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Call for Papers—Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization

9 Mar 2018

Call for Papers—Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization
UPDATE 27 August 2018

All notifications about selection for the conference and related activities have now been sent out. Thank you for your patience and your contributions.

We hope that we will see you in Geneva in November, whether as a conference speaker or participant.

More information about conference registration will be available soon.

UPDATE 18 June 2018

There has been a truly spectacular response to the Call for Papers, and we need more time to complete the assessment and selection process. If you have been selected to present a paper at the Conference, we will be getting in touch with you in a couple of weeks’ time.

While we have a limited number of slots for conference presentations, due to the overwhelming response and the high quality of submissions, we will also offer a number of authors the opportunity to prepare a think piece or other conference-related output. We will notify you if you have been selected for this opportunity within the next 5-7 weeks.

If your abstract is not selected, we will also notify you at this time. Thank you for your patience.


Inequalities are one of today’s greatest challenges, obstructing poverty reduction and sustainable development. Such disparities are catalysed by elite capture of economic and political power, a reinforcing process that compounds inequality, which—in its various dimensions—undermines social, environmental and economic sustainability, and fuels poverty, insecurity, crime and xenophobia.

As the power of elites grows and societal gaps widen, institutions representing the public good and universal values are increasingly disempowered or co-opted, and visions of social justice and equity side-lined. As a result, society is fracturing in ways that are becoming more and more tangible, with the growing divide between the privileged and the rest dramatically rearranging both macro structures and local lifeworlds.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development seeks to overcome such disparities, “leaving no one behind”. But how can this ambitious vision be achieved in the current climate, in which those in power act to protect the status quo from which they benefit? How can we build progressive alliances to drive the political and policy changes needed for an equitable, inclusive 21st century eco-social compact?

Key themes

Through this Call for Papers, UNRISD invites researchers and practitioners to submit proposals for papers, to be presented at an International Conference to be held in Geneva in November 2018, that critically explore
  • The role and influence of elites
  • The role of institutions in perpetuating or curbing inequalities
  • Shifting class structures and identities
  • The effects of deepening inequalities on local lifeworlds
  • Actors, alliances and social mobilization for progressive change

Objectives and impacts

With this Call for Papers and Conference, UNRISD will bring together expertise from across a diversity of countries and disciplines to:
  • facilitate knowledge exchange and mutual learning across academia, civil society, the UN and national governments, about progressive alliances and policy change for more equitable, sustainable, and just societies;
  • propose evidence-based recommendations for innovative ways in which diverse actors can work together to design and deliver a transformative eco-social compact for the 21st century; and
  • bring this new evidence and analysis, especially from the Global South, to bear on UN debates and policy processes, including implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

UNRISD will disseminate the evidence and key recommendations from the papers and conference discussions in formats that will support practitioners, activists and decision makers at local, national, regional and global levels.

Key dates

Successful candidates will be notified by 15 June 2018 and invited to submit a draft paper (approximately 6,000 words), due no later than 31 August 2018.

Some candidates will also be invited to prepare shorter think pieces of approximately 1,500 words for publication on the UNRISD website and global promotion via the UNRISD eBulletin.

The International Conference is planned for 8-9 November 2018 at the United Nations in Geneva. UNRISD aims to cover travel and accommodation costs for as many paper presenters as possible. In the event of financial restrictions, priority will be given to presenters from developing countries.

Subject to peer review, selected papers will be published under the UNRISD research paper series, in an edited volume through a commercial publisher or as a special issue of an academic journal. They should, therefore, not be under consideration for publication elsewhere.

For more information

Please contact UNRISD Senior Research Coordinator Katja Hujo [katja dot hujo at un dot org].

Download the full Call for Papers below

---Note that this article was changed on 18 April to reflect the extension of the abstract submission deadline from 20 to 29 April.---
---Note that this article was changed on 30 April to reflect the closure of the abstract submission period.---