Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization

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Persistent and rising inequalities are today considered one of the greatest challenges our world is facing. Inequalities in wealth and income have grown in most countries over the last four decades, obstructing poverty reduction and sustainable development. At the same time, efforts to end discrimination and guarantee equal rights and opportunities for all, especially historically marginalized groups such as women and minorities, have been experiencing backlashes in various places. These fractures are catalysed by growing elite capture of economic and political power, a reinforcing process that compounds inequality. 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?

UNRISD is convening a conference at the United Nations in Geneva in November 2018 to explore these and more questions, creating a forum for analysis and dialogue that will bring together academics, UN representatives, policy makers and civil society. The conference marks the start of an UNRISD research inquiry into political processes that determine the prospects for progressive change towards sustainable development, which will run from 2018 to 2020.

Through this Call for Papers, UNRISD invites researchers and practitioners to submit proposals for papers to be presented at the conference that critically explore the various causes of deepening inequalities in the current context, their implications for sustainable development, and strategies and mechanisms being employed to reverse them. The papers, presentations and ensuing discussions at the UNRISD conference and in the subsequent research project will bring innovative research evidence, in particular from the Global South, into UN debates and policy processes, and contribute to concrete policy recommendations and a better understanding of how to build progressive alliances for more equitable, sustainable and just societies

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.

Submission process
The submission process for the Call for Papers will be open from 1 to 20 April 2018. To participate, please read the full Call for Papers and check back on 1 April when you will be able to create an account and upload the following:

  • Your contact information
  • An extended abstract (approximately 500 words), outlining the main issues, hypotheses, arguments, methodology, country/regional focus, case studies to be considered, structure of the paper and keywords;
  • Your CV

Submissions are accepted in English, French and Spanish.

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.

Call for Papers