Dr Baptiste Brossard

Ph.D., Sociology. School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences / Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris (2011)
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Sociology 1608

Research interests

  • Mental Health
  • Sociological Theory
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Utopias


Baptiste Brossard received his Phd in sociology at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (2011). His primary areas of research are mental health, sociological theory, qualitative methods and utopian studies. 

Researcher's projects

The Social Genesis of “Mental Disorders”

Baptiste's research agenda explores the social shaping of these sets of behaviors and emotions associated to "mental disorders," from a qualitative perspective. His first book, Why do we Hurt Ourselves? (US: Indiana Uni. of Press, 2018; FR: Alma, 2014), proposes to understand self-harming as a self-control and social positioning practice. His second book, Forgetting Items (US: Indiana Uni. of Press, 2019; FR: Alma, 2014) examines ethnographically the everyday experiences and social conditions of Alzheimer's disease in France and Canada. Baptiste is currently co-leading a an international project on the history and experience of "behavioral addictions" to sport, sex, internet and work, in Canada and Australia (funded by the SSHRC; with N. Moreau, D. Namian and F. Fernandez). He is also invoved in more theoretical reflections aiming at extending Ian Hacking's theory of ecological niches or at conceptualizing the ways in which social causality is theorized and expressed in contemporary mental health research (with A. Chandler). 

Towards a Theory of Utopia Production

How can we understand that a given individual, with a given social position, in a given society at a given time of history, gets involved into imagining an idealized form of social organization? Is a sociology of utopian imagination possible? Coupled with teaching (SOCY2053, held in Semester 2 2017 and to be hold in Semester 1 2020), this project consists in multiplying in-depth cases studies of utopian texts, gathering documentation about their authors and social contexts of production, to identify recurrent patterns in utopia production. Venturing into multiple contexts, from the 16th Century England to the 1970s in California, through pre-Revolutionary Russia, this research program has, to date, identified promising avenues such as (1) the political trajectory of the utopia producer, (2) the cultural and social capitals of the producer, (3) “class distance” expressed through the utopian content, (4) the operations through which the utopian content is generated and (5) the concepts of “utopian niches” and “utopian chains”. 

Qualitative Methods

Methods are not only a step in sociological research. They determine what sociological analysis can be generated. They shape how theories can be anchored to reality. In his publications and teachings, Baptiste develops a methodological perspective based on the notion of reflexivity and focusing on the concrete aspects of sociological work, such as how to behave with the participants, how to write and how to understand one's position in the social world. Since 2018, Baptiste took on the ANU School of Sociology Honours methodology course, where he can share his perspective with advanced students. 

Social Change and the Interaction Order

Baptiste's underlying ambition is to articulate three theoretical trends: interactionist sociology, especially inspired by Cooley and Goffman; Bourdieusian sociology, especially its dynamic approach to social stratification; and Elias' historical sociology. Is it possible to elaborate a theory of social change considering, at the same time, everyday life interactions (Goffman) and the stream of thoughts (Cooley), the role of social stratification in the production of practices (Bourdieu) and the relation between dynamics of power networks and emotions (Elias)? In addition to the pleasure of exploring unlikely worlds, this long-term goal implies developing multiple research projects, currently: a study on 'the Green Shed', a waste-recycling company based in Canberra,  a study of the memory of Philippe Pétain in Post-1945 France (with Gary Fine), and a series of projects about Cooley's legacy in American sociology (see Updating Charles H. Cooley, co-edited with Natalia Ruiz-Junco, Routledge). 

Current student projects

Benjamin Hemmings, PhD student - social control in online support spaces

Susannah French, PhD student - the experience of autism in women

Christopher Chevalier, PhD student - oral history in Solomon Islands

Past student projects

Benjamin Hemmings, Honours thesis completed in 2018 on social control in eating disorders forums.

Samuel Xiang, Honours thesis completed in 2018 on depression recovery among ANU students.

Emily Faithfull, undergrad internship completed in 2018 on sex addiction sceening tests 

Lucinda Fretwell, undergrad internship completed in 2018 on utopia production during World War 1. 

Brigid Quinlan, Honours thesis completed in 2017 on sport and identity in a university college.

Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  18 June 2019 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers