ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, July 2014

Research Committee on
Political Sociology, RC18

RC18 main page

Program Coordinator

Number of allocated sessions including Business Meeting: 18.


For sessions program and schedule see

On-line congress program


Anthropological Research and Political Geography

Session Organizer
Silvia Teresa GOMEZ TAGLE LEMAISTRE, El Colegio de México, Mexico,

Session in English



Session Organizer
Jurate IMBRASAITE, Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania,

Session in English

Citizenship has become a fashionable concept during recent decades. There is a great deal of public debate about the meaning of the citizenship, the relationship between citizens and government, effectiveness of democracy, policy measures aimed at promoting citizenship and future prospects in the globalized world. Citizenship can be conceived in statist terms as legal, political and social entitlements, which define the privileges of citizens (Marshall, 1964), but equally it can be defined as a set of institutionally embedded practices (Somers, 1993; Turner, 1993; Schudson, 1998).In common usage, citizenship is a very broad concept, which can encompass questions of identity, etnicy, participation, values and attitudes.

Citizenship can be something to which virtue can be attached as there are different ways to be a good citizen. The distinction among liberal, communitarian and republican forms of citizenship reflects divisions among approaches stressing the rights and responsibilities and resonates with the contemporary political life.

There are increasing concerns about changes in society which undermine the effectiveness of democracy and weaken traditional conceptions of citizenship. Pessimistic authors (Putnam, 1993, 2000; Putnam & Gross, 2002) argue that widespread decline of feeling of solidarity, growing political cynism among public, disaffection with political institutions weakens representative democracies. Proponents of postmodern citizenship (Inglehart 1997; Inglehart & Welzer, 2005; Norris, 1999) are more optimistic regarding the decline of trust in government and citizen participation. They indicate that it may be explained as the shift from traditional forms of citizenship to the new ones.

There are increasing concerns about the role of the state in promoting effective policy-making and the effects of a strong civic tradition on the performance of the political system as a whole. Most scholars agree that the nation state is in decline and there is a need to do some hard thinking about what these changes mean for being citizen. What does it mean to be a citizen at the beginning of the twenty-first century? What does it mean to be a “good” citizen? What are the consequences of citizenship for the effectiveness of the political system? What is a sense of political membership in a globalized world?


Colonial Injustice of the Twenty-First Century: The Latin American Case

Session Organizer
Elena PAVLOVA, University of Saint Petersburg, Russia,

Session in English


Inclusive and Exclusive Identities? How Religious and National Identities Influence Political Institutions and Social Cohesion

Session Organizer
Annette SCHNABEL, University of Wuppertal, Germany,

Session in English

Welfare state research and research on social capital have repeatedly implied that social identities play an important role for the willingness to actively contribute to society and for accepting redistributive measures. They seem to be important for the legitimacy and maintenance of political institutions. Religious and national identities are strong candidates for such identity formations. Both are known for their inclusive and exclusive impact. They provide schemata of affiliation, belonging and membership with committing effects to support the in-group. At the same time, they mark those who do not belong. Group threat theory, for example, argues that out-groups are excluded and discriminated against if they are perceived as a threat for the welfare of the majority. This kind of exclusion tends to lower social cohesion and to reduce the legitimacy of democratic and welfare state institutions.

Qualitative case studies indicate that religious and national identities are closely related and that the normative systems they provide on the macro-level tend to be inscribed into a country’s constitution and/or its political institutions. The classical studies by Rokkan, for example, argue that protestant countries have developed different forms of national identity and political systems than their catholic counterparts. However, quantitative analyses on this relationship are rare and the impact on political institutions is widely under-researched.

The panel therefore invites quantitative and comparative papers on the triangular relationship between religious and national identities and political institutions. It, thereby, will shed light on the complex but important mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion of societies and on the mechanisms that support or hinder the development and maintenance of institutions of democratic regulation and redistribution.


New Challenges for Member-Driven Political Organisations: Addressing Demand, Supply, and the Digital Context

Session Organizers
Ariadne VROMEN, Sydney University, Australia,
Anika GAUJA, Sydney University, Australia,

Session in English

Ostensibly established political organisations in advanced democracies are facing a period of change. Challenges to their sustainability come from three main directions: changing demand for active membership; the supply-side and high threshold for participation within organisations; and the reduced complexity of organisation in the context of the growth of digital politics. This panel will address the implications of these challenges for both political organisations themselves, and representative democracy more broadly.

The first starting point for this panel is the increasing evidence that citizens in advanced democracies are disillusioned with traditional forms of democratic participation and representation. The ‘demand-side’ literature identifies many reasons why it is that citizens seem to eschew modes of participation or organisational membership that imply time-intensive face-to-face engagement. Second, we will examine the way political organisations have redesigned and configured themselves in ways that seem to require less (or sometimes no) direct engagement from members or supporters. The research on political parties especially notes a drift away from mass-membership models towards cartel style parties that require little by way of a permanent member base.

Third, the advent of the internet and social media platforms is reshaping political organisations and the advocacy landscape. New kinds of campaigning organisations have emerged that demonstrate political organising can be quicker, more nimble and provide multi-issue political responses in a way traditional political organisations cannot. We will explore how organisations are adapting to the digital political context, and whether they engage with new online campaigning organisations in a cooperative or competitive manner.

For this panel we welcome papers that focus on these three challenges to member driven political organisations, particularly those with a comparative dimension.


Party Membership and Activism in Comparative Perspective

Session Organizer
Karina KOSIARA-PEDERSEN, University of Copenhagen, Denmark,

Session in English

The number of party members is a common indicator of party participation and the extent to which parties are able to form a channel of participation within representative democracy. And these party membership figures are in general in decline. However, party members vary in their participation both within parties and across parties, countries and time. Party membership has a ‘polymorphic nature’ and varies both in degree, type and intensity. The aim of the panel is to reach a better understanding of how party members participate within the context of changing parties.

In particular, we encourage analyses of how the application of new information and communication technologies, the professionalization of election campaigning and the blurring of the distinction between party members and supporters have affected the character of party member participation.


Party Membership and Intra-Party Democracy in Comparative Perspective

Session Organizers
Giulia SANDRI, Université Catholique de Lille, France,

Session in English

Political parties in established democracies have faced three significant trends that have altered their relationships with the grassroots: declining voter loyalty, declining party membership, and the declining importance of cleavage politics. Parties have elaborated two main organizational responses to cope with such challenges: the introduction of functional alternatives to party membership, and the expansion of intra-party democracy. On the one hand, parties have been prompted to develop new strategies to broaden their boundaries and reach out to non-member supporters, which could erode even further their membership basis. On the other hand, parties have adopted a wide range of internal organizational reforms that, at least formally, give members more say over outcomes. Direct democracy is now used in a wide range of intra-party decision-making procedures such as candidate selection, leadership selection and policy positions formulation.

These responses trigger significant changes in the role and power of the party on the ground, and can potentially generate conflicts between the various party strata. This panel will interrogate to what extent the recent trends in party organizational change have affected the balance of power within parties, and how this has modified the power and role of the party on the ground.

A number of connected themes will be explored, such as the emergence of conflict between various party strata, the attitudes of the party on the ground towards organizational change, as well as how these changes are part of general transnational trends that overcome cultural and political differences between established democracies. Empirical and comparative papers are encouraged, but theoretical and qualitative papers are also welcome.


Politics, Bureaucracy and Political Appointments

Session Organizer
Felix LOPEZ, Institute of Applied Economic Research, Brazil,

Session in English

The interaction between politics and bureaucracy are central to understand different political systems. One aspect, in particular, deserves more research: political appointments to various levels of bureaucracy.

This session seeks empirical - quantitative and qualitative - papers that examine political appointments within differing regimes and contexts and how these appointments relate to the distinct characteristics of the political systems in which they operate.

Among the possible issues for debate are: the criteria that appointments are based on (politicians, career bureaucrats/public servants, party members and members of the personal or factional network, among others), the observed differences in national and transnational contexts and among branches of government, the differing ways in which parties fill bureaucratic government positions; the relationship between political appointments and the process of designing and implementing public policy.


RC18 Business Meeting

Session Organizer


RC18 Roundtable: Democracy and Inequality across the World

Session Organizer
Joshua DUBROW, Polish Academy of Sciences,, Poland

Session in English

In every democracy resides social, economic and political inequality. This session asks two main questions: “How do inequalities impact democracy?” and “How does democracy impact inequalities?”

This session draws inspiration from the American Political Science Association Task Force report (2004) on “American Democracy in an Age of Rising Inequality.” While a landmark project, the APSA Task Force is limited to the U.S. and did not integrate several critical issues in detail, such as digital divide and internet democracy, globalization, mass media impact, militarization and armed conflict, immigration, and intersectional approaches to understanding how democracy and inequality co-exist. In addition, gender, ethnicity and class were underemphasized; across nations, women’s representation in parliament, ethnic political parties, and the salience of class in political participation are key features of the nexus of democracy and inequality.

This session seeks empirical (quantitative and qualitative) papers that examine the relationship between democracy and inequality, especially in places outside of the United States and in comparative perspective.


Regional Powers and their Partners: Bilateralism, Regionalism, Cooperation and Hegemony

Session Organizer
Mikhail A. MOLCHANOV, St. Thomas University, Canada,

Session in English

This panel will explore international and transnational structures of inequality, as they exist in regional communities of nations, such as the European Union, ASEAN, ECOWAS, Mercosur or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It will examine both bilateral relations between the region’s most powerful state or states and their neighbours and the transnational social movements and hierarchies that arise as a result of structural inequality in the region. We will seek to assess the impact of various types of relations between more and less powerful states in the region on the construction of a respective regional society.

The analysis of a state-society nexus in a regional context will help shed a new light on genesis and reproduction of inequality within and between geographically adjacent nations. By looking at a dialectic interplay between international, domestic and transnational social factors in foreign policies of individual member states of a regional community, the panel will seek to reach comparative conclusions on similarities and differences that determine regional hierarchies and power structures.

Its objective is to explain, how, in some cases, inequality within a region becomes entrenched by means of trade, politics and diplomacy, while in other cases proactive foreign policies and multilateral cooperation generate broader regional solutions and check hegemonic impulses of regionally dominant powers.


Rituals and Rhetoric: Attending to the Performative Dimension of Politics

Session Organizers
Florence FAUCHER, Institut d`Études Politiques de Paris, France,
Colin HAY, Sheffield University, United Kingdom,

Session in English

The panel builds from the premise that the performative dimension of political practice remains largely unexplored by contemporary political sociologists. It explores this through a series of linked papers, which consider the performance of political ritual and the performative use of rhetoric in contemporary political practices.


The Social Bases of Far-Right Political Parties and Movements in Modern Europe

Session Organizer
Igor BARYGIN, Saint Petersburg State University, Russia,

Session in English


Transnational Flows, Humanitarian Technologies

Session Organizer
Monika KRAUSE, University of London, United Kingdom,

Session in English

In the past decade, the recognition of the political implications of transnational flows and non-state actors has opened up new empirical questions and theoretical concerns in political sociology.

The papers in this panel examine the role of different non-state actors in different transnational contexts, taking their claim to provide socially desirable goods seriously but examining mediating practices, insititutional contexts and contradictory outcomes with an open mind.


Varieties of Contemporary Populism

Session Organizer
Marco MARAFFI, University of Milan, Italy,

Session in English

The panel seeks to explore the different forms, characteristics, origins, and operations of present-day populism in a comparative perspective. Populism – a distinctive type of mass politics and political regime – is a widespread phenomenon, in Europe (both Western and Eastern), United States, and Latin America. Briefly put, the rise of contemporary populism - as opposed to "traditional" populism of 1920s and 1930s - is rooted in the upheaval in social, political and economic relations and structures brought about by globalization.

The collapse of traditional social and political institutions has facilitated and called for a political response based on the direct appeal by political leaders, of different political persuasions and ideological stances, to the "people", bypassing traditional channels of political intermediation such as parties and sometimes (and somewhat) diminishing the role of representative bodies. The panel aims at charting and explaining this contemporary political phenomenon in a comparative fashion, drawing on different national experiences and case studies.


What is Party Membership?

Session Organizers
Anika GAUJA, Sydney University, Australia,

Session in English

This panel will interrogate contemporary understandings of the concept of party membership and its application to changing patterns of political participation and organization. Against a backdrop of declining party membership figures, we ask paper givers to re-consider what membership means in the ‘European tradition’ of party scholarship (conceptualizing membership as formal affiliation) and how this applies not only to the democracies of Europe, but beyond to countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

A number of broad themes will be explored, including the impact of technology and changing patterns of political participation, other forms of affiliation and engagement as functional alternatives (for example, supportership) as well as the ongoing relevance and function of formal membership and how these understandings are shaped by cultural, political, legal and historical circumstances.


Joint Sessions

Click on the session title to read its description and the scheduled day/time.

Rethinking Democracies: Social Movements and Democratic Processes

Joint session of RC18 Political Sociology , RC47 Social Classes and Social Movements [host committee] and RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change



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International Sociological Association
June 2014