Centre nantais de sociologie

CENS - Presentation in English

The Nantes Sociology Centre (CENS)

CENS was created in 1998 and is the only sociology laboratory that is part of the Nantes Academy and Pays de Loire region. Since 2015, it has been attached to the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). Besides the Sociology Faculty, CENS attracts lecturer-researchers from the Sports Science Faculty (UFR STAPS), Université Catholique d’Angers, Ecole des mines, Nantes Institute of Technology (IUT Nantes) and the Nantes National Higher School for Teaching and Education (INSPE Nantes). Today it unites 47 research fellows, (6 academic staff professors, 6 emeritus professors, 32 senior lecturers including 3 researchers with an HDR (accredited to supervise research), and 2 CNRS researchers), 22 doctoral students, 2 post-doctorates, 2 delegated CNRS researchers and 3 administrative staff, including a team member specialized in statistical data analysis.

CENS runs the Master’s degree in Sociology at Université de Nantes and is the affiliated laboratory of the specialized Master’s degree in Social Sciences offered by the Sports Science Faculty. Since 2015, 20 PhDs (3–4 per year) have been defended and 2 HDRs awarded (2 are currently in progress). CENS has been successively directed by Charles Suaud (1998–2006), Stéphane Beaud (2006–2007) and then Annie Collovald  (with Gildas Loirand who was succeeded by Fabienne Pavis for 8 years). Marie Cartier and Baptiste Viaud have been the directors of CENS from 2015 to 2020 . Since 2020, Corinne Delmas  and Severine Misset are the new directors.

CENS scientific activity

CENS has generated different kinds of scientific outputs on contemporary societies using a comparative approach (sociology, political science, history, geography, ethnology) and cross-cutting survey methods (archives, interviews, ethnographic observation, statistical analysis). It is also a training provider and a platform for diffusing social science knowledge.

CENS plays a large part in regional and national social science networks: PROGEDO-Loire, Alliances Europa, the centre for human sciences MSH Ange-Guépin, Labour History Centre (Centre d’histoire du travail), ESO-Nantes, The Law and Social Change Laboratory (DCS)[BTU2] , Région Pays de la Loire, Nantes Métropole, French Sociological Association (AFS), French Political Science Association (AFSP), National Family Allowance Fund (CNAF), GIP Droit et justice (public interest group for law and justice), etc. It responds to national and/or European calls for tender and local authority demands for studies; it also coordinates collective surveys. Between 2015 and 2019, CENS has succeeded in 22 calls for tender, including 5 from the French National Research Agency (ANR) and 2 from the French University Institute (IUF). CENS regularly hosts foreign researchers. In 2018–2019, CENS hosted the following researchers: Ceren Sengul (University of Edinburgh) Virgilio Borges Pereira (University of Porto), Cecilia Jimenez Zunino (University of Cordoba) and Alex Dumas (University of Ottawa).  For 2019 – 2020, CENS’ visiting researchers are Miriam Ticktin (The New School for Social Research, NYC) and Philippe Vonnard (Université de Lausanne).

CENS is a hub for seminars and multi-disciplinary exchanges. It is part of the MSH Ange-Guépin’s multidisciplinary seminar programme. It organizes the Les Impromptus du Cens seminars where speakers present their latest work. It also organizes national and international conferences, either single-handedly or in collaboration with other research institutions. In 2013, with the faculty of Sociology (UFR de Sociologie), it jointly hosted the French Sociological Association (AFS) conference “Domination” (Les Dominations), and the 2019 international symposium “Crossing Borders, Thinking borders” (Passer les frontières, Penser les frontières) in partnership with the International Association of French-speaking Sociologists (AISLF).


CENS is a training and research centre. Doctoral training is one of CENS’ priorities. In addition to the Chantiers du CENS seminars, a closed in-house colloquium for collective discussion of research work in progress, each year it also organizes the CENS days (journées du CENS) – a two-day event in which all researchers and doctoral students participate and outside speakers are invited. Financial support is provided for doctoral students wishing to take part in outside conferences, to help them become part of the research community or to cover the costs of conducting a study. They have their own work room and several students are hosted at the MSH Ange-Guépin.

CENS has a leading role in the teaching of social sciences research. It oversees the “Fieldwork, Survey, Theory” (TET) study path and teaches students through theoretical classes, seminars and workshops for conducting research. It trains teaching and research professionals in the main branches of sociology (sociology of work and careers, political sociology, public action sociology, national and local, educational sociology) designed for specific audiences (French or overseas universities, CNRS) and private organizations (case study offices, observatories). CENS is also the supporting laboratory for the Masters in Territorial Public Action (Master ACT), Health and Working Conditions (Master SCT) and Social Sciences and Criminology (Master SSC).

Mis à jour le 26 février 2021 - François JOUET.