Europe can be made or unmade, and this is especially true since the ‘Great Recession’ of 2008. European society, and even the very idea of Europe, is under threat. First, the inherent contradictions of capitalism are obviously stronger than we thought: Greece, where the emphatic idea of “Europe” originated, has experienced severe austerity measures; Europe has seen a deepening of neo-liberal politics, threats to what remains of the welfare state and increasing inequality. Second, solidarities are fragmented in and between societies across Europe. The new world economic crisis formed a context for both the constitution and the undermining of solidarities. On the one hand, from the Arab Uprisings to the various Occupy and Indignados movements – and their manifestations at the level of political parties – we have seen rebellions by citizens demanding political change. On the other hand, refugees fleeing wars have been denied human rights and their lives have been threatened by the closure of borders and the lack of a coordinated European strategy. Third, subjectivities are formed that do not only result in resistance and protest, but also in apathy, despair, depression, and anxiety. Authoritarianism, nationalism, racism, xenophobia, right-wing extremism, spirals of violence, and ideological fundamentalisms have proliferated throughout the world, including in Europe.
As a result, the promise of Europe and the geographical, political, and social borders of Europe have been unmade and this ‘unmaking’ poses a profound challenge for sociology and the social sciences more generally. It is in this context that the European Sociological Association’s 2017 Conference takes place in Athens at the epicentre of the European crisis. The underlying question for the conference is: How and where to should a sociology that matters evolve? How can sociology’s analyses, theories and methods, across the whole spectrum of ESA’s 37 research networks and various countries, be advanced in order to explain and understand capitalism, solidarities and subjectivities in the processes of the making, unmaking and remaking of Europe?
Invited speakers include David Harvey, Margaret Abraham, Gerard Delanty, Donatella della Porta, Silvia Federici, Eva Illouz, Maria Kousis, Hartmut Rosa, Markus Schulz, Yanis Varoufakis, Michel Wieviorka, Ruth Wodak and others!
We cordially invite sociologists and social scientists from around the globe to join us in Athens – to attend the 13th ESA conference, to participate actively in the discussions, and to contribute presentations of their own work! For those who will attend the ESA conference for the first time, we would like to emphasize that in addition to the invitation of about two dozen globally renowned speakers (see above), generally speaking ESA conferences are bottom-up meetings. Our task is to provide spaces for sociologists that enable them to present their current work and to receive feedback on it (there will be about 700 “Research Network” and “Research Stream” sessions). Moreover, at the 2017 Athens conference, there is an innovation (see pp. 14-21):
In the recent past, ESA committees repeatedly proposed the usual suspects as invited speakers, while other sociologists from some of Europe's regions have not been featured as (semi-)plenary-speakers at ESA meetings. Now, a few semi-plenaries – not all – will be organized via open abstract submission. This process has several advantages: The bottom-up character of ESA conferences is even more pronounced than in the past. The procedure will offer a fair chance to sociologists who are not yet that well known; instead of language, region and institutional reputation, the excellence of the actual paper matters. While our research is often measured, assessed and quantified by new public managers with their complex metrics, at ESA conferences it will still be a group of peers from ESA's Research Networks who will select and honour the best scientific papers.