Université de Strasbourg

Jérôme Beauchez


Laboratory for interdisciplinary cultural studies (LinCS), University of Strasbourg and CNRS

Jérôme Beauchez, USIAS Fellow 2019

Since September 2018, Jérôme Beauchez has been Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Strasbourg. He was deputy director of the ‘European Dynamics’ research laboratory (DynamE), which became the Laboratory for interdisciplinary cultural studies in 2022, and of which Professor Beauchez is director. From 2009 to 2018, he was a lecturer at the University of Lyon/Saint-Etienne, a researcher at the Max Weber Centre, and a member of the IMU LabEx (Intelligences des Mondes Urbains - Intelligence of Urban Worlds). Between 2013 and 2017, Jérôme Beauchez coordinated the ANR (French National Research Agency) programme “SOCIORESIST”. During this time, he managed and directed ethnographic investigations among marginalised populations, studying their capacity to resist daily adversity at the intersection of gender-, class-, or race-related domination. This work led to him being elected to a CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) secondment at the Institut de recherche interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux sociaux (Interdisciplinary research institute on social issues) in Paris for two consecutive years (2016-2018).

These studies resulted in publications with the Parisian School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales) and Palgrave MacMillan in New York, as well as in journals such as Sociology, Ethnography, the Journal of Contemporary EthnographyCritical Sociology, and Qualitative Inquiry. Together, these texts (two books and several dozen articles) offer a ‘marginal perspective’ on social conflicts, the conception of norms, deviancy, and alternative lifestyles. Two articles linked to this project were recently published by SAGE Journals:  Sur la Zone: A Critical Sociology of the Parisian Dangerous Classes (1871–1973)Critical Sociology, Vol. 46(4-5) 693–710 (2020) et (Auto)Ethnography Underground: Some French “Fibrils” and “Scratches”Qualitative Inquiry, Vol. 26(10) 1269–1280 (2020).

Project - Margins from within and without: daily lives and legal rights

01/10/2020 - 30/06/2023

Throughout his different investigations, Jérôme Beauchez has progressively developed this ‘marginal perspective’ which he continues to enrich and even renew in his current work, opening it up to new points of view on the daily lives of marginalised people and groups. These novel directions include looking at forms of discourse, types of judgment, and relationships to rights, as well as at different kinds of institutions that treat ‘marginal’ cases in particular ways. The main idea consists in revealing marginal situations and conditions at the intersection of viewpoints that are not only both diachronic and synchronic, but also both emic and etic (i.e. that reflect the perspectives of insiders on their marginality and the perspective of outsiders commenting, interpreting, and judging that marginality). This is the aim, for example, of Jérôme Beauchez’s investigation into ‘la zone’ (a term that refers to marginal spaces in France) as well as of his work on a range of (un)popular subcultures that remain under-examined in France. Based on diversely situated experience, the intention is to begin by drawing closer to what the margins mean, in the sense of what they signify from within, focusing on the daily lives of ‘zonards’: punks, skinheads, travellers, squatters, and other drifters whose conceptions of the world are made up of a set of views and concepts that emerge from their experiences.

However in addition to this initial viewpoint, it is also possible to try to approach what the margins mean from another perspective, in the sense of what they are made to signify from without. Today, as in the past, marginal experiences continue to give rise to discourse of various orders, most often expressed from an outside perspective – for example, that of legal institutions or a range of different ‘moral entrepreneurs’. Because this discourse and these judgements construct the meaning or even the reality of the margins as they appear in the eyes of the majority, they are therefore an etic viewpoint that Jérôme Beauchez analyses by contrasting it with the emic viewpoint of marginalised groups. It is for this purpose that he focuses in particular on how a legal institution such as the European Court of Human Rights treats ‘marginal’ cases. While this European institution lies at the margins of national jurisdictions, it remains hugely central and is tasked with ensuring that fundamental rights are respected even in the interstitial spaces of our societies. How, though, do international lawyers understand marginal experiences, often as distant from their own daily worlds as they are from the law? And can this question not be asked of all those who claim to interpret – and sometimes judge – the daily lives of individuals or groups whose situations are only ever considered from the outside? What of the other viewpoint which, from the inside, can open up a different perspective on the meaning of the lived experience of members of marginalised groups?

Jérôme Beauchez’s research project lies at the intersection of viewpoints on marginality and of the narratives, deviance, and conception of law associated with it. Its aim is to provide a cultural analysis grounded in experience and capable of drawing closer to what the margins mean. Far from being unequivocal, the meaning thus uncovered varies according to who is producing it and from what perspective. It is this variety that determines both the objects and the subjects of enquiry. The intention is to produce a cultural sociology of marginality, with the latter then in turn intended to provide the foundation for a much vaster research programme leading to a new conception of ‘cultural studies’ that is entirely original. Jérôme Beauchez is actively engaged in this endeavour alongside a group of researchers who are all keen to give new impetus to the social sciences in Strasbourg.

The initial project "The ECHR: Ethnography of a Human Rights Laboratory” was adjusted in light of the coronavirus pandemic that started early 2020.

Research assistant biography - Éliane Eock

Laboratory for interdisciplinary cultural studies (LinCS), University of Strasbourg and CNRS

Éliane EockÉliane Eock obtained her doctorate in social and cultural anthropology at the University of Strasbourg in 2016, under the supervision of Gaëlle Lacaze. In her thesis, The treatment of frizzy hair in the processes of socialization and integration in France and Cameroon, she carried out three ethnographic surveys in those two countries, in order to examine and question the practices and representations relating to frizzy hair of black populations.

As research associate of the DynamE laboratory, she continues her research on black identity, feminism, black feminism and migration and has published an article Gender diversity and disparity in hair straightening among women and men in France and Cameroon (December 2019, Sociologias 21 (52): 74-103). In addition, Éliane Eock collaborates on the MIGREVAL project and teaches sociology courses in various higher education establishments. She is currently investigating the impact of Covid-19 on mothers of school-aged children.


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