Call For Papers: ECPR General Conference, 2014

Call For Papers: ECPR General Conference, 2014

The ECPR Standing Group on Political Theory is convening a general political theory section, entitled ‘Political Theory: Issues and Challenges’, for the 2014 ECPR General Conference, to be held at the University of Glasgow (UK), September 3 – 6, 2014.

This section will contain a total of 8 panels, comprising 4-5 papers each. Details about the panels already accepted within the section can be found below. If you would like to submit a paper to one of these, then please contact the panel convenors in the first instance. We also welcome additional proposals, either in the form of complete panel proposals (comprising 4-5 papers), or standalone paper proposals.

Further details on how to submit either a paper or a panel can be found here.

Please note: the final deadline for submissions is February 15, 2014.

SO48: Political Theory: Issues and Challenges
Section Chair: Andrew Shorten (
Section Co-Chair: Adina Preda (

Section Abstract

This section, supported by the ECPR Standing Group on Political Theory, aims to showcase recent work in all subfields of political theory, including work on normative, conceptual, methodological and historical topics, construed broadly. We welcome work from all traditions in political theory, including analytical, formal, feminist, critical and post-structural approaches, as well as cross disciplinary research that draws on political science, philosophy, history, law, sociology, economics, cultural and literary studies. We aim both to support cutting edge research within particular traditions and to facilitate engagement across sub-disciplinary boundaries.

As in many other disciplines, work in political theory has become increasingly specialised, and the gap amongst its component subfields, traditions and approaches continues to widen. This section will facilitate engagement across the sub-disciplinary barriers in two ways. First, we encourage panels that will address problems, themes and concepts from multiple perspectives. Suitable topics might include, but are not limited to, political friendship, the family, emotions and politics, power, democracy, and political representation. Second, we also welcome panel and paper proposals on methodological concerns that reach across sub-disciplinary divisions. Suitable topics might include, but are not limited to, the challenges of understanding political ideologies or concepts, the nature of ‘the political’ and its significance for political theory, the prospects and challenges of comparative political theory, and the role of normative theory, such as the extent to which a theory should be ‘ideal’ or stay within the boundaries of the ‘feasible’.

In addition, this section will also serve as a forum for specialised work on particular topics and within particular traditions and approaches. Consequently, we seek papers and panels that address both the complexities and diversity of particular traditions in political theory (such as, for example, pragmatism, critical theory or realism) and particular problems or issues from the confines of one particular tradition, such as the analytical tradition, within which we welcome both conceptual and normative work.


Democratic Emotions
Panel Chairs: Mihaela Mihai (University of York) & Paulina Tambakaki (University of Westminster)
Contact Details:;


The study of emotions, marginalised in mainstream democratic theory, increasingly challenges the mono-dimensional focus of standard accounts of institutional politics on formal mechanisms of legitimacy, accountability and transparency. Drawing attention to states of feeling that mobilise – or demobilise – democratic citizenries, studies of emotions disclose and affirm their growing centrality in processes of political participation (Hall, 2005; Krause 2010; Morrell 2010; Kingston 2011; Fleming 2012). This centrality – confirmed by the political mobilisations of the Arab Spring and the protests targeting the management of the financial crisis –  opens up the space for addressing a series of questions about the type of insights that current accounts of emotions offer into the workings of contemporary democracies. Normatively, where does one draw the line between emotions ‘fit’ for democratic purposes and emotions that undermine democratic values? For example, is anger a democratic emotion that studies of democratic representation need to take into account? Can we talk of democratic “days of rage”? And what hopes are compatible with a dialogical ethos? Prudentially, how can legitimate affect be politically effective in changing the terms of the debate? Under what conditions do individual emotions translate into meaningful collective action?

This panel seeks to explore these difficult questions. It invites contributions that theorise politically relevant emotions with a view to illuminating pressing contemporary issues. Papers that cross disciplinary borders are welcome.

Distributive justice: Perspectives on (luck) egalitarianism
Panel Chair: Andreas Albertsen
Contact Details:


As we witness rising inequalities within and between countries addressing and refining our moral assessment of inequalities seems as important as ever. Contemporary debates over distributive justice have witnessed a surge of interest in the luck egalitarian contribution in that regard. Luck egalitarianism is a responsibility-sensitive theory of distributive justice, often associated with the view that justice considers as unjust distribution which reflect people’s circumstances as opposed to the choices they have made. This line of thought clearly calls for both a general discussions over the relevance of responsibility for justice as well as debates over what such a view would require in specific spheres of society (i.e. health, education etc.).

The relevance of both responsibility and egalitarianism has been met by various and strong objections. Some have labored sophisticated arguments with the purpose of showing that justice shouldn’t be concerned with people’s exercises of responsibility. Others reject egalitarianism in favor of views reflecting the thought that we should give priority to the worse off or that justice requires people to have enough rather than being equal.

This panel is dedicated to these ongoing and important discussions. Both papers directly addressing luck egalitarianism and papers directed at broader issues of distributive justice will be considered.

Political Friendship
Panel Chair: Gabriella Slomp (University of St Andrews)
Contact Details:

Abstract: TBA

Political Theory and Imperfect Duties
Panel Chair: Saladin Meckled-Garcia (University College, London)
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Abstract: TBA

Political Theory in Society: Comparative and Historical Perspectives
Panel Chair: Petri Koikkalainen (University of Lapland)
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Rather than focusing on a single national genre or sub-discipline of political theory, this panel concentrates on the various attempts to theorise politics that have taken place under diverse headings such as political theory, political philosophy, and the history of political thought. We also invite papers that pay attention to the significant national and historical variation in such theoretical approaches to politics, as well as to the variation in the public roles of the theorists and their influence on past and contemporary societies. Provisionally, the time-frame of the presentations could extend from the 1930s-40s to the present, thus enabling the treatment of themes such as the crisis of ideology around WWII and the proclaimed death of “traditional” political philosophy in the mid-1950s, the partial replacement of political philosophy by “empirical theory” in political science, the rise of the “new history of political thought”, and the revival of normative “new political philosophy” after Rawls. In the midst of these cross-pressures, “political theory” signified a number of different things, for example, the persistent defence of the distinct quality of “the political” against social, economic, behavioural or positivist interpretations of society. Recently, political theorists have re-established their connection to normative political ideology under such headings as liberalism, communitarianism, republicanism, and deliberative democracy. In short, we wish to be able to comparatively and historically elucidate the role and significance of political theory and philosophy in societies, as well as the public roles of political theorists, philosophers, intellectual historians and others who claim to have developed relevant theoretical approaches to modern politics.

Pragmatist Approaches in Contemporary Political Theory
Panel Chairs: Mathias Thaler (University of Edinburgh) & Thomas Fossen (Leiden University)
Contact Details:;


This panel aims to explore recent appropriations and transformations of pragmatism in political theory. The pragmatist tradition has re-emerged as a prominent current in various areas of philosophy, offering a distinct systematic and post-metaphysical perspective on notions of truth, meaning, and normativity. What can philosophical pragmatism contribute to political theory? And conversely, in what ways do political questions urge us to transform central pragmatist ideas? So far, within political theory, pragmatism has been most influential in thinking about democracy. What are the implications of a pragmatist rethinking of truth and meaning for conceptions of democratic deliberation and conflict? And what is the potential of pragmatism in other areas of political theory? For instance, how can pragmatism help us to rethink notions of human rights, transnational governance, and political legitimacy?  The panel will reflect the diverse ways in which pragmatist thinking has been employed in recent years to engage some of enduring challenges political theory faces in the 21st century. 

The Family: Ethics and Policy
Panel Chairs: Gideon Calder (University of South Wales) & Anca Gheaus (University of Sheffield)
Contact Details:;

Abstract: TBA

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