Une société pathogène ? : les hypersensibilités environnementales au prisme de la sociologie cognitive

Abstract : For about two decades, the number of people claiming to suffer from multiple chemical sensitivity or electromagnetic hypersensitivity has been steadily increasing in France.T hese persons experience various and sometimes quite disabling somatic symptoms, which they attribute to exposure either to chemicals or to anthropogenic electromagnetic fields. The definition, and even the existence of these diseases are controversial. They are not legally recognized and their victims resort to self-diagnosis. However, this is not a cognitively easy task. Its implications are also far-reaching: it results in a radical change in their views of themselves, their environment and their community, as well as significant alterations in their daily lives and behaviour. It is thus an interesting phenomenon to explain for a cognitive sociology concerned with how mental representations evolve and influence conduct. Such is the purpose of this thesis. The analysis relies mostly on ethnographic materials and is conducted in a comprehensive and ecological perspective. It falls into three stages. The first one is devoted to an exploration of the controversies aroused by environmental sensitivities, so as to clarify their lack of legitimacy. The second one deals with the subjective experience and biographical trajectories of environmentally sensitive persons. The last one tries to explain the appearance and persistence of their conviction that they are hypersensitive with a utilitarian model in which emotions play a prominent role. To conclude, a comparison is outlined with other epidemics of medically unexplained symptoms.
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Maël Dieudonne. Une société pathogène ? : les hypersensibilités environnementales au prisme de la sociologie cognitive. Sociologie. Université de Lyon, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017LYSE2134⟩. ⟨tel-02292924⟩

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