Центр «Res Publica»
Luc Boltanski


m LOGO IF RussieWith the support of  The French Institute in Saint-Petersburg

Free entrance, registration.




A discussion with Oleg Kharkhordin, Victor Kaplun, Artemiy Magun.


The talk would be centered on the relations between institutions and critique. Institutions have the task of maintaining in working order the current formats and rules and, hence, the task of confirmation of the reality of the reality. But critique, drawing new resources from the world, questions this socially constructed reality and, when it succeeds in gaining a listening, transforms it.

The frame I outlined starts from a statement, which has the status of a postulate. This statement lays stress on a radical uncertainty concerning “the what is it of what is”. This uncertainty is seen as continuously besieging the course of social life. Given such uncertainty, differences of interpretations and, consequently, of usages, always involve the risk of dispute which can lead to violence. A consequence of this postulate is that different registers framing action will be regarded as tools aiming at reducing the effects of this uncertainty. 

This analysis of the relationship between institution and critique would relies mainly on the distinction between reality (seen as an institutionalized, i.e. constructed reality) and world, regarded – in Wittgenstein’s terms - as “all that is happening”. Actors, relying upon their experiences, reveal themselves capable of drawing from the world critical arguments and examples that do not fit in with the qualifications, definitions, and test formats on which current social reality is based. They would, then, be able to question its necessity, to expose its arbitrary nature, and, finally, to propose other kinds of social arrangements.