Category Archives: APSA Annual Meeting

2018 APSA Annual Meeting – Boston

Theme Statement for the 2018 Annual Meeting
Program Chairs:
Henry Farrell, The George Washington University
Anna Grzymala-Busse, Stanford University

Democracy and Its Discontents

The theme for this year’s meeting of the American Political Science Association is Democracy and Its Discontents. These are challenging times for democracy. In many established democracies, the aftermath of the 2008 and the 2011 economic crises is opening up new spaces for new challengers and popular grievances. The complex relationship between national systems of rule and a global economy is leading to greater tensions both within democracies and between them. Existing rules and party systems are under strain as new cleavages emerge, with populism, nativism, and illiberalism all jostling for popular support, as well as new experiments in representation. Developed democratic systems are experiencing greater discontent among voters. Global flows of people, capital, and investment undermine national identities and institutional arrangements. At the same time, there are challenges to the legitimacy of international institutions that are seen as limiting economic and democratic choices.

The United States faces particular questions, as economic inequality, identity politics, and polarization dominate political debates. The presidential victor, for the second time in sixteen years, won office without a majority of the popular vote. Emerging and relatively new democracies too are undergoing upheaval, as some leaders turn away from traditional norms of liberal democracy based on contestation between plural forces towards an illiberal model, in which leaders and ruling party are entitled to reshape domestic rules to their own benefit. Informal norms of democratic behavior, such as opposition rights, accountability, and transparency are being violated across several democracies. Non-democratic countries too are being affected, both because there is no longer much of an expectation that they will become democratic over time, and because their own policies and options are affected by the changes in democratic states elsewhere. All this poses political theoretic questions as well as empirical ones.

The current dilemmas of democracy provoke scholars to work across different sub-disciplines and specializations to understand these changes. For example, how do we understand the impact of international factors such as migration, automation, and changes in economy on domestic political party systems? The recent turn in several countries towards illiberalism is in part a product of parallel evolution under similar pressures, but is also plausibly the consequence of cross-national influence, as actors in one context learn from another. How do security arrangements, predicated on coordination among democratic nations, survive the erosion of liberal norms? What are the consequences of regime shifts for social policy, welfare, courts, or the media?

Taking a page from scholars of competitive authoritarianism and illiberal democracies, can we fruitfully think about recent political developments in the United States as regime backsliding? How are political parties, civil society, and interest groups responding? What is the role of the center-left and the center-right here? Which comparative and historical parallels provide the greatest insights in examining the discontents of democracy? How do informal norms depend on and interact with formal institutions such as courts, parliaments, and central banks?

Equally, understanding the dilemmas of national democracies requires an attention to theoretical issues as well as empirics. Is the legitimacy of democracy in crisis, or is this simply a transitory phase? Which institutional equilibria, regimes, and political configurations are especially likely to be fragile, and which are resilient? How ought we to think about the role of demagogues and anti-liberal rhetoric? Are there other plausible models for institutions of representation and decision making that might lead to better democratic outcomes?

As Chairs for the 2018 Conference, we welcome proposals that address the discontents of democracy from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives. We particularly welcome proposals that work across subfields and approaches to address the new questions that are emerging, and work that looks to bring disciplinary debates and public dialogue into closer alignment with each other.

Call for Nominations for 3 openings on Executive Committee

image from law.typepad.comFrom the Chair:

The Religion and Politics Section of the APSA is pleased to announce a Call for Nominations for candidates to stand in an upcoming election to serve a two-year term on the Executive Committee of the Religion and Politics section. Three vacancies will be filled in this election. Section members who wish to self-nominate as candidates should forward a one-paragraph biography, including their institutional affiliation, to the Section Chair at no later than July 15, 2017.

Nominees who do not self-nominate will be asked by the Chair to consent to having their name on the ballot.

This Call for Nominations will close on July 15, 2017. The election will take place at the Annual Business Meeting held during the APSA Annual Convention in San Francisco on Thursday, August 31 2017, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Facility: Parc 55
Room:  Cyril Magnin III.

Members who are unable to attend the business meeting in person will be able to vote for nominees via an online ballot from 1 August until 5pm on 31 August. Details of the ballot will be announced following the closure of nominations.

I look forward to receiving your nominations.

Thank you,

Erin Wilson
Section Chair, Religion and Politics, APSA

2016 Editorial Report – Section Journal

2016 Editorial Report
APSA Religion & Politics Organized Section Business Meeting
September 1, 2016

Dear Council and Section Members,

Now in our fifth and final(!) year of editorial operation, we are pleased to report on the health of the journal and our management of it. Submissions are up, we are publishing 4 issues a year, authors receive decisions expeditiously, we receive manuscripts from all over the earth, the journal continues to break into new abstracting databases, and we are proud of the quality of research that has appeared in the journal’s pages. Before we proceed to a review of the life of the journal under our watch, we wish to thank the authors for allowing us to consider their work and the generous and thoughtful reviewers of submissions, including our Editorial Board members, some of whom have reviewed multiple times for us. 

Download Full 2016 Editorial Report