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CFP: "Civil Society and Democracy": Vienna, November 9-10, 2012


civilsocietyiconThe Working Group on Democracy of the Austrian Research Association (ÖFG) invites conceptually innovative papers devoted to questions of civil society and democracy. Preference will be given to work focused in particular on the themes of lobbying and civil society, citizen juries, contemporary protest behavior, perceptions of democracy in civil society, and local democracy.

The conference is interdisciplinary in orientation and welcomes work from all social sciences and the field of legal studies. The Working Group is especially interested in papers that follow a sound analytical and empirical research design, respectively that employ a modern methodology commensurate with, and appropriate for their field.

Topic 1: Lobbying, Civil Society, and Democracy?
a. What evidence is there to support conclusions about the helpful or harmful influence of lobbying on democracy from the perspective of civil society?
b. What are effective lobbying strategies pursued by civic organizations and citizen groups to affect political outcomes (especially in the face of significant opposition)?
c. What can we say comparatively about the relationship between civil society and lobbying among European polities?

Topic 2: Citizen Juries and Similar Mechanisms – Relevance, Usefulness, and Democratic Quality?
a. What has been the role of Citizen Juries and similar mechanisms in shaping political decision making – also in conjunction with the internet or in technology assessment? Has their role been largely symbolic or substantive beyond the regional level?
b. How can such models be adapted to function in the context of traditional representative democracies like Austria?
c. What legal basis would such groups require to be politically effective?

d. What tools and organizational characteristics do effective groups of this type share – in either the real or virtual world?

Topic 3: Contemporary Protest and Unconventional Political Behavior:
a. What explains forms of protest behavior and their variation across time, space, class, and situation?
b. What makes protest behavior effective?
c. What are recurring issues that trigger protest behavior?
d. What is the composition of the protest public and what is its relationship to civil society at large?
e. How do the traditional actors (governments, parties, bureaucracies, etc.) deal with protest behavior?
f. What empirical data of political protest behavior do we have? Here individual level survey data and/or aggregate protest event data would be especially pertinent.

Topic 4: Perceptions of, and Willingness to participate in Democracy as Manifest in Civil Society:
a. What is the state of democracy as perceived by civil society and what are the causes? Are transactional and representative models of democracy doomed?
b. How to manage the expectations game? How have expectations of democracy changed and how can they be managed?
c. How can we best make sense of the comparative empirical evidence that we see reflected in views of democracy?

Topic 5: Local Democracy – Locus of Democratic Experimentation and Access Point for Civic Engagement:
a. What is the state of local democracy and what patterns can be discerned?
b. What best explains variation in local democracy both relative to a polity and between polities?
c. What role does local democracy play within the large debate about the state of democracy in our societies?

Conference Details: Researchers of all levels (advanced graduate and doctoral students are particularly encouraged to apply) are invited to participate in three to four panels to discuss their work within the group and engage in a focused debate in a workshop-like atmosphere. Invited
panelists may expect to have accommodations made available as well as a small stipend to help defray a portion of their travel cost. The conference’s goal is to work toward drafting one or several working papers as first step toward a publication.

Submission Details: To be considered, please submit an abstract of not more than a single page (or 700 words) along with a brief description of your current work and institutional affiliation to the address listed below.


Organizing Institution:
For more on the Working Group, please see:

Attn: “Democracy/Civil Society Research Conference 2012”

Dr. Reinhard Heinisch, Professor of Austrian Politics in Comparative Perspective Department of Political Science, University of Salzburg, Rudolfskai 42, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria
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For questions and further information, please contact:
Reinhard Heinisch  Este endereço de e-mail está protegido contra spambots. Você deve habilitar o JavaScript para visualizá-lo.  or Birgit Bahtić-Kunrath Este endereço de e-mail está protegido contra spambots. Você deve habilitar o JavaScript para visualizá-lo. Tel.: 0043-(0)662 8044–6615, Dept. Office: Tel.: 0043-(0)662-8044-6610

(Proposals submitted after the deadline may not be considered)


Dr. Mathias Thaler

Centro de Estudos Sociais

Universidade de Coimbra
Colégio de S. Jerónimo
Apartado 3087


Phone: +351 239 855 596

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