CPERN – Code of practice

Our vision

We are a community of scholars and/or activists, departing from the understanding that without the hypothesis that a different world is possible, there can be no politics. We are committed to emancipatory social science and seek not only to critique existing structures of social inequality but also to formulate visions for alternative futures. As Wright (2010: 26) put it: ‘diagnosis and critique of society tells us why we want to leave the world in which we live; the theory of alternatives tells us where we want to go; and the theory of transformation tells us […] how to make viable alternatives achievable’. We seek to enable a unification of theory and practice, providing for cutting-edge analyses aimed at understanding recent transformations of capitalism and capitalist societies, while at the same time also contributing actively to the politicisation and the resilience of social struggles within and beyond the academe. We believe that solidarity entails a strong transformative dimension: acts of solidarity do not necessarily involve agents that are alike, nor do they need to result in political imaginaries and trajectories that are devoid of conflict. To the contrary, what  Gramsci referred to as a ‘collective intellectual’ is by definition composed of a plurality of forms of the philosophy of praxis. Multiple imaginary futures and horizons of common possibility that co-exist, coincide or contradict themselves, which is why critical thought can neither be singular, nor imprisoned by practices of theoretical closure’ (Gill 2012: 519).

The Critical Political Economy Research Network (CPERN) was established in 2005 and is affiliated to the European Sociological Association (ESA). CPERN seeks to reassert the centrality of critical political economy perspectives, and to promote and facilitate research aimed at understanding recent transformations of capitalism and capitalist societies. As part of the commitment to emancipatory science, CPERN seeks not only to critique existing structures of social inequality but also to provide a forum for the discussion of multiple visions for alternative futures, and to contribute actively to the politicisation and the resilience of social struggles within and beyond the academe. The network is a hub for interdisciplinary exchange for both scholars and activists, straddling principally the disciplines of political economy, sociology, politics, economics, but also reaching out to geography, social policy and law.

CPERN organises numerous panels and semi-plenaries at the bi-annual ESA Conference, and runs a well established bi-annual workshop, which have been held in Amsterdam (2009), Frankfurt (2011), Barcelona (2012), Vienna (2013), Ljubljana (2015) and Lisbon (2017). In addition, CPERN has launched the annual Critical European Studies (CES) Workshop, which has been held in Amsterdam (2014), Barcelona (2015), London (2016), Frankfurt (2017), Budapest (2018) and Lviv (2019). In 2017, CPERN co-organised the Annual Conference in Political Economy together with the International Initiative for Political Economy (IIPPE) and the Berlin Institute for International Political Economy (IPE), to be held in Berlin, from 13-15 September.

CPERN principles

Balance gender and  intellectual seniority

At the conferences and workshops that we organise, we ensure that panels are composed by taking gender and academic seniority balance into account. This means that there should never be All Male Panels in our conferences, or panels where PhD students are bundled together, while senior academics are given hierarchical status.

CPERN board

Functioning  rules

–          While we operate on a horizontal basis, the board is formally composed by:

 –          Chair: The chairperson acts as the point of contact with the ESA and the mid-term workshop local organisers. It is also the person who chairs board and business meetings and addresses the welcome session at our mid-term workshop. The chair is also the list-owner/moderator of our email list. The chair is also responsible for maintaining and updating the institutional memory folders of the network.

–          Vice-chair: The vice-chair assists the chairperson and is also included in all ESA communications. Generally, it is also the same person as the treasurer

–          Treasurer: The treasurer has traditionally been the same person as the vice-chair. Because the ESA is headquartered in France, the treasurer should be based at a university within the Eurozone.

–          Communications: the board member in charge of communications manages the CPERN website, the Facebook group, and our Twitter account. Traditionally, this role has been taken up by PhD students as a way of socializing into the profession.

–          Any other roles to agreed by the board depending on needs.

–          International advisory board: the international advisory board is composed by previous chairs as well as other influential people in critical political economy scholarship and practice. The board should consult with them CfP and any major organisational changes.

–          The board is responsible for many other tasks and they will be carried out rotationally and/or in a manner agreed by the board. For example, taking minutes will be done by rotation directly in the google doc and backups stored in the collective memory dropbox.

–          Agendas are drawn up collectively, by using a google doc.


The board takes decisions in a democratic, horizontal and consensual fashion. There is no top-down structure. Board meetings and decision-making follow an assembly structure. The chair or vice-chair only execute but do not decide by themselves.

 Principle of collegiality and camaraderie

The board is constituted by the principle of collegiality and camaraderie in two ways: first, the board acts as one body, and second, board members act in accordance to equity, solidarity and mutual respect for the abilities of each board member to contribute to the board’s activities. Mutual aid, cooperation and care and respect are key values here. Camaraderie and a sense of unity are essential for making the CPERN board and also CPERN a success.

 Zero Tolerance on bullying and (sexual) harassment

CPERN has a zero tolerance on bullying and harassment, referring to any unwanted behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated, degraded, humiliated or offended. Bullying or harassment can be between two individuals or it may involve groups of people; it might be obvious or insidious, persistent or an isolated incident; it can occur face-to-face, in written communications, by phone or through email; it may include spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone, exclusion or victimisation, or unfair treatment related to age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. 

DIY – Never propose anything you are not willing to do

DIY – do it yourself.

Reflection and organisational learning

After each organised event and after the board’s term, the board builts in a moment for reflection about what went well and what not. Following the Zapatista logic of preguntando caminamos—walking we ask questions, the board seeks to learn from past experiences and also exert a degree of self-reflection.

E-mail etiquette

The board seeks to avoid internal e-mail over-correspondence where possible. Board members prepare, read and react to a collectively drawn up google docs that underpin the board meetings and that contain all the information.

Collaboration with other networks

The board sends recallable delegates in collaborative projects with other networks.

–          The board will collectively decide when to give out statements of support politically, in collaboration with network members from the countries in which support is required.

–          Board meetings should take no more than 1 hour.

Election of board members:

–          Elect consensually the board for a 2 year term (but members can stay on for a period of 2 terms depending on circumstances), but with a rotating chair (with the chair having a maximum term of 2 years). The chair should have been a board members for at least one term before becoming chair.

–          The board should ideally be composed of 4 members, with a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5.

– Associate Board members can be elected in the ESA business meeting to assist and support the Board or to create any required institutional connections with other academic organizations. No more than 2 Associate Board members shall be appointed.

–          Transition period – 3 months to ensure continuity and adequate handover.

–          Board members should represent a geographical spread (ideally, no more than 1 person per country, different levels of seniority, and with adequate levels of representation from women).

–          Board members must be paying members of ESA/CPERN and attend our mid-term workshop and biennial ESA conference.

 Advisory board:

–          The advisory board is composed of previous CPERN chairs and other scholars who have actively collaborated with the network.

–          The advisory board should be kept informed of business meetings and calls for papers for our conferences, and they should provide feedback for CfP.

–          It is preferred that members of the advisory board maintain an active participation with CPERN activities.

–          Advisory board members may be removed in the event of non-participation in agreement within the board.

Institutional memory

 –          CPERN’s institutional memory is kept in a Dropbox folder which is safeguarded by the current chair. The folder is transferred to the new chair after the election.

New institutional form/independence–          CPERN maintains its aim of autonomy and self-determination and is open to the possibility of becoming a self-managed organisation if the members wish to do so in the future, after consultation and discussion.