External Events | Call for Papers - Social Democracy at the sub-national level

9 November, 2021

Call for Papers:

Sub-national Social Democracy – The centre-left at the regional and local level

Most studies of the mainstream centre-left social democratic and labour parties (e.g. the German SPD, the Spanish PSOE, the Australian Labor Party (ALP)) have focussed on the national level. Many of the landmark studies of social democracy, including writers such as Sheri Berman, Herbert Kitschelt, Donald Sassoon and Gerassimos Moschonas, tend to focus on the history, issues and dilemmas that face the centre-left as a national phenomenon.

Social democracy is often defined by its national settings, for example, the ‘traditional’ model of social democracy is commonly equated with the use of progressive taxation, Keynesian demand management, a strong welfare state, and a strong trade union movement. Social democracy, in most readings, is examined at the level of the national state.

(Image: The Conversation, https://theconversation.com/centre-left-italian-mayors-are-refusing-to-implement-a-government-decree- targeting-migrants-109751)

The aim of this workshop, and related research outputs is to examine more clearly how social democracy and the centre-left operate at the sub-national level, primarily at the regional (or state level), but also locally. At the sub-national level, the centre-left do not have the same or traditional policy levers open to their national counterparts – for example, Australian state governments have far fewer taxation powers than the national government. At the same time, however, devolved or reserved policy areas at the sub-national provide alternative arenas for progressive policy development. So, how do centre-left parties operate at the sub-national level? In the age of the current electoral crisis of the centre-left, can the sub-national variants of social democrats offer insights into how the national centre- left can refurbish and renew? We are seeking articles which address these core questions and can include the following related themes:

  • Social democratic and labour parties (and governments) at the sub-national level.
  • Country-specific cases, e.g. Scottish Labour, German Länder, etc.
  • Cases from across the globe, including the Global South.
  • Social democratic ideology and nationalism/regionalism, etc.
  • The impact of recent ‘trends’ on sub-national parties – for example – the ‘third way’ turn.
  • The impact of neoliberalism/globalisation on sub-national social democratic parties.
  • Comparative studies exploring links between different sub-national cases.
  • Trade unions and sub-national parties and governments.
  • Output-based studies examining the electoral and policy record of sub-national social democratic parties/governments.

We are committed to a broad methodological pluralism, and we will consider articles which reflect and further the study of understanding social democracy and the recent centre-left at the sub-national level. Whilst we will consider historical studies, we are encouraging a relatively contemporary focus on the study of the sub-national centre-left (Roughly from the rise of the neo-liberalism in the 1980s)

Research Outputs

The aim of the wider project will be to produce publishable research outputs. We will pursue an edited collection with a scholarly publisher for selected articles. In addition, we will also aim to pursue a Special Issue of a leading journal which focusses on a range of the specific country comparative cases – likely the Journal of Federal and Regional Studies.

Timing and Process

Please send abstracts of 300 words to both Rob Manwaring by 1 February 2022. Full papers to be presented at an online workshop mid 2022 (likely July 2022). (rob.manwaring@flinders.edu.au)


Rob Manwaring, Flinders University, South Australia rob.manwaring@flinders.edu.au

Geoff Robinson, Deakin University, Victoria geoffrey.robinson@deakin.edu.au

(This is an external workshop organized by APSA members. Any further enquires, please contact the event organizers directly. )

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