Call for Papers for volume 6, n° 2(12)/ 2013 ESSACHESS – Journal for Communication Studies: Secret, Publici
Call for Papers for volume 6, n° 2(12)/ 2013
ESSACHESS – Journal for Communication Studies
Secret, Publicity, Social Sciences Research
Olivier CHANTRAINE (Geriico, University Charles de Gaulle of Lille 3, France) and
Patrice de la BROISE (Geriico, University Charles de Gaulle of Lille 3, France)
Research in Social Sciences cannot escape a confrontational and problematic relationship to secret and secrecy, for the reason that its focus is on "discovering", "unveiling", "detecting", revealing", "making explicit" and "publicizing", this supposing that its subject (or object) of research is often "covered", "veiled", "hidden or concealed", "unknown", "implicit" or "private"… for more or less legitimate reasons sustained by weak or strong forces. Superior interests, sometimes, and, often, merely "good reasons" according to the view of institutions and public opinion, or even University itself.
Science obeys to a duty of publicizing and an ethic of "publicity", while it often deals with social facts and situations considered by the stake holding actors as being of a very different status. Secret is in fact in the very heart of construction of social forms. (Simmel, 1991, Petitat, 1998) and registers in a great variety of significations according to contexts and stakes. It will be found:
- in implied contents and what is left unsaid,
- in the unconscious and the denial,
- in the more or less legitimately hidden,
- in knowledge and know-how hoarded by groups or institutions who preserve their privilege of use, practice, produce and benefit and use them as weapons in competition,
- in dirt and impure, which one does not look at and, even if compelled to handle with, and avoids to designate by name (Hughes 1996).
States, professions, castes, parties, sects, factions, companies, institutions, staffs, nations, ethnic groups, benefit associations, conspiracies and mafias, societies, bands, gangs, secret societies, schools, networks, trends do not tell everything nor make all visible. What they keep unsaid or hidden is part of their proper substance and structure and not to be stricken by divulgation, they take or receive protection, according to circumstances and opportunities, from law, usages and customs, morality, lying, censorship or violence. They often feel their secrets as vital necessity and interest.
Meanwhile they happen to deal with insiders or outsiders, providers of « research », for the sake of efficiency, reflexivity or productivity. Insiders sometimes turn to critics, campaigners, whistle blowers, action-researchers or trainers, more or less inspired by disciplinary methodologies related to social sciences.
It can happen too that academics from various fields self-hire for the sake of advancement of knowledge.
Partners, competitors, authorities, institutions, or the administration will commission evaluation agencies. Experts sometimes lead their inquiries further than primary obviousness and pre-framed conclusions and counseling.
Spies steal industrial secrets; traitors and defectors negotiate them.
In such circumstances and actions, secret will not remain unharmed. Its ownership, its territory and its veils will be transformed, whereas the contexts where it has been discovered will themselves be changed.
Such processes often give birth to new forms of secret:
- Widely shared secrets, that is to say things "everyone" knows, but also about which "everyone" sticks to preserve their statute of secrecy, sometimes referring to a taboo. For example, conduct "sexual education" using "true words", denunciate the "glass ceiling" in institutions and companies, prosecute gender discrimination in management and human resources, reveal school materialism among "good pupils", or suspect cynicism when "excellent" academics comply voluntarily to the desires of agencies, will not inform anyone nor lead to a change in the frame of public debate. Ironically such secrets will be designated as "Big Secrets".
- So called "open secrets", only hidden to greenhorns and victims who will loose face when it will be published that they were not in the confidence, being blind or innocent.
- Secrets consisting in keeping secret that there is nothing to keep hidden. Such secrets only signify, through dissimulation and forced silence the force and authority exerted by a sect or friary on its affiliated.
- Secrets preserved by those who do not know themselves, or do not want to know, their content or meaning, for the reason sometimes that they fear the results of an abreaction
To criticize a secret can consist, rather than in revelation of its suspected content, in the publication of unsustainable aspects of its legitimacy. So professional secrets – held by doctors, clericals, psychoanalysts, scientists, inventors for example – are supported by the sake of patient interest, or public safety, or even objectivity and neutrality in professional practice, but appear to be, at least equally tool for power, domination and deny of accountability.
To publish or reveal is not always safe and leads to be enlisted among heretics. Among economists those who burnt their eyes looking at the "invisible hand" to close are qualified heterodox and … handled by peers in consequence. To publish or reveal is also not quite legitimate: it always contains a violation. To allow it to oneself requires a strategic, ethical and epistemic analysis.
The present Call for Papers of Essachess – Journal for Communication Studies aims at investigating relations and ties between "Research", "Secret", "Publicity" and "Publication".
It aims at taking into consideration empiric situation facts who lead to re-think the boundaries and flags instituted by main authors.
The Kant's tradition (Sissela Bok, 1984) prohibits to practitioners or action-research to go under cover, considering that lying induces invalidation of the results of the searcher. In the same tradition (Kant, 1789, Macherey, 2011) the secrets of University should be the best kept of all, for the reason that secret of institutional deliberations is the legitimate and necessary condition of academic autonomy. This specificity makes it an awkward and uneasy enterprise to conduct a reflexive research in University and in the academic world and to manage, put to work and defend that practice and its results. Publication of results about the functioning of institution is a problem, as the aspects protected by secret are specifically the more effective and substantial. The institution legitimates its restriction strategy referring to public interest, which calls for autonomy from administration and public opinion. This leads to a variation of rationality, not the same inside and outside the closure of institution, and unshared between laymen and initiates. It also results in a difficulty to correlate proper statutes of trade union and corporate concerns on one hand and research practices and publications on the other hand.
– December 30, 2012: submission of the proposition of article in the form of a summary of 400-500 words. The proposal must include a list of recent references;
– February 15, 2013: acceptance of the proposal;
– July 15, 2013: full paper submission;
– September 30, 2013: full paper acceptance.
Papers should be between 6,000-10,000 words in length. Papers can be submitted in English or French. The abstracts should be in English and French, max. 200-250 words followed by 5 keywords. Please provide the full names, affiliations, and e-mail addresses of all authors, indicating the contact author. Papers, and any queries, should be sent to:
Authors of the accepted papers will be notified by e-mail. The journal will be published in December 2013.