Special Issue: International Circulations and Inequalities in the Social Sciences

Although the internationalization of the social sciences and humanities has become a defining characteristic of research, teaching and publishing practices (Heilbron et al. 2017: 131), national academic labor markets tend to turn in on themselves in times of crisis (Gruzinski 2016; Adelman 2017). Moreover, the global dimension of wealth inequalities (Piketty 2014, 2020; Savage 2021) and the growing disparities in research investments impact scientific disciplines and foster the hierarchi­zation of national scientific fields. International circulations of people, texts, research practices, and funding contribute to asymmetrical competition among geographical and linguistic areas, national higher education systems, universities, and researchers (Gaillard and Gaillard, 1997; Gingras 2002; Slaughter & Rhoades 2004; Münch 2014; Beigel 2014). Social sciences provide many examples of disciplinary frameworks that remain embedded in “national traditions” despite repeated “interna­tional turns” (Wimmer & Glick Schiller 2002; Chernilo 2011; Berger 2015; Vasilev 2019; Alatas 2003; Gareau 1988). While the international distribution of scientific networks through co-authorships has intensified since the 1980s (Mosbah-Natanson & Gingras 2014), international collaborations often happen between researchers located in geographically and culturally close countries, similarly endowed with state research funding, while national logics, especially in dominant academic spaces, endure (Heilbron & Gingras 2018).

In this polarized global space, Northern America and Western Europe occupy the top positions in terms of the language of production as well as the legitimation of specific research interests and national case studies (Porciani & Tollebeek 2012; Gordin 2015; Heilbron et al. 2018). Consequently, international capital, understood as resources linked with the “familiarity” with more than one coun­try (Bühlmann, 2020; Wagner 2020), follows the hierarchization of national fields. Acquired through the participation in central institutions from Western academic spaces, foreign credentials and connections have become powerful assets that reinforce scientific prestige in many national con­texts (Rossier & Bühlmann 2018). Their accumulation also plays a significant role in the reproduc­tion of state elites, notably in the Global South (Dezalay & Garth 2002, 2006). Less known are, in contrast, the cumulative advantages and effects of research travels within the Souths or from the Norths to the Souths on academic labor markets (Delanty 2019). Moreover, international mobility and international scientific prizes are also hierarchized according to socio-demographic characteristics and ascriptive criteria such as gender, race, class background, or geographical origin (Nokkala et al. 2020; Korom 2020).

This special issue of Serendipities calls for papers that document the diverse dimensions of inequal­ities linked to international circulations in the social sciences. We welcome studies that analyze how scholars from different social science disciplines acquire, accumulate, convert, and distribute inter­national capital, and how this process evolves over time. In order to propose new angles and theo­retical approaches on the topic of international circulations and inequalities in different fields and academic labor markets, the papers must be empirically based. We expect a thorough descriptive and theoretically well-informed approach to be undertaken (Savage 2020), as well as a historical inscription of case studies from all over the world and on a variety of social science disciplines, car­ried by scholars with a diversity of profiles. Qualitative approaches, such as ethnography, archival and historical document analyses, and interview-based studies are welcome, as well as quantitative approaches, using descriptive methodologies, such as social network analysis, geometric data anal­ysis, sequence analysis, topic modeling, or other theoretically justified methodology.

Key topics for the articles

This call is open to all topics that fit the general scope of this special issue but may want to address one or several of the following themes regarding international circulations and inequalities in the social sciences:

  • International careers and inequality in the scientific reputation of social scientists.
  • Unequal distribution of funding and research impact among countries and regions.
  • International inequalities among higher education institutions and social science departments.
  • The effects on scientific careers of academic travels within the Souths or from the Norths to the Souths 
  • International scientific awards and gender, class, race, and country inequalities.
  • The prestige or shortcomings of circulations between regions/hemispheres and their historical role in the construction of national states and the reproduction of business elites.
  • The history of the emergence of an international scientific “elite” concentrating powerful resources in the social sciences.
  • Inequality of patterns and intensity of international circulations, highlighting the differences between social science disciplines and their respective labor market.
  • The obstacles, limits, and dead-ends of scientific internationalization 
  • Unequal international diffusion and international openness of scientific outlets (journals, book collections).
  • Linguistic inequalities and challenges to the international insertion of languages of origin over time and place.
  • Patterns of co-citations and scientific collaborations, and positioning of authorship among countries.


Extended abstracts
 (1,000 words, not including the biography) must be submitted by November 15th to johanna.gautier@eui.eu and thierry.rossier@unil.ch. The authors whose article proposal have been accepted will have to submit first a preliminary paper of ca. 3,000 words, which will be discussed by the guest editors and the other contributors to the special issue during an online workshop to be held in April 2022 (the exact deadline will be communicated later). They will then submit their full paper by August 31st 2022. Articles will then be peer reviewed following the usual procedure.

According to the Serendipities submission guidelines, submitted articles are expected not to exceed 7,000 words or 55,000 characters (with spaces, notes, tables/figures and references). In certain cases, however, editors can decide to accept longer papers.

Guest Editors: 

Pierre Benz (University of Lausanne, Institute of Political Studies) 
Johanna Gautier Morin (European University Institute, Department of History and Civilization)
Elisa Klüger (Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning, CEBRAP) 
Thierry Rossier (London School of Economics, Department of Sociology)

Photo by Lucas Benjamin on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s