19-21 April, 2018

CfP “Engagement for Social Change: Moving beyond Resistance”

6th International Conference
of the Group for Social Engagement Studies
Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University in Belgrade

Engagement for Social Change: Moving beyond Resistance

Belgrade, 19-21 April 2018



Guest lecturers:

Donatella della Porta, Scuola normale superiore, Florence

Ugo Mattei, University of Turin

Stef Jansen, University of Manchester

Hans-Jörg Trenz, University of Copenhagen


Political, economic, ecological and social crises pose persistent challenges to crisis of democracy. As citizens experience a decline of trust in traditional instruments of representative democracy, alternative forms of engagement emerge to foster civic participation in the public sphere. A wide variety of social movements, groups and actions ranging from local to global, are spread around similar concerns and, ultimately, aim at solving common problems thus forcing policy makers to be more accountable to society at large.

Examples of social engagement that have played – and still play – important roles in shaping modern societies are the Labor Movement, the Women’s Movement, the Environmental Movement and the Peace Movement. Since the turn of the millennium, they have become dispersed in different contexts, like the Global Justice Movement, the Arab Spring, the Indignados and Occupy Movements, investing significant effort to influence social developments. Simultaneously, new nationalist, neo-fascist and radicalized religious movements have appeared. These movements reveal substantial social frictions and fissures in articulating discontent in daily life and giving it political expression. They figure as important actors in the development of various (anti)democratic practices. Furthermore, practices have been changed, as social media demand a novel approach to the relation between engagement and social change. There is an urgent need to rethink these forms of engagement, action, and groups that could challenge and change the existing social order in the global world today.

This conference will be concerned with different forms of social engagement, focusing particularly on a variety of contexts, be it local, national and transnational. It aims to bring together leading academics, researchers but also practitioners to discuss the most recent developments, trends and concerns, as well as practical challenges, in engaging for social change. The overall ambition of this event is to present both empirical studies and theoretical developments that could contribute to the ongoing discussion of new forms of social engagement/“new” movements, as one of the pillars of social engagement studies.

Key issues we would like addressed during this event are:

  • What new forms of social engagement have appeared in the last two decades?
  • Which forms of resistance have taken place and how do they interweave different voices, groups and communities?
  • Who are the new protagonists arising from social movements, actions and groups?
  • What are the new narratives advocating for social change; how new forms of engagement relate to such issues as rights, inequality, space, citizenship, activism, resistance and aesthetics?
  • What forms of engagement through the arts and literature do we witness today?

The organizers will aim to accommodate submissions by assigning accepted papers to thematic sessions such as:

Thinking engagement for social change: pro et contra

Social movements and the questions of rights and equality in the neoliberal world

Engagement and development of new practices of democracy

New forms of social engagement under authoritarian regimes

(Re)New(ed) anti-fascist movements and resistance against them

Art and literature as strategies of non-violence

Conflicted relations within social movements: moving toward social change

Beyond the academy/activism divide in social movements

Activist theory and practice

Social media, digital technologies and social engagement


Organization of the conference

The conference is organized by the Group for Social Engagement Studies, part of the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory in Belgrade in cooperation with the Center for Advanced Studies – South East Europe, University of Rijeka.


Technical information and application procedure

The official language of the conference is English.

Presentations should not exceed 20 minutes.

The Program Committee of the conference will select the presenters based on the submitted abstracts. A book of abstracts will be published. Conference applications should be sent only via e-mail to the following address: ifdt.events@instifdt.bg.ac.rs.

We kindly ask you to put the following title in your email subject: ‘Name: title of the paper’. The complete application should be submitted in.doc or .docx format, and must contain: the title of the presentation, an abstract of up to 200 words and a short biography in English.

There is no registration fee. The conference organizers will provide refreshments during the conference program. Participants are kindly requested to make their own accommodation and travel arrangements.


Important dates

Application deadline: 31 December 2017

Notification of acceptance: 31 January 2018

Conference dates: 19-21 April 2018


Program Committee

Danijela Dolenec, Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Zagreb

Ágnes Gagyi, ELTE Institute for Art Theory and Media Studies, Budapest

Sanja Bojanić, Center for Advanced Studies South-East Europe, University of Rijeka

Stef Jansen, University of Manchester

Vedran Džihić, OIIP – Austrian Institute for International Affairs/ University of Vienna

Chiara Milan, Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Scuola Normale Superiore Florence

Đurđa Trajković, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade

Irena Fiket, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade

Gazela Pudar Draško, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade


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