HomeThe social logic of the selection of personal policy in Central and Eastern Europe and their historical transformations

HomeThe social logic of the selection of personal policy in Central and Eastern Europe and their historical transformations

The social logic of the selection of personal policy in Central and Eastern Europe and their historical transformations

Les logiques sociales de sélection du personnel politique en Europe centrale et orientale et leurs transformations historiques

Theme section no. 45 of the Association française de science politique

Section thématique n°45 de l'Association française de science politique

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Published on Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Dans le cadre du 13e congrès de l'Association française de science politique qui se tiendra du 22 au 24 juin 2015 à Aix-en-Provence, cette section thématique se donne pour objectif d'interroger les logiques sociales du recrutement politique en Europe Centrale et Orientale  et d'instaurer les conditions d'un dialogue entre les sociologies des élites « occidentales » et « est-européennes ».



The identification of mechanisms underlying the recruitment of political leaders is one of the oldest concerns of political science. Already in the early 20th century, authors who are now regarded as classics intended to highlight the changes in the patterns of political recruitment which had been brought about by the advent of representative democracy in Western Europe (e.g. W.Pareto, M.Weber or G. Mosca). Building on these seminal works, an impressive amount of research has since been devoted to identifying factors that account for the selection of politicians and their accession to positions of political power. This rich literature has clearly pointed out that political offices have tendency to concentrate in the hands of a group of "specialists" with relatively homogeneous social characteristics. It has also provided fruitful insights into the process of professionalisation of politics and its variations among political parties, states but also regimes. Indeed, although most studies have focused on Western European and North American democracies, some authors have tried to assess in a comparative perspective the bases of political recruitment in different political and geographical contexts, including Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC).

Barrington Moore's article on the profile of the senior leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union publishedin 1944 in the American Sociological Review can be regarded as one of the first key contributions to the structuration of a subfield of studies on Central and Eastern European political leaders. During the cold war, this subfield would prove to be one of the most prolific and stimulating of Sovietology. Far from having disappeared with the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, political elite studies have continued to grow as an extremely dynamic subfield in the literature on politics in CEEC. Most observers have indeed agreed to point out the central role played by elite in determining trajectories of democratic transition and consolidation after regime change. The attention of scholars has been mainly drawn to three interrelated processes: the rise and assertion of a new "democratic" political elite, the professionalisation of post-communist politicians and the adaptation of former communist leaders to the new political and economic situation.

While focusing on the building of a post-authoritarian « consensual elite », authors have yet tended to neglect other issues related to political elite selection and formation in CEEC. Thus, up to now, the social base of post-communist political recruitment has been only rarely studied by scholars. To what extent has democratization altered the social profile of politicians ? Is there a social gap - or a gender gap - between elected officials and their voters ? What characteristics and social resources are the most needed to pursue a successful political career in nowadays CEEC ? How do post-communist political fields interact with "adventitious fields", that can be defined drawing on Offerlé as social spaces that are gathering all the persons who do not directly intervene in the [political] field's affairs but are yet essential to its functioning ( e.g. journalists, intellectuals, judges or bureaucratic officials...) ?

These are the main questions that will be discussed in this section. More specifically, attention will be paid to the following themes :

The social mechanisms underlying the selection of elected officials in post-communist CEEC

Do the political recruitment processes tend to favour some social resources and backgrounds over others, just like they do in most Western democracies ? What are the most commonly shared features among elected officials ? Are there notable differences in the social profile of politicians across countries, parties or levels of government (local, national, European) ? Have there been any attempts to ensure a better social representativeness of elected bodies since regime change ?

Continuities and changes in political recruitment patterns in CEEC

Is there a certain continuity in the social bases of political recruitment in CEEC across decades and regimes (including those of the interwar period) ? To what extent has the profile of politicians transformed since the fall of communism ? To what extent - and on what conditions - having been involved in politics under Communist rule can be an asset in post-communist politics ? What has been the impact of EU adhesion on political recruitment at national level ?

The influence of "adventitious fields" in defining the patterns of political recruitment and legitimation in CEEC

To what extent have "non-political" actors (e.g. high-ranking civil servants, intellectuals, academics, journalists, judges...) contributed to the structuration of post-communist political fields and to the definition of new criteria of political competence ? What was the impact on the patterns of political recruitment of the huge changes experienced by "adventitious fields" since regime change (e.g. administrative reforms, lustration, abolition of censorship, privatisation of media...) ?

Guidelines submission

The section invites papers dealing with one or several of the above mentioned issues. We encourage contributions building on extensive empirical studies, but will also consider theoretical contributions. Cross national comparative approaches and pluridisciplinary perspectives are very welcome.

The deadline for the submission of proposals is 15 October 2014.

The symposium will take place in Aix-en-Provence, 22-24 June 2014

The maximum length of the proposals is 2 pages. Please send your proposals to: valentin.behr@gmail.com & cedric.pellen@yahoo.fr

N.B.: The working language of the Congrès de l’Association française de science politique is French. Papers and presentations in English will be very welcomed. Nonetheless, participants are required to be able to follow the discussion in French. 


  • Aix-en-Provence, France (13)


  • Monday, June 22, 2015
  • Tuesday, June 23, 2015
  • Wednesday, June 24, 2015


  • sélection, personnel politique, légitimation, élite


  • Valentin Behr
    courriel : Valentin [dot] Behr [at] ulb [dot] ac [dot] be
  • Cédric Pellen
    courriel : cedric [dot] pellen [at] yahoo [dot] fr

Information source

  • Cédric Pellen
    courriel : cedric [dot] pellen [at] yahoo [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The social logic of the selection of personal policy in Central and Eastern Europe and their historical transformations », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, September 23, 2014, https://doi.org/10.58079/qts

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