CFP: Business corporations, non-ideal theory, and social change (MANCEPT workshop)

Submission deadline: June 5, 2023

Conference date(s):
September 11, 2023 - September 13, 2023

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Conference Venue:

Manchester, United Kingdom

Topic areas


Deadline for abstract submission: June 5, 2023

In recent years, the business corporation has received increasing attention in political theory. This is hardly surprising given the persistent social and political problems that corporations are implicated in. The literature so far has largely focused on three issues: What are corporations and what is their place in the political system and political theory (Ciepley 2013, Singer 2018, Claassen 2023)? What, if anything, is wrong with corporations and their actions (Christiano 2010, Anderson 2017)? How could corporations be institutionally improved or replaced by alternative forms of economic organisation (Malleson 2014, Corneo 2017, Ferreras 2017)? One of the core premises of theorists who tackle these questions is that corporations hold enormous and largely unaccountable power and are currently perpetrators of injustice. Given that premise, many existing theories of the corporation remain undercomplex: they do not sufficiently address how, under conditions of power imbalance, existing wrongs can be righted, and alternative institutional designs implemented. Meanwhile, there has been increasing attention in political theory to the possibilities for and conditions of positive social change (Zheng 2022). For example, parts of the growing realist literature have put a strong emphasis on proper accounts of current constellations of power and interest (Geuss 2008). Others focus on how to determine the agents of change under nonideal circumstances (Laurence 2021) or they concentrate on the establishment of effective counterpower (Bagg 2021).

This workshop aims at bringing together scholars working in these areas of political theory. It invites political theorists of the corporation to consider real possibilities of change under nonideal conditions and reflect on the role of corporations as obstacles or enablers of change; and realist political theorists and theorists of social change to expand the scope of their work, beyond state and citizens, to include business corporations as important political actors. The aim is to contribute to the conversation on the practical and theoretical dimensions of social change, given the power and role of business corporations.

We invite contributions from scholars working on the political theory of the business corporation, social change, critical theory and political realism.

We also encourage interdisciplinary submissions.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  •     Are business corporations obstacles to social change and if so, how can these obstacles be overcome given their pervasive power?
  •     Can business corporations with their enormous resources enable social change and if so, under what conditions?
  •     What is the relation between the internal setup and the external role of the corporation? Do corporations have to be internally just or democratic to be legitimate agents of justice?
  •     How can we account for the divergence of interests within the corporation? What constellations here are conducive to or obstacles for social change, both within and outside of the corporation?
  •     What is the relationship between business corporations and social movements?
  •     What, if any, methodological challenges arise when including business corporations in theorizing social change?
  •     What is the role of theories of the corporation that propose ideal solutions, e.g. institutional alternatives, in theorizing or bringing about social change?

Submission Guidelines

Abstracts should be approx. 500 words, prepared for blind review. Please send your abstract and contact details to Ewoud Abspoel ([email protected]), by 5th June, 2023. Decision will be made by 16th June, allowing graduate students who have been accepted to apply to MANCEPT for a bursary (the deadline for which is 27th June).

Upon acceptance, we will ask all speakers to share their papers amongst participants two weeks before the workshop (28th August, 2023). We will allocate around 60 minutes to each paper, with presentations of 15 minutes and 45 minutes of Q&A.

The workshop will take place entirely in person, at the University of Manchester.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Barbara Bziuk ([email protected]) or Philipp Stehr ([email protected]).

Registration for the conference opens in May. All participants must register in order to attend.

This year’s fees are:

Academics: £230.00

PG: £135.00

Dinner: £30

For more information, please visit

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