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Conference: 12th Aleksanteri COnference, Competition and Good Society - the Eastern Model, Helsinki, 24-26 October 2012‏

12th ALEKSANTERI CONFERENCE: Competition and Good Society - the Eastern Model

24th-26th October 2012, Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland

The link between competition and good society has seldom been extensively discussed on
any international academic forum. Since the 1980s there has been vivid political
discussion of and rivalry among the varieties of capitalist models. The ongoing Western
economic crisis with political decision-makers' discord, a growing sense of social
insecurity and global demonstrations all point out how cutting-edge this topic is. Hence,
we aim to discuss competition and competitiveness not primarily in the economic context
but, more importantly, in reflection to societal life. We are interested in what kind of
preconditions competition creates for welfare, social justice, equality and culture, in
addition to how competition affects changes on the level of mentality and ideas -
subjects that have been greatly neglected.

The purpose of the 12th Aleksanteri Conference is to generate academic research and
discourse on this subject. The focus of the conference is on the Eastern angle. Its aim
is to discuss how people in Eastern and Central Europe, Russia, and even further in the
East in Central Asia and China understand the preconditions of a good society and what
role competition plays in it as well as how competition is reflected in the semantic
systems and the cultural structures of these countries. Especially the area that faced
the enormous task of building a new social system after the collapse of socialism had to
redefine its relation to market forces, competitiveness and social well-being. What are
the experiences of this societal development after twenty years? Are the Eastern models
divergent or convergent with the varieties of Western capitalism? What are the norms,
limitations and practices of competition in the diverse Eastern models? How has the
understanding of competition changed after the Second World War? Can we find continuities
of ideas, practices or mentalities rooted in the communist past and Cold War period that
still affect these issues?

We call for contributions from a wide range of disciplines in social sciences and
humanities since the aim is a fruitful interdisciplinary discourse. The conference
organisers welcome presentations particularly on the following topics:

- Competition as individual performance, rivalry, struggle or fulfillment
- The merging of individual and social purposes of competition
- Competition as a channel and overarching bond between the individual and community
- The social appeal of competition: the attraction of Olympic games, beauty contests,
song and choir contests, quizzes, survival competitions, chef contests, etc.

- Influence of historical background and cultural traditions on contemporary
competitiveness and the understanding of social welfare
- Traces of the Cold War and state socialism
- New forms of competition and new interpretations of social well-being
- Impact of competitive practices on change in the political sphere, working sphere,
education and gender relations

- Regional, national and international differences and similarities: the notion of
competition and the needs of society
- Transnational, supranational and non-national aspects
- Comparisons of Eastern and Western models

- Spread of competition in societal life
- Interaction of the political and economic spheres: integration, intervention, influence
- Egalité, fraternité, liberté! Democracy and civil society from the point of view of
- Role of the media
- Individual manoeuvring space and social boundaries
- Intersectional approaches: gender, class, ethnicity
- Gendered competition
- Competition and corruption: trust and the idea of the constitutional state

- Competition, entrepreneurship, innovations
- Competing ideas: theories of individualism and communality
- New resistance and global phenomena
- Ideology of growth and sustainable development in connection with competition


Ivan Berend
Ivan Berend is Distinguish Professor of the University of California, Los Angeles, member
of the British Academy, the Academia Europea, and four other European Academies of
Sciences. He is author of 29 books on economic history; the most recent ones being
"Europe Since 1980" (2010), "Industrialization and Diversity. A Regional Economic History
of 19th Century Europe" (forthcoming in 2012) and he is currently working on "Out of the
Blue? The 2008-12 European Economic Crisis."

Vladimir Gel'man
Vladimir Gel'man is Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the European
University in St. Petersburg, visiting Professor at the Central European University in
Budapest, the University of Texas in Austin and the Center for Modernization Studies at
the Aleksanteri Institute, Helsinki. He is member of the editorial board of journals
Polis, European Political Science and International Journal of Urban and Regional
Research. He has published 17 books and over 120 articles on Russian and Post-Soviet
politics and comparative politology.

Andrea Petö
Andrea Petö is Associate Professor at the Department of Gender Studies at the Central
European University in Budapest, the President of the gender and women's history section
of the Hungarian Historical Association, the Feminist Section of the Hungarian
Sociological Association and co-President of AtGender, The European Association for
Gender Research, Education and Documentation. Petö is author of several books and
articles on European comparative social and gender history.

Colin Sparks
Colin Sparks is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Westminster (UK) and
Director of Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI). He was one of the
founders of Media, Culture and Society, and was a founder of the European Institute for
Communication and Culture. His current research interests include the comparative study
of media systems undergoing rapid change. He is particularly interested in comparing the
media systems of post-communist countries with those of other societies that have moved
away from different forms of dictatorship towards more democratic forms of political rule.

Iván Szelényi
Iván Szelényi is William Garam Sumner Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Political
Science, Yale University, Max Weber Professor of Social Science and Foundation Dean of
Social Sciences at NYUAD. He is a Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well
as member of the Hungarian National Academy of Sciences. Szelenyi has published several
books and articles on social inequalities from a comparative and historical perspective
in Communist and Post-Communist countries.


Proposals for panels (500 words): April 30th, 2012
Abstracts for individual papers (300 words): April 30th, 2012
Notification of acceptance: May 31st, 2012
Publication of the conference programme: June 30th, 2012
Conference: October 24-26th, 2012

Please submit your abstract and contact information through the abstract submission form:

or panel proposal submission form: .

For further assistance or more details, please see the conference website

or contact the Conference Coordinators at<> .

The Aleksanteri Conference is an annual, multidisciplinary, international conference
organised by the Aleksanteri Institute, the Finnish Centre for Russian and Eastern
European Studies, affiliated with the University of Helsinki. Aleksanteri Conferences
have attracted broad interest among researchers and policy-makers in a wide variety of
disciplines, both in Finland and abroad, interested in the development of post-socialist