Finally some competition

Rumours were already around, but at this year’s APSA (American Political Science Association) conference it became clearer what was going on: the European Consortium of Political Research will have to face a challenger,  the European Political Science Association (EPSA). EPSA has  been founded in June 2010 as a competing organization to ECPR which has not always been perceived as the most efficient organization. ECPR as the central political science association in Europe organizes quite popular joint sessions (week-long workshops on certain fixed topics) and since 2001 also general conferences. However, in particular with regard to the general conferences ECPR seemed to be an organization with a declining learning curve. At last year’s ECPR conference in Potsdam it was not possible  to organize a fully working paper room in which conference papers are distributed easily before the conference takes place, also the coordination between section organizers, panel organisers and paper presenters has often been criticized. A couple of political scientists  now founded EPSA which  demonstrates its difference by being organized according to individual and not organisational membership (as ECPR) and by being active on Facebook and on Twitter .

At this year’s APSA, EPSA already challenged ECPR by organizing its reception at the same time as the popular ECPR reception funded by Cambridge University Press. This competitive approach did not seem to be the most successful since only few people turned up whereas the ECPR reception received the usual crowd. This might already be a hint that it might be more successful in the long run to organize complementary conferences than challenging conferences to ECPR. However, it is to be hoped that political science in Europe benefits from this challenger by motivating ECPR to improve and by offering attractive alternative or additional conferences.  In June 2011, EPSA will organize its first conference in Dublin – the call for papers will be out soon.

3 thoughts on “Finally some competition

  1. As far as I can tell having observed this from a distance, there is also an intellectual motivation in the founding of EPSA, namely promoting the view, represented by a growing number of (especially young) European scholars, that the connections between US and European political science should be reinforced. By contrast, the ECPR is seen as reproducing the idea (myth?) of a specific European approach, or rather, a plurality of national approaches, which are threatened by the rise of American political science. Just my personal interpretation.

    Btw, I couldn”t attend APSA this year, but I heard that the EPSA reception was well attended (~200 people). Were you there?

  2. Oh, I probably would have gone if I hadn’t agreed to meet friends at the ECPR reception beforehand! We did not know about EPSA that much in advance. But you would have had to count people three times to come at the fabulous number of 200 people…judged by people who attended and photo evidence on their website…But does it really matter? Most important is that we get an additional attractive opportunity to present and discuss work and this seems to be quite likely which is good.

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