Angele Christin, Sociology

Qualities and Quantities: Performance Measurements and their Effects in the Workplace

Date: 
Wed, 10/09/2013
Location: 
4:00 PM, 300 Wallace Hall

Angèle Christin will give a practice job talk called “Qualities and Quantities: Performance Measurements and their Effects in the Workplace” on Wednesday 9 October from 4-6 pm in 300 Wallace Hall.   We are organizing this job talk through the auspices of the LEGS (the Law-Engaged Graduate Student) seminar to attract an interdisciplinary audience.  Please come and help Angèle prep for her first interview - which will be at Harvard for a joint position between sociology and the interdisciplinary social studies program.  She needs both sociologists and interdisciplinary others to give her questions and feedback.  

Abstract:  Measurements are everywhere. But how do we use them and what do they mean to us? Sociologists studying quantification emphasize the role of numbers in standardizing people, objects, and organizations. Metrics, however, have radically different meanings depending on their context. How do people negotiate the tension between quantitative and qualitative modes of evaluation? In my research, I examine how performance measurements conflict with qualitative definitions of good work in occupations that were formerly protected from quantified evaluations.  Specifically, I explore this question by analyzing the rise of internet metrics in online journalism. Based on ethnographic analysis of web newsrooms in the U.S. and France, I suggest that there are two opposite types of equilibrium between quantities and qualities that emerge within organizations. The first is a “separate spheres” model based on strong specialization, professionalization, and pluralism of values. The second is a “connected” model based on weak specialization, weak professionalization, and strong universalist claims. I argue that these different regimes typify the distinct trajectories of the fields under consideration.

Angele Christin is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology. Before coming to Princeton, she was trained in sociology of law and sociology of culture at the Ecole Normale Superieure (Paris).  In her dissertation project, “Clicks or Pulitzers? Journalists and their Work in the United States and France,” Angele explores the transformations of the fourth estate on both sides of the Atlantic. The printed press is undergoing a crisis in most Western countries. The circulation of newspapers and magazines has declined dramatically, as have advertising revenues. The only sector of the press that is doing well is online news. In 2010, for the first time, more people read news online than in print in the United States. Yet media critics have argued that investigative reporting and quality journalism are threatened at news websites because of the frantic pace of publication and the preponderance of opinion pieces. In her dissertation, Angele takes a step back from these heated debates about the future of the press, instead exploring how two different professional cultures – American and French journalists – use and interpret the same new technological innovations. The United States and France are often presented as having opposite journalistic traditions: American journalism is depicted as dominated by market forces, whereas the French journalistic field is more embedded in politics. Angele’s research explores how these national cultures and technological changes interact.