For an ecological reconversion

Pro­fes­sor Dominique Méda is a soci­ol­o­gist and philoso­pher, Chair of Soci­ol­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Paris-Dauphine, where she directs the Insti­tute for Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Research in Social Sci­ences (IRISSO), a joint CNRS unit. She gave the sec­ond inau­gur­al lec­ture at the UTC on Sep­tem­ber 2, 2020. 

Labour sec­tor issues are famil­iar to her, since in her ear­li­er career, Dominique Méda was ini­tial­ly Inspec­tor Gen­er­al of Social Affairs, the con­trol­ling body of the Min­istry of Labour and Social Affairs. She then worked for 15 years as head of research at the Direc­torate for the Coor­di­na­tion of Research, Stud­ies and Sta­tis­tics (DARES) in the same min­istry and as Direc­tor of Research at the Cen­tre for Employ­ment Studies.

Why and what ini­ti­at­ed this inter­est? “In the ear­ly 1990s, the dom­i­nant dis­course empha­sised the exclu­sive impor­tance of work. Work was seen as an essen­tial and struc­tur­ing activ­i­ty for indi­vid­u­als: I want­ed to under­stand the gen­e­sis and caus­es of such a val­u­a­tion of work and its cen­tral place in our soci­ety,” she explains. This inter­est led her to under­take philo­soph­i­cal research, and to write her first book in 1995: Le tra­vail, une valeur en voie de dis­pari­tion? [Is work los­ing ground?] (pub­lished by Flam­mar­i­on). “I want­ed to under­stand philo­soph­i­cal­ly how work came to be recog­nised as the cen­tral social activ­i­ty. My proof here? In the GDP, only work is tak­en into account and polit­i­cal, fam­i­ly, domes­tic and leisure activ­i­ties are com­plete­ly ignored,” she adds. 

An inter­est that has also led her to do research in the soci­o­log­i­cal field. “By con­duct­ing field sur­veys in France, I have shown that work is indeed a cen­tral val­ue for peo­ple. I would even say that they have a “patho­log­i­cal” rela­tion­ship with work, unlike the Nordic peo­ple, for exam­ple, who, while respect­ing work, con­sid­er that their oth­er activ­i­ties — fam­i­ly, leisure, civic com­mit­ment — are every bit as impor­tant”, says Dominique Méda. 

An inter­est that has also led her to ques­tion the rel­e­vance of the “fetishi­sa­tion” of GDP as mea­sured and to rel­a­tivize its rel­e­vance. “We need to pay atten­tion to oth­er indi­ca­tors, two of which are, in my opin­ion, major. The first is the car­bon foot­print, the reduc­tion of which is our absolute chal­lenge faced with cli­mate change. The sec­ond is the indi­ca­tor of social cohe­sion. A social health index that mea­sures the degree of inequal­i­ty in a soci­ety,” she points out. An inter­est that has final­ly led her, even more so as the Covid-19 health cri­sis devel­oped, to advo­cate a total par­a­digm shift in the way our soci­eties func­tion. “Our soci­eties must embark on a gen­uine “eco­log­i­cal recon­ver­sion” in which it will no longer be a ques­tion of pro­mot­ing the biggest GDP, or the biggest prof­its, but of sat­is­fy­ing the social needs of all. An eco­log­i­cal recon­ver­sion which, more­over, should cre­ate many jobs”, con­cludes Dominique Méda.

Le magazine

Novembre 2023 - N°61

Activité physique, nutrition & santé

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