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Circular economy as a performative concept based on a rational utopia


  • Joel Ntsonde

    (CGS i3 - Centre de Gestion Scientifique i3 - Mines Paris - PSL (École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris) - PSL - Université Paris Sciences et Lettres - I3 - Institut interdisciplinaire de l’innovation - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Franck Aggeri

    (CGS i3 - Centre de Gestion Scientifique i3 - Mines Paris - PSL (École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris) - PSL - Université Paris Sciences et Lettres - I3 - Institut interdisciplinaire de l’innovation - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


The concept of Circular Economy has attracted increasing attention from scholars in the last ten years as a new paradigm to reconcile economic value creation with environmental frugality. Hitherto, researchers have mostly tried to found this concept on scientific grounds or analyzed how organizations are trying to implement it. But few works have studied the reasons why Circular Economy gets such a momentum and fosters collective action within society. The question we raise in this paper is: what mechanisms underpin the collective dynamic currently shaped by Circular Economy? To answer this question, we have analyzed the mechanisms through which organizations commit to Circular Economy. We conducted a qualitative study to explore a group of heterogeneous organizations which are involved in Circular Economy projects in the building and furniture sectors in Paris region. We show that Circular Economy has been built and works as a rational utopia (Metzger, 2001) which has the ability to wield performative effects (Callon, 2007). By performative effects, we analyze how this rational utopia is concretely mobilized in the course of action to provide cognitive resources for collective action, and particularly to materialize idealized visions into projects and commitments. Eventually we propose a framework conceptualizing the organizational processes through which the underlying rational utopia of Circular Economy becomes performative and materializes.

Suggested Citation

  • Joel Ntsonde & Franck Aggeri, 2019. "Circular economy as a performative concept based on a rational utopia," Post-Print hal-02168910, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-02168910
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    References listed on IDEAS

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