Call for Papers: How to Engage (for) Social Change?

This edited volume invites contributions that reflect on the phenomenon of social engagement, aiming to conceptualize this phenomenon and/or apply it in social research. In terms of conceptualizing social engagement, we invite contributors to address a broad range of questions related to the ontological status and conceptual boundaries of “social engagement”, which we believe call for further elaboration: what type of human action does the term social engagement refer to? What are the conceptual links between engagement and intersubjectivity, for example, and that between engagement and commitment? Can engagement be specified as a type of relation to the world characterized by an actor’s commitment to a certain phenomenon – the realization of a certain value or a project – and is it inherently intersubjective, is it always “engaging” the beliefs, intentions or affective states of others, whether they are physically present or not? How is collective engagement possible in light of the irreducible idiosyncrasy of individuals?

A second group of theoretical questions that we are interested in concerns the social philosophy of engagement: what is the relationship between engagement and the broader concepts of value-rational social action and social change; could engagement be theorized along the lines of  the social actors’ reflection on the existing norms and rules of social action? In that sense, where is the proper locus of engagement: can social actors reflect on norms of conduct only as citizens in the public sphere, or could they also be reflexive as bearers of institutionalized social roles (professional or other)? Does engagement need to have a vision: are comprehensive visions of the good society indispensable for normatively oriented social action, or does it suffice to simply focus on concrete societal problems? Are institutions with “built-in” engagement possible: in other words, are institutions necessarily stabilizing complexes of action and reducing the complexity and contingency of social reality, or could they also be experimentalist, i.e. characterized by permanent reflexivity? To what extent does engagement entail violence; which vocabularies of justification and social critique are used to justify the use of violence within processes of inducing and/or preventing social change?

Alongside theoretical investigation, we also wish to examine whether social engagement, as an analytical concept for social research, has any comparative advantage over more established terms in social sciences that are closely related to it, such as social movements, civic activism, new forms of “horizontal” democratic protest, etc.

We invite reflections on the prospects of applying the concept of social engagement in the research of, among else, the following domains of social reality:

What is the role of social theory in articulating new schemes of understanding social reality?

Can social engagement be an analytical tool for conceptualizing and analysing new forms of political action generated “from below”?

Does the conceptual optic of social engagement enhance the research of strategies and practices of representation employed by public intellectuals, writers, artists, politicians, and the media?

What is the heuristic fruitfulness of social engagement in the study of phenomena often considered to be the “private” domain of social life, such as: family life, division of labour in the household, relationships, friendships and marriage practices?


Submission Guidelines

Short abstracts (around 300 words) are due March 5, 2018

Reviews will be communicated by: Mach 15, 2018


Manuscripts with length no more than 7000 words are due: June 30, 2018.

Reviews will be communicated by: August 1, 2018

Please send inquiries, abstracts and manuscripts to editors Marjan Ivković and Srdjan Prodanovic