ACT.WB Jean Monnet Network Final Conference

Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade

16-18 May 2022



Giovanni Allegreti, Centre for Social Studies, Coimbra University

Roger Berkowitz, Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities, Bard College

Thamy Pogrebinschi, WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Florian Bieber, Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz

Stefania Ravazzi, Department of Cultures, Politics and Society, University of Turin

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


A worrying trend of autocratization that has been spreading globally in recent years brought forward the newest wave of appeals for participatory and deliberative democracy as a remedy for the crisis. Besides, challenging the liberal conception of democracy from the perspective of participation beyond voting has become the backbone of the rising tension between traditional liberal understanding of democracy and the wave of more participatory and deliberative democratic thinking.

On the one hand, social movements continue to engage in participatory democratic innovations in their internal organization, and they spread these ideas within institutions. As self-reflexive actors, they experiment with new ideas of democracy that can become the basis for proposed changes in democratic governance, especially relevant in autocratized societies. They not only transform states through struggles for policy change, but also express a fundamental critique of conventional politics.

On the other hand, the growing lack of interest of the European societies’ citizens in participating in political life through traditional instruments of representative democracy has caused a renewed concern of the EU and its member states for the promotion and encouragement of active citizenship. This has resulted in a process of democratic engineering inspired by the principles of the participatory and deliberative conceptions of democracy. Democratic experimentation along these lines, which can be observed in many EU countries, gave rise to the promotion and institutionalization of democratic innovations (public debates, neighborhood councils, citizens’ juries, participatory budgets, etc.). We are currently also witnesses of the EU institutions’ initiative to “reinvigorate democracy” at the EU level through participatory innovations organized within The Conference on the Future of Europe, launched in 2021 in Strasbourg.

The pace and scope of these developments call for a deeper understanding of internal dynamics of both, bottom up and top down democratic experimentation, their social and political impact, both as single case studies, and as parts of a greater cycle of social movement mobilizations and institutional experimentation in the WB region and in Europe.

Against this background, this Conference aims to strengthen a dialogue between conceptual perspectives, approaches and fields around deliberative and participatory forms of democratic innovations. Theoretical proposals based on empirical cases and/or reflections, as well case studies are welcome, especially focusing on:

  • deliberative and participatory innovations promoted by political institutions, organized civil society, social movements and academia (real-world and social science experiments).
  • conditions that influence if deliberative and participatory innovations are adopted, the forms they take, the quality of the process, the eventual impact on political decisions and broader political system/culture.
  • understanding if and how participatory and deliberative experiments can help revitalize democracy in times of crises


The Conference will be organised in-person with papers selected by the Conference Program Board. Depending on the epidemiologic circumstances, the conference may switch to hybrid format.

The official language of the conference is English.

We welcome applications from Ph.D. candidates and early-career researchers, and established scholars in the field. Alongside the quality of proposals and their fit with the conference topic, we will strive to achieve a balance along geographical, gender and academic age lines for the final group of selected participants. The conference is intended to take place face to face. Depending on the COVID-19 regulations, we may host it in a hybrid or completely on-line format. Depending on the homogeneity of the papers, an edited book for Routledge may be feasible.



There will be no registration fees. Conference organisers will provide lunch and refreshments during the conference program. Participants are kindly requested to make their own accommodation and travel arrangements. Exceptionally, participants from disadvantaged backgrounds can apply for subsidies by sending their letter of justification together with the abstract.

Application procedure

Application should be submitted until 4 March 2022 to email Early applications are strongly encouraged, while submissions after the deadline will not be considered.

Application must contain:

  • The Paper title (no more than 20 words)
  • The abstract (no more than 500 words)
  • 3–8 keywords indicating the Paper’s subject, theme and scope. We use these keywords to categorise Papers.
  • Names, current position, affiliation, institutional and email address of Authors and Co-author’s

The Program Committee of the conference will select the presenters based on the submitted abstracts by 15 March 2022. The book of abstracts will be published. and you will be notified of the board decision

Draft papers (3000-4000 words) are to be submitted until the end of April 2022.

Presentations should not exceed 20 minutes.

Conference Program Board

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

Thamy Pogrebinschi, WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Roger Berkowitz, Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities, Bard College

Florian Bieber, Center for South East Europe, University of Graz

Stefania Ravazzi, University of Turin

Nenad Markovikj, the Law Faculty “Justinian I”, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje

Valida Repovac Nikšić, the Faculty of Political Science, University of Sarajevo

Marko Savković, the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence

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

Čedomir Markov, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade


Organization of the conference

The conference is organized by the Laboratory for Active Citizenship of the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory in Belgrade. The conference is organized in the framework of the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Network project „Active Citizenship in the Western Balkans Promoting and Advancing Innovative Democratic Practices in the Western Balkans“. The project aims at building a consortium of higher education institutions, civil society organizations and research institutions with the purpose of exploring the potentials of innovative democratic practices to democratize the Western Balkans societies while bridging a divide between the scholarship on grassroots democratic initiatives (in WBs) and on institutionalized democratic innovations practiced in many EU countries.

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