Conceptual and methodological challenges in the Study of Policy Communities and ideas in European Union Studies

Tamir Libel's picture
Call for Papers
January 19, 2018 to January 20, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Digital Humanities, Diplomacy and International Relations, European History / Studies, Geography, Government and Public Service

Workshop to be held on January 19th-20th
at the Robert Schuman Centre, Luxembourg
With funding from the Robert Schuman Institute of the University of Luxembourg
Co-organisers: Dr. Tamir Libel (Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals, IBEI) and Professor David Howarth (University of Luxembourg)

Ideas did not receive much attention from social scientists until the early 1990s. However, over the last two decades the social sciences have experienced several ‘ideational turns’ (e.g. constructivism, discursive institutionalism). Much of this ensuing literature is focused on the influence of ideas on various domains of policy-making. Of particular importance are studies of expertise — as a specialised form of ideas — and the role of experts as ‘shadow players’ in the policy-making process. Although often empirically rich, the ideational literature continues to struggle with unique and significant methodological challenges. Among others, ideas are difficult to observe and trace across time. Nonetheless, more often than not in order to explain the influence of ideas (or lack thereof) in a given case, there is a need to explore their long history. Moreover, the vast majority of the ideational literature is qualitative and unfalsifiable. Although some innovative recent studies have made use of quantitative data, much remains to be done.
These issues are of paramount importance for the study of the EU. The European institutions have made reliance on external expertise and openness to diverse ideas the hallmarks of European policy-making. Hence, the development of our understanding of how to define, trace and assess the roles and influence of ideas is crucial for the progression of European Union studies and, specifically, the effective analysis of EU policies.
The aim of the workshop is to advance the conceptual and methodological understanding of the challenges concerning the role of ideas, specifically in the EU context. The workshop will bring together a group of established and emerging scholars, from varied disciplinary and methodological backgrounds, whose focus is on the role that ideas and expertise play in different domains of policy making and implementation.
Interested scholars are kindly invited to submit an abstract (of maximum 150 words) and short CV (up to a page), as well as full contact details to the workshop organisers via Dr. Tamir Libel (
The timetable for submissions is:

November 15th 2017: deadline for submissions
December 1st 2017: communication of decisions to applicants
January 5th 2018: submission of full papers to be disseminated to discussants and participants
January 18th 2018: welcome dinner for workshop participants
January 19th-20th 2018: workshop

Funding information: Participants will be expected to pay for and organize their own travel to and from Luxembourg. However, there is the possibility of travel funding for advanced level PhD students and others in need. The organisers will provide accommodation for the duration of the conference (up to three nights, January 18th-21st). The funded welcome dinner will be held for the workshop’s participants on the evening of January 18th. Breakfasts are provided at the hotel and lunches at the workshop. Participants will have to cover their own dinner costs on the evenings of the 19th and 20th.

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