Call for Papers “Middle Class, Education, Employment: The Contribution of the Social Sciences”
Middle Class, Education, Employment: The Contribution of the Social Sciences
Sofia, November 4, 2015
For the third year in a row, the Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge (ISSK) at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in cooperation with Konrad Adenauer Foundation, is organizing a conference in Sofia, aimed at presenting the results of ongoing or recently completed projects of researchers from the Institute, and at conducting an open discussion with prominent representatives of the German academic community, with practical experts, with MPs and representatives of government and business. The goal of this meeting is to highlight how the social sciences are contributing to the solution of important public problems related to the development of Bulgaria and Bulgarian society.
The conference topic this year is Middle Class, Education, Employment.
|· The conceptual reviews outlined in recent studies show that the bounds of what is called the “Middle Class” vary over time and across countries (Bigot, Croutte, Muller & Osier 2012). There is actually no consensus on what stands behind the group, and probably there won’t be any as the way to define the middle class depends in fact on the context and what we focus on (Atkinson and Brandolini 2011; Bigot et al. 2011).
· There is a widely shared understanding that the middle class is critical to economic development and political stability (for instance, Torche and López-Calva 2011) . The existence of a large middle class is thought to bring lower inequality, a more stable investment climate, greater savings and human capital accumulation, and to generate the entrepreneurs who create jobs and foster productivity. As a result, countries with a large middle class are thought to have stronger internal markets and faster economic growth. The assumption prevails that middle class people share common identity in terms of goals, beliefs, and social customs, like wanting better living conditions for their children, a spiritual faith of some sort or the willingness to abide by the country’s laws (Pressman 2006).
· If the question is raised whether or not the European middle classes are declining, so are the studies’ results unambiguous: Under the income-based definition within the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) 2012 for instance, the size of the middle class (in % of the household population) ranges from 35.4% in Latvia to 63.4% in Hungary. The proportion is greater than 60% in Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary, while the middle class accounts for less than half of the population in Ireland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Spain, Romania, Estonia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia. (Bigot, Croutte, Muller & Osier 2012).
· Poverty reduction, education’s expansion and improvement are expected to result in in an expanded, more stable middle class and vice versa.
In the context of these views, the conference aims to discuss the following dimensions but not only them of the historical and contemporary role of the middle class and its interdependence with education and employment:
- The middle class in a historical perspective: a variety of models in the European countries and their impact on social cohesion and integration;
- The middle class in a comparative perspective: the European middle classes; the social-group characteristics of the middle classes in contemporary post-communist and developed societies; a comparison of the middle classes in regional, national, and civilizational contexts;
- The Bulgarian middle class: its social-economic, cultural, political, etc., status, identity, mobility, the problems that confront its social group stability, etc.
- Theoretical and conceptual problems of the study of the middle class, its nature, formation, reproduction, development, stabilization, social-group mobility; Methodological problems related to measuring the middle class, to the basic indicators defining it, and to the dividing lines between the separate social groups;
- The subjective middle class and how people identify with it; Cultural identity, educational achievement, and values of the middle class; Middle class’ moral norms and aesthetics; Political culture and political activism of the middle class;
- Poverty reduction, education’s expansion and improvement and their impact on the middle class in the contemporary societies;
- Stratification particularities of the different social-group formations belonging to the middle class and their economic impact and roles: entrepreneurs, managers, professionals, specialists and experts; the “old” and “new”, the “lower”, “middle”, and “upper” middle class, etc.
The presentation of results of scientific and applied research carried out by scholars from ISSK, and the debate as to the contribution of sociology, philosophy, and science studies, will once again this year be conducted with the participation of outstanding representatives of the German academic community and of practical experts and public figures from Bulgaria, people who possess expertise and experience in the problem field in question. As concerns the practical sphere, this year will be invited members of Bulgarian NGOs and think-tanks who see, and present, themselves as a link between the academic community and the official institutions, and/or who are conducting topical projects in support of the development of civil society, political institutions, and solidarity practices in our country.
The Conference will take place in Sofia on November 4, 2015, from 10.00 to 17.00 h.
Participation topics, together with brief summaries (up to 500 words), should be sent to the Organizing Committee at ISSK by June 30, 2013.
Organizing Committee at ISSK: Rumyana Stoilova, Marco Arndt, Tanya Nedelcheva, Pepka Boyadjieva, Svetla Koleva, Rumiana Zheleva, Albena Nakova, Mariana Draganova, Nadezhda Krandeva, Vladimir Vladov.