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The concept of the State-society relationship in comparative perspective

La notion de relation État-société dans une perspective comparative

Doctoral Workshop

Atelier doctoral

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Published on Wednesday, November 08, 2017 by Elsa Zotian

Summary

The goal of this workshop is to bring together doctoral students at any stage in their research project (those in early stages are expressly encouraged to participate) to explore the state-society distinction/relationship as a theoretical or heuristic framework for their research. The aim is to “pool resources” in order to aid reflection on this concept and its application in research across national/linguistic and disciplinary boundaries and to increase awareness of debates and problematizations (and resources) outside of participants’ “home” culture.

Announcement

Argument

The distinction between state and society has influenced Western European thought since the 18th century, when it began to crystallize in the context of the rise of the modern nation-state. In the 18th and 19th centuries the state-society relationship was commonly articulated in terms of autonomy and emancipation, tending towards interpretations of the relationship as dichotomous or even antagonistic. This emphasis led to the eclipse of the concept from about the middle of the 19th century (being considered, against the background of the “social question” for instance, as no longer adequate to “think” the increasingly complex interpenetration of state and society), but perhaps also contributed to its rediscovery as of the 1980s, particularly in the context of struggles with totalitarian regimes. Although the dichotomous, even antagonistic understanding of the state-society relationship that was revived in view of these struggles led to renewed critique of the concept, this did not this time lead to its abandonment. Rather, an increasing body of academic literature internationally has explored, modified, and attempted to apply (usually in research on “civil society”) a notion that, however it is defined, is now widely agreed to be foundational to the democratic order (Keane 1988/2010). This new association in political theory of the state-society relationship with liberal democracy, with its role in balancing the claims of pluralism (e.g., freedom and autonomy in forming individual and group identities) and citizenship (e.g., the norms of “civility”), has undeniably normative implications (cf. Rosenblum/Post 2002; Chambers/Kopstein 2009). Nevertheless, that has not prevented the use of this concept as a theoretical or heuristic framework in academic research, not only in the political and social sciences but also as an “ideal-type” (highly debated and even contested) for the analysis and interpretation of historical developments, social structures and institutions (cf. Kocka 2000; Gosewinkel 2011).

For those interested in a comparative perspective, understanding and applying this framework becomes only more complex as they struggle to orientate themselves within the academic discussion in other cultural/linguistic contexts. In other academic cultures the discussion may be confined to other disciplines (or seemingly absent altogether), or different categorizations and terminology may be used. Different problems and critiques may be formulated, or indeed similar ones using different language or different angles of approach. This is complicated by the fact that much of recent discourse on the concept has been mediated through the English concept of “civil society”. On the other hand, the conceptual history of the state-society relationship is marked by both convergences and divergences among “national” traditions in Western Europe.

The goal of this workshop is to bring together doctoral students at any stage in their research project (those in early stages are expressly encouraged to participate) to explore the state-society distinction/relationship as a theoretical or heuristic framework for their research. The aim is to “pool resources” in order to aid reflection on this concept and its application in research across national/linguistic and disciplinary boundaries and to increase awareness of debates and problematizations (and resources) outside of participants’ “home” culture. This will be done, not in abstract, but through participants’ reflections on the state-society relationship in relation to their own concrete research projects. How can this notion provide a framework (or why is it not usable) for analysis and interpretation of their material? Which conceptual or practical problems are they facing in the operationalization of this concept?

The workshop will be based on 20-min. papers or presentations followed by roundtable discussions. We will be accompanied in our explorations by Sylvie Le Grand Ticchi, lecturer (MCF-HDR) at the University of Paris Nanterre and a member of the Centre for German Studies and Research (CEREG) at the Sorbonne Nouvelle and Paris Nanterre. She has published diverse studies on state, society and religion in comparative perspective, e.g., in regard to constitutional issues (including a study of E.-W. Böckenförde), education, and political resistance (in former East Germany). We hope to be joined in addition by one or two other experienced researchers.

Proposals from all disciplines and fields of study are welcome; comparative perspectives are especially welcome but not a requirement. Research projects can include both historical and contemporary topics and need not be limited to Europe or defined by the nation-state.

Submission guidelines

Please send your proposal for a 20 min. paper or presentation as a PDF or Word document to Lise van der Eyk (inger-lise.vandereyk@etud.sorbonne-nouvelle.fr)

by 4 Dec 2017

The document should include the title of your presentation, an abstract of max. 300 words, and your full name and institutional affiliation.

Proposals may be submitted in French or English.

You will receive a response within approx. one week after the deadline to facilitate early booking of travel and accommodation. Funding is being sought in order to assist in covering traveling expenses for those unable to benefit from a reimbursement through their home institution, but cannot be guaranteed at this point.

Coordinator

  • Lise van der Eyk

Selected Sources

The sources listed below are a few relatively easily accessible entry points into the discussion in different academic contexts; they can be consulted for more extensive bibliographies or for examples of research applications. PLEASE NOTE: The choice of sources below should not be considered as limiting the scope of the discussion!!!

  • Biziou, Michaël (2004). “De la société civile à la société civile mondiale.” Cités 2004/1 (no. 17): 13-23. DOI 10.3917/cite.017.0013.
  • Böckenförde, Ernst-Wolfgang (1992). “Die Bedeutung der Unterscheidung von Staat und Gesellschaft im demokratischen Sozialstaat der Gegenwart.” In Recht, Staat, Freiheit: Studien zur Rechtsphilosophie, Staatstheorie und Verfassungsgeschichte. 2nd ed., 209–43. Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp.
  • Chambers, Simone and Jeffrey Kopstein (2009). “Civil Society and the State.” In Oxford Handbook of Political Theory. Edited by Anne Phillips, Bonnie Honig and John S. Dryzek, 363–81. Available online: http://individual.utoronto.ca/kopstein/publications/civil_society_and_the_state.pdf (accessed 14/10/2017).
  • Colliot-Thélène, Catherine (1996). “Etat et société civile.” In Dictionnaire de philosophie politique. Edited by Philippe Raynaud and Stéphane Rials, 225–30. Paris: PUF.
  • DeLue, Steven M. (2015). “Civil Society.” In Encyclopedia of Political Thought, Vol. 2. Edited by Michael T. Gibbons et al., 531–42. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.
  • Ferry, Luc (1999). “L’émergence du couple Etat/société.” In Histoire de la philosophie politique. Tôme IV: Les critiques de la modernité politique. Edited by Alain Renaut,37–51. Paris: Calmann-Lévy.
  • Gosewinkel, Dieter (2011). “Civil Society.” In European History Online (EGO). Available online: http://www.ieg-ego.eu/gosewinkeld-2010-en (accessed 21/10/2017).
  • Keane, John (2010). “Civil Society, Definitions and Approaches.” In International Encyclopedia of Civil Society. Edited by Helmut K. Anheier, Stefan Toepler and Regina List. Available online: http://www.johnkeane.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/jk_civil_sciety_definitions_encyclopedia.pdf (accessed 21/10/2017).
  • Keane, John (1988). “Despotism and Democracy: The Origins and Development of the Distinction Between Civil Society and the State 1750-1850.” In Civil Society and the State: New European Perspectives. Edited by John Keane, 35–71. London, New York: Verso.
  • Kocka, Jürgen (2000). “Zivilgesellschaft als historisches Problem und Versprechen.” In Europäische Zivilgesellschaft in Ost und West: Begriff, Geschichte, Chancen. Edited by Manfred Hildermeier, Jürgen Kocka and Christoph Conrad, 13–40. Frankfurt/New York: Campus.
  • Rangeon, François (1986). “Société civile : histoire d'un mot.” In La société civile. By Jacques Chevallier et al., 9—32. Paris: PUF. Available online: http://www.u-picardie.fr/curapp-revues/root/19/rangeon.pdf (accessed 21/10/2017).
  • Rosenblum, Nancy L. and Robert C. Post, eds (2002). Civil Society and Government. Princeton: Princeton University Press. [collection of essays discussing the state-society relationship as viewed through the lens of different political theories: classical liberalism, liberal-egalitarianism, critical theory, feminism, natural law, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islam, Confucian]

Places

  • Université Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris 3, Institut du Monde Anglophone - 5 rue de l'Ecole de médecine
    Paris, France (75006)

Date(s)

  • Monday, December 04, 2017

Keywords

  • state, society, pluralism, citizenship, civil society, government, état, société, pluralisme, citoyenneté, société civile, gouvernement

Contact(s)

  • Lise Van der Eyk
    courriel : inger-lise [dot] vandereyk [at] etud [dot] sorbonne-nouvelle [dot] fr

Information source

  • Lise Van der Eyk
    courriel : inger-lise [dot] vandereyk [at] etud [dot] sorbonne-nouvelle [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« The concept of the State-society relationship in comparative perspective », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, November 08, 2017, https://calenda.org/421914

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