Two-sites Poitiers University and Limoges University

The Sociological Research Group on Contemporary Societies (GRESCO) is a research center of the Universities of Poitiers and Limoges, founded in 2008, and directed by Choukri BEN AYED (Limoges) and Christian PAPINOT (Poitiers).

Today, GRESCO includes 40 main members, 13 associate members (teachers-researchers in sociology) and 21 PhD students, distributed on the sites of Poitiers and Limoges. 32 doctoral thesis (PhD dissertations) and 8 HDR (accreditation to direct PhD research) prepared inside the center has been defended between 2008 and 2020.

38 study days and 17 conferences (included 7 international ones) has been organized by the GRESCO between 2008 and 2020. The center also welcomes 6 annual seminars and several research contracts with public and private institutions. Finally, the GRESCO is laboratory of support (total or partial) of 5 different Master’s degrees

A brief overviewfiche labo gresco

Research areas

The center’s sociology, both qualitative and quantitative in nature, favors empirical research and a diversity of scales and topics.


Learning Processes and Social Inequalities
Social Knowledge
Categories of Thought, Categories of Action
Work and Employment
Arts and Cultures
Collective Solidarity
Social Control

  • KEYWORDS: Learning; Higher Education; Socialization; Lifelong Development; Professionalization; Reforms; Experts; Rurality; Public Utilities; Culture; Heritage
  • The GRESCO focuses on three research areas:

“Development and certifications: sociology of learning”

Here we take an interest in learning processes, mechanisms and systems within structures (schools, training centres, businesses, etc.), which validate and certify learning and, on a wider level, within traditional socialization spheres (families, districts, community groups, businesses, jobs, etc.); logically-speaking, this area comprises the analysis of development paths that the phases of any learning impose on individuals and groups that the individual is involved in.

“Professionalization, expertise and reforms: sociology of categories and classifications”

The study of categories and classifications is a fundamental approach of sociology and is distinctly in line with the Durkheimian orientation (categories and classifications as institutions). It reflects on naturalized categories by questioning the conditions of their invention and their institutionalization on the one hand and, on the other hand, by reflecting on cognitive and political representation work and its effects of constituting social groups and social issues.

“Cultures, territories and inequalities: sociology of social spaces”

The core issue of this area can be found at the point where cultures, territories and inequalities meet. The idea of culture is addressed here in its polysemy: it refers just as much to issues on cultural practices, appropriation and identification as to the analysis of cultural policies. The idea of territory is also envisaged here in a wider sense. Territory is in particular viewed in terms of demographic modifications, which affect its social composition, its activities, its development and its representations.


Books and review issues: 2010 ; 2011 ; 2012 ; 2013 ; 2014 ; 2015 ; 2016 ; 2017 ; 2018 ; 2019 ;

See more publications (articles, book chapters, etc.) on the members webpage

Invited researchers

In 2014, the GRESCO had the pleasure to welcome Nadia Lamamra in the University of Poitiers. Sociologist at Institut Fédéral des Hautes Etudes en Formation Professionnelle (IFFP) of Lausanne (Switzerland), she was present in Poitiers from 10 March to 11 April 2014.

In 2013, the GRESCO had the pleasure to welcome three researchers:

Shigeru Okayama, professor at the Faculty of Political Science and Economics of Waseda University (Tokyo). He came at the University of Limoges in february and gave a presentation on the transformations of the higher education in Japan.

Christian Imdorf is professor of sociology at the University of Basel (Switzerland), specialist of sociology of education. He came three weeks in February at the MSHS of Poitiers. His research project is available for consultation here : “Education systems and gendered school-to-work transitions

Regula Leemann is professor of sociology at the University of Basel (Switzerland), also specialist of sociology of education. She came during 6 months at Poitiers. She benefited from a research fellow of the Region Poitou-Charentes. This site presents the research team for which she is responsible.

Christian Imdorf and Regula Leemann work together in a research project called « Les réseaux d’entreprises formatrices »

In November 2012, the GRESCO had the pleasure to welcome three researchers:

Maaria Linko is a sociologist, professor at Helsinki University, specialist of sociology of art, of literature and of urban cultures. She benefited from an ERASMUS mobility fellow. She gave two presentations at the conference “Recognition and consecration in the arts” :
“Are Book Reviews a Diminishing Form of Publicity for Non-fiction in Newspapers and in the Internet ?”
“An expert or a celebrity ? Non-fiction writers and their publicity in the press and in the internet”

Nuria Peist is historian of the art, assistant professor at Barcelona University, specialist of contemporary art. She benefited from an ERASMUS mobility fellow. She gave two presentation at the conference “Recognition and consecration in the arts” :
“The Networks to Success : Conditions of the Recognition and Consecration of the Modern Artist”
“Artistas plásticos, mediadores culturales y éxito comercial. Casos históricos para el análisis de un conflicto” / see the VIDEO

Timothy Dowd is a sociologist, professor at Emory University (Atlanta), specialist of sociology of culture and of sociology of music. He was chairman of a workshop and gave two presentation at the conference “Recognition and consecration in the arts” :
“The Remembering: Heritage Work in Progressive Rock Festivals at the Turn of This Century.”
“From Stage to Page : The Ongoing Consecration of Composers among U.S. Orchestras, Encyclopedias, and University Textbooks” / see the VIDEO

– In February and March 2010, the GRESCO had the pleasure to welcome José Luis Moreno Pestana at the University of Limoges. Professor of philosophy at the University of Cadix (Spain), sociologist, José Luis Moreno Pestana gave three presentations:
on the somatic culture and the anorexia in the GRESCO seminar
on Michel Foucault and the néo-libéralism in the GRESCO seminar
on his book “En devenant Foucault. Sociogenèse d’un grand philosophe” (Le Croquant, 2006).


SORG : Ecole Doctorale Sociétés et Organisations (Université de Poitiers et Université de Limoges)

Espace Mendès-France (Poitiers)

MSHS Poitiers: House of Human Sciences and Society of Poitiers

CENS: Nantes Sociology Centre (University of Nantes)

CESSP: European Sociology and Political Science Centre (CNRS – University of Paris 1 and EHESS)

CURAPP: University Research Centre in Administration and Politics of Picardie (CNRS and University of Picardie Jules Verne)

Région Poitou Charentes

Région Limousin

Adresses and contacts

Laboratoire GRESCO
Université de Poitiers – UFR SHA
8, rue René Descartes – TSA 81118
86073 Poitiers Cedex 9
e-mail :
Adress: Site Hôtel Fumé (centre ville)
36, rue de la Chaîne
86000 Poitiers
Tel :
Mail :