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Political Participation and Democracy in CEE

6 April 2024 @ 12:00 - 13:30 CEST


6 April 2024
12:00 - 13:30 CEST


Robinson College, Cambridge

Contribution to BASEES Annual Conference

GRIP is contributing to the The British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES) annual conference 2024 taking place it the Robinson College, Cambridge 5-7 of April.

BASEES is the UK national learned society for the study of Eastern Europe, Russia and the former Soviet Union. The annual conference of BASEES brings together over 400 participants and covers such academic areas as politics, history, anthropology, sociology, geography and economics.

Elina Troscenko (GRIP) is contributing to a panel session at this year’s BASEES conference entitled “Political Participation and Democracy in CEE“ which aims to explore different forms of political participation and mobilization in the wider region of Central and Eastern Europe in the current geopolitical situation.

Political Participation and Democracy in CEE

Political participation by active and engaged society are often seen as the key characteristic of healthy and functioning democracies. Traditionally, political participation has been seen as the engagement with the political parties – voting, running for office, joining political parties -, activities that are seen to ensure representative politics. However, democratic systems have evolved, multiplied and changed. While representative democracy remains the dominant form of governance in Europe, we increasingly see forms of direct engagement of individuals as well as different communities via participatory budgeting platforms, formal and informal social movements, non-governmental organizations, protests or even politicized consumption habits. The question of what constitutes political participation and how it influences the current political landscape, as well as the reciprocal impact of the political landscape on political participation, has sparked a vibrant debate.

Theoretically the impact of political participation is unsettled. Historically, Eastern European studies have analyzed political participation in the context of democratization, linking the passive civic engagement to Soviet legacies. While participation in formal organizations is still largely passive in the Eastern European region, civic apathy is now frequently used to describe political participation also in older democracies. We can see emergence of informal movements indicating change in political engagement across Europe, but is it beneficial to democratic orders? The history or informal movements, such as Solidarnosc, shows us an example that informal societal ties can be mobilized to bring major changes or even overthrow the dominant system. To better understand the effects and causes of political participation, we are interested in looking at the ways in which people participate in politics.

This panel invites interdisciplinary research on the various types of political participation, questioning the forms of it and contemporary relationship with the state in the Central and Eastern European region. Some of the questions we ask, but are not limited to, what forms of political participation can strengthen democratic governance? What kind of everyday political practices people engage in? How the form of government fosters new types of political participation? Should states strive to increase political participation and what are the threats? Can political participation cure the ills of contemporary democracies? Should the passive political participation still be seen in the context of Soviet legacies or it rather represents the issues of the contemporary democracies that reach further out than just the Eastern European region?


The panel session will take place on Saturday 6th of April 11:00 – 12:30 GMT+1 at the Robinson College, Cambridge and will feature contributions from Anete Ušča (European University Institute),  Marnie Howlett (University of Oxford), and Elina Troščenko (GRIP).

For more information about the panel session, please visit the BASEES conference website.

GRIP Secretariat | Faculty of Social Sciences | University of Bergen | PO Box 7802 | 5020 Bergen, Norway
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