Political Institutions, Rules and Procedures: Perspectives from Political Theory

Section Chair
Maria Paola Ferretti
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
Section Co-Chair
Emanuela Ceva
Università degli Studi di Pavia


For Jeremy Waldron, political institutions are the main subject of political theory—or they ought to be (Waldron, Political Political Theory: Inaugural Lecture, 2013).

This Section, supported by the ECPR Standing Group on Political Theory, invites to discuss this proposition and reflect on the goals, structure, role, functioning and limits of political institutions at local, national and transnational level.

The attention to institutional structure is central to the work in many subfields of political theory including normative, conceptual, applied, methodological and historical approaches. To give but some examples, postcolonial theory can be understood primarily as an effort to understand the condition of nations, institutions and people after the achievement of political independence from their colonial rulers. Among republican theorists, the task of designing institutions capable of protecting citizens from arbitrary or uncontrolled power has been a major concern. At the same time, contemporary civic republicans also recognize that no matter how carefully designed, the functioning of institutions necessarily entails considerable discretion on the part of public officers. Post-structuralist scholars problematize entire systems of thought and organization, including also political institutions and organizations, whilst liberal-democrats highlight the importance of institutions in delivering justice and distributing rights and duties among citizens. Whilst some liberals defend a Rawlsian standard view of justice as the first virtue of social institutions, others take side with political realists and identify legitimacy as the key concept to evaluate institutions. Classical critical theorists of the Frankfurt School, such as Adorno, point to means and methods by which critical theory can usefully function within institutions. This is despite the fact that among many contemporary critical theorists there is little optimism about the possibilities of a process of emancipation within existing institutions.

We welcome proposals from all these and other traditions and subfields of political theory. We aim to facilitate engagement across sub-disciplinary boundaries and to support innovative research within particular traditions or on particular problems. To promote engagement across different traditions, we welcome Panel proposals that address problems, themes and concepts from multiple perspectives. To promote specialized work on particular topics, we welcome Panel proposals that either address the complexities and diversity of particular traditions in political theory, or focus on particular problems or issues from within the confines of one particular tradition, such as the analytical tradition.

Following the suggestions of the members of the ECPR Standing Group on Political Theory, at this stage we propose to convene Panels on the topics listed below. Additional proposal for Papers and Panels are invited.

1) Latin America and Political Theory: Social Justice, Decolonialism and Development Ethics
Chair: Claudio Santander Martinez, University of York (cs1007@york.ac.uk)
Potential participants: Nicole Salomé (University of Valparaiso, Chile); Mario Solis Umana (University of Costa Rica); Cristian Fatauros (Universidad de Córdoba, Argentina); Pablo Aguayo (Universidad of Chile); Adalberto de Hoyos (Instituto Politecnico de México).

2) The City in Political Theory
Chair: Avner De-Shalit, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Avner.deShalit@mail.huji.ac.il)
Potential participants: Margit Mayer (FU Berlin); Rainer Bauböck (European University Institute), Fenne Pinkster (University of Amsterdam), Bart van Leeuwen (Radboud University); Nir Barak (Columbia University).

3) Institutional Integrity and Corruption
Chair: Nikolas Kirby, University of Oxford (nikolas.kirby@bsg.ox.ac.uk)
Potential participants: Emanuela Ceva (University of Pavia); Lisa Hezog (TU München); Maria Paola Ferretti (Goethe University Frankfurt).

4) Critical Perspectives on Republicanism and Democracy: Political, Economic and Social
Chair: Guy Aitchison, University College Dublin (guy.aitchison@ucd.ie)
Potential participants: Annelien De Dijn (University of Amsterdam); Dorothea Gädeke (Goethe University Frankfurt); Bruno Leipold (FU Berlin); Banu Turnaoğlu (University of Cambridge).

5) Perspectives on the Justification of Human Rights
Chair: Luise K. Müller, TU Dresden (luise.k.mueller@tu-dresden.de)
Potential Participants: Stephan Gosepath (FU Berlin); Johannes Haaf (University of Dresden); Mahmoud Bassiouni (Goethe University Frankfurt).

Section Chair
Maria Paola Ferretti is senior research fellow in political theory at the Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders” at the Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main, where she works on a project on the ethics of risk. Her research interests include contemporary liberalism, public ethics, democratic participation and corruption. She has published in journals such as Politics, Philosophy and Economics, Philosophy Compass, the Journal of Applied Philosophy, Review of Policy Research, Global Society. She is currently co-convenor of the ECPR ECPR Standing Group on Political Theory.

Section Co-Chair:
Emanuela Ceva is Associate Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Pavia. She has held visiting positions at Oxford, St. Andrews, Montréal, Harvard. She works on value conflict, toleration, democracy, and corruption. Recent articles have appeared in Philosophy Compass, Social Theory and Practice, Journal of Social Philosophy, Journal of Applied Philosophy, Politics, Philosophy & Economics. She is currently co-convenor of the ECPR Standing Group on Political Theory.