POSTED: September 6, 2016

Political Prospects of a Sustainability Transformation

ECPR Joint Sessions workshop “Beyond the Environmental State? Exploring the Political Prospects of a Sustainability Transformation”
The closing date for submissions is 1 December 2016.

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We are inviting paper submissions for the workshop “Beyond the Environmental State? Exploring the Political Prospects of a Sustainability Transformation” as part of the ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops, Nottingham, 25-30 April 2017.

The ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops have a unique format, bringing together 15-20 scholars from around the world, from different disciplines and from all career stages for an in-depth workshop of 4-5 intensive days. We aim to compile an edited volume or a special issue at a relevant high-profile journal as an outcome of the workshop.


Amidst the intensifying environmental crises of climate change, resource depletion, and rapid biodiversity loss, it is becoming apparent that modern societies will need to re-orientate themselves towards new forms of sustainable prosperity. Despite considerable progress with reformist approaches to sustainability governance, such as schemes for greening industrial processes, there is a real risk that reforms alone will not be sufficient for long-term sustainability; that a more radical, structural societal transformation will eventually be required. Yet, while the need for another ‘Great Transformation’ is increasingly acknowledged in both academia and public authorities, what has remained questionable is the potential for societies to achieve any such fundamental transformations on the ground. Most industrialised countries have incorporated an environmental management agenda as a core function of their state apparatus, which gave rise to the notion of the ‘environmental state’ as the latest incarnation of the modern capitalist state (Duit et al. 2016; Meadowcroft 2012). However, while the environmental state has succeeded in managing many local environmental problems and health and safety issues, so far it remains incapable of achieving a more profound societal transformation towards sustainability.

This workshop thus poses the question whether there may be a ‘glass ceiling’ in the sense of an invisible, yet structural limit to environmental reform that is constitutive of the contemporary environmental state. The primary aim of the workshop is to conceptually define and explain that glass ceiling and to empirically locate it in instances of environmental policy and politics. The second aim of the workshop is to take the diagnosis of a glass ceiling as a starting point for conceptual and empirical explorations of the possibility of breaking it and of establishing a more transformative, permeable and open model of democracy, which would allow for more comprehensive societal transformations.

The full programme outline can be found on the 1pdfthumbnailECPR website.  Please submit an abstract of maximum 300 words, using the dedicated ECPR platformWe will not be able to approve abstracts submitted directly to us.

The deadline for submissions is Thursday 1 December 2016, midnight UK time.

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