beyond the crises, a world in the making

The Coming Society

Led by Didier Fassin

with Axel Honneth, Roberto Esposito, Lea Ypi et al.

Threshold, 896 p., €29

“Crisis”: It seems that this now commonly used word has lost its meaning and its exponential use is contributing to the disorientation of our societies. Is a crisis not a brutal and intense manifestation but of a normally limited duration, characterized by a beginning and an end? Contrary to this definition, today’s crisis seems to form the normal horizon of our lives.

→ MAINTENANCE. Michel Aglietta: “Crises are inherent in capitalism”

Crises pile up, collide with each other, without it always being possible to define their global or local character, nor to determine what would link them together: crisis of democracy, crisis of representation, environmental crisis, crisis of migrants, crisis of information , crisis of gender relations, ideological crisis, without forgetting the ubiquitous health crisis… Everything contributes to the question of whether the crisis has not become a new normal.

Faced with this exasperated world, which risks a nervous breakdown to say the least, Didier Fassin has opted for the long term of critical reflection and collegiality. With some sixty researchers in the humanities (sociologists, philosophers, anthropologists, economists, historians, demographers, etc.) “diagnosis about the present that would help to think about the future”† The ambition of the voluminous book he has published is clear: it is about avoiding the bewilderment caused by the juxtaposition of crises and their way of treating them by urgency. “Crises have that individuality that they neutralize each other or make them invisible in public space. The one who preoccupies him completely occupies him and focuses on her the whole economy of attention. analyzes Didier Fassin.

A “critical moment”

When work questions the news “normality” of the crisis, he underlines the individuality of the present moment, qualified as “critical moment”, especially with regard to the crisis of democracy, which is taken very seriously here. Mistrust of politics, anger against the executive, discontent in the polls, pull of populism, temptation to conspiracy, feeling out of control and crowding out frustration on foreigners and minorities reflect for many “the disenchantment born of the discrepancy between what they were promised and what they experienced”† So far, the political responses given have not been effectiveand, according to Didier Fassin, were limited to “complement the decay of the social state with the expansion of a repressive state to the detriment, in both cases, of the most modest or most vulnerable populations”.

→ READ. The day after: learning to predict crises

Offering 65 thematic entries grouped in major sections – Issues (Earth, Globalization, Pandemic…), Politics (Democracy, Authoritarianism, Populism…), Worlds (Family, Suburbs, Countryside…), Inequalities (Wealth , school, health…), recognition (classes, gender, age…) – the book covers a very large part of the social spectrum. The chapters, entrusted to recognized researchers, do not always offer new analyzes of the content, but the effect created by the juxtaposition of the contributions gives a powerful dynamism to the work and sheds a frank light on the ongoing social development.

Without using the expression “world after” that had arisen at the time of the first incarceration, the book aims to reconnect with the moment of reflection that then crossed French society and discovered its vulnerability: which society do we want? What goods do we want to keep in common? What values ​​can we still share? In the spirit of this too quickly closed series, this book tries to reopen the horizon, presenting the new mobilizations, the resistances and the experiments that accompany this time of crisis, without being discouraged by their limited or local character: “Even modestly, they transform relationships between people and, ultimately, relationships with life itself, both present and future”Didier Fassin writes with confidence.

Leave a Comment