Call for Contributions - Refugee protection and the European civil society Workshop and publication

Call for Contributions

Refugee protection and the European civil society Workshop and publication


Organized by the Hungárián Academy of Sciences, Centre for Social Sciences; Central European University, Centre for Policy Studies and Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology; Ruhr University, Bochum Department of Sociology, with the support of International Sociological Association Research Committee 31 Sociology of Migration

 A scientific workshop will be held in Budapest in early May 2017 with the aim of publishing an edited volume. The workshop is a follow-up event to a panel "The Mediterranean Refugee Disaster and the EU" at the 3rd Conference of International Sociological Association, 13 July 2016, Vienna.


Submitting chapter proposals (800-1000 words) by 30 January 2017 Submitting draft chapters by 1 May 2017. Participation at the workshop is solicited only with draft chapters (min. 5000 words).

Submitting final chapters by 30 September 2017 Submitting the book manuscript to the selected publisher by 30 December 2017

Chapter proposals and other correspondence please send to the following




Current forms of transnational forced migration have considerably shaped societies along migration routes. Media and state reactions, as well as the increased hostility and xenophobia among segments of the population, have received wide scholarly attention. Much less is known about phenomena related to refugee protection in the sense of assistance, care and solidarity towards forced migrants, immediate aid at transit and reception points (including food, housing, health services and legal assistance) as well as support for migrants' later incorporation in host societies, which have all become major terrains of civic engagement in Europe.

Different forms of institutional, collective or individual acts of refugee protection, their relation towards forced migrants themselves and their influence on larger social and political processes, have only recently become a focus of analysis. Most refugee related research in social sciences in Europe is focused on the political system of (lack of) refugee protection. Many studies relate to the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and the unwillingness or incapacity of EU member states to agree on sharing responsibility in refugee protection. In this context, refugee-related informal and organisational networks of civil society activities attempt to fill the gap that exists between formal declarations of refugee protection (like the CEAS) and the actual national and European polities and policies.

In some countries, including postcolonial societies such as Francé and the UK, or countries such as Spain and Italy which have more recently become destination countries for refugees and migrants, there already exists a trajectory of organisations and networks related to refugee protection. In other countries, a significant part of such refugee related organisational and informal networks have recently been initiated by 'newcomers' to the field. These tend to be less professional humanitarian or human-rights organisations and, rather, informal groups of volunteers. We aim to understand the causes and circumstances of the emergence of such refugee related networks and corresponding mobilisations, including norms and values, concepts, and identities of individual and collective actors. We thus invite empirical research analysing individual, collective and institutional forms of refugee protection, particularly practices of humanitarianism and solidarity towards forced migrants. The meso-level of analysis, the role of institutions and -organisational as well as individual- networks both of civil society and of forced migrants themselves is less elaborated, but obviously crucial for understanding the actual effects of transnational forced migration and refugee protection in Europe. Such networks have been effective in many EU member states for decades, principally in the countries on the frontline of refugee arrivals, such as Greece, Italy and Spain, but they have also developed more recently in countries such as Germany and to some extent in countries like Hungary. Yet this level of organisation and their networks are less studied. Institutions and structures developed to coordinate volunteers' activities and which integrate public, corporate and civic actors are also in the focus of our interest.

Scientific knowledge concerned with experiences of migration and attempts at establishing one's life in a new society has been developed most thoroughly in old immigration countries, where mobility trajectories were often affected by larger dynamics including post-colonial relations and the importation of migrant labour for industrial purposes in the post-war era. The specific historical context and economic relations within which these earlier migrations occurred lead us to question the extent to which existing knowledge can be applied to understanding current mobilities and integration processes, as well as the responses they triggered within new host societies. This also encourages us to explore the way representations of migrants and migration evolve across time and space, and how symbolic boundaries dividing the deserving and undeserving, thus allowing for the support of certain categories while excluding others, lie at the core of such transformations. It also requires paying attention to the appearance of new institutions and political and civic activities constituted and led by diasporas and refugees themselves, which have participated in overwriting the perception of migrants as victims.

Investigating the historical development of the relationship between different actors in solidarity movements and care relationships would deepen our understanding of public policies as well as public opinion and civil society responses to the so-called refugee challenge. These categorisations, ideologies and discourses frequently intersect with notions, concepts and discourses around other marginalised groups. Changes in ideologies of support and solidarity towards migrants thus may be intimately tied to transformative mobilisations, political struggles and social movements in other fields, such as minority protection and empowerment, the support of homeless individuals and other vulnerable people including precarious workers and so on. As such, we also invite research on transformations of moral economies of care and solidarity towards migrants/refugees, their interconnections with the working of care, solidarity and public engagement on a more general level aswell as research that explores the common positionality of migrants and other marginalised groups before political, economic and social power, and how these impact on politics of solidarity and care.

In this context, the workshop will focus on the following questions:

•             What are the forms of actual civil society based refugee protection in different EU member states and how do these operate under different economic, political and historic contexts?

•             How are networks of individual, collective and corporate actors focused on refugee protection organised at transnational, national and local level?

•             What is the relation of civil society based refugee protection to debates and policies on migrant integration?

•             At the individual level, who is active in refugee protection? What are the structural conditions of taking part - either symbolically or practically -, and which norms and values motivate people to be active in some way?

•             How do previous experiences of migration and civil mobilisation in support of migrants influence and shape current organisations and networks?

•             How are public discourses and ideologies of refugee protection (or rejection) related to general cognitive maps and discourses of migration (e.g. to categories of mobility, and more specifically, to distinctions between deserving and undeserving migrants)?

•             To what extent may these actions, practices and interactions be understood as political struggles and social movements? How are these related to collective actions of other marginalised groups? What are the political subjectivities produced by engaging in such activities?

•             What is the impact of these local, national and European refugee related networks on European policy, agenda setting and decision making?

Related to these topics and questions, the workshop aims at

(1)          presenting and exchanging empirical research and conceptual-theoretical papers,

(2)          thinking of and defining landmarks of a European research agenda on the topics,

(3)          gathering, if possible, high quality papers to be published as a book or special issue.


Event convenors:

Ludger Pries (Bochum University); Margit Feischmidt, Ildikó Zakariás (Hungarian Academy of Sciences); Celine Cantat, Prem Kumar Rajaram, Violetta Zentai (CEU)