Call for Papers: Resilience and Resistance in Illiberal Regimes


Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics (IEEJSP) invites original research papers for its thematic issue on Resilience and Resistance in Illiberal Regimes: Practices Supporting Vulnerable Groups (edited by Zsuzsanna Vidra, CEU Center for Policy Studies and ELTE PPK IIPE and Michael C. Zeller, CEU Center for Policy Studies and Department of Political Science).

Recent years have witnessed a growing number of illiberal regimes around the world. Among other features, such regimes undermine liberal norms that entail equal legal protections of citizens and social groups. Governments and leading political actors in these regimes typically propagate discourses and advance policies that represent extreme narratives and stigmatise or exclude targeted groups, which in turn fosters a radicalising shift in the political mainstream. This special issue is concerned with the sources of resilience and means of resistance that mitigate the impacts and confront illiberal discourse and policy, and instead work toward greater social inclusion of vulnerable groups.

Much of the recent literature on illiberal governments and regimes focuses broadly on analysing the political aspects of these regimes. There have only been a few attempts to explore the ways in which polarisation and mainstreaming of extremism impact vulnerable groups through public discourse and enacted policies; even fewer have examined how the various actors and institutions exhibit resilience and mobilise resistance within predominantly illiberal policy environments. Illiberal political actors commonly rely on a measure of strategic polarisation. By emphasising and exacerbating existing social cleavages, they can sometimes gain or maintain power.

The opposition of ‘us’ and ‘them’ can be vertical, between ‘the elite’ and ‘the people’, or horizontal, between people like ‘us’ and the domestic and foreign ‘outsiders,’ who do not belong to the nation. Roused antagonisms can particularly imperil vulnerable societal groups that become a focus of vilification. As their political values and welfare are framed as contrary to the values and welfare of the general public, vulnerable groups become labelled as enemies or are criminalized; the extremist discourses of illiberal political actors assert that such groups must be excluded from the society/nation for the defence of the dominant groups. This forms the basis of an active political and policy agenda. Yet the polarisation and tactical vilification employed by illiberal actors does not go unchallenged; even where the dominant political climate is hostile there usually endures numerous and variegated actors and institutions which work for greater social inclusion. These are frequently sources of resilience and resistance.

Pre-existing actors and institutions exhibit the attribute of resilience through their ability “to face and respond to adversity, and the capacity to draw on various sources of strength and social resources to adapt and cope with challenges and situations of strain, stress or trauma”. Resilient actors, institutions, groups, and societies are typically the ones that are most capable and quick to mobilise responsive action to the shocks and threats of polarisation and vilification—that is, to organise resistance. From this conception, there are several areas in which resilience and resistance can be examined: discourse, organisations and civil society, law, and communities.

 This thematic issue invites research papers that focus on the context created by illiberal governments or regimes where polarisation, exploitation of social cleavages, or exclusionary ideologies have had substantial influence on policy-making. The papers should address the attributes of resilience and actions of resistance to the impacts of polarising and extremist discourses and policies on vulnerable groups (marginalised ethnic minorities, LGBTQ people, vulnerable women, the homeless, the poor, migrants, etc.). Articles should also explore what factors can be detected behind effective and non-effective resilience mechanisms and strategies. We encourage papers drawing on theorisation of illiberalism, nationalist populism, polarisation, extremism, social inclusion as well as resistance and resilience, and presenting empirical analysis using case studies or comparative studies of different policy fields or vulnerable groups. Studies can also use discourse analysis, ethnographic fieldwork or other qualitative or mixed methods exploring policy making and policy implementation.

We invite scholars to submit an abstract of 300-400 words describing the main question(s) and finding(s) of the paper, together with the applied methodology (if relevant), and a short bio by 22 September, 2020 to the Guest Editors ( and The authors will receive feedback from the editorial team by 6 October, 2020. The deadline for submitting the final papers is 15 February, 2021. The issue is scheduled for publication in Fall 2021.

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Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics (IEEJSP) is a peer-reviewed journal promoting multidisciplinary and comparative thinking on Eastern and Central European societies in a global context. IEEJSP publishes research with international relevance and encourages comparative analysis both within the region and with other parts of the world. Founded by the Centre for Social Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest, IEEJSP provides an international forum for scholars coming from and/or working on the region. The Journal is indexed by CEEOL, ERIH, Google Scholar, and Scopus. It has been ranked Q2 (for 2019) by ScimagoJR.