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ECPR Joint Sessions 2020 Sciences Po Toulouse

Contested Concepts and their Trajectories

European Politics
Human Rights
Section Number
Section Chair
Anthoula Malkopoulou
Uppsala Universitet
Section Co-Chair
Annelien De Dijn
University of Utrecht

Many of the key concepts used in political science and theory are ‘essentially contested’. They provoke, as Walter Gallie pointed out, endless disputes about their proper uses on the part of their users, and these disputes cannot be settled by appeal to empirical evidence, linguistic usage, or the canons of logic alone.

We propose a series of Panels that use a contextualist approach to tackle a wide range of contested concepts. They involve rethinking, first and foremost, political ideologies such as ‘liberalism’, and critically discussing constitutional principles such as ‘militant democracy’. The second set of panels revisits the fundamental political concepts of ‘the people’ and ‘human rights’, as well as methodological axioms such as ‘deliberation’ and key thinkers like Max Weber, shedding light on neglected or forgotten aspects of their study. The third group of Panels focuses on concepts related to international and EU politics, drawing attention to how these supranational processes are defined by and redefine basic political ideas such as democracy, liberty and representation.

Drawing on a variety of textual and empirical material, Papers in this Section will illustrate that concepts are historically and politically contingent. They can become subjects of public debate and political controversy, just as they can guide (or restrain) political research and inspire scholarly discussion.

Panel List

Code Title Details
P063Conceptual History and World Politics View Panel Details
P089Democracy, Parliament and Representation in 20th Century European Political Thought View Panel Details
P140Exploring the Semantics of Political Representation View Panel Details
P169Histories of the Concept of Human Rights View Panel Details
P210Investigating Instances of Illiberal Norm Diffusion: Actors, Mechanisms and Outcomes I View Panel Details
P211Investigating Instances of Illiberal Norm Diffusion: Actors, Mechanisms and Outcomes II View Panel Details
P325Politics of 'Deliberation' View Panel Details
P327Popular Sovereignty, Democracy and Representation View Panel Details
P363Representation and Participation in a Multilevel EU View Panel Details
P375Rethinking Political Representation in the EU View Panel Details
P398The Concept of 'Militant Democracy' and its Alternatives View Panel Details
P418The People and the Masses in Conceptual History View Panel Details
P467What is Liberalism? View Panel Details
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