CFP: The Ontology of Politics: Institutions, Movements, Agents, Action and Power

Submission deadline: March 15, 2022

Topic areas



Political and social theorists have seldom engaged explicitly with the ontological questions and assumptions pertaining to their theories and have instead proceeded as if such assumptions and questions could be easily bracketed. This workshop aims at addressing this gap. The workshop concerns a regional ontology. While social ontology inquires into the nature and origins of social entities characteristic of various contexts of being and experience, political ontology scrutinises the nature and origins of the set of objects, entities, kinds and categories that structure one particular sphere of social life, i.e., politics. Against this background, the workshop aims to explore the understanding of persons, institutions, collective agents, actions, and power in the context of different political theories, examine the coherence of such understandings, disclose internal tensions, and offer new perspectives.

The workshop aims at driving forward and enriching exchange between both young and more established academics who proceed from the perspective of the relatively underthematised field of political ontology. While social ontology has gained traction and considerable prominence in academic debates in the past decades, little has been produced in the subfield we term political ontology. Thus, the workshop seeks to address this lag by, on the one hand, scrutinizing the political ontological background assumptions of established political philosophies, and, on the other hand, employing ontological insights in the study of political phenomena.


Questions of political ontology are concerned with the nature and reality of political institutions strictly and broadly construed. Some suggested questions follow:

Is the state anything beyond an aggregate of individuals and their interconnections?

Where is the legal apparatus based upon?

What constitutes a political movement?

Assuming that politics demonstrate some law-like regularities (e.g., business cycle model) what is their nature? Are they independent of the agent’s power to change them?

Is the political sphere autonomous of other social spheres?

Are politics essential of human interaction or instrumental?

What is the nature of the relationship between power and politics? Does power ground/constitute/cause politics or the other way around?

Keynote Speakers

Asya Passinsky (Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Central European University in Vienna specializing in metaphysics, social and political philosophy, philosophy of social science, and feminist philosophy)

Frank Hindriks (Professor of Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy at the University of Groningen, Director of the Centre for Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and editor of the Journal of Social Ontology)

Practical Information

We invite doctoral students and candidates who want to present their work in political ontology to submit an abstract of 350-500 words. We aim to make the workshop as accessible and inclusive as possible. Therefore, we strongly encourage individuals from underrepresented social groups in philosophy to apply.

Please send your abstracts to: [email protected]


Submission of abstracts: March 15, 2022

Submission of drafts (upon approval): June 16, 2022


Yorgos Karagiannopoulos (University of Amsterdam)

Ervin Kondakciu (University of Groningen/Universität Hamburg)


This event is supported by the International Social Ontology Society’s Workshop Grant Fund and the University of Groningen.


This is a physical presence workshop. In the unfortunate scenario that an in-person event is not feasible, we will proceed in a hybrid or digital format.

Dates of Workshop

June 30 – July 1 of 2022

Supporting material

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