CfP Thirty Years of Capitalist Transformations in Central and Eastern Europe: Inequalities and Social Resistance, Cluj-Napoca, 2020

The „Thirty Years of Capitalist Transformations in Central and Eastern Europe: Inequalities and Social Resistance” conference will take place in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 5 April 2020. 

In 1909 Karl Polanyi defended his PhD in Cluj/Kolozsvár and went on to become one of the century’s canonical thinkers in political economy. The intellectual milieus of the Austro-Hungarian Empire produced the century’s seminal debates in social science in general and political economy in particular, and Polanyi, raised in this milieu, became an iconic figure in the interdisciplinary study of market-society relations. Meanwhile, some of the societies of Polanyi’s formative years experienced the century’s most dramatic upheavals, from revolution to reaction, from capitalism to socialism and back to capitalism. Today, some of these lands are at the heart of emerging nationalist, neoliberal and illiberal hybrid that sprung from the crisis of global capitalism, even as these countries have recorded very high growth rates and increasing global competitiveness.

Thirty years after the end of real existing socialism, we get together in the city of Polanyi’s terminal PhD period to reflect on two themes inspired by his work : (1) the promises, structural limits and crisis mechanisms of the capitalist mosaic that emerged in Central and Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans and (2) the alternative political projects that could address market-society relations given the growing global inequalities and the harrowingly extensive environmental degradation that puts at risk the well-being of present and future generations.

Our approach can be termed as a form of engaged scholarship. It departs from the twin observation that in no other part of Europe have there been more radical and entrenched offensives to attain what Polanyi termed “the market society” as in CEE and the Western Balkans and the political, demographic and environmental limits of this transformation have nearly been reached. Our aim is to confront this situation by building a network of engaged and critically minded scholars, policy makers, artists, activists whose work can illuminate the mechanisms, discourses, subjectivities and resources of the political and economic status quo in order to supply the informed imagination of how to overcome contemporary problems in inclusive, emancipating and green directions.

Keynote Speakers:
Dorothee Bohle (European University Institute, Florence)
Jonathan Hopkin (London School of Economics)
Costas Lapavitsas (SOAS University of London)

We welcome abstracts or panel proposals that explore the following issues:

  1. the limitations and external enablers of current varieties of capitalism and growth models
  2. state-finance relations, with an emphasis on central banking, dependent financial systems and emergence of financial nationalism
  3. the modes of insertion of local capitalist firms into the global economy, with an emphasis on their impact on solidarity, unionism and capacity to break out of semi-peripheral dependency
  4. the social, health, educational and tax policies that shaped living conditions, inequalities and class dynamics in the region
  5. the new world of capitalist work relations, with a focus on industrial relations and labor market institutions
  6. uneven urban development and subordinated financialization of housing in the semi-peripheries
  7. racialized inequalities in CEE at the intersection of precarious living and racialized labor
  8. the uneven record of forms of mass resistance to the dislocations produced by the market economy and advancing market society
  9. the emergence of specific theoretical and political engagements with the capitalist transformations in the region
  10. the emergence of neoliberal subjectivities and the way CEE societies have learned to adapt to capitalism through a variety of spiritual and personal development programs;
  11. the impact of the region’s capitalisms on gender relations and on domestic and emotional labor;
  12. the politics of the “demographic question” at the crossroads between migration and the revival of conservative family policies
  13. the way media, literature and visual arts discourse normalize right wing ideologies that criminalize and degrade the poor and the generic “other” (ethnic or cultural minorities) in order to justify ever more radical neoliberal policies that advance the market society
  14. European institutions in the context of global capitalism and the discourse on social rights
  15. public policies aiming at generating social inclusion and solidarity in CEE countries

Abstract & Panel Proposals Submissions

Abstract / presentation proposals should be sent via e-mail at no later than the 1st of February 2020. They should address any of the issues listed above, laying the focus on the region of Central and Eastern Europe and/or specific countries from the region. We are open as well to the possibility for submitting proposals for panels and round-table discussions.

  • Abstracts/ presentation proposals should consist of a description of cc. 400 words that presents the theoretical approach, methods, empirical research, and tentative conclusions.
  • Panel proposals should include between three and five prospective presenters, and their abstracts should be sent together with a brief description of the purpose and the relevancy of the panel to the main themes of the conference in cc. 250 words. Each panel ought to have at least two conveners from different institutions.
  • Book symposium/ round table proposals should explain the relevance of the book/ topic addressed in the round table discussion in cc. 400 words and present the speakers, preferably from different institutions.

Submissions will be evaluated by the scientific committee of the conference. Accepted abstracts proposals will be clustered together in panels. The submission of full papers and their dissemination to conference participants is optional for the authors.

Conveners: The conference is organized by the Institute for Social Solidarity (ISS) and the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work of the Babeș-Bolyai University. The Institute for Social Solidarity is a non-profit organization networking scholars motivated by the desire to generate scientific expertise in order to promote public policies addressing the severe social inequalities, material deprivation, poverty and environmental degradation generated by the neoliberal transformations of the last 30 years.

Deadline for abstract submission: 1st of February 2020

Registration fee: 10 Euros; the fee will cover for the coffee breaks and drinks during the conference. PhD students with accepted abstracts proposals are exempted from paying the registration fee.

Venue: The conference will take place in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Cluj is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural city from Transylvania. It is one of the most developed economic and commercial centers in Romania with booming IT, financial and communication industries. It is also a strongly gentrified city with deep social inequalities and racialized peripheries. The city is well connected to the main cities of Europe through railway and an international airport that also operates low-costs flights. The Organizing Committee will provide assistance and suggestions to all participants for affordable hotels and hostels during the conference. We look forward to welcoming you in Transylvania!

Scientific Committee: Daniela Gabor (UWE Bristol, UK), Cornel Ban (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark), Manuela Boatcă (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany), Veronica Lazăr (Institute for Social Solidarity, Romania), Enikő Vincze (Babeș-Bolyai University, Romania), Valer Cosma (The County Museum of History and Art Zalău, Romania), Gabriel Bădescu (Babeș-Bolyai University, Romania), Cristina Raț (Babeș-Bolyai University, Romania), Dragoș Adăscăliței (Sheffield University Management School, UK), Gabriel Troc (Babeș-Bolyai University, Romania), Camil Ungureanu (Pompeu Fabra University, Spain).

Organizing Committe: Maria Cernat (Institute for Social Solidarity), Mihai Vasile (Institute for Social Solidarity), Camil Pârvu (Institute for Social Solidarity), Sorin Gog (Institute for Social Solidarity), Ciprian Bogdan (Institute for Social Solidarity), Valentina Dimulescu (Institute for Social Solidarity), Andrei Herța (Institute for Social Solidarity).

For any inquires please contact:
Sorin Gog (Institute for Social Solidarity and Babeș-Bolyai University), e-mail:

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