in Finland (p. 581) etc.

For all these reasons, we can only recommend its study to sociology students and their teachers.