Sub-theme 62: Political Organizing between In- and Exclusion: Movements, Parties, and Activist Networks ---> MERGED with sub-theme 64


Call for Papers

The general theme of the 37th EGOS Colloquium 2021 invites us to contemplate the meanings, motivations, and mechanisms of diversity and inclusivity in contemporary democratic societies. Knowing that organization always requires some kind of exclusion (Luhmann, 2018), and that the notion of tolerance is inextricably linked to intolerance (Laclau, 1996), the colloquium planners ask us to explore how present-day organizations make room for diversity and difference without undermining their claim to distinctiveness and unity. While all membership associations struggle with this ‘paradox of inclusion and exclusion’ (Solebello et al., 2015), it is particularly pronounced in political organizations that work to advance specific interests in the name of the so-called ‘common good’ (Moufahim et al., 2015).
Political parties and emergent political movements are good examples of such (sometimes partial) organizations because they constantly have to balance the democratic duty to represent the people in toto with a political obligation to push policymaking in one direction at the expense of another (Husted et al., 2019). However, social movements and activist networks may face similar conditions of existence. This has been illustrated, for instance, in scholarly work on so-called ‘prefigurative organizing’ within the Alterglobalization movement (Maeckelbergh, 2009), the Occupy Movement (Reinecke, 2018), and in local alternative groups (Reedy et al., 2016). Other types of organizations, such as think tanks and policy networks, likewise attempt to shape knowledge in such a way that the defense of particular interests will appear more universally legitimate (Plehwe, 2015).
In addition, the contemporary ‘populist moment’ (Mouffe, 2018) seems to invite more radically open projects of political organizing framed in universal terms, as being in the interest of ‘the people’ – typically as opposed to established elites (see De Cleen et al., 2018). These populist modes of organizing have to be inclusive in their efforts to bring together different societal demands in a ‘chain of equivalence’ while being explicitly exclusive when creating a ‘new political frontier’ (Fougère & Barthold, 2020; Laclau, 2005) between the dissatisfied people on one side, and both the elites and the scapegoated ‘other’ on the other side (Moufahim et al., 2015; Moufahim & Chatzidakis, 2012). Thus, populist organizing, whether we like it or not, has the power to affect society’s core inclusions and exclusions in ways that resonate with other processes of organizing while engaging in hegemonic struggles (e.g., De Cock et al., 2018; Fougère & Solitander, 2020).
The aim of this sub-theme is to bring together scholars interested in studying political organizations and modes of organizing. Our ambition with this subtheme is thus to ponder if and how we can learn something about the politics of organization (i.e., the fact that organization involves exclusions) by studying the organization of politics (i.e., the advancement of particular interests), as carried out by different organizations, such as political parties, populist movements, think tanks, policy networks, social movements, and activist networks. Theories of organization can indeed provide valuable insights into the organizational structure and mechanisms of various political organizations and movements, and their functions in democratic systems. We would like to invite conceptual and empirical submissions which would start fruitful conversations and advance our understanding of such processes. We welcome papers that engage the political in a variety of ways, within diverse forms of organizations (with organization being broadly defined to prevent constricting the conversations we seek to start in this sub-theme), and across various national contexts.
Thus, submissions that would address the following questions – or the call in other ways – would be particularly welcome:

  • How are inclusivity and diversity ideals cultivated, articulated, negotiated, and maintained in political organizations?

  • How do political organizations strike a balance between representing universal values and pursuing particular objectives?

  • How do emergent populist movements manage openness to gather different demands in chains of equivalence, and what is the role of explicit exclusions of various groups in articulating these chains of equivalence?

  • How are notions of openness and transparency related to themes of in- and exclusion in political organizations?

  • How are discourses of exclusion morally justified and implemented?

  • How do rhetorics of inclusion cohabit with practices of exclusion in political organizations?

  • How do political organizations recruit members, attract funders and supporters to support their objectives? What marketing and managerial technologies (including structures, practices, processes, and discourses) are deployed to further the organizations’ goals?

  • How might digital technology help political organizations displace or postpone paradoxes of in- and exclusion?

  • Are there significant differences in political organizing and in/exclusion in African, Asian, or Latin American countries? Comparative analyses across national contexts would be welcome.

  • What methodological challenges are associated with studying dynamics of in- and exclusion in political settings?


  • De Cleen, B., Glynos, J., & Mondon, A. (2018): “Critical research on populism: Nine rules of engagement.” Organization, 25 (5), 649–661.
  • De Cock, C., Just, S., & Husted, E. (2018): “What’s he building? Activating the utopian imagination with Trump.” Organization, 25 (5), 671–680.
  • Fougère, M., & Barthold, C. (2020): “Onwards to the new political frontier: Macron’s electoral populism.” Organization, 27 (3), 419–430.
  • Fougère, M., & Solitander, N. (2020): “Dissent in Consensusland: An agonistic problematization of multi-stakeholder governance.” Journal of Business Ethics, 164 (4), 683–699.
  • Husted, E., Moufahim, M., & Fredriksson, M. (2019): Political Parties and Organization Studies. Paper presented at the 11th International Critical Management Conference, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.
  • Laclau, E. (1996): “Deconstruction, pragmatism, hegemony.” In: C. Mouffe (ed.): Deconstruction and Pragmatism. London: Routledge, 47–68.
  • Laclau, E. (2005): On Populist Reason. London: Verso.
  • Luhmann, N. (2018): Organization and Decision. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Maeckelbergh, M. (2009): The Will of the Many: How the Alterglobalization Movement Is Changing the Face of Democracy. London: Pluto Press.
  • Merkel, W., & Kneip, S. (2018): Democracy and Crisis. Challenges in Turbulent Times. Cham: Springer.
  • Moufahim, M., Reedy, P., & Humphreys, M. (2015): “The Vlaams Belang: The rhetoric of organizational identity.” Organization Studies, 36 (1), 91–111.
  • Moufahim, M., & Chatzidakis, A. (2012): “Marketing ‘ethically questionable’ politics: The case of a xenophobic political party.” Consumption, Markets and Culture, 15 (3), 287–305.
  • Mouffe, C. (2018): For a Left Populism. London: Verso.
  • Plehwe, D. (2015): “The politics of policy think tanks: Organizing expertise, legitimacy and counter-expertise in policy networks.” In: F. Fischer, D.Torgerson, A. Durnova & M. Orsini (eds.): Handbook of Critical Policy Studies. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 358–379.
  • Reedy, P., King, D., & Coupland, C. (2016): “Organizing for individuation: Alternative organizing, politics and new identities.” Organization Studies, 37 (11), 1553–1573.
  • Reinecke, J. (2018): “Social movements and prefigurative organizing: Confronting entrenched inequalities in Occupy London.” Organization Studies, 39 (9), 1299–1321.
  • Solebello, N., Tschirhart, M., & Leiter, J. (2016): “The paradox of inclusion and exclusion in membership associations.” Human Relations, 69 (2), 439–460.