How a Spark Creates a Fire: Micro-Foundations of Large-Scale Social Changes

How a Spark Creates a Fire: Micro-Foundations of Large-Scale Social Changes

Call for Papers

How a Spark Creates a Fire: Micro-Foundations of Large-Scale Social Changes


Centre for Comparative History and Political Studies (CCHPS)

Perm State National Research University

Perm, June 15-17, 2017

"Big structures, large processes, huge comparisons." The title of Charles Tilly's book reflects the central aim of the social sciences to explain the reality around us. Economy, culture, institutions, historical heritage and other macro-parameters of society, contrary to the predictions about the decline of grand theory, are very popular tools for explaining social transformations. However, is taking into account large-scale structural factors enough to understand the logic of social transformation? When we take a bird’s-eye view of social changes, are we able to adequately recognize the importance of micro-foundations for large-scale transformations?

 In line with the approach followed at this conference, we suggest "to go into the woods" and pay attention to the "trees", to focus on the more subtle aspects of the socio-political reality, local and casual. We are interested in discussing those factors that are very difficult to detect at the macro level, but which play an important role in triggering and supporting processes of social transformation. We propose to discuss case studies that seemed to be of minor relevance but in the end had great historical consequences, the mechanisms that start out small but gain in significance, depending upon the social, political and cultural context of the epoch. We welcome the multidisciplinary approach and invite representatives of the social sciences and humanities whose spheres of interest overlap with the theme of the conference. 

We invite proposals that engage in one of the following or related topics:

  • Actor-based theories of revolutions;
  • Microsociology of political decision-making;
  • Local sources of authoritarian resilience;
  • Political mobilization and participation on the subnational level;
  • Privatization of space, symbolic politics and representation strategies as mobilization factors;
  • Local initiatives in the spheres of culture and social policy;
  • The historical precedent and the formation of performative strategies;
  • Agents of change: a new person in a traditional environment;
  • "Small" life but "big" biography: constructions of historic scale in biographical practices.

 All proposals will undergo a selection process by the program committee. The languages of the conference are Russian and English.

  • Proposals must include a 400-word abstract and an academic CV in English or Russian. Submissions should be sent to by March 31, 2017.
  • All applicants will be notified about the results of the selection process by April 10, 2017.
  • We expect participants to submit final papers by June 1, 2017 to facilitate a productive discussion.

Centre for Comparative History and Political Studies will have a limited amount of travel subsidies for conference participants. We are also happy to offer assistance to foreign scholars in obtaining an appropriate visa (although we cannot reimburse the visa fee).


For inquiries, please contact Andrei Semenov and Vsevolod Bederson at

Информационное письмо по-русски.

Call for papers