Call for Applications: Summer School on « Identifications and Solidarity in Europe »

Summer school of the research network « Horizontal Europeanization » at the Willy Brandt Center for German and European Studies, University of Wrocław, Poland, 21 – 24 June 2017

What is the summer school about?

The identification with Europe and a cosmopolitan identity have been hotly debated for decades. However, only now, with the rise of populist and nationalist movements all over Europe, the importance of the citizens’ support for the European integration process for the future of the European Union has become widely visible. At least since the Eurozone crisis and the related austerity policies, the time of an unquestioned “permissive consensus” of the European population is over because the political, economic and monetary integration has contributed to increasing inequalities in income, employment and social conditions as demonstrated by the obscenely high levels of youth unemployment in some Southern European countries. This has contributed to a politicization of European social integration, in particular the politicization of (1) the identification of European population with the EU, (2) the transnational solidarity among European member states, and (3) the transnational perception of social inequalities.

The aim of the summer school is to analyze and discuss how the current developments have influenced and changed the different facets of European social integration in its three dimensions. Some questions that could be addressed are: How did European, national and regional identifications develop during the crisis? Did growing social inequality in Europe contribute to the erosion of trust in the EU and the re-nationalization of collective identifications? Or did the Europe-wide coverage of the growing social problems in some countries strengthen the solidarity among European populations? A wide range of topics around the issues of identification in Europe, solidarity in Europe, and perception of social inequality in Europe are possible. During the summer school, we want to discuss these issues with a group of young scholars and more experienced researchers from various countries.

Why visit this summer school

The summer school is an extraordinary opportunity to promote your academic work. It offers the opportunity to discuss your own work with other PhD students or fresh PhDs and with experienced researchers in the field from all over Europe. You can present your assumptions and research design in front of a diverse audience and profit from remarks beyond the usual perspectives of your home institution. Additionally, senior researchers will present own published work. You have the seldom opportunity to discuss publications with the authors themselves. They not only defend their work in a Q&A but also tell the story behind the publication, how they came up with the idea and which steps the piece had to pass until publication. This allows not only a deeper understanding of the publications themselves but also gives first hand insights in the work of academic publication. Currently confirmed are Soetkin Verhaegen (University of Stockholm) and Nora Siklodi (University of Portsmouth). The event takes place in Wrocław, the 2016 capital of culture in Europe. You will experience a vibrant city but also learn about its present and past, with fundamental nationality and identity changes which mirror European history in a nutshell.

The summer school is organized and funded by the German Research Foundation and the Austrian Science Fund research network “Horizontal Europeanization” and the Willy Brandt Center for German and European Studies in cooperation with the ECPR Standing group “Identity” and the Section “Sociology of Europe (Europasoziologie)” of the German Sociological Association (DGS). Organizers are Pawel Karolewski, Jenny Preunkert and Jochen Roose.

Key information

  • Start 21 June 2017, 17:00 h, end 24 June 2017, 14:00 h
  • Presentations by young scholars of their own work
  • Presentations by experienced researchers of their own work
  • Guided city tour through Wrocław
  • Ample discussions and networking
  • No fees
  • 15 young researchers as participants
  • Seven full financed grants available (awarded depending on the quality of application and the funding needed)
  • Estimated accommodation cost (for participants without grant): 300,-EUR plus travel


For an application please send:

  • description of your project (max. 800 words)
  • letter of motivation (max. 500 words)
  • indication of the funding needed


Deadline for applications: 30 April 2017 (information on acceptance: 10 May 2017)

For more information, please visit:


Call for papers – Between Market, State and Religion: Economic Realities, Social Justice and Faith Traditions

3th UCSIA summer school on « Religion, Culture and Society: Entanglement and Confrontation »

27 Aug-2 Sept 2017, Antwerp, Belgium

Call for applications

It is the aim of the interdisciplinary UCSIA summer school to investigate the dynamic interaction between macro-level developments and bottom-up approaches in the fields of religion and culture and the way in which this interplay may induce innovative synergies and/or provoke new and old forms of confrontation.

This year, the central aim of the UCSIA summer school is to reflect upon the evolutions of economic markets interacting with specific political and socio-religious contexts through time and space. Focus is put upon the ways in which socio-economic evolutions such as globalization, the historical rise of capitalist economies and the idea of the self-regulating market interact with and affect socio-religious and cultural normative frameworks on both the level of governmental policy, economic stakeholders and the individual household. The present call invites paper proposals in which the broad topic of economic realities interacting with social contexts and faith traditions will be discussed from a diverse lines of approach, clustered around following subthemes:

  • Globalization, economic imperialism and social justice
  • Religious communities and economic values and production
  • Capitalism under construction: appropriation of capitalist producing and consuming

Guest lecturers are Prof. Dr. Jennifer Olmsted (Drew University, U.S.A; U.S. Department of Agriculture), Prof. Dr. Mayfair Yang (Department of Religious Studies and Department of East Asian Languages & Cultural Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara), Dr. David Henig (School of Anthropology & Conservation, University of Kent, UK) and Prof. Dr. Paul Oslington (Alphacrusis College, Sydney, Australia)

Practical details

Participation and stay for young scholars and researchers are free of charge. Participants should pay for their own travel expenses to Antwerp.

You can submit your application via the electronic submission on the summer school website. The completed file as well as all other required application documents must be submitted to the UCSIA Selection Committee not later than Sunday May 14th 2017.

For further information regarding the program and application procedure, please have a look at our website:


Ellen Decraene
Project Manager
Prinsstraat 14
2000 Antwerp – Belgium
Tel: +32/3/265.45.99
Fax: +32/3/707.09.31

Call for Papers: Political and Social Trust – Citizens and Context

Conference to be held in Tampere, Finland, on May 10-11, 2017


The Consortium of Trust Research (CONTRE) at University of Tampere and Åbo Akademi University, Finland, has the pleasure of inviting paper proposals to an international conference.

The conference brings together scholars who study the causes and consequences of social and political trust at different levels of society. It consists of keynote addresses by Professor Jonas Linde (University of Bergen) and Professor Eric M. Uslaner (University of Maryland) as well as four thematic panels.

The conference is organized as a part of the activities of the Academy of Finland funded project the Consortium of Trust Research – Pathways to Political Trust (CONTRE), in operation since September 2015. The key objective of the project is to understand to what extent short-term factors explain fluctuations in political trust and whether long-term cumulative forces explain gradual change.


  • Participants should apply by proposing a paper related to the general theme of the conference. Participants can indicate their panel preferences in their submission.
  • Applications should include an abstract of no more than 250 words describing the proposed paper.
  • The deadline for paper proposals is February 22, 2017.
  • Propose your paper here:


  • Panel chairs will select the papers to be presented at the conference. Those who have proposed papers will be informed about the selection by the end of February 2017.
  • The deadline for registration is March 31, 2017. Link to the registration form will be sent to participants via email.
  • The deadline for full papers is May 1, 2017.
  • There will be no conference fee. The local organizers will cover accommodation costs for two nights as well as lunches and dinners during their stay.


Panel I The relevance of Social Capital

Chair: Maria Bäck, University of Tampere

The last two decades have seen an upsurge in research on the relevance of social capital in society. Social capital has been claimed to have both a private and a public dimension and it can thus be treated as either an individual-level or an aggregate-level trait. This is the also case when studying the link between social capital and political trust. There has been a large debate on the questions of whether political trust is a cause or consequence of social trust. The relevance of social capital has also been a recent topic of interest in research concerning immigration, multiculturalism and questions of community cohesion. The panel invites papers that scrutinize various aspects of social capital and the causal mechanisms through which it works in society. Papers that propose social capital as a public policy tool, e.g. to achieve social cohesion, are also welcome.

Panel II Contextual factors

Chair: Peter Söderlund, Åbo Akademi University

This panel focuses on the questions of if, how and why the context matters for citizens’ levels of political trust. Contextual factors capture variations in the wider cultural, social, economic, political and institutional context. A variety of contextual factors have been shown to explain cross-national differences in political trust, such as the longevity of democratic rule, cultural homogeneity, aggregate social trust, socioeconomic development, economic performance, political corruption, and power-sharing institutions. We welcome papers that address the mechanisms by which contextual factors, measured at an aggregate level, affect individual attitudes. For example, some environments can be conducive for trust to develop and remain stable over time, while others can be characterized by low trust and short-time fluctuations. As data accumulate over time, more comprehensive cross-sectional or longitudinal analyses are possible to test or refine contextual theories of political trust. Furthermore, contextual effects can be contingent in the sense that particular subsets of citizens develop higher (or lower) trust under certain circumstances. An interesting avenue for research is how and why trust levels vary across various social groups depending on context.

Panel III Political actors

Chair: Elina Kestilä-Kekkonen, University of Tampere

The panel focuses on the relationship between citizens’ political trust and decisions taken by the political elite. It invites both theoretical and empirical papers dealing especially with one of three themes: 1) Economy: How is political trust linked to the economic management of incumbents and consumer confidence? 2) Issue representation: Does opinion congruence between representatives and citizens affect the level of political trust? 3) Anti-incumbency and anti-establishment voting: To what extent is distrust in political actors channeled through the anti-political-establishment vote in Europe, compared to alternate expressions of dissatisfaction, i.e. anti-incumbency voting and abstention?

Panel IV Citizens

Chair: Kim Strandberg, Åbo Akademi University

Variations in short-term trust are often argued to take place due to the occurrence of political scandals or crises of various kinds. Repeated short-term trends in political trust are additionally argued to accumulate and eventually become long-term trends. It is thus crucial to gain more knowledge on the micro-level mechanisms leading to either a decrease or increase in citizens’ short-term political trust. This panel explores the mechanisms shaping citizens’ political trust in the short-term. The panel especially welcomes contributions on how experimental methods can be used to assess such fluctuations in political trust and their causes. Both theoretical and empirical pieces concerning citizens’ political trust are welcome.


Aino Tiihonen
Email: aino.tiihonen(a)
Tel: +358 50 318 7649
Address: School of Management (JKK)

Josefina Sipinen
Email: josefina.sipinen(a)
Tel: +358 50 318 7681
Address: School of Management (JKK)

Call for papers for the conference on Democracy and Participation (Lisbon, 12-15 July 2017)

Please find below the call for papers for the conference on Democracy and Participation in the 21st Century organised at the University of Lisbon 12-15 July 2017 ( In order to send an abstract, please contact the session organisers via email before the 12 March 2017.

Session 6.4. Mandate type, participation as democratisation or deliberation as a limit?

Session Organized by: Cristiano Gianolla, Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal; and Ryan Jepson, University of Vienna, Austria;

Imperative mandates are generally considered contrary to the spirit of liberal representative democracy in which elected representatives must be free to speak and make decisions in the best interest of the whole political community, as opposed to a specific section of society. This session aims to engage with research on the relationship between mandate type (free or imperative) and the implications for participation, deliberation, political patronage, populism and other consequences for the political system. Is it possible to consider that a free mandate expands the distance between the representative and the represented, thereby contributing to the political crisis experienced by liberal democratic regimes? How do people perceive and react to the decision of elected representatives to share their ‘mandate freedom’ with the community, adopting participatory exercises to enable the co-creation and negotiation of political decisions within political constituencies or the electorate? The session especially welcomes papers from political science and sociology researchers in order to investigate the relationship between the mandate, the political system and the political commitment of the political community. Papers may address one or more of the following or similar topics:

  • Implications of mandate type in the level of political participation;
  • Relation between mandate type and political patronage;
  • Relation between mandate type and the commons;
  • Relation between mandate type and political responsibility;
  • Implications of mandate type in the relationship between representative and represented;
  • Implications of mandate type in political satisfaction and accountability;
  • Implications of mandate type in the raise of populist phenomena;
  • Enhancement of interconnection between representative and represented through e-democracy;
  • Mandate type and ideological position;
  • Relation between mandate type and party system;
  • Relation between mandate type and party organisation;
  • Relation between mandate type and social activism;
  • Relation between mandate type and infrastructures;
  • Mandate types in different world regions;
  • Mandate types and social movements.

Call for paper and panel proposals for Oslo 2017

Dear Colleagues,

This is a call for panel and paper proposals for the Oslo meeting September 6-9, 2017. Our Standing Groups has been allotted just five panels, the same number as for the Prague meeting. (We requested eight.). Several of you have already submitted tentative proposals and we encourage you to firm them up and resubmit them well before the official deadline of February 15. We have also received a few paper proposals. Completed panel proposals will need a good descriptive abstract plus the titles and authors names (with authors commitments to present their papers in Oslo) for four or five papers. Panel and paper proposal guidelines and procedures can be found on the ECPR website. Your Standing Group membership via MyECPR will need to be up to date.

This call to submit paper and panel proposals is open to all members of the Standing Group. If we end up with more than five solid proposals, we will petition the ECPR Academic Convenors for an additional panel or two. There is no guarantee that such a petition will be successful but the Convenors are open to considering such proposals. (The numbers of panels is partially constrained by the available rooms at the meeting site.). In addition, the Oslo meeting will include an Open Section set of panels so if by chance your proposal does not make it into the Political Sociology Section we can try to get it included in the Open Section. The same is true for proposed papers.

Below you will find a description of the Standing Group overall theme for the Oslo meeting. This has been approved by ECPR and panel and paper proposals will need to intersect in meaningful ways with the section theme.

Finally a reminder to renew your Section membership via My ECPR if you have not already done so.

Any questions or concerns, just email us.

Happy New Year 2017

Chair. Niilo Kauppi, University of Jyväskylä, niilo.t.j.kauppi[at]
Co-chair: David Swartz, Boston University, dswartz[at]


In recent years the European welfare state has come under several challenges: economically, socially, politically, and culturally. The recent migrant crisis, for one, is challenging numerous countries in terms of social support services, security, cultural identity, and legal provision. Populist movements are challenging the dynamics of migrant integration and assimilation and the way political leadership is dealing with them. Are traditional ideals of solidarity being replaced by others? Assumptions of traditional welfare provision are also being challenged by the policies of neoliberalism. Do growing forms of economic inequality undermine the traditional safety nets afforded by state welfare policies? Forms of social solidarity have been a central concern of political sociology from its very inception. It is the social causes and consequences of these challenges that will be the focus of the panels for this section. It seems particularly fitting for political sociologists to examine those challenges at a conference in Oslo since the Nordic countries have often been viewed as model welfare states. Does the Nordic model or any other welfare state model seem capable of addressing the contemporary challenges? Other challenges target the public sphere and debate, educational reform, governance driven by rankings and technocratic indicators, social movements, law, and gender. Panels will be organized around types of challenges welfare democracies are facing, such as the welfare crises in Eastern and Balkan countries, transnational forms of solidarity in the EU, the new legitimation crisis of political leadership, the social bases of politicisation/depoliticisation, measuring institutional competitiveness and decline, revisiting the Nordic model, and the politics of flexible solidarity.

KEYWORDS: Democracy, European Union, Governance, Migration, Welfare State, Solidarity

ECPR Joint Session 2017: « The interrelated effects of social movements outcomes »

In the context of the ECPR JOINT SESSION, that will take place on April 25-30, 2017, at the University of Nottingham in the UK, a workshop titled “The interrelated effects of social movements outcomes” will be organized.


This workshop aims to explore innovative ways of thinking about the effects of social movements. In particular, it looks at how different types of effects relate to each other. In doing this we suggest to shift the focus from single outcomes to processes of social change generated by the interaction between different types of effects. The workshop will address the following questions: How do different types of effects of social movements relate to each other? What are the processes and mechanisms underlying the interrelations between different types of effects or between the same type of effect over time? Under what conditions does each process and mechanism work, fail to occur, or even reverse? Are some processes and mechanisms more frequently observed than others? How do such processes and mechanisms vary across different types of social movements? How should such processes and mechanisms be studied methodologically? Reflecting on how different types of outcomes interact promises to open up the path towards new ways of conceptualizing and analysing the consequences of social movements. We believe that the interrelated effects agenda can draw participants from different sub-disciplines and stimulate interdisciplinary exchange. In particular, we hope to bring together scholars working on public policies, public opinion and contentious politics, three fields that have long remained separate. The workshop welcomes papers addressing three main issues: (1) conceptual and theoretical thinking about how the effects of social movements influence each other; (2) methodological reflections about the study of the interrelated effects of social movements and how to avoid the obstacles that have hindered previous research, from both a quantitative and a qualitative perspective; (3) empirical analyses of different types of social movements, whether in-depth cases studies or comparative analyses encompassing different types of conflicts and/or countries. Submissions will be evaluated according to quality, specific fit with the overall theme of the workshop, and potential for reaching a wider audience.


The ECPR’s Joint Sessions of Workshops have a unique format that makes them a leading forum for substantive discussion and collaboration between scholars of political science. They are now recognised as one of the major highlights of the world’s political science calendar. In 2017, the Joint Sessions will take place at the University of Nottingham in the UK.

Workshops are closed gatherings of 15-20 participants, which last for about five days, bringing together scholars from across the world and all career stages. Topics of discussion are precisely defined, and only scholars currently working in the Workshop’s field, and with a Paper or research document for discussion, are invited to participate. Participants may attend only one Workshop, and must stay for the duration of the event. This format ensures intensive collaboration which often results not only in thorough critiques of the new research being presented, but in new research groups being formed to take that work forward.

You will be able to submit your Paper proposal (Paper abstract) via MyECPR between 1 August and 1 December 2016. Please ensure that your personal and institutional details are correct in your MyECPR account. Should you have any queries please contact the Events Team at ECPR Central Services for assistance.

Paper proposals should be submitted by 1 December 2016 via MyECPR. Workshop Directors will be able to access all submitted proposals and you will be notified of their decision by mid-January. Papers sent directly to the Workshop Directors will not be considered.

The deadline for all abstract submissions is December 1st, 2016.

Looking forward for your abstracts,

Lorenzo Bosi and Marco Giugni

Workshop directors

ECPR Joint Session 2017: « Transnationalisation of Problems and Agendas: Theoretical and Empirical Challenges »

We would like to make you aware of the Joint Session « Transnationalisation of Problems and Agendas: Theoretical and Empirical Challenges » supported by our standing group. It will be held in Nottingham (25th- 30th April 2017). The topic might be of interest for all members of our group and for other scholars studying the construction and circulation of social problems at national/international level or related issues such as transnational expertise and mobilizations.

Deadline : 1st December 2016.

The proposals should be uploaded on the ECPR website:


How and why some events and topics are transformed into issues focusing public debate, media-attention and policy initiatives? Two different scientific traditions have brought their contributions to these puzzles. Strongly established in political science, the “agenda/s” paradigm maps the changing rankings of political and social issues, questions their interactions. Rooted in sociology, the “social problems” approach pays particular attention to actors who frame their claims successfully. It examines why some stakes become faster “problems” and policy targets.

This workshop opens up a forum to question the legacies, blind spots and possible cross-fertilizations between those research perspectives. Such debate is scientifically wothwhile when processes of transnationalisation and Europeanisation are changing the dynamics of social problems. New opportunities (and threats) linked to environmental changes, migrations and de-territorialisation are redefining supra-national agendas. Claims are travelling across borders, fostered by coalitions of actors internationally organized.

As a growing flow of research questions the internationalisation of social problem framing and policy treatment, as the availability of big data opens up new opportunities for comparative research on agendas the need for bringing these two major paradigms into dialogue is stronger than ever. This aim implies theoretical and empirical contributions.

For both approaches, the recent trends, their relationships and mutual improvements might be highlighted. For example, social problem studies suggest combining quantitative approach of media agendas with more qualitative explorations of news production and sources’ strategies or adding specific agendas to the classical agenda’s trilogy.

Empirical studies should focus on growing internationalised issues, especially “public health” issues (including here struggle against epidemics, risk management, food safety, environmental threats). How do claims on the definition and urgency of diseases travel? Who are the local and transnational actors involved in agenda setting and mobilization processes? How do national cultures, institutional patterns and mediascapes impact the construction of health issues?

Call for Paper Proposals: Austerity and its social and political consequences


Prof. Dr. Roland Sturm / Dr. Tim Griebel / Dr. Thorsten Winkelmann
Chair of Political Science I
Institute of Political Science
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg


Deadline abstract submissions: 15. September 2016
Length: max. 500 words
Please submit your abstract by e-mail to
Decision on abstracts: 30. September 2016
Submission accepted final papers: 15. January 2017

A number of books and articles have been written about the retrenchment of the welfare state caused by austerity policies. There is also a well-informed literature on the role of the EU in the Euro crisis and Germany’s preferences for policies to balance budgets and to reduce public debt. Colleagues have investigated the rise of right-wing, left-wing and populist parties as a consequence of austerity policies. In a special issue of the Zeitschrift für Politik, that will also be published as a peer-reviewed edited volume, we want to shed new light on the redefinition of politics and social relations caused by austerity policies with the help of a multidimensional and pluralistic approach.

The Publication(s) will map different dimensions and “varieties of austerity” within the European Union. It does so by looking at the discursive, social, institutional and material logics of austerity at the polity, politics and the policy level and the broader social relations within particular member states and on the EU level. Not only the phenomenon of austerity is multi-dimensional, but also its normative evaluation and the analytical foci and strategies to deal with it. We therefore follow a pluralistic understanding of science that does not privilege one form of knowledge over the other. Rather we want to sensitize the reader to the effect of different ontological, epistemological and methodological standpoints. Which aspect or kind of austerity we see, depends on the (meta-)theoretical lenses that we look through.

While some contributions might evaluate the phenomenon and the effects of austerity based on the logic of the current European or global political economy, some authors might be critical of this system as such. In addition, some papers might try to combine different dimensions of austerity, others might either focus on one dimension or transcend them altogether. And while some contributions might want to explain some aspect of the phenomenon of austerity in a scientific manner, we also welcome sceptical views of this endeavour that request to question knowledge claims themselves. We are looking for theoretical reflections as well as empirical studies that use quantitative or qualitative methodological tools to analyse austerity.

In particular, we are searching for

  • theoretical or philosophical reflections about the nature of austerity and ist consequences for democracy, society and the state;
  • empirical case studies or comparative analyses about the relationship between austerity and topics like discourses, party politics, party systems, populism and extremism;
  • empirical case studies or comparative analyses about austerity measures in different policies areas;
  • innovative methodological tools to grasp austerity.

This call is open for innovative contributions on the subject of austerity from multiple disciplines. We are very much looking forward to your abstracts!

Prof. Dr. Roland Sturm / Dr. Tim Griebel / Dr. Thorsten Winkelmann


Call for Papers: International Dissidence – Rule and Resistance in a Globalized World

International Conference, Frankfurt, 2-4 March 2017

From Occupy Wall Street and radical jihadism to protests against UN peacekeeping, right-wing mobilization in Europe and India’s exit from the Non-Proliferation Treaty – resistance remains a ubiquitous but ambiguous aspect of global social and political life. It takes many courses, purposes and guises. In parallel, rule has been re-fashioned for both academic and political purposes. It is present in the power of the international banking system, ‘Western’ imperialism, the legitimation of violence, in a homogenizing globalism and asymmetrical global rules. But how can we make sense of the dynamic relationship between resistance and rule in today’s globalized world? How has resistance changed across time and social spaces? And how is it affected by or does it affect transnationalization?

Resistance challenges and sometimes produces or reproduces systems of rule. This constitutive relationship between rule and resistance, however, seldom attracts scholarly attention. This negligence is partly due to the fragmentation of academic discourses. Some scholars focus on specific types of resistance (e.g. populist movements, cyber activism, terrorist groups or the extreme right) or specific processes (e.g. radicalization, deradicalization, or transnationalization). Still others study the variety of forms and practices of rule in reaction to various forms of resistance. While such specialization has yielded deeper insights into the significance and operation of rule and resistance in particular instances, it has also occluded the bigger picture. Scholarly understanding of the relationship between resistance and systems of rule has suffered as a result. The conference will attend to this bigger picture.

We invite scholars from various disciplines, including sociology, history, political science, political theory, international relations, anthropology, and area studies, whose work contributes to one of the conference sections. Section 1 focuses on resistance to specific systems of rule, ranging from international norms, regulations and bureaucracies to rule by elites. Section 2 zooms into the dynamic interactions between authorities and resistance movements, including how international organizations cope with protest, reactions to digital dissidence, and various forms of international disciplining of protest within the state. Section 3 finally traces how resistance movements change from “opposition”, referring to resistance according to established rules, to “dissidence”, referring to revolutionary resistance availing itself of unconventional means (for a more detailed description of the sections and panels, click here).

The conference is part of the collaborative research project “International Dissidence” based at the Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders” at Goethe University Frankfurt (for more information, click on

To encourage in-depth discussion, presentations will span 20 minutes and will be held in plenary sessions.

Please send your abstract of no more than 300 words to by 1 June 2016. Please indicate your panel of interest. Travel and lodging expenses will be covered for those accepted.

Call for papers, conference on : Activist Tribulations – Lille (France) , December 12-13, 2016


An electoral setback after an intensive campaign; a series of issues, of defeats or divisions which alter the public image of a collective, and the pride associated with being involved in it; hopes for an ascension to power blocked by a context of shrinking political opportunities and a reconfiguration of multi-organizational fields; a profound ideological disagreement after the reworking of a partisan strategy; the obsessive fear of losing a fixed salaried position or some material advantage when an organization’s finances and institutional positions are reduced; the repression or death of comrades in arms; the dilemmas of union delegates anxious to speak in the name of the workers they represent without betraying their word; the failure of a radical commitment after years of complete dedication to and sacrifice for the cause; the dissolution of a group, hence of the roles and social relations associated with it which were structuring one’s existence; the ordeal of maladjustment within an association experiencing a process of professionalization; the erosion of a « feeling of being at home » in an institution which has been transformed… Cases of activist suffering abound, to the extent that participation, whether in a political party, a union, an association, an NGO, a religious institution or any other type of group, including clandestine ones, may be difficult to analyze without taking into account the price to be paid (both financial and physical) by committed individuals.

Now, it must be noted that, while the sociology of participation abounds in works which have become classics on the “triggers” of activism, whether in terms of incentives (Olson, 1965), gratification (Gaxie 1977; and Gaxie, 2005), faith (Berlivet, and Sawicki, 1994) or happiness (Mer, 1977; and Lagroye, and Siméant, 2003), research on activist tribulations remains piecemeal, reduced as it usually is to one aspect amongst others of research on modalities of collective action. Despite academic debates on Albert Hirschman’s propositions (Hirschman 1983; and Hirschman 1995) and, in recent years, the profusion of analyses of participation as a process subject to the variation of gratifications (Fillieule, 2001) and of exit phenomena (Fillieule, 2005, Fillieule, 2010, and Fillieule 2015), study of activist tribulations is still very much in development and deserves to be brought to light.

Through integrating a diversity of methods and situations (parties, associations, unions, NGOs, and religious groups, in democratic or authoritarian contexts), this symposium aims to grasp the logic behind the disappointment or frustration expressed in activist groups—whether or not it leads to defection. Following Bourdieu in La misère du monde, it is a question of proposing an alternative to psychologizing descriptions of these forms of malaise, to understand and objectify the mechanisms. What does this suffering owe to the properties of the political field in which the activism is taking place (the type of state, of regime, of competition; and the contexts of crisis or of revolution)? To the exhaustion and discrediting of a historically rooted repertoire of collective action? To the transformations of the institution under consideration? To the both ideological and morphological evolution of the organization? To the socio-local framework of the involvement? To the social trajectories of the individuals studied? How does this distress affect activist careers? Under what circumstances and conditions will activists adapt to experiences of doubt or despondency? What resources and techniques allow them to move beyond the loss of activist libido? What exit configurations become the sole response to unhappiness? What means do organizations possess to limit the expression of dissatisfaction and the disintegration of the activist body? What academic tools can researchers seize to examine them? So many questions which reopen the « black box »—and the gloomy side—of activism, in proposing to diversify the empirical data and the disciplinary approaches for the purpose of greater clarification. To address those questions, one is invited to explore four lines of inquiry:

Understanding detachment. The Social Conditions Behind Activist Malaise

The first line of inquiry concentrates on analysis of the reasons for this maladjustment of individuals to an institution: it is a question of understanding how a feeling of foreignness, a loss of an activist illusio (Bourdieu, 1980; and Bourdieu 1997), a malalignment of dominant cognitive frameworks within the organization and the frameworks adopted by individuals, develops within the « practical reason” of the group. How can we explain that a commitment is no longer or is less and less experienced as a vital necessity or a categorical imperative, as a source of meaning and satisfaction, of dignity and hope? This question leads to a consideration of the variation in the forms of gratifications of activism, or rather of their perception. Under what conditions are the benefits eroded or vanishing or changing into costs in the eyes of activists? Here, it is important to ask ourselves about how the modification of the cost/benefit balance is related to the three levels at which activism occurs, that is, the socio-political context (national and eventually international), the activist organization (subject to transformations which reconfigure the modalities of membership and loyalty), and individuals’ social trajectories (also affected by changes or bifurcations which may affect the relationship to the issue of mobilization and to the group mobilized). The linking of these three levels of analysis appears to be a heuristic manner of grasping the different relationships to the same institution, and the plurality of commitments it engenders. Coexistence within a collective of various cohorts of activists requires the researcher to objectify the social distribution of specific cultural traits and collective identities, as well as its possible multiple and complex effects, within each generational unit. More generally, it is a matter of questioning the ways in which the activist habitus can be more or less maladjusted under the pressure of changing organizational contexts – activist habitus here being understood as the product of secondary socialization within voluntary groups (Fillieule, 2013).

Remaining Without Pleasure? Resources and Modalities of Adaptation for the Discontented Activist

The second line of inquiry bears on the analysis of cognitive and practical forms of adaptation to frustration, anger or disenchantment. Existing research tends to show that not all activists are equally prepared and equipped to make themselves heard and bring their disagreements to the forefront, to reposition themselves within the organization, and to reconcile postures consistent with « working with » and « working against » other members of the group (Lefebvre, and Sawicki, 2007; and Lefebvre, 2013). Perhaps through reinvigorating an illusio which is becoming tarnished, rediscovering the reasons for action, and reviving the belief in the collective project or subject? Up to what point, with what types of capital and techniques—of rationalization, of open dissidence, of discrete disagreement, etc.—is it possible to continue to be involved? To what extent can organizational subcultures (for example, within cliques and factions in parties and unions) contribute to preserving activist commitment? Is it possible and, if so, in what configurations, to “adapt to the roles imposed by changing it from within” (Muel-Dreyfus, 1984) to rediscover a feeling of working together with the institution? Are we observing forms of redefinition of the activist role, of adaptation to the institution (Goffman, 1968), of subversion of ways of “performing it” (Lagroye, and Offerlé, 2010)? At what stage and according to what system of discrepancies or tensions does disengagement become the only outcome imaginable? What are the social conditions of possibility for the « unhappy activists, » of a departure which does not exact an exorbitant price (Leclercq, 2011; and Leclercq, 2012)? Here an avenue for research on « reactions to discontent » is offered which, in contrast to strictly utilitarian approaches, falls within the study of social rationales for activism and its fluctuations.

How to Remobilize. The Institutional Management of Disarray

The third line of inquiry questions institutional responses to activist tribulations. While we know that centrifugal tendencies are related to failings of efforts at homogenization and securing loyalty, we observe different types of institutional reorganization, designed under cover of « modernization, » « democratization, » « re-establishment » or other apparently legitimate official intentions, to replenish and remobilize the activist body in circumstances where it is more or less threatened by a process of « dissociation” (Offerlé, 1987). Beyond how individuals subjectively experience the organization’s social change, what can be said about measures taken by managers in terms of a strategic reversal, an overhaul of the collective capital, reallocation of positions, revitalization of the social fabric of the group and administration of a new meaning for activism? Research on institutions’ renewal (Pudal, 2009; and Mischi, 2014) shows how transformation of the doctrinal corpus, the rules of operation, practices and the activist figures held up as models, works with uncertain consequences. While these shifts are generally designed to swell the ranks and strengthen internal cohesion, they still remain sources of intense struggle, in as much as they contribute to the disqualification and relegation of those who, due to their very activist socialization, are little disposed to cooperate and, to some degree, are condemned to sink into a feeling of unease What social psychologists calls the niche edge effect). Therefore, we might wonder about the effects of such strategies, and their eventual counterproductive impact on the more vulnerable or marginalized sections of the activist group. We also need to consider the entire range of reforms, modifications of statutes, and procedural inventions, restructuration through separation or mergers, with or without a change of name, and termination of the group (Gottraux, 1997). The triangulation of data is here required as a means of developing the sociology of institutions, while taking into account both the way they evolve under various strategies and their nature as « cultural enterprises » (Sawicki, 2001) caught in social configurations and evolving power relationships.

Objectifying the Suffering. Scientific Tools and Disciplinary Transfers

The forth line of inquiry raises the question of the conceptual and methodological set of tools which researchers might employ in borrowing from different disciplinary domains: sociology, political science, history and social psychology, in particular. Indeed, the issue of academic work on activist discontent consists of avoiding both the unsolvable conundrums of utilitarian analysis and the impasses of psychologizing descriptions. Unlike these two tendencies, this is a matter of defending a genuine sociology of affects from impressionistic and tautological penchants which are often at work when studying the very experiences of individual distress. Here we have solid references, including foundational studies on the pathologies of the social world (Durkheim, 1897), on the sociogenesis of despair (Elias, 1991), and on the maintenance of self under extreme conditions (Pollak, 1990). This is a matter of extending this research, drawing upon varied materials and seeking to venture beyond metaphorical or analogic uses of psychoanalytical concepts such as repression, the work of grieving, drives, the libido, etc. (Pudal, 2009). Thus, the goal of this symposium is to exchange ideas and discuss interpretative frameworks and ways of studying commitments or, in this particular case, the actual experience of the unhappy relationship of individuals with institutions.

Means of Submitting Proposals

Proposals, of a maximum length of 5,000 characters, may be written in English or French, and must be based on empirical data. They will include the presentation of the field of inquiry and will specify the principal line of inquiry adopted. They should be sent to the three following addresses:


  • Sending proposals for papers (5,000 characters maximum): by May 20th, 2016 at the latest
  • Selection of proposals and responses to the authors: July 11th, 2016
  • Sending of papers (30,000 to 40,000 characters): November 15th, 2016
  • Symposium in Lille: December 12th-13th, 2016

Organization comittee :

Olivier Fillieule (CRAPUL, Université de Lausanne), Catherine Leclercq (GRESCO, Université de Poitiers), Rémi Lefebvre (CERAPS, Université Lille 2).

Scientific comittee :

Philip Balsiger (Institut de sociologie, Université de Neuchâtel), Stéphane Beaud (ISP, Université Paris Ouest- Nanterre-La Défense), Olivier Fillieule (CRAPUL, Université de Lausanne), Catherine Leclercq (GRESCO, Université de Poitiers), Rémi Lefebvre (CERAPS, Université Lille 2), Nicolas Mariot (CESSP-CNRS), Julian Mischi (CESAER-INRA), Julie Pagis (CERAPS-CNRS), Bernard Pudal (CSU, Université Paris Ouest-Nanterre-La Défense), Frédéric Sawicki (CESSP, Université Paris 1).


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