Author of Critique of Modernity
Born in Hermanville (France) in l925, son of Albert Touraine and Odette
Cleret, husband of Adriana Arenas (marriage in 1957, deceased in 1990) ;
2 children : Marisol (l959), Philippe (l961). He graduated at the Ecole
Normale Superieure in l945 ; he has been Rockefeller Fellow at the
Universities of Harvard, Columbia and Chicago (l952-53.
He began his academic career as history lecturer in l950, to become
first assistant and then researcher at the Centre National de la
Recherche Scientifique, where he remained until l957.
In l956, he created the Centre for Research in Sociology of Labour at
the University of Chile. Two years later, he founded the Laboratory on
Industrial Sociology in France then, in l970, the Centre for the Study
of Social Movements. In l981, he founded and was the first director
(role that he covered until l993) of Cadis (Centre d'Analyse et
In l960, Alain Touraine was appointed Professor ("Directeur d'études")
at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, which later became Ecole des Hautes
Etudes en Sciences Sociales. He has also taught at Paris-Nanterre
University and in Chile, Brazil, the United States and Canada.
Professor Touraine has also served as President of the French
Association of Sociology (l968-70) and Vice-President of the
International Sociological Association (l974-78).
Alain Touraine has taken part in several Committees and Commissions such
as The Commission for University Reform (l966-68), the Commission of
Counselors of the Minister for Research and Higher Studies, the
Commission of studies on "Nationality" (l987), the Committee on ethics
in Parisian hospitals (l988), and the Minc Commission on the challenges
of the year 2000. At present, he is a member of the World Bank High
Commission for Sustainable Development. He is member of the board of
Directors of "La Maison d'Amérique Latine" and of Ecole Normale
Honorary member of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the
Academy of Science in Poland, he is also a former member of the Academia
Alain Touraine is a frequent speaker at conferences and participates in
various symposia and political and intellectual discussions both in
France and abroad.
He is the author of numerous books and essays translated into several
languages. His latest books, translated into English are : Critique of
Modernity (l995, Blackwell), What is democracy ? (l997, Westview), Can
we live together ? Equal and different (l999, Polity Press) and Beyond
Neo-liberalism (2001, Polity Press). Alain Touraine, Jon Clark and Marco
Diani eds, was published by Falmer Press in l996. His last book, written
with Farhad Khosrokhavar, La recherche de soi. Dialogue sur le Sujet,
was published by Fayard in 2000.
Alain Touraine received several degrees ad Honorem from the Universities
of Cochabamba (l984), Geneva (l988), Montreal (l990), Louvain-La-Neuve
(l992), La Paz (l995), Bologna (l995), Santiago (l996), Quebec (l997),
Cordoba (2000), Candido Mendes de Rio de Janeiro (2002), Roma (2003),
Jÿvaskÿla (Finland, 2004). He is also Officier de la Legion d'Honneur
and Officier de l'Ordre du Merite.
His work can be divided into three periods :
The first one is devoted to the sociology of work, and more precisely to
the sociology of labour consciousness. This is during this period that
he wrote, in Latin America, his first studies on Chilean coal miners and
iron and steel workers, as well as his book on Post-Industrial Society.
This was the time when he conceived his sociology, as he explained in
Sociology of Action and, ten years later, in Self-Production of Society.
The May 68 events as well as the military coups in Latin America led him
to target his interests on the study of social movements. With a group
of friends, he worked out a method for a sociological intervention which
they applied to various studies, related in books from The Voice and the
Eye, in l978, to The Labour Movement, in l984. During this second
period, he concentrated his interests on the study of Latin America, and
more generally on the problems of development. He spent l981 in Poland
studying Solidarnosc and wrote, in Latin America, a book which was first
published in Chile, then adapted, written again and published in France
under the title : La parole et le sang (voice and blood).
The third period, more philosophical, opens with Return of the Actor
(University of Minnesota Press). His latest books, Critique of Modernity
(Blackwell), What is Democracy ? (Westview), Can we live together ?
Equal and different (Polity Press) and Beyond Neo-liberalism ? (Polity
Press) illustrate his main idea of a Self considered as the central
principle of action for social movements (See, too : Penser le sujet
(Thinking the Self), F. Dubet and M. Wieviorka ed., (Fayard). His last
book, not yet translated into English is : Un nouveau paradigme pour
comprendre le monde d'aujourd'hui (Fayard, 2005)
His whole work constitutes a sociology of action, set out in a practical
way during the first period, in a broader historical way during the
second one, and more philosophically during the third one.
Throughout his life he has tried to link together different types of
studies : theoretico-analytical ones, empirical sociological researches,
the analysis of real historical events and, finally, works of a more
polemical or intimist type.
Keenly interested in all aspects of societies, he has written a book on
North American universities and the US student movement (The Academic
System in American Society, Transaction Publishers), followed the
evolution of French-speaking Canada, carried on a big study on
post-communist Eastern countries and devoted large part of his time to
the study and understanding of Latin American countries.
Alain Touraine, Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences
Sociales, founded in l981 and chaired till 1993 the Centre of
Sociological Analysis and Intervention (CADIS). He is the author of many
books, among which : The May Movement : Revolt and Reform, Random House,
l970, The Post-industrial Society, Random House, l971, The
Self-Production of Society, The University of Chicago Press, l977, The
Academic System in American Society, McGraw Hill, l974, and Transaction
Publishers, l996, The Voice and the Eye, Cambridge University Press,
l981, Return of the Actor, University of Minnesota Press, l988, Critique
of Modernity, Blackwell, l995, What is Democracry ?, Westview, l997, Can
we live together ? Equal and different, Polity Press, 1999, Beyond
neoliberalism, Polity Press, 2001. His last book, not yet translated
into English, is : Un nouveau paradigme pour comprendre le monde
d'aujourd'hui, Fayard 2005
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