Call for Papers

RN08: DCSCRN Sessions
Deadline 15 February 2013 (extended) 

The European Sociological Association (ESA) invites scholars from around the globe to come together in Torino, 28-31 August 2013 to debate the most pressing sociological questions of the day under the general theme: “Crisis, Critique and Change”. This general theme of Conference directly refers to the interests of the Research Network 8 (RN8) of ESA entitled as ‘Disaster, Conflict, and Social Crisis Network’ (DCSCRN). The social causes and consequences of the financial crisis, impacts on institutions, groups and individuals in the European and other countries make the main scope of the intended RN8 program. This is not to exclude however, other kinds of crises caused by climate change, natural disasters, technological accidents, and political conflicts with social implications. Proposals for presentations should be dealt with critically regarding analyses, methods and theories.

The Coordinating Committee of the DCSCRN now invites all network members, associated colleagues and all those interested to submit abstracts for any of our sessions outlined below. The DCSCRN invites scholars from different disciplines and practitioners from different areas to submit abstracts and share with us their thoughts, research results and experiences. All abstracts will be considered and reviewed by the Coordinating Committee and by the convenor/s of the respective sessions.

Submission of abstracts closes on 15 February 2013 (extended deadline). The submission is entirely electronic at http://esa11thconference.eu/call-for-papers/research-networks/RN08.

Note: if you experience any troubles while submitting your abstract on the ESA web site, we suggest based on our own submissions to try sending your abstract on a number of different web browsers (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox etc.).

If you have questions or problems regarding the abstract submission or the conference in general, please contact the conference organizers. If your concern is a specific DCSCRN session, please contact the session convenor/s (e-mail addresses listed below). If you have questions regarding the DCSCRN, please contact the coordinator Murat Balamir (murat.balamir@gmail.com) and the vice coordinator Nina Blom Andersen (ninablom@ruc.dk).

The DCSCRN look forward to read your abstracts and welcome you to our sessions in Torino!

01RN08. Social Crisis, Poverty and Social Inequality in Times of Austerity
Convenors: Dionyssis Balourdos (dbalourdos@ekke.gr) & Joanna Tsiganou (jtsiganou@ekke.gr)

The economic crisis sweeping over EU and non-EU countries leaves governments facing a daunting range of challenges. While government are addressing the fragility of the financial system and seeking to restore the foundations for sustainable economic growth, the immediate and potentially long-term impact on poverty and social exclusion may be unpredictable. Poverty analysts shift their focus from “traditional poverty”, which is passed on from one generation to another and is linked to economic factors, to “the new urban forms of poverty”, that consist of a series of negative events such as loss of job, precarious and informal work, loss of income and housing, family breakdown, separations and divorce, which in turn lead to an incapacity to run one’s own life. It seems that the changing nature of poverty affects both people who are out of work, as well as those with employment, children, young people, and/or single households and other groups.

This session aims to identify the impact of the economic crisis on inequality and poverty in both EU and non-EU countries. A comparative analysis of the crisis consequences among those countries that opted for a bail-out by the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (troika), and other countries that were not that severely affected by the crisis, would be of immense scientific interest.

Given the dramatic drop in formal cash incomes, a number of questions may be considered relevant for both the European and global context: How was poverty in EU and other non EU countries affected during the recession? Have new forms of poverty emerged? Has its severity increased? Can family networks efficiently complement the basic form of protection against social risks? Can reliable policy answers be formulated? What are the relative importance and effectiveness of coping strategies to resist hardship in reducing poverty for different groups of households?

Consequently, the session will track, analyze and make known the combined effects of policy changes, tighter public spending and the economy on poverty and inequalities. The aim is to ensure that these effects – both actual and potential – are understood and heeded by policy-makers and other people who make decisions. The session will help us achieve this aim by building high-quality and credible research evidence that can be used to inform and influence government policies. The underlining statement is that the current crisis is not merely due to faulty financial governance contaminating the real economy; it also has a social component and a human dimension.

02RN08. Crisis Informatics
Convenors: Christine Hagar (christine.hagar@sjsu.edu) & Nina Blom Andersen (ninablom@ruc.dk)

Crisis informatics explores the interconnectedness of information, people, and technologies in crises and examines the intersecting trajectories of social, technical and information perspectives in crises. Crises precipitate an increase in communication and present complex information environments. The management of information before, during, and after a crisis is critical as this can have a direct influence on how well the crisis is managed. Disasters such as the Tohoku earthquake/tsunami/Fukushima nuclear explosion have demonstrated that there is a great need to understand how individuals, government, and non-government agencies create, acquire, organize, access, share, coordinate, and disseminate information within communities during crises situations. Information challenges are many: information overload or conversely lack of information; the many diverse actors and agencies involved who increase the amount of information produced; integration and coordination of information by these actors and agencies; connecting informal and formal channels of information creation and dissemination; changing information needs at various stages of a disaster; information uncertainty; trustworthy sources of information; conflicting information, and getting the ‘right’ information to the ‘right’ person at the ‘right’ time.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have changed the face of managing information in crises. Existing and new ICTs increasingly enable the capture and preservation of information and experiences that result from disaster and mass emergency situation. ICTs allow volunteers to work together to create platforms for information aggregation and processing, “crowdsourcing”, to solve real-world disaster problems and provide powerful visualizations and interactive mapping of disasters. However, amidst the accolades for innovative technologies, it is important to remember how human-centered approaches and person-to-person interactions support communities in disaster, particularly in contexts where technologies are unavailable or difficult to access. This track invites papers on analysis, theoretical, methodological, policy and practice issues related to crisis informatics.

03RN08. Voluntary Service and Natural Disaster: Toward a Relational Approach
Convenors: Marco Lombardi (marco.lombardi@unicatt.it) & Barbara Lucini (Barbara.Lucini@unicatt.it)

The role and peculiarity of voluntary actions during natural disaster represent a challenge to sociological theory and its fundamental topics, such as social support, social cohesion, and social order. This session proposal discusses this challenge by focusing on volunteers and their actions in all phases of natural disasters.

Different groups of volunteers are addressed at this session: civil protection volunteers (with specific consideration to South European countries and their organizational civil protection models) and volunteers not directly linked with civil protection system, aiming for support and care in the aftermath of crisis and disaster.

The consideration of volunteers and voluntary associations is a relevant topic, during this contemporary period of financial and economic crisis, because it will help researchers and practitioners to elaborate a reconsideration of fundamental elements on which our societies are based such as human rights, civil participation, voluntarism, and social and community support.

Presentations dealing with different dimensions of voluntary actions, in particular during period of crisis and when more social cohesion and solidarity is called for, are welcome.

The dimensions of voluntary actions could include:

  • social capital, pro social attitudes and voluntary actions during all disaster phases;
  • voluntary actions in natural disasters as a form of cultural change in our contemporary financial-service oriented society;
  • role of volunteers during disaster social process and their specific professionalism, which require training and educational experience in terms of life long educational projects;
  • addressing training needs, both for civil protection volunteers and other volunteers;
  • social consolidation and the communitarian role of belonging to volunteer organizations in time of crises and disasters;
  • communication and better knowledge for crisis and resilient communication among volunteers and organizational institutions;
  • role identity for volunteers involved in disaster phases.

In these terms, sociological analysis can contribute to the realization of new and  different attention within its theoretical area and research field, which is a significant challenge for the future of disaster management and crisis communication.

04RN08. Political Effects of Debt Crisis
Convenors: Alberto Cotillo Pereira (acp@udc.es) & Ariadna Rodríguez Teijeiro (ariadna@udc.es)

Debt crisis’ consequences have shaken southern European societies and they are seen as a menace to the global economy. Those who are suffering their marked outcomes are looking for a way out in political institutions. In representative democracies, political institutions are seen in some way as responsible for the solutions to the debt crisis. It’s not strange to find that lengthening of that crisis has raised citizens’ pressure on democratic institutions. The delay in finding solutions to the debt crisis’ consequences ends in an increase in discontent with the performance of democratic representative institutions. Such a discontent can clearly be seen in displays such as general strikes, mass demonstrations, social protest movements and the increase in political disaffection in general. This session has the aim to analyze such political consequences of the debt crisis and, in general, to study the relationship between the sphere of economics and the political field from a very broad point of view.

05RN08. The social impact of the debt crisis: recent trends on poverty and inequality across Europe. Causes, consequences and future prospects
Convenors: Olga Salido (olga.salido@cps.ucm.es) & Sergio Torrejón (sergioto@estumail.ucm.es)

The current financial and economic crisis has intensified the pressure on the social and economic situation of families and individuals, affecting critically the well-being of citizens and their material conditions of living. In most European countries the figures of poverty and inequality have soared since the inception of the crisis, fueled — among other factors —  by rising unemployment, fiscal consolidation policies and social expenditure cuts. Moreover, the austerity policies that currently spread across Europe do not offer an optimistic scenario for the immediate future.

This session welcomes analyses and debates on the impact of the crisis on the well-being of the citizens from a comparative perspective. We invite presentations of work focused on an examination of the dynamics of poverty and inequality in different countries from a comparative perspective both descriptive and more complex analytical approaches to the analysis of the impact of the economic crisis on poverty and inequality, providing also the opportunity to critically evaluate the results of different social and economic policies implemented across institutional constellations in different member states.

In this context, we invite papers oriented to:

  • comparatively examine peculiarities and differences across countries (or sets of countries) in the recent evolution of poverty and income inequality figures;
  • explore the causes of recent trends in poverty and inequality since the start of the crisis from a comparative perspective;
  • estimate the impact of economic and social policy recipes on the welfare of citizens, considering particularly the impact of austerity policies in different countries;
  • analyze the country-specific systems of social welfare, and the role of the family and its peculiar singularity in Mediterranean countries in the current context;
  • critically reflect on the weaknesses and strengths of antipoverty policies developed by the European Union, as well as on the effects of the fiscal consolidation and austerity policies.

06RN08. Disaster Risk Techniques: Practices of Use, Critiques and Reinventions
Convenors: Antti Silvast (antti.silvast@helsinki.fi) & Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen (turo-kimmo.lehtonen@helsinki.fi)

In social sciences, interest in ‘risk’ has tended to point to two alternative research areas. For some, the term has mainly referred to presumed major societal transitions, such as the arrival of a ‘risk society’, ‘climate of risk’ or ‘culture of fear’. For others, constitutive of the research on risk has been the argument that social sciences do not study ‘technical’ or ‘objective’ risks but ‘cultural’ risk perceptions. In contrast to these orientations, a new line of research has recently emerged. In this third research area, the focus is on the concrete forms of risk governance and the relevant techniques of governance. The main question has concerned how a technical understanding of risk is operationalized. How is risk calculated and simulated in specific cases? How has the understanding of risk, thus produced, been put to use in the anticipation and economization of uncertainties and the mitigation of their effects? This proposed session develops an interest in such techniques and their shifts in the context of disasters and asks: How are risk techniques reinvented, recontextualized and reshaped by the experiences gained from disaster events? In what ways are the techniques critiqued, and do new methods of anticipating crises emerge? The session welcomes all papers dealing with such issues.

07RN08. Material Matters in Crisis, Conflict and Disaster
Convenor: Susann Ullberg (susann.ullberg@fhs.se)

Crises, conflicts and disasters are multidimensional phenomena in that they are produced in social, political and economic relations, and are imbued with various cultural meanings. They are at the same time imminently material. This observation is certainly not new in the social sciences. It is well known that political conflicts and social crises are more often than not due to controversies around the production and distribution of material resources. Crises and conflicts also have material effects however. When it comes to disasters, natural and technological hazards are material forces that affect buildings and bodies. Essentially, materiality impinges on people’s lives in multiple ways and pervades critical events when they occur. The overarching question in this session is hence, how do material relations shape social life before, during and after crises, conflicts and disasters? Social science research on materiality is broadly concerned with the relation between people and objects in terms of design, production, distribution, consumption and exchange, as well as in emotional, sensory and spiritual engagement. This session takes a broad approach aiming at identifying and discussing the different ways in which the relation between people and objects plays out in critical events and processes. We welcome both theoretical approximations to this subject mater and empirical papers that can address either the private or public spheres of social life, or both.

08RN08. Change from the Margins? Gender and Social Inequality in the Wake of Disaster
Convenors: Shelley Pacholok (Shelley.Pacholok@ubc.ca) & Nina Blom Andersen (ninablom@ruc.dk)

Many predict that global warming, rapid urbanization and development, increasing population and wealth, environmental degradation, and neoliberal policy reforms will increase the frequency and intensity of disasters, and the human and economic costs of such events. These risks are born disproportionately by poor people the world over. Attending to the social and political dimensions of disasters — including social inequality, power relations, and possibilities for change — is of crucial importance, then, as we turn the page on one of the deadliest disaster years in recent decades.

Social scientists, policy makers, and others concerned with issues of social justice have much to learn about social inequalities and the potential for change generated by disasters. This session interrogates, in particular, the political and social terrain of gender relations. Disasters unfold in social contexts structured by gender inequality and a great deal of research finds that women are disadvantaged before, during, and after disasters. These inequities could lead to the conclusion that gender inequalities are inevitably re-established and even magnified by disasters. However, there are also reasons to believe that disasters open up possibilities for progressive change.

Disasters dramatically alter the bio-physical environment and, by their very nature, disrupt everyday social interactions; thus, they create opportunities for transformations in political, economic and social life. In particular, the turbulence of post-disaster social life disrupts everyday gender practices which may necessitate new gender strategies. More broadly, those on the margins suffer most deeply from the landscapes of despair borne by disasters, and it may be by virtue of this social dispossession that the impetus for change is forged (a process writ large in recent political uprisings like global Occupy movements and the Arab Spring).

The foregoing suggests that disasters have the potential to disrupt the reproduction of inequalities, including gender, but this line of inquiry is in the early stages of development. In disaster studies it is not yet clear what the catalysts for change are, nor under which theoretical or practical conditions gender shifts, progressive or otherwise, are likely to occur. Even less is known about intersections between gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, social class, and region and the implications for post-disaster change.

This leaves a number of questions unanswered, including, but not limited to: Can disasters spark shifts in gender relations? What are the catalysts for such shifts? To what extent do new gender practices reinforce and disrupt existing inequities? Since gender intersects with multiple modalities of power, do shifts in one domain ripple into connected domains? Disasters can create occasions for new alliances to form among disenfranchised groups. Do coalitions form around social inequalities in housing and relocation, resource distribution, environmental hazards, or human rights violations? Do these struggles for social justice include, or even necessitate, a redoing or even undoing of gender? Consideration could also be given to the experiences of marginalized men; to wit, how are masculinities shaped in response to injustices occasioned by disasters, including strategic coalitions with others on the fringes of social hierarchies?

09RN08. Disaster, Conflict and Social crisis (open)

06JS08. RN08 Joint session with RN06 Sociology of critical political economy
The Eurozone Crisis as an Opportunity: Structural Changes within the Member States of the Eurozone and the European Union
Convenors: Laura Horn (lhorn@ruc.dk) & Nikos Petropoulos (erc@otenet.gr)

This joint panel with RN06 invites submissions on the theme of ‘The Eurozone Crisis as an Opportunity: Structural Changes within the Member States of the Eurozone and the European Union’. The focus will be on the structural – economic, political, and social changes – within the member states themselves. Special emphasis will be on the states that have especially been affected by the debt crisis and have taken part of the ECB/IMF/EU bail-out mechanism (e.g. Ireland, Portugal, Greece) or have received loans from EU/ECB to support their bank system (e.g. Spain). Papers may also focus on structural changes, if any, within the ‘solvent’ states of the Eurozone and the European Union (Germany, Finland, Holland, Austria, the Czech Republic). Priority will be given to comparative empirical and critical analysis.

08JS12. RN08 Joint session with RN12 Sociology of Environment and Society
Energy Futures: Emerging Conflicts, Impacts, Opportunities
Convenors: Debra J. Davidson (ddavidso@ualberta.ca) & Matthias Groβ (matthias.gross@ufz.de)

This session will focus on research exploring the multiple emerging trajectories along which society’s relationship with energy supplies is unfolding. New ‘non-conventional fuels,’ such as shale gas and bitumen are being developed rapidly, as are renewable fuels, including biofuels, geothermal fuels, and wind power. And finally, conventional fossil fuel sources are being exploited in ever more remote locations, with little scrutiny. Each of these is associated with a suite of discursive frames and socio-ecological impacts that demand critical evaluation, as they constitute an increasing proportion of our energy portfolio. In many cases, new fuel sources are heartily endorsed with little attention to the uncertainties and risks associated with their adoption. In others, adoption is constrained because the potential benefits are under-represented due to elevated risk concerns. Sociological attention to the risks, benefits, and evolutionary implications of society’s energy futures is growing, but to date little effort has been made to synthesize this important body of work. In this session, papers covering several of these lines of inquiry will be presented.

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