Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN32_11a_IC: Open Stream II
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Virginie Van Ingelgom, Université catholique de Louvain
Location: Intercontinental - Ypsilon II
Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel Syngrou Avenue 89-93 Athens, Greece Floor: Level 1

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An Organic Public Sociology Movement at South African Universities: case studies of research centre structures

David Michael Cooper

Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town, South Africa

In South Africa during 1980s anti-apartheid struggles, at some research-intensive universities in especially sociology/social sciences there was a mushrooming of academic research groups undertaking valuable research for civil society ‘in struggle’ e.g. trade unions, community and youth and women’s groupings. Yet following the 1994 national democratic government transition, at one university some 87 emergent research groups declined to about 20, a phenomenon similar at other universities.

The paper explores reasons for the rise/decline of this ‘organic public sociology’ movement in association with progressive civil society organisations. It argues these structures were often (i) larger research ‘centres’: incorporating a director, 3-5 senior researchers each with their own project groups, underpinned by a sizeable administrative infrastructure. In contrast research groups at South African universities (following English-speaking academic ‘traditions’ internationally) are based around (ii) smaller ‘professor-chair’ groupings or what I call (iii) ‘informal networks of professor groupings’. Post-1994 transformation, a set of negative factors impacted on these larger research centres: including lack of traditional research funding sources; lack of appreciation or political support for their novelty and value; competition with smaller professor-led disciplinary groupings/networks. In-depth empirical research during 2000-9, of 11 such research centres spanning Western Cape universities, will provide core data to support the arguments.

The conclusion highlights the value in South Africa of such socially responsive research centres ‘for greater justice’: as engaged academic structures undertaking important research for civil society (as well as local industry and government). Their value in Europe too, with often ’fragmented capitalist solidarities and subjectivities’ and inequalities within civil society, will also be suggested despite differences in context of South African location in the global South.

The qualitative sociology of political parties abroad. Comparing French and Spanish parties in Switzerland

Tudi Kernalegenn

University of Lausanne, Switzerland

The multilevel sociology of political parties, and of their activists, has slowly but surely developed in the last few years. However, a “territorial” dimension of the political sociology of parties has been mostly overlooked until now: that of political parties abroad. This is a relatively new phenomenon, linked to the development of overseas voting, but also to the creation of representative institutions and of members of parliament representing directly emigrants. This extension of the democratic sphere of established nation-states has created a new arena for political activists, with the new political relevance of their political action in relation to their home country, and even, for some countries, new positions of political power to be filled.

The aim of the presentation will be to elaborate a first analysis of the sociology of political parties abroad, i.e. of parties’ branches established outside the territorial frontiers of their home state. The paper will focus comparatively on French and Spanish parties in Switzerland. Based on a qualitative fieldwork, the specificities of abroad branches of political parties will be thus explained: Who are their activists? What are their paths and networks? What are the drivers of their political involvement? The comparison between French and Spanish political parties is mainly based on two variables: the different political rights (and therefore political opportunities) and the social structure of French and Spanish emigrants in Switzerland.

Politics and Informality in South Eastern Europe

Vjollca Krasniqi

University of Prishtina

This article is based on the Horizon 2020 research “Closing the Gap between Formal and Informal Institution in the Balkans” (2016–2019). It explores how formal and informal institutions intertwine and govern political decision-making in four countries of South Eastern Europe: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Macedonia. This inquiry takes a close look at the institutions, actors and processes of political decision-making on chosen events in each country covered in the study. Focusing on “leaders’ meetings” as a field of practice, the article will show how informal rules have shaped the outcomes of political decision-making. The article suggests that the “leaders’ meetings” as informal interventions in the political domain have a lasting impact on the legitimacy of polity and democracy nationally and internationally.

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