Recherches en cours


Mes recherches actuelles empruntent deux directions :
- la sociologie de la vulgarisation des neurosciences, au travers de deux travaux en cours : une étude sur l’organisation d’une manifestation annuelle de vulgarisation (La Semaine du Cerveau) et une étude sur l’histoire sociale (production, diffusion) d’un concept neuroscientifique (le cerveau reptilien)
- la sociologie de la culture et des idées, au travers de deux autres chantiers en cours : une réflexion sur les aspects cognitifs et sociaux de l’usage des métaphores dans les débats intellectuels et la coorganisation d’un projet international, "Literature under constraint/Littérature sous contraintes", portant sur la littérature française contemporaine et ses conditions sociales d’élaboration.

My current research stands at the junction between a sociology of scientific popularization and a social history of ideas and symbolic producers. It follows up on my work on the resurgence of biologizing ideologies in the French public space since the 1970s (Le Singe, le gène et le neurone [The Monkey, the Gene and the Neuron], Puf, 2014) and my codirecting, along with historian Carole Reynaud Paligot, of the research theme “Biologizing the social : discourses et practices” at MSH Paris Nord. Drawing from the work of Frédérique Matonti or Bernard Pudal, my research deals with the cultural legitimacy and dissemination of life sciences and, beyond them, what is known as hard sciences.

The general hypothesis underlying my work revolves around the idea of the “metaphorization” of scientific notions, a central operation carried out by scientific popularization, as studied by Yves Jeanneret. Far from being limited to its rhetorical and pedagogical dimensions only, this “metaphorization” involves a set of social practices calling for socio-historical contextualization.
This account of a specific aspect of scientific popularization relies on a more general premise : “our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature” (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980) and on the notion that scientific knowledge is among the main supplier of metaphors within the contemporary era (see Hans Blumenberg’s work on longue durée). This premise has been explored for several decades now by different research trends affiliated with phenomenology and cognitive sciences.

My current research therefore focuses on the way metaphors inspired by life sciences and sciences of the mind are produced, used, and disseminated. I am currently investigating the notion of “reptilian brain”, a common metaphor in discourses dealing with aggressiveness and conflicts. My research is articulated in three parts : a sociohistory of the concept and its transformation into a notion tailored for mainstream media ; a sociology of the producers, their intermediaries and the media used (written, audiovisual, digital) ; and finally a study of the ways these discourses are being appropriated, drifting towards social behavior and back.

Finally, a secondary objective of this research is to discuss some of the “biopsychological” approaches to social interaction and cultural transmission, such as cognitive anthropology.

4 octobre 2017