S38 | Rethinking Agency Beyond, or in Spite of, the State

Section Chairs:

Licinia Simão,
University of Coimbra

Abel Polese,
Tallinn University

IR, and political sciences debates at large, have been evolving around the central role of the state in domestic and international affairs. This has resulted in a limited academic exploration of sub-national and trans-national phenomena such as networks, individuals, movements, institutions, enterprises, which have become central to international affairs. There are, in our view a whole variety of forces operating not only alongside, across, beneath and above the state but also in dimensions that exist 'in spite of' or 'beyond' the state. Traditional state concerns have been challenged by transnational issues, such as the environment, migrations, human rights, religion, and terrorism, among others, prompting a variety of reflections on the transformation of the role of the state, and a variety of other actors that can be considered equally relevant. Many of these challenges have become qualitatively differentiated, demanding the definition and conceptualisation of novel theoretical and methodological approaches for better understanding the variety of actors and their strategies, complementing or competing with a state in the political field.

Our goal of integrating a non-state perspective into Political Science and IR debates has prompted us to construct this section across three main points: the changing nature of power and agency in IR and International Studies; theorising IR and IS beyond the state; conceptualising relevant global political action to contemporary challenges. We are interested in proposals that address, from any perspective, one or more of the points below:

  • Agents of power in IR and IS
  • Emerging fields of global action
  • Economic management structures and non-state actors
  • Global arenas of violence
  • Individual mobilisation and international action
  • Traditional, human and informal security: intersections between traditional and new security actors
  • Market vs non market institutions: dynamics, mechanisms and actors providing various kinds of security and social justice
  • Informal market institutions and their impact on the local governance processes
  • State and non-state actors and their role in redefinition of security and securisation
  • Main challenges and threats to individual and collective security in a cross regional and cross country perspective
  • Critical security perspectives on the state and non-state actors
  • Perspectives and directions in critical political economy
  • Interdisciplinary dialogues in IR: benefits and limitations
  • Critical conceptualisations of governance
  • Economic inequalities and insecurity in the Global North and South