RN36 - Sociology of Transformations: East and West
Click here to read the biennial report 2013-2015 of RN36
During 10th ESA Conference in Geneva the group of scholars and researchers has agreed to set up a new Research Network on the grounds of Research Stream 03 ‘East and West in Europe: Two Decades of Transformations’ (during earlier ESA conferences titled as ‘Enlargement of Europe’).
The RN36 has emerged from the integration of Research Stream activities and mutual efforts during previous four ESA conferences. Attempts at the last ESA conference in Geneva have completely succeeded. The coordinators of RS have organized nine sessions with 36 oral and 2 distributed papers, and were able to stimulate some fruitful thoughts and discussion during a business meeting. The Research Stream has received the new inputs from committed researchers, who participated in its sessions. We all agreed on the fundamental questions and objectives. The vital need to foster intellectual exchange and to intensify organizational activities in the proposed field of academic interest within the ESA resulted in the proposal of establishing RN, which was approved by ESA ExeC in May 2012.
The RN title was accepted by majority of participating in the business meeting members: “Sociology of transformations: East and West”.
The Research Stream 03 was constituted firstly in 2003, at 6th ESA conference in Murcia as a platform for discussion the issues of social transformation in Eastern European countries and integration into the united Europe. At that time the RS03 was convened by Peeter Vihalemm (University of Tartu, Estonia) and Chris Rumford (Royal Holloway, University of London). There were held 3 sessions with 11 oral presentations.
During 7thESA conference in 2005 in Torun the RS titled ‘Enlargement of the EU – lessons from the past and prospects for the future’ organized 3 sessions with 11 oral presentations. It was convened by Peeter Vihalemm.
At 8thESA conference in 2007 in Glasgow the RS was titled ‘Enlargement of the EU’ and convened by Peeter Vihalemm and Marju Lauristin (University of Tartu, Estonia). Number of presentations was higher than during previous conferences. There were held 4 sessions with 18 oral presentations.
At 9thESA conference in 2009 in Lisbon the RS was titled ‘East and West in Europe’ and convened again by Peeter Vihalemm and Marju Lauristin. Number of presentations was on the same level: there were held 4 sessions with 17 oral presentations.
In 2011 the Research Stream took its further steps in Geneva under the title ‘East and West in Europe: Two Decades of Transformations’. It was coordinated by Peeter Vihalemm and Elena Danilova (Institute of Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow) and targeted to look at two decades of social change in Europe, which had been launched by the collapse of the wall between East and West. Collapse of the Communist system and enlargement of the EU and NATO during last two decades have brought about fundamental changes in European social space as well as in social relations of old EU member states with new ones, applicant countries and their neighbors. Social transformations in the Eastern European countries draw the vast research interest and have multiple angles to look at. There was a great variety of submitted papers (50), on different sociological aspects of social transformation and European integration processes. 46 papers have been accepted (36 oral presentations and 10 distributed papers) which were allocated within 9 sessions of RS03 of the 10th Conference:
Old and New EU Members: Comparative Analysis
- Enlargement and Integration with EU neighbours
- Democracy and Social Development
- Symbols and Representations of Communist Past
- Transforming Identities
- Changing Values
- Local Communities in Central and Eastern Europe
- Social networking and socialization under transformation
Social Inequalities in Eastern Europe
What is on the agenda now?
Initial objective of the stream was to unite efforts of sociologists from the whole Europe who are interested in the societal transformations processes going in Europe after the collapse of the communist system, with the focus on the countries in Eastern and Central Europe including Post-Soviet countries.
However theoretical implications of the studied societies may have a wider impact for sociology. Over the last two decades, a sizeable body of literature and research were produced. Since 1989 several periods and strands of thoughts applied to the societies of Eastern and Central Europe can be found. Period after 1989 was full of optimism and expectations, and mostly based on theories of transition towards market economy and democracy and catch-up approaches deriving from evolutionist and liberal theorizing of modernization and convergence theories.
In late 2000s most of illusions were gradually dissolving, new realistic approach in assessing reforms and transformations appeared and stimulated the debates about the outcomes of the social change. What did post-communist countries come up with? There were some critical views, ‘unexpected’ consequences discussed by the sociologists looking from the point of dependence theories (core and periphery of Europe), dependent market economies. Institutional sociologists suggested to look at competitive assets of institutions, as well at variety of capitalisms emerged in the region, to find out the differences and specific features of the transformations relating to diversity in initial conditions and local contexts. The recent economic crisis has added more complexity and questions for the transforming societies development in the relation to their internal situation (the rise of social inequality, evoking of nationalism, the dropping level of institutional and personal trust, maintenance of social cohesion and integrity), as well as their relations to Europe and global world.
So, regional focus is still on the agenda. However, major focus is to develop a discourse on social transformations and contribute to the theoretical interpretation of social transformations and complexity of transformation processes going on in institutional structures, cultures, societies and individual lives. The Research Network will bring together researchers from competing paradigms (Polanyi’s ‘great transformation’ concept, modernization theory, path dependency theories (institutionalism, civilization theories, etc.), multiple modernities, and varieties of capitalism concepts, etc.), and aims at linking sociological debate on the European transformations to the wider global processes.
The RN36 attracts European scholars working with both macro-level and micro-level oriented research. Its objective is to encourage interested parties to participate in the RN, develop research and enhance theoretical discussion on social transformations.
If to take social transformations as a primary object of studies, one can look at social transformations as systemic, i.e. societal changes, which have a significant impact on most spheres and aspects of society’s existence. Here many questions arise. What are the driving forces of social transformations? What are the impacts of global forces? How do social transformations overlap with cultural change? Are they affected or constrained by such determinants as values or mentality? What are the consequences of certain social transformations with respect to social structures of society, the emerging social inequalities, etc? Do we overestimate or underestimate the inertia of precious institutional experience and culture? Is there a certain evolutionary logic of this process? Etc. Comparative studies are seen as the major source of data to address these issues and test the applicability and explanatory power of different approaches.
Micro-level analysis and interdisciplinary approach take into account the changes in individual lives, their identities and solidarities, and focus on everyday life practices in the particular spheres of social life tied to certain local and historical contexts. This will definitely contribute to the understanding of actual social life in the transforming societies.
The Research Network 36 positions itself as a platform for scholars who are interested in the field of social transformations in European countries that have already joined EU or constitute its neighbors and partners in the wider world. We want to bring together younger researchers and prominent scholars, so that they have a chance to share their thoughts and views and collaborate in future. Comparative studies can be one of main foci of the collaboration.
- Organising a number of sessions and a business meeting during ESA biennial conferences (the closest – in 2013 in Turin)
- Managing an e-mail discussion list or establish a web-based forum
- Organising a biennial mid-term conference or workshop in between ESA conferences
- Contributing to the ESA journal and special issues, and ESA newsletter
- Developing and strengthening linkages with other RNs in ESA and similar working groups in national sociological associations across Europe and elsewhere.
Research network 36
“Sociology of transformations: East and West”
European sociological association
International midterm conference
‘Social transformations: new challenges, practices, and critique’
September 28-29, 2016, Sibiu, Romania
- ESA RN36 “Sociology of transformations: East and West”;
- Alumni Association LBUS Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities;
- Romanian Sociological Society (RSS).
Call for papers
Transformative processes occur worldwide and can be subject to various interpretations from different theoretical perspectives. Despite the end-of-history rhetoric surrounding the initial stages of ‘transitions’ from state socialism to democracy and capitalism the transformations are far from being finished. Moreover, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe andAsiahave experienced a broad variety of transformation paths leading to very different results, ranging from a spiral of economic decline to relative prosperity, from democratisation to the maintenance of hybrid or even fully autocratic regimes, from embracing Euro-Atlantic integration to insisting on traditional political and cultural divisions, and so on. These days we are witnessing the unleashing of forces that radically affect the stability of European social development. These forces manifest themselves in such aspects as rising social inequality and exclusion; widespread disillusionment after the expectations of the initial stages of transitions, increasing distrust in political and other institutions, mass migrations; political radicalisation and the threats to social welfare.
Societies in Central andEastern Europehave gone through more or less radical transformations, while trying to balance in very different ways between universal prescriptions and their local specifics. The complex systemic changes, simultaneous reforms in different spheres, stimulated by technological developments have created social acceleration in post-communist societies. “Speeding up” is constructed as a ‘natural’ condition of social life in public discourses and seen as a main factor of successful transition. The socio-cultural implications beyond these processes (social stress, polarization between ‘winners’ and ‘laggards’, capacity of cultural reproduction, etc) as well as the tensions between the agents of social acceleration and resistance are waiting to be discussed.
These problems set the stage for a more reflexive and critical way of thinking about social transformations. An in-depth exploration of transformations in this region might produce significant new lessons and ideas. Classical sociological approaches to social transformation tended to focus on large-scale changes – crises, revolutions, long-term economic and social development, whereas relatively ‘small’ changes can produce unpredictable and ambivalent challenges for a particular society. Such ‘small’ changes also require constant research monitoring, followed by theorising upon research data.
Change deserves to be explored in many areas of social life in CEE countries as well as all over the world. Some specific areas of research may be more mainstream, while others seem to be at a peripheral zone of scientific discourse. However, they are (or should be) more debatable and perhaps complicated than they appear to be. A wide range of factors arising from (and elucidated by) different analytical frameworks – institutionalism in particular – contribute to explaining the different trajectories of countries over time.
This conference invites submissions approaching transformation in a wide variety of fields, including but not limited to:
- transformations and sociological theories;
- mediation and public discourses of transformation and social change;
- critical approach to CEE transformation;
- unanticipated consequences of transformation;
- post-industrial society or non-industrial society?
- economic and social gap between the East and West;
- Europe: more or less unity?
- paths of transition on a local/regional/national level, challenges and solutions;
- class division and inequality;
- generations in the context of transformation;
- spaces of poverty and exclusion in Central andEastern Europe;
- rural and urban areas, local communities life and practices;
- migration flows, new challenges, consequences, and possible solutions;
- the idea of nation state in transformation;
- political tensions and political order, new challenges for consent;
- political behaviour and political values;
- ecology, gender, city-movements, protest movements as new waves of transformation;
- civil society: development and barriers, self-government, self-organization, NGOs;
- values, identities, cultural practices;
- intellectuals and their impact on social changes discourse: past and present.
Conference venue: Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Library Building, 2A Lucian Blaga, 511069 – Sibiu, Romania
Abstract and Language:
The organizers invite theoretically or empirically grounded papers on the above topics. Special consideration will be given to empirically grounded papers, either comparative or country-based. The language of the abstracts, the papers and the conference will be English. Abstracts should be about 400 words, and should be accompanied by the name(s) of the author(s), his/her/their affiliation(s) and e-mail(s). The processes of abstract submission and acceptance will be managed using the online platform of the Romanian Sociological Society (Conference Management System):
Accommodation and Traveling: Will be covered by the participants.
Meals: Organisers will provide meals for participants.
Registration and Deadlines:
Deadline for submitting paper proposals (approx. 400 words) – May 30, 2016
Notification of paper acceptance – June 15, 2016
Deadline for registration – June 30, 2016
Abstracts should be submitted at:
Regular fee – EUR 45
Discounted fee for ESA and RSS members – EUR 30
Discounted fee for PhD students in Sociology – EUR 20
Elena Danilova, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian Federation
Andrei Gheorghiţă, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania
Matej Makarovič, School of Advanced Social Studies Nova Gorica, Slovenia
Arkadiusz Peisert, University of Gdańsk, Poland
Horaţiu M. Rusu, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania
Local Organising Committee:
Alin Croitoru, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania
Eugen Glăvan, Romanian Academy of Sciences, Romania
Adela Elena Popa, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania
Radu Ioan Popa, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania
Cristina Stănuş, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania
ESA 2015 - Call for Papers
Differences, Inequalities and the Sociological Imagination
12th Conference of the European Sociological Association
Prague, Czech Republic, 25 – 28 August 2015
RN36 - Sociology of Transformations: East and West
RN Coordinator: Elena Danilova, Institute of sociology, Moscow, Russia, endanilova(at)gmail.com, Peeter Vihalemm, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia, peeter.vihalemm(at)ut.ee
After 25 years of unprecedented economic, legal, and political transformations of the former socialist countries, the striking differences between Eastern and Western European countries still are manifested in the results of sociological surveys and statistical data, in particular what concerns social inequality. Many questions are under discussion. The main purpose of our sessions is to develop a discourse on social transformations and to contribute to the theoretical interpretation of complexity of processes going on in the Eastern European societies, their institutional structures, cultures, and individual lives. The Research Network brings together researchers from competing paradigms and provides discussions challenging sociologists in their grasp of the reality.
We invite papers based both on theorizing and on the results from empirical studies which takes into account transformative changes in various social areas, the changes in institutional settings and individual lives, identities and solidarities, everyday life practices in relation to certain local and historical contexts, either in comparative perspective or in a single country.
We propose preliminary streaming of the sessions in the following way:
- New empirical models of social processes during transformation in CEE
- Faces of inequality and differences
- Social classes and social mobility
- Acceleration of social time and generational change
- Costs and benefits of open labor market and migration
- Civic participation and democracy
- New mechanisms of domination and power relations in digitalized society
- Changing cultural and ideological constructions of East and West
- Everyday practices and social differences
- Intellectual challenges and neoliberal hegemony
Notes for authors
Authors are invited to submit their abstract either to the general session or any specific session. Please submit only to one session. After abstract evaluation, coordinators will have the chance to transfer papers between sessions where applicable.
Abstracts should not exceed 250 words. Each paper session will have the duration of 1.5 hours. Normally sessions will include 4 papers.
Abstracts must be submitted online to the submission platform, see below. Abstracts sent by email cannot be accepted. Abstracts will be peer-reviewed and selected for presentation by the Research Network; the letter of notification will be sent by the conference software system in early April 2015.
Abstract submission deadline: 15th February 2015
Abstract submission platform: www.esa12thconference.eu
If you have further questions on the conference, please visit the conference website. For further information on the Research Network, please visit www.europeansociology.org.
Midterm conference of ESA RN 36
25 Years After the Communism:
East and West of Europe in Search of Solidarity
Gdańsk,16-18 October 2014
European Sociological Association: Research Network 36 Transformation in Europe: East and West
Gdansk Branch of Polish Sociological Association
Institute of Philosophy, Sociology and Journalism: University of Gdańsk
Call for papers
After the unprecedented constitutional, economic, and political transformations of the former Soviet block countries, the striking differences between East and West European countries still manifest themselves in the results of sociological surveys and statistical records. At the same time, other tensions known from the rich history of Europe come back to the forefront of debates on European integration. The relative economic success of northern countries and failure of the South in confrontation with the recent economic crisis provoke the question of more profound cultural differences in dealing with economic issues.
The experience of state bankruptcy, lack of economic competitiveness, environmental pollution and other phenomena symptomatic of the late “real socialism” are part of the collective memory of Eastern Europeans, who still remember the time before the transformation. This shows a relative importance of the political and economic order as compared to purely cultural factors and gives more weight to the question of what would be the right political and economic strategy for Europe as a whole. On the other hand, it may be understood as a question of deeper drawbacks of the cultural and anthropological presumptions of socialism. Regardless of the answer to the general problem of interrelations between culture, economy, and society in Europe, any strategy of European integration requires legitimacy which can only be achieved in a political process.
The quality of European democracy raises a number of problems, such as the condition of political processes in individual member states, the prerequisites of moral universalism on the part of individual European “citizens” engaged in the political process, and the potential of openness and universalistic orientation of particular national nad ethnic cultures making up the European home.
All the questions mentioned above cannot be answered within the framework of political philosophy only but call for credible sociological explanations based on long-term empirical research in different countries. The heritage of the Solidarity Movement, which began in Poland 25 years ago, could be a good starting point for such a debate, hence our invitation to Gdańsk, the birthplace of Solidarity.
For intellectuals of the period, the movement held out a hope of building a new kind of society in Central and Eastern Europe. One of those worth reminding is Fr Józef Tischner, the author of Ethics of Solidarity, a small book proposing a new idea of (independent) society and citizenship. Studied today, it stimulates a reflexive evaluation of the present, provoking the question what hopes have been fulfilled and what fears have come true. The 1980-1981 period brought also a number of pioneering social studies of “action-research”, with Touraine’s Solidarity. The Analysis of a Social Movement: Poland 1980-1981 as probably the best-known example.
What could be the core conclusion for many academics after 20-25 years of transformation is that society cannot be founded only on economic and formal ties, but on social ones as well. Solidarity seems to be the best word to describe this ‘forgotten’ factor, which used to refer to what we know today as social capital, mutual trust, community values, or civil society.
We invite submissions on a wide variety of topics, including but not limited to the following:
- Paths of transition on a local/regional/national level
- Political tensions of transition
- Unanticipated consequences of transformation
- Post-industrial society or non-industrial society?
- Heritage of Solidarity and anti-communist movements today
- Intellectuals and their impact on breaking away from the burden of communism: past and present
- Self-government, self-organization, NGOs: manifestation or commodification of solidarity?
- New protest movements
- Economic and social gap between the East and West
- Spaces of poverty and exclusion in Central and Eastern Europe
- Class division: is it back?
- Rural and urban areas: growing diversity, declining solidarity
- Civil society: developments and barriers
- Ten years in (or with) enlarged Europe: more or less solidarity?
- Globalization processes in Central and Eastern Europe as a challenge for social solidarity.
- Disembedding processes
- Metropolization processes
- Central and Eastern Europe – new periphery or new center?
Abstract and Language. The organizers invite theoretically or empirically grounded papers on the above topics. Special consideration will be given to empirically grounded papers, either comparative or country-based. The language of the abstracts, the papers and the conference will be English. Abstracts should be about 400 words, and should be accompanied by the name(s) of the author(s), his/her/their affiliation(s) and E-mail(s).
Accommodation and Traveling: Will be covered by the participants
Meals: Organisers will provide meals for participants.
Registration and deadlines
Deadline for submitting paper proposals (approx. 400 words) – 15 May 2014
Notification of paper acceptance – 15 June 2014
Deadline for registration – 30 June 2014
Please provide your personal information and institutional affiliation along with your proposal.
Regular fee - 30 Euro
students and PhD students in sociology - 10 Euro;
ESA or RN members -20 Euro
The conference fee covers lunch and coffee breaks.
Institute of Philosophy, Sociology and Journalism: University of Gdańsk
ul. Bażyńskiego 4, room S 437
80-952 Gdańsk, Poland
IBAN: 59 1240 1271 1111 0010 4368 2415
SWIFT: PKO PPL PW
The Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Gdańsk, ul. Bażyńskiego 4, auditorium S207
RN36 Scientific Committee