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ECPR 2013 Bordeaux Call for Papers

ECPR Bordeaux Conference

Please note that the call for papers for the ECPR General Conference in Bordeaux has begun. The deadline for proposals is 1 February, 2013; SEDEPE members will likely be interested in the following panels organized by ECPR Research Committee 02: Political Elites. Note that a number of the panels will be chaired by SEDEPE members – see below.

Paper proposals can be submitted via the ECPR website at –> events –> general conferences –> Bordeaux 2013 –> Propose a paper.

Hope to see you in France!



3.3 Section on “Elites and Trans-Atlantic Crisis” at the ECPR General Conference in Bordeaux, 4th – 7th September 2013

Abstract: Discussion of the trans-Atlantic crisis is rife with allusions to elites and elitism. Policy failures by elites are widely perceived as main causes of the crisis, and bold elite actions are viewed as essential if it is to be allayed. At no time since Pareto completed his Treatise on General Sociology a hundred years ago have elites been more prominent in public discourse than at present. Although elitism continues to be denounced as a cancer in the corpus of democratic politics, it is apparent that amid crisis elites must act decisively as guardians of democratic practices and procedures. It may not be too much to say that the elite perspective is gaining traction from the trans-Atlantic crisis, at the same time that the crisis affords an opportunity to sharpen the analysis of elites and elitism. The panels of the proposed section are supposed to explore these possibilities. Panels using a comparative perspective are especially welcome.

The section will include the following panels:

1. Patrick Dumont and Hanna Bäck: Elite Turnover in Times of Crisis
The link between economic-financial crises and electoral results is a topic addressed by retrospective voting and more specifically economic voting theories. Whether electoral results are followed by government change (wholesale or partial turnover in party composition, change of Prime minister) is yet another question in multi-party systems where coalition governments are needed to reach a majority in parliament. Electoral responsiveness and accountability of incumbents are at the core of this panel which seeks to address various types of government turnover and their link with economic- financial crises. Paper proposals analyzing government turnover are here welcome. Is this turnover indeed greater in times of crisis, reflecting either great electoral swings or greater attention on the part of elites to electoral results? What explains instances of incumbent Prime ministers not even standing for re-election? When incumbents are able to come back to power, do we observe changes in ministerial personnel? These are, among others, research questions we hope to tackle and discuss in the proposed panel.

2. Ursula Hoffmann-Lange and Kai-Uwe Schnapp: Elite Theory and Empirical Elite Research Amid Trans- Atlantic Crisis
While classic and modern elite theories primarily focus on the aggregate level and discuss the structure, functions and quality of elites in a general way, empirical elite research analyzes individual-level data on elites. Empirical elite studies, moreover, have dealt mostly with single national elites, longitudinally or by comparing different elite sectors. Comparative elite studies have been rare and mostly limited to parliamentarians, political executives and top civil servants. Their theoretical focus has necessarily been limited. Rather than discussing elites in a general way, they have used theories of social mobility or theories of representation to explain the social backgrounds and political outlooks of elites and have analyzed changes within the elites or in the relationship between them and citizens by relating them to broader societal developments such as modernization or democratization. However, the increasing availability of data generated by empirical elite research (both cross-sectional and longitudinal) facilitates a search for empirical regularities that transcend individual nations. Meta analyses comparing the results of national elite studies can be used to test broader theoretical questions about the structure and quality of elites. For example, democratization in the CEE countries has elicited a large number of empirical studies bearing on the formation or breakdown of elite settlements. The current economic-political crisis in the trans-Atlantic world affords opportunities to test which economic, institutional and political conditions may be polarizing national elites and undermining the consensus that has characterized elites in many countries in Europe and North America since the 1950s. The panel invites papers dealing with the meta-theoretical question of how the gap between elite theory and empirical elite research may be narrowed in light of the crisis, as well as papers demonstrating theoretical implications of research on elites in the face of crisis (e.g. elite recruitment, attitudes and networks).

3. John Higley and Jan Pakulski: Political Leadership in Times of Crisis
It is clear that political leaders play a central and prominent role in contemporary democracies. Leaders are seen not only as key decision-makers who dominate state executives and shape government strategies, but also as the key elite integrators, the main public communicators of government actions, and the principal repositories of public trust and confidence. At perhaps no time has this centrality of leaders been more evident than during the ongoing trans-Atlantic economic-political crisis. Laments about the inadequacy of national and supra-national leaders have been equaled in number only by demands that they act more decisively. The crisis is in many respects a crisis of political leadership. Papers analyzing the roles played and not played by paramount political leaders – prime ministers and presidents, finance ministers, party leaders (including leaders of parties widely seen as ‘extremist’ in their stances), as well as top EU, ECB, IMF, and Federal Reserve leaders – are invited, as are papers that reflect on what the crisis-born successes and failures of these leaders imply for stable democracy in the trans-Atlantic world.

4. Pedro Tavares de Almeida and António Costa Pinto: The Rise of Technocrats: Europe and Latin America in Comparison
This panel aims at outlining and discussing main continuities and changes, as well as diversities and convergences, in political elite recruitment patterns in democratic regimes in Europe and Latin America in the last decades. In particular, papers should elaborate on the increasing role played by technical experts or technocrats in European governments and in Latin American executive and legislative bodies, exploring the variables (institutional, political, economic) that favour it and assessing the consequences of this trend. Papers that deal with relevant case studies or take a comparative approach are welcome.

5. Maurizio Cotta and Heinrich Best: European Elites and the Economic-Political Crisis
The major and prolonged economic-political crisis in Europe presents elites with very serious challenges. The crisis generates significant material losses that affect large parts of European populations. At the same time, it facilitates exceptional advantages and profits, political and economic, for some elites and financial interests. The crisis requires largely unprecedented and painful decisions by elites with governing responsibilities, and their decisions tend strongly to diminish trust in the elites who take them. Above all, containing or resolving the crisis challenges accepted wisdom and requires elites to innovate. This panel invites papers assessing two main questions: (1) Will existing European elites succeed in responding to the crisis? (2) Will the elites undergo significant transformations in the process? the ability of European elites to meet these challenges. Are they able to produce necessary changes?

6. Elena Semenova: Advanced Research Methods for Elite Studies
This panel deals with the methodological aspects of elite studies (see Moyser and Wagstaffe 1987). Depending on the particular field (see Hoffmann-Lange 2007), scholars have used different methods of data collection and analysis. Some quantitative (e.g., OLS and multinominal regression as well as factor and correspondence analysis) and qualitative methods (e.g., narrative interviews, focus groups, and text analysis) have been widely applied in elite studies. Researchers have also recently started to use more advanced methods such as survival analysis, multi-level modeling, network analysis, qualitative comparative analysis (QCA), and sequence analysis. We would like to invite empirical papers that focus primarily on elites and that use advanced data analysis methods. Papers should illustrate the benefits of the chosen method for elite research. Possible topics may include elite recruitment, turnover, career patterns, elite structure, and elite-mass distinction. Papers analyzing longitudinal data are particularly welcome.

7. Jonas Wolff, Solveig Richter and Jørgen Møller: Critical Junctures in Democracy Promotion: A new perspective on the role of external actors in processes of regime change
Processes of regime change have proven much more complex than the ‘transition paradigm’ had led us to expect. While producing quite diverse results, they arguably have a long-term impact on the institutional set-up and the socio-political power relations of the country at hand. In this sense, they constitute key episodes of political change which can be analyzed as critical junctures. This panel sets out to use the historical institutional concept of critical junctures in order to develop a new perspective on international democracy promotion. Instead of the linear view that analyzes democracy promotion in terms of its effect on the success or failure of transition processes, the notion of critical junctures allows for democracy promotion to have multiple effects on political development in the ‘recipient’ country. By engaging in (or supporting the emergence of) critical junctures, external democracy promoters might, for instance, help shape domestic political struggle in a way that sets a country on a path towards ‘delegative’ democracy or towards (some kind of) ‘hybrid’ regime. Systematically, the panel will deal with the following questions: (1) To what extent and in what way do democracy promoters engage in producing critical junctures in ‘target’ countries? (2) How do democracy promoters perceive, react to and interact with ‘local’ actors in critical junctures? (3) What consequences do different activities of external actors in critical junctures have for the political development in the ‘target’ countries?

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