Symposium and Edited Volume on The Sociology of Corruption

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We invite submissions for an edited volume on the sociology of
corruption. As we see it, a sociological approach treats corruption as
embedded “in concrete, ongoing systems of social relations”
(Granovetter 1985), with a particular focus on relations of power.

Embedding means understanding corruption with respect to the various
contexts constituting it as a social object with moral and
institutional force. These contexts may include various forms of
social organization (e.g., state, agency, corporation, association),
social groups, transactions, situations, and social processes (e.g.,
modernization and post-socialist transition). Our premise is that
corruption only makes sense as part of a larger map for organizing and
knowing the world, and thus our approach seeks to understand
corruption with an eye to this map. This is different from approaches
treating corruption as disembedded (i.e., the same everywhere
independently of context) or so analytically and conceptually absorbed
by social relations as to be reducible to prevailing norms and
discourses. The first approach emphasizes behavior and the second
culture. A focus on embeddedness allows us to bridge these approaches
by highlighting the social processes and organizations in which
corruption acquires identity or meaning within particular contexts.

The second distinctive feature of our approach is its focus on the
production, contestation, and exercise of power through and in
relation to corruption. The sociological study of corruption is
fundamentally concerned with how different social actors and groups gain
advantage relative to others through the definition of what is and
what is not corruption, the making of claims about corruption, the
actual transfer of resources via corruption, and the development and
implementation of policies in the name of fighting corruption. In
contrast to other scholarship, our approach rejects any assumptions
about the (im)morality of corruption and anti-corruption, focusing
instead on empirical inquiry into the meanings and implications of
corruption-related processes for actors in specific contexts.

We invite submissions that align with this approach and treat
corruption-related processes as (1) socially-embedded and (2)
generative and reflective of power relations. Substantively, chapters
may highlight processes of emergence and institutionalization (i.e.,
how corrupt practices take shape and become entrenched), articulation
(i.e., how corruption relates to other social objects, such as the
state and democracy), and mobilization (i.e., how the label of
corruption is invoked or used).

We envision a volume consisting of ten chapters of 10,000 words each.
Chapters should be new and not repackaged work and speak directly to
our framework. Interested parties should submit a paper title and
abstract to Marina Zaloznaya, Nick Wilson, and Marco Garrido by July 30. We will then invite 10 scholars to present their papers at a symposium in the University of Chicago on September 23-25 (travel and accommodations will be covered). We will produce a book proposal shortly thereafter and expect full chapter drafts by December 10,
2021. Please email Nick, Marina, and Marco with any questions.

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