3. Spaces of normativity

This axe is coordinated by Falk BRETSCHNEIDER and Juliette GUILBAUD


It would be reductive to speak of normativity exclusively in terms of law : that is to say, in terms of the interaction of legal norms, jurisprudence and theoretical teaching. The space of legal practitioners is not the only space of normativity, nor indeed necessarily the most crucialone. In a general sense, normativity concerns that which calls onindividuals to exit their state of being in order to accede to the dimension of what should be. It is from this perspective, including within its meaning what we can and want to be, that we addressa normativity which stands thus between voluntarism and obligation.

We follow four research pathways towards this normativity : beliefs ; forms of justice ; disciplinary power and penal practices ; and science(s).

The normative spaces areunderstood in terms ofboth their historical and contemporary character, from the Middle Ages to the present day. Our fourthematics also allow us to understand these spaces in terms oftheir theoretical, practical and discursive dimensions according to an approach which associatessociology, philosophy, history and law.


The question of normativity is here addressed from the perspective of a society of believers, using the case of the Jansenists of 18thcentury Europe, with a focus on the mobilization of their press organs (J. Guilbaud, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of East Paris).


This second research thematic framesthe domain of the law and its immediate application within the courtroom as the centre of gravity around which a wider sphere of legal activity revolves (R. M. Kiesow). Field studies carried out under its rubric concern in particular legal diversity, legal interpretations of literature (with Olivier Cayla, EHESS) and the range of powers with which the legal practitioner is endowed (with Florence Bellivier, University of East Paris).

Penal Practices

This theme draws on research intothe penal practices of the modern era, essentially imprisonment and banishment (F. Bretschneider), as well as research carried out on disciplinary power, using the case study of censorship within Viennese Culture at the turn of the 19th century (J. Le Rider).

This research thematic also contributes to a collaborative project centered on the comparative history of the practice of enclosure within the setting of the monastery and prison from the Middle Ages to the present day (F. Bretschneider in collaborationwith colleagues from the university of Champagne-Ardenne, LAMOP/Paris I and the university of East Paris).


This last research thematic addresses the role and place ofpractitioners of science in the city from a wide range of perspectives : from the activities of the Rockefeller foundation in Europe (project SOPHIE, M. Werner and L. Tournès) to the role of scholarly expertise in the production of European norms (S. Laurens). Also under its aegis is the project for a Historical Dictionary of Law and Legal Practice (F. Bretschneider and R. M. Kiesow).

Beliefs, forms of justice, penal practices and science(s) : in following such diverse pathways, it is not so much an (of course unattainable) exhaustiveness which is pursued asthe elaboration of a common mode of reflectionon normativity, one which eludes a rationality which is exclusively legal or moral. Normativityexercises its silent power in our responses to four questions : how must we belief? How must we judge? How must we research? How do we experience this ‘must’ (through a spell in prison for example) to which we are exposed? ‘Must we’?’, ‘how must we?’These are the keyquestions which we should pose if we are to deepen our understanding of normativity.