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 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).


Stéphane Beaud, Michel Pialoux, Retour sur la condition ouvrière, Paris, Fayard, 1999.

Luc Berlivet, Frédéric Sawicki, « La foi dans l’engagement. Les militants syndicalistes CFTC de Bretagne dans l’après-guerre », Politix, n°27, 1994, p. 111-142.

Pierre Bourdieu, Le sens pratique, Paris, Minuit, 1980.

Pierre Bourdieu (dir.), La misère du monde, Paris, Seuil, 1993.

Pierre Bourdieu, Méditations pascaliennes, Paris, Seuil, 1997.

Annie Collovald, « Pour une sociologie des carrières morales des dévouements militants », L’humanitaire ou le management des dévouements. Enquête sur un militantisme de “solidarité internationale”, Rennes, PUR, 2002.

Christian Corouge, Julian Mischi, Michel Pialoux, « Engagement et désengagement militant aux usines Peugeot de Sochaux dans les années 1980 et 1990 », Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, n°196-197, 2013, p. 20-33.

Marnix Dressen, De l’amphi à l’établi. Les étudiants maoïstes à l’usine (1967-1989), Paris, Belin, 1999.

Emile Durkheim, Le suicide, Paris, PUF, 2007 (1897).

Norbert Elias, Mozart. Sociologie d’un génie, Paris, Seuil, 1991.

Olivier Fillieule, Nonna Mayer (coord.), « Devenirs militants », Revue Française de Science Politique, vol. 51, n°1-2, février-avril 2001.

Olivier Fillieule, « Post scriptum : propositions pour une analyse processuelle de l’engagement individuel », in Olivier Fillieule, Nonna Mayer (coord.), « Devenirs militants », Revue française de science politique, vol. 51, n°1-2, février-avril 2001, p. 199-215.

Olivier Fillieule (dir.), Le désengagement militant, Paris, Belin, 2005.

Olivier Fillieule, “Demobilization and Disengagement in a Life Course Perspective”, in The Oxford Handbook of Social Movements, Edited by Donatella Della Porta and Mario Diani, 2015.

Olivier Fillieule, « Political socialization », in The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social and political Movements, 2013

Claude Fossé-Poliak, Gérard Mauger, Bernard Pudal, Histoires de lecteurs, Paris, Nathan, 1999.

Daniel Gaxie, “ Economie des partis et rétributions du militantisme ”, Revue française de science politique, vol.27, n°1, février, 1977, p. 123-154.

Daniel Gaxie, « Rétributions du militantisme et paradoxes de l’action collective », Revue suisse de science politique, 11 (1), p. 157-188.

Erving Goffman, Asiles. Etudes sur la condition sociale des malades mentaux, Paris, Minuit, 1968.

Philippe Gottraux, Socialisme ou barbarie. Un engagement politique et intellectuel dans la France de l’après-guerre, Lausanne, Payot, 1997.

Albert O. Hirschman, Bonheur privé, action publique, Paris, Fayard, 1983.

Albert O. Hirschman, Défection et prise de parole. Théorie et applications, Paris, Fayard, 1995.

Jacques Ion, La fin des militants ? Paris, Editions de l’Atelier, 1997.

Bernard Lacroix, L’utopie commuautaire. Mai 68, histoire sociale d’une révolte, Paris, PUF, 2006.

Jacques Lagroye, Johanna Siméant, « Gouvernement des humains et légitimation des institutions », in Pierre Favre, Jack Hayward, Yves Schemeil (dir.), Être gouverné. Études en l’honneur de Jean Leca, Paris, Presses de sciences po, 2003, p. 53-71.

Jacques Lagroye, Michel Offerlé (dir.), Sociologie de l’institution, Paris, Belin, 2010.

Catherine Leclercq, Julie Pagis (dir.), « Les incidences biographiques de l’engagement », Sociétés contemporaines, n°84, 2011.

Catherine Leclercq, « Engagement et construction de soi. La carrière d’émancipation d’un permanent communiste », Sociétés contemporaines, n°84, décembre 2011.

Catherine Leclercq, « Les ouvriers partis du « parti des ouvriers ». Retour sur un désengagement silencieux », Savoir/Agir, n°22, 2012, p. 43-50.

Rémi Lefebvre, « Le militantisme socialiste n’est plus ce qu’il n’a jamais été. Modèle de “l’engagement distancié“ et transformations du militantisme au Parti socialiste », Politix, n°102, 2013, p. 7-33.

Rémi Lefebvre, « ‘Petits arrangements avec son militantisme’. Le désarroi identitaire des militants du parti socialiste » in Surdez (M.), Voegtli (M.), Voutat (B.), dir., Identifier –s’ identifier, Genève, Antipode, 2010.

Rémi Lefebvre, Les primaires socialistes. La fin du parti militant, Paris, Raisons d’agir, 2011.

Frédérique Matonti (dir.), La démobilisation politique, Paris, La Dispute, 2005, p. 23-35.

Doug McAdam, Freedom summer. Lutte pour les droits civiques, Mississipi 1964, Marseille, Agone, 2012.

Jacqueline Mer, Le parti de Maurice Thorez ou le bonheur communiste français : étude anthropologique, Paris, Payot, 1977.

Julian Mischi, Le communisme désarmé. Le PCF et les classes populaires depuis les années 1970, Marseille, Agone, 2014.

Francine Muel-Dreyfus, Le métier d’éducateur, Paris, Minuit, 1983.

Sandrine Nicourd (dir.), Le travail militant, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2009.

Michel Offerlé, Les partis politiques, Paris, PUF, 1987.

Mancur Olson, Logique de l’action collective, Paris, PUF, 1987 (1965).

Claude Pennetier, Bernard Pudal (dir.), Le sujet communiste. Identités militantes et laboratoires du « moi », Rennes, PUR, 2014.

Michel Pialoux, Christian Corouge, Résister à la chaîne. Dialogue entre un ouvrier de Peugeot et un sociologue, Paris, Agone, 2011.

Politix, « Militantisme et hiérarchies de genre », vol. 20, n°78, 2007.

Michael Pollak, L’expérience concentrationnaire. Essai sur le maintien de l’identité sociale, Paris, Métailié, 1990.

Bernard Pudal, Un monde défait. Les communistes français de 1956 à nos jours, Paris, Editions du Croquant, 2009.

Bernard Pudal, « Psychanalyse », in Olivier Fillieule, Lilian Mathieu, Cécile Péchu (dir.), Dictionnaire des mouvements sociaux, Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 2009.

Yann Raison du Cleuziou, « Des fidélités paradoxales. Recomposition des appartenances et militantisme institutionnel dans une institution en crise », in Jacques Lagroye et Michel Offerlé (dir.), Sociologie de l’institution, Paris, Belin, 2010, p. 267-290.

Frédéric Sawicki, « Les partis politiques comme entreprises culturelles », in Daniel Cefaï, Cultures politiques, Paris, PUF, 2001, p. 191-211.

Isabelle Sommier, La violence politique et son deuil. L’après 68 en France et en Italie, PUR, 1992.

Isabelle Sommier, « Engagement radical, désengagement et déradicalisation. Continuum et lignes de fractures », Lien social et politiques, n°68, 2012, p. 15-35.

Christophe Traïni (dir.), Emotions, mobilisation !, Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 2009.

Michaël Voegtli, « Du jeu dans le je : ruptures biographiques et travail de mise en cohérence », Lien social et politiques, n° 51, 2004, p. 145-158.

Laurent Willemez, « Perseverare diabolicum. L’engagement militant à l’épreuve du vieillissement social », Lien social et Politiques, n°1, 2004, p. 71-82.

Berlin Summer School in Social Sciences (July 17-28, 2016): Linking Theory and Empirical Research

A call for applications from our Berlin-based colleagues:

We are delighted to announce the 6th Berlin Summer School in Social Sciences. The summer school aims at promoting young researchers by strengthening their methodological understanding in linking theory and empirical research. The two weeks’ program creates an excellent basis for the advancement of their current research designs.

In the first week we address the key methodological challenges of concept-building, causation/explanation and micro-macro-linkage that occur in almost all research efforts and strive for a clarification of the epistemological foundations underlying methodological paradigms. In the second week, these methodological considerations are applied to central empirical fields of research in political science, sociology, and their intersections with other disciplines. In this second part of the program participants are assigned to four thematic groups according to their own research topics. The thematic areas cover “External Governance, Europeanization, and Global Norms Diffusion”, “Citizenship, Migration and Social Inequalities”, “Social Struggle and Globalization”, and “Democracy at the Crossroads”.

The program is characterized by a varied format of lectures, workshops, seminars, and one-to-one consultations. During the summer school participants will also have the opportunity to present and intensely discuss their own work and approaches and will be provided with hands-on advice for their research designs.

The school brings together a faculty of renowned international and Berlin-based scholars. Among the confirmed international lecturers are Gilbert Achcar (University of London), Donatella Della Porta (EUI), Macartan Humphreys (Columbia University), Bob Jessop (University of Lancaster), Sanjay Reddy (New School), and Vera Troeger (University of Warwick).

The Berlin Summer School is a joint endeavor of the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences (BGSS) at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. It is co-funded by the two institutions. Moreover, we receive generous funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Details on travel grants and tuition fees can be found on our webpage.

The international summer school is open to 50 PhD candidates, advanced master students and young Post-Docs. The call for applications has opened. Applications can be submitted online via the application form on the summer school webpage until March 31, 2016.

The decisions of the selection committee will be communicated to the applicants at the beginning of April. For more information, please visit our webpage at

If you have additional questions, please contact directly the organizing team at


Call for panel discussants: ECPR General Conference 2016

We are looking for two or three additional discussants for the following panel for Prague. If you would be interested in discussing one or both these books, please contact David Swartz at

Panel title: Rethinking Recent Conceptualizations of Power in Political Sociology

Chair: David Swartz

Co-Chair: Claudia Wiesner

Presenters: David Swartz & Claudia Wiesner

Discussants: Anja Thomas, Hans-Joerg Trenz, Niilo Kauppi

Conceptualizing power is a central theme and core concern of political sociology. How one approaches the social basis of political life is shaped by guiding conceptions of power. Two recent books, one in German and the other in English, assess and critically evaluate recent conceptualizations of power that are of interest to political research, particularly in the European context. Demokratisierung der EU durch nationale Europadiskurse by Claudia Wiesner and Symbolic Power, Politics, and Intellectuals: The Political Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu by David Swartz offer different perspectives on these recent trends. This panel will draw inspiration from these two books by having the authors present their works followed by responses by discussants.


David L. Swartz

Boston University – Sociology


Panel Proposal. Migration and mobility in contemporary Europe: the users and uses of power

Panel Proposal: ECPR General Conference 2016, Prague 7-10 September 2016

The prevalence, scope and dimensions of migration have intensified in contemporary Europe. The panel will discuss how this has created multiple and complex mobility statuses, rights, actions, regimes and structures, amounting to a gradual continuum between full exclusion and full inclusion of migrants, instead of a simple dichotomy between the two.

Contemporary migration is elaborately researched in different disciplines, such as political science, sociology, economics, anthropology, law, history, etc. They study the European or national mobility regimes and structures and the linkage with migration patterns, (supra)national law and the effects on the characteristics, experiences and trajectories of migrant individuals/groups. However, there is also increasing interest in how these individuals and groups act within and/or surpass their different mobility categories. Some of this research rightfully shows that there is not just a simple dichotomy between inclusion and exclusion of migrants, but that more complex and continuous processes are taking place creating a gradation between full exclusion and full inclusion.

This panel wants to engage with research from every discipline, focusing on these complex processes, while asking the critical question of where and how power operates within them. The explicit identification of power is a crucial but difficult exercise, as power can be hidden, complex, perverse, or fragmented, both in terms of the uses of power and their effects as in terms of the users of power and their contexts. Different uses of power can be identified in resistance by individuals or groups, mass mobilization, governmentality practices, governance, structural (economic, political, natural) forces, media discourses, etc. The users of power can be located beyond the state (supranational political and judicial institutions), within the state (civil servants, police, organizations authorized by the state, municipalities, national courts), in the state (national government) or separate from the state (individuals, ngo’s, communities, companies, media).

As power relations are at the heart of the dynamics of contemporary migration in Europe, it is crucial to both analytically and theoretically grasp the users and uses of power in all their contemporary complexity. Therefore, we invite papers that explicitly address power in their analyses, theoretically and/or empirically, noting that we are very open towards the used conceptualization of power. We welcome papers from all disciplines and using different methods, as long as the analysis is about migration and its relation to the users and uses of power.

This panel will be part of the Political Sociology section (‘Power and Authority in Political Actions in Europe’) of the ECPR General Conference 2016 in Prague, 7-10 September 2016.

Researchers interested in taking part in the panel should send the title (20 words max) and abstract (500 words max) of their paper proposals to Rachel Waerniers ( and Chloë Delcour ( by February 11 the latest. Please indicate the email address (of both the presenter and possible co-authors) registered in your MyECPR account (, as we need it for the final registration.


Panel Proposal: ECPR General Conference 2016, Prague 7-10 September 2016

A system of locks or a tool for social change? Nationalism and inequality in comparative perspective

In Thought and Change Ernest Gellner defined nationalism ‘as a system of locks’ maintaining differences of economic and cultural status among areas of the world. At the same time, he described it as a tool for social change ‘born of the discontent of proletarians’ and capable of ‘generating enthusiasm, providing incentives and opportunities, and organising development in terms of local rather than extraneous needs and consideration’. Other authors have struggled to make sense of the Janus-faced nature of nationalism: on the one hand, erecting barriers between human populations; on the other, fostering solidarity among the members of the national community and promoting equality among national groups.

This panel intends to focus precisely on such ambivalence of modern nationalism by examining how political actors and social movements use, or can make use of, nationalism as a frame/strategy to either preserve or fight inequality—meant in a broad sense encompassing social, economic, political, and cultural/symbolic dimensions. We are especially interested in studies concerning the context of the recent economic crisis in Europe, but also open to wider historical and geographical experiences. These can include studies on minority nationalism and separatism, as well as debates relating to immigration—especially with reference to nativism and welfare chauvinism— and following a broad range of theoretical and empirical approaches. Relevant research questions may include, but need not be limited to, the following:

  • Does nationalism naturally entail inequality?
  • Does inequality foster nationalist contestation?
  • Under what conditions, and in relation to whom, is nationalism a force contributing to increasing inequality? And, vice-versa, when does nationalism foster equality and for whom?
  • Is there any correlation between inequality and nationalism in the context of the recent economic crisis?
  • Can we think of national identities more conducive to both in-group and inter-group equality?

Scholars interested in taking part in the panel should send the title (20 words max) and abstract (500 words max) of their paper proposals to Emmanuel Dalle Mulle ( and Eleanor Knott ( by February 7. Please indicate the email address registered in your MyECPR account, as we need it for the final registration.

This panel will be part of the Political Sociology section of ECPR General Conference 2016 in Prague, 7-10 September 2016.


Call for panel proposals for the upcoming general conference in Prague September 6-9, 2016

This is a call for panel proposals for the upcoming general conference in Prague September 6-9. So far we have three panel proposals, one on the intersection between nationalism and inequality, one on recent conceptualizations of power in political sociology, and one on the implications (notably lobbying) of career trajectories of EU civil servants. We need more.

Would you be interested in proposing something? For panel proposals at this stage (before November 16) we just need a good topic title with a short description of what kinds of presentations ideally would be included. Niilo and I will look over all the panel proposals we receive and come up with a theme and description of the section proposal for ECPR.

You could also offer a section proposal though that would be more involved. A section proposal needs a thematic title, a description, and 4-8 panels on subtopics that fit within the thematic title. All of that would also need to be sent us before November 16.

Finally, I would note that currently migration seems like the elephant in the EU room. A very important current political sociology issue. It would be desirable if we had a panel on that topic. Anyone interested.

For ECPR guidelines on sections and panels you can look at

Best regards,


ECPR 2015: Call for papers

The political sociology standing group’s section for the 2015 General Conference of the ECPR in Montreal is entitled ‘Political Engagement, Scholarship and Social Trajectories’.

The call for papers has just been published. Paper proposals must be submitted by February 16, 2015.

Below are descriptions of the six panels that are planned within the section. More information can be found here

Panel 1: Scholars and Public Intellectuals as Policy Advisers.
Jane Jenson and George Ross, University of Montreal.

How do scholars and public intellectuals respond to institutional crises? This panel invites papers exploring how veteran EU analysts and public intellectuals are responding to the Eurozone crisis. Is there an emerging collective imaginary of possible solutions or simply a polysemy of disjointed voices? Are scholarly voices being taken as seriously today in EU committees as they were in the past?

Panel 2: The Relationship between social trajectories and political careers: the revolving door of MPs, officials and lobbyists in the EU and in other national contexts
Stephanie Yates, University of Montreal and Hélène Michel, University of Strasbourg

Revolving door social trajectories of public office holders (POH) likely impacts their apprehension of political issues, their political decisions, and ultimately public policy. When POHs transfer to private activities within the same sector or when private sector leaders become POHs with responsibilities in the same arena conflicts of interest can emerge that politicize public service and compromise public institutions with private interests.
The objective of this panel is to discuss comparatively the revolving door in the European Union and in other national and subnational contexts: How frequent is the phenomenon? Has it been a growing trend in recent years? Which sectors of activities are the most concerned? Is it closely associated with particular political ideologies?

Panel 3: The Long-Term Impacts of 1970’s Feminist Activism in Various Contexts
Olivier Fillieule, University of Lausanne and Alban Jacquemart, Centre d’étude de l’emploi, Paris, France.

Personal and biographical consequences of feminist activism can affect the life-course of individuals in decisive ways. How do feminist commitments generate or modify dispositions to act, think, and perceive that are either consistent or contrast with previous socialization. In this panel, we would like to address (empirically, methodologically, and epistemologically) these kinds of questions with particular concerns for issues of sexual freedom and orientation, alienation from previous movement engagement, rethinking gender roles, and how « the personal is political » actually plays out in family and professional life.

Panel 4: Persistence and Transformation of Political Involvement: How Activism Reverberates through Diverse Life Spheres
Emilie Biland, Laval University and Bleuwenn Lechaux, University Rennes 2

This panel will devote special attention to how one’s activist involvements in political events or in formal or informal collectives can impact various life spheres (professional, family, and private). Paper proposals could address such questions as how activist skills transfer into professional skills, how one’s conceptions of family, affective relationships and friendship are revised or perpetuated, how activist social ties persist through time even after disengagement, and how commitments themselves are transformed or redesigned in the light of previous activist experiences?

Panel 5: Studying Activism: Methods of Data Collection and Analysis of Activism and Activists’ Careers
Davide Morselli, University of Lausanne and Julie Pagis, University of Lille 2

This panel will focus on methodological aspects of researching activist’s trajectories. Activists represent a non-randomly distributed population for which conventional survey and sampling methods may not apply. Political engagement and radicalization can impact activists’ lives far beyond the political sphere, such as in career, fertility, family, and health. Thus, the study of the diverse effects of activism faces the challenge of collecting complex and multifaceted data and using multiple analytical strategies able to take in consideration holistic processes. Paper proposals could address different methodological questions such as: What sampling strategies can be applied to study activism and activists’ life-course? What are the implications of using certain data collections modes (e.g. web survey, questionnaires, dairies, autobiographical interviews) and analytical methods (e.g., phenomenological analysis, longitudinal mixture methods, multi-channel sequence analysis, self-organizing-maps) ?

Panel 6: Academics as Politicians.
David Swartz, Boston University and Niilo Kauppi, Academy of Finland

The panel will address a question that has been, at least since Max Weber’s writings, on the agenda of political science and political sociology: the relationship academics have with politics. A key issue is the conversion of academics into either professional politicians or political activists and public intellectuals. Examples of these are numerous and include professors of IR becoming presidents of the European Commission (Manuel Barroso), or academics getting engaged in social movements (Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu) or in political debates, like Jürgen Habermas concerning the future of the EU. Under what conditions do these conversions take place? What are the links between political culture and political engagement?