Alain Touraine

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Alain Touraine
Born (1925-08-03) 3 August 1925 (age 94)
EducationÉcole Normale Supérieure
Alma materUniversity of Paris
EmployerÉcole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
RelativesMarisol Touraine (daughter)

Alain Touraine (French: [tuʁɛn]; born 3 August 1925) is a French sociologist. He is research director at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, where he founded the Centre d'étude des mouvements sociaux. He is best known for being the originator of the term "post-industrial society".


Touraine's work is based on a "sociology of action", which he called "actionalism",[1] and believes that society shapes its future through structural mechanisms and its own social struggles. Touraine defined historicity as the capability of a society to take action upon itself, see The Self-Production of Society (1977).

His prime interest for most of his career has been with social movements. He has studied and written extensively on workers' movements across the world, particularly in Latin America. In Poland where he observed and aided[citation needed] the emergence of Solidarnosc. While in Poland, he developed the research method of "Sociological Intervention," which had been outlined in "The Voice and the Eye" (La Voix et le Regard) [1981].

Touraine has gained popularity in Latin America as well as in continental Europe. He has failed to gain the same recognition in the English-speaking world, although half of his books have been translated into English. He participated in 1969 at the Universitas project[clarification needed] organized by Argentine architect Emilio Ambasz.


In 2010, he was jointly awarded, with Zygmunt Bauman, the Príncipe de Asturias Prize for Communication and the Humanities.[2] Touraine received the Légion d’Honneur in 2014 during his daughter Marisol’s mandate as French Minister of Social Affairs.[3]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Touraine, A. (1971). The Post-Industrial Society. Tomorrow's Social History: Classes, Conflicts and Culture in the Programmed Society. New York: Random House.
  • Touraine, A. (1977). The Self-Production of Society. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Touraine, A. (1981). The Voice and the Eye: An Analysis of Social Movements. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Dubet, F., A. Touraine and M. Wieviorka (1983). Solidarity: The Analysis of a Social Movement: Poland 1980-1981. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Touraine, A. (1995). Critique of Modernity. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Touraine, A. (1999). "Chapter 9: Society Turns Back Upon Itself." The Blackwell Reader in Contemporary Social Theory. Ed. Anthony Elliott. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 1999.
  • Touraine, A. (2000). Can We Live Together?: Equality and Difference. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.
  • Touraine, A. (2006). Le Monde des Femmes. Paris: Fayard.
  • Touraine, A. (2007). New Paradigm for Understanding Today's World. Cambridge, Malden: Polity.
  • Touraine, A. (2009). Thinking Differently. Cambridge, Malden: Polity.


  1. ^ Volkmar Gessner, David Nelken, European Ways of Law: Towards a European Sociology of Law (2007), p. 166.
  2. ^ [1] Archived May 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Temps de Lecture 2 min. "Légion d'honneur : Alain Touraine, Françoise de Panafieu et Renaud Lavillenie parmi les promus". Retrieved 2019-04-25.

Further reading[edit]