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‘Fragmented Powers: Confrontation and Cooperation in the English-speaking World’

du 23 juin 2022 au 25 juin 2022


International Conference hosted by the Center for Research on the English-speaking World (CREW, UR 4399)  

Location: Maison de la Recherche, 4 rue des Irlandais

Registration and payment:



Thursday 23 June 2022


Welcome and opening speeches

Jamil Dakhlia, Président de l'Université de Sorbonne Nouvelle


Panel 1: Brexit, nationalisms, political identities, Chair: Thibaud Harrois

Bianco Polo del Vecchio (Université de Strasbourg), Brexit and the Conservative Party: From Fragmentation to Unity?
Fiona Simpkins (Université Lumière Lyon 2), Brexit, Indyref2 and the fragmentation of unionism in Scotland
Mark Kay (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Scouse Identity: A Bulwark to English Nationalism. English Nationalism Meets Scouse
Nathalie Duclos (Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès), Fragmentation in the Scottish ‘independence movement’
Pauline Schnapper (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Fragmentation in post-Brexit British Politics


Tea and coffee break


Round table: From Fragmented Memories to Inclusive History on the Island of Ireland

Nathalie Sebbane (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Fabrice Mourlon (Sorbonne Nouvelle), and Jennifer Smith (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Elisa Helal-Brenner (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Kamel Salmi Sorbonne Nouvelle)




Keynote lecture 1

Philip Golub (American University of Paris), “The Past as Prelude: The Breakdown of Global Liberalism”. Moderator: James Cohen


Round table: The fragmented power of labour over imperial and racial issues, 1870s-1920s

Yann Béliard (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Joe Redmayne (Newcastle University), Steven Parfitt (European Labour History Network)


Tea and coffee break


Panel 2: Disrupted labour and markets, Chair: Christine Zumello

Nicolas Sowels (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Fragmentation, inequality and freedom: the ambiguous heritage of neoliberalism
Kalilou Barry (Université de Paris-Est Créteil), Hair braid, miss? Initiatives to deregulate the natural hair-braiding industry in NYC and the US
Marie-Pierre Vincent (Sorbonne Université), From the redevelopment of an iconic brewery in London to the current threat of socio-economic fragmentation of local East end community
Clémence Nasr (Sciences Po/Université libre de Bruxelles), Cooperating at the local scale. Fragmentation of agrifood territories


Panel 3: International disorders, Chair: James Cohen

Christopher Griffin (Université Catholique de l’Ouest, Nantes), U.S. Foreign Policy and Secession Abroad
Annick Cizel (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Cold War Echos in a Globally Fragmented World
Thibaud Harrois (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Differentiation in European foreign and security policy after Brexit: more cooperation or more fragmentation?




Friday 24 June 2022


Panel 4: Generational discontinuities, Chair : Sarah Pickard

Dimitri Skleparis (Newcastle University), Territorial Variants in the UK. Refugee Politics and its Consequences: Young Syrian Refugees in England and Scotland
Esther Waugh (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Fragmented elections in South Africa since 2014
Sophia Abidi (Sorbonne Nouvelle), The intergenerational divide between young people and policy makers. Australia’s governing rules in the COVID-19 crisis
Claire Palmiste (Université de Guyane), The Indian Child Welfare Act (1978) between federal and state power and tribal sovereignty


Round table: The welcoming and policing of immigrants. Federalism and cities in the US and Canada

Hilary Sanders (Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès), James Cohen (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Guillaume Poiret (Université de Paris-Est Créteil)


Tea and coffee break


Panel 5: Institutional models, Chair: Laurence Harris

Georginna Hinnebusch (Sorbonne Nouvelle), “State capture” and the fracturing of statehouse democracy
Mark Wickham-Jones (University of Bristol), Second thoughts: American attitudes toward the Westminster model
Emily Clough (Newcastle University), Graham Long (Newcastle University), Leaving No One Behind: Principle and Practice of the Sustainable Development Goals at the Local and National Level
Freddy Marcin (Université des Antilles), Barbados’ breakaway from the UK: an analysis of institutional fragmentation




Keynote lecture 2

Donatella della Porta (Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence) “Social Movements in Fragmented Times: Reflecting on the contentious politics of the pandemic”. Moderator: Sarah Pickard.


Round table: The evolution of climate and environmental protest movements (2018-2021): consolidation and fragmentation

Sarah Pickard (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Dena Arya (Nottingham Trent University)


Tea and coffee break


Panel 6: Spaces of activism, Chair: Cécile Coquet-Mokoko

Christen Bryson (Sorbonne Nouvelle), The Patriarchal Family and “Family Values”: Trying to Fix a Fragment as the Institution
Amélie Ribieras (Université Paris-Panthéon-Assas), The ‘Broken Bonds of Womanhood’: Conservative Women’s Anti-ERA Activism in the 1970s-80s
Ophélie Simeon (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Gender and early British socialism Eléana Sanchez (Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès), The Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, a new model of activism within the postwar British New Left?


Round table: Historicizing militancy, piecing together fragmented discourses: a discussion

Pierre Gervais (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Emmanuelle Avril (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Sean DeMoranville (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Steven Griggs (De Montfort University), Serge Ollivier (Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Amina Easet-Daas (De Montfort University)


Saturday 25 June 2022


Panel 7: Polarized media, Chair: Clémentine Tholas

Sébastien Mort (Université de Lorraine), Conservative talk radio, affectivity and audience polarization: the role of outrage in the formation of the Rush Limbaugh Show’s conservative counter public sphere (1990-2010)
Sarah Rodriguez-Louette (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Racial polarization and fragmentation of the national territory: a discourse analysis of a white nationalist strategy after the November 2020 U.S. elections
David Lipson (Université de Strasbourg), Fragmented Late-Night: From One King to Numerous Subjects


Tea and coffee break


Panel 8: Politics of housing, Chair: Cécile Doustaly

David Fée (Sorbonne Nouvelle), De-fragmenting the UK housing system? Privatisation, power and housing provision
Habiba Jelali (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Fragmented neighborhoods in the borough of Southwark: a study of three pro-gentrification schemes in Bermondsey, Peckham and Elephant and Castle
Cecilia Smith (Université Côte d’Azur), Holding the Key: Homelessness in Boston since the 1980s


Keynote lecture 3

Gerry Stoker (University of Southampton), “UK Governance: Muddling Through or Stumbling into Crisis after Crisis?” Moderator: David Fée


Lunch break


Panel 9: Multi-level community-building, Chair: Romain Garbaye

Donia Touhri-Mebarek (Université Rennes 2), Community relations in an age of securitization in the UK: Challenges in governance and integration
Clémence Lévêque (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Multi-level cooperation and campaign assemblages: the case of the 2021 Liberal Democrat London election campaign
Yann Philippe (Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales), “Cooperating as one great machine, linked by wire and rail”: A Professional Association of Chiefs of Police as an Antidote to the Fragmentation of US Police Forces (1893-1941)


Round table: Capitalism as a unifying power?

Jean-Baptiste Velut (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Alexia Blin (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Pierre Gervais (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Evelyne Payen-Varieras (Sorbonne Nouvelle)


Concluding remarks




Call for Papers

Any locus of power can undergo processes of fragmentation and/or centralisation, from medieval fragmentation to
the nation-state to globalisation, mirrored or counteracted by processes of decentralisation and localism. Such changes are not linear, since contradictory trends may coexist, creating tensions or reinforcing each other. In recent decades, fragmentation has been seen as having positive effects, enabling shifts in power away from centralised structures towards private economic actors, citizens and consumers, as well as local authorities, thus allowing for economic innovation and progressive policies. Indeed, the Enlightenment and nineteenth century liberal view posited that checks and balances would further democracy by avoiding tyranny and abuse (see e.g. Flathman, 2005), and classical economics called for decentralisation and free market exchanges. Hence, liberal regimes reflect principles such as laissez-faire, the separation of powers, federalism, and social pluralism, which are regarded as welded to the notion of democratisation and of providing people with opportunities for autonomy, allowing for political resistance as well as economic development.

But it is also important to look at the negative effects of fragmentation, which can be a source of weakness, leading to disunity and the inability to guarantee basic rights, devise common strategies, maintain stable and functioning economies, or organise effective opposition to state power. Fragmentation in a globalised world may lead to the emergence of isolated loci of power floating on a sea of opposition and strife, requiring new models of activism (della Porta, 2006; della Porta, 2017) or underlining the need for regulation and State intervention (Piketty, 2013). The neoliberal rolling-back of the state and the fragmentation of providers, in order to create competition and give consumers more exit power (Hirschman, 1970), has left the UK and US with a fragmented and poorly organised system of public, private and voluntary providers in planning, education, housing and other public services (Pollitt, 1993). Deregulation in both nations is said to have opened the door to environmental disasters. The fragmentation of tasks in the workplace and administration, has led to specialisation without a global view. Thus, the fragmented structures that have valuable democratic benefits may also contribute to substantial democratic deficits because fragmentation can also lead to polarisation along new lines. The push for localism, for example, has led to disunited cities in the grip of fragmented local powers at war with one another. In the US, opposition to civil rights or reproductive rights has often, historically, been articulated in terms of “states’ rights”, that is, certain territorial units of the federal system resisting constitutional and legal obligations to accord equal respect to the rights of all categories of citizens (see e.g. McGirr, 2001; Anderson, 2018; McAdam and Kloos, 2014; Provine, Varsanyi et. al., 2016).

What one means by fragmentation is also open to debate, and depends in part on the scale at which one observes the process, whether at the individual/personal, community, generation, organisational, state or international levels. Neoliberal policies have led to fragmented lives and fragmented selves. Individualistic trends or populist ones have been viewed as eroding national cohesion and fostering the displacement of citizenship (Kamens, 2019) while regional, ethnic or racial identities may collide with the national identity (Citrin and O Sears, 2014; Modood, 2019). At the domestic scale, the fragmentation of political parties is also observed, leading to a fragmentation of consensus and coalitions (see e.g. Dunleavy, Park and Taylor, 2018). Globalisation has engendered in turn a fragmentation and restructuring of state forms (Clark, 1997). In the latest phase, COVID-19 has shown how fragmentation undermines responses to the crisis, while also accelerating the transition to a more fragmented world order, exemplified by Brexit, in which the future organising principles of the international system are as yet unclear. Will this lead to de-globalisation or re-globalisation? Can the network stand as the new organising form?

Lastly, the reality and extent of fragmentation can be put into question, as suggested by the paradox of this seemingly universal process of liberal globalisation taking place in a world of increasingly divided, fractured and powerless polities as well as groups of individual economic agents. Taking the long view, first of all, one has to decide whether polities, economies, and social groups today are really more fragmented than they were one, two or three centuries ago — long-term comparisons may lead to very different analyses of what fragmentation entails. Even within the last century or so, trends in governance (administrative, political or corporate), with increasingly rigid bureaucratisation and state control in most of Europe and the US, also rather point to a weakening of cooperative politics, of places of collective elaboration of a compromise, and of the very possibility of local and decentralised agency, particularly for individuals in the workplace (see e.g. Dejours, 2016; Chapoutot, 2020). Is fragmentation merely an optical effect, hiding deeper trends toward centralisation of economic and political power in the hands of a few? Or is it a reaction to this very centralisation, pointing to a dystopian future in which there would be war of all against all? The place granted economics is a key element here, since the same process can take very different meanings depending on the angle of observation. From a social and political point of view, the segmentation of Euro-African labour markets with the setting up of hard barriers to immigration may be seen as a process of fragmentation; from an economic point of view, one can read on the contrary this segmentation as the unifying principle governing labour force management at a variety of levels and offering increased opportunities for profit (Cross, 2013).

Multiple readings are in order also because the study of fragmented powers reveals a tension between theories of power (e.g. functionalist vs neo-functionalist) and empirical observation, as reflected in the paradox between a neo-Marxist analysis according to which the fragmentation of political power goes with economic power concentration (in which the source of political fragmentation is precisely the weakening of all counter-structures able to confront mature capitalism) and the factual observation that large capitalist firms seem to rather prefer to be serviced by political power rather than actually wielding it themselves. Historically, “capitalist” influence may work better if power is not fragmented, even when capitalists themselves apparently yearn for fragmentation, and again long-run comparisons do not necessarily point to an unambiguous process (Hirsch, 1992). The reflection on fragmented powers therefore calls for a (re)conceptualisation of the notion of “power”, going beyond the alternative between vertical pressure and co-construction. Classic views define the political field either, as in the Marxist view, as a place of more of less violent conflict between contending classes where conflicting economic interests are arbitraged (or not), or, as in the liberal view, a place of competing rather than conflicting interest groups who find a point of equilibrium. In all cases, the system is only sustainable if the political (and other) field(s), is itself co-constructed, and a meta-reading may be in order, that the study of fragmentation can help develop (Reynaud, 2000; Eymard-Duvernay, 2006).

Fragmentation could then be seen as breakdown in conventions/institutions, in the negation of the possibility of a common co-constructed political discourse without which inarticulate, direct conflict becomes the only game in town. Today, this idea of fragmented discourse is reflected in polarisation in the media, in “culture war” issues, and social media (e.g. Sunstein, 2017; Mancini, 2013; Bright, 2018). This calls for an analysis of the links between media and political or cultural polarisation. Discourse in national histories has tended to lay too much emphasis on cooperation, and not enough on confrontation, leading to the questioning of the extent to which a co-constructed political or cultural space was ever present. On one level, fragmented powers entail isolation, confrontation, dilution, atomisation, disappearance, as opposed to autonomy, sovereignty, cooperation, uniting forces. Fragmentation may be conflictive or cooperative. May the roots of the current breakdown in the English-speaking world be traced back to earlier sources? To what extent are the changes long-lasting and irreversible? Are we witnessing a real collapse or epiphenomena? Are these changes simply a continuation of the “Great Transformation”, of the upheavals of the 19th and 20th centuries, and thus rooted in some structural modern capitalist anomy (Polanyi, 1944, Wood, 1999)? Or do we witness a new era with new issues, stemming from a newly financialised capitalism, for instance (Lemercier and François, 2021)?

We welcome papers from a wide range of disciplinary approaches and historical periods, be they political or societal (including political geography, international relations, public policy, political sociology), economic, cultural or discursive, among others. Papers covering any part of the English-speaking world could address the following issues (but not exclusively), either in their most recent and contemporary manifestation or through more long-term, historical analyses covering all or part of the past three centuries:

  • Fragmented ideologies (representing communities of interests; tensions between intersectionality and class struggle; the rise of populism);

  • Fragmented constitutional configurations and regimes (federal model vs unitary model; devolution; regionalism; differential regimes of civil rights, voting rights);

  • Fragmented governance (fragmented regimes of rights; public policies, welfare state approach vs fragmentation of welfare provision, management of public services, centralisation vs localism);

  • Fragmented political parties and party systems (pluralist co-existence of countervailing forces vs factional debilitating internal strife; the fragmented electoral system in the US);

  • Fragmented economic processes (segmented markets, deregulation, diffusion of economic power away from centralised state actors towards warring oligopolistic, private corporations);

  • Fragmented workplaces and labour processes (loss of workers’ control, shift towards individualised management, labour contracts and pay, rise of the independent contractors, weakened workplace solidarity and unions);

  • Fragmentation in activism (divisions within a movement vs cooperation, joining forces and coalitions);

  • Fragmented geography and cities (urban ghettos, gentrification; inter-community confrontation or cooperation);

  • Fragmented labour markets (barriers to immigration and social mobility, international management of workers’ migration, border closing and its political promotion);

  • Fragmented international system (Brexit, multipolar vs bipolar system, rising nationalisms, weakened international law; unequal and fragmented modes of development);

  • Fragmented communities, social groups and identities (the place, role and voice of indigenous cultures and racial/gender/sexual minorities, multiculturalism; intergenerational and intragenerational co-operation and tensions);

  • Fragmentation in traditional media and social media (media framing, public opinion forming vs narrow-casting and echo chambers);

  • Fragmentation in cultural circulation(s) and in cultural diplomacy (influence and supposed cooperation vs confrontation if a culture is deemed dominant).

Confirmed keynotes: Donatella della Porta (Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy); Philip Golub (American University of Paris, France); Gerry Stoker (Southampton University, UK).

Please note: The conference - papers and discussions - will take place entirely in English with a view to a future publication in an English language journal or edited volume.

Please submit a one-page proposal in English of no more than 500 words followed by a short biography of each author (including institutional affiliation and any relevant publications) in a single World file (not pdf).

Send your proposals only to the conference email address:

Deadline for proposals: Friday 12 November 2021.

The conference will take place on 23-24-25 June 2022 at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris.

Scientific/organising committee:

Emmanuelle Avril (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Dominic Bryan (Queen’s University Belfast), Emily Clough (University of Newcastle), James Cohen (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Laurence Cossu-Beaumont (Sorbonne Nouvelle), David Fée (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Pierre Gervais (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Lauren Gutterman (University of Texas at Austin), Fabrice Mourlon (Sorbonne Nouvelle) and Sarah Pickard (Sorbonne Nouvelle).



Suggested bibliography


Anderson Carol (2018) One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying our Democracy, London, Bloomsbury Publishing.

Badie Bertrand (2019) L’Hégémonie Contestée. Les nouvelles formes de domination internationale, Paris, Odile Jacob.

Bauman Zygmunt (2000) Liquid Modernity, Cambridge, Polity.

Bauman Zygmunt (2001) The Individualised Society, Cambridge, Polity.

Bosi Lorenzo Giugni Marco, Uba Katrin, eds (2019) The Consequences of Social Movements. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Bright Jonathan (2018) “Explaining the Emergence of Political Fragmentation on Social Media: The Role of Ideology and Extremism,,” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 23 (1), 17–3.

Brown Wendy (2017) Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution, Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Citrin Jack and Sears David (2014) American Identity and the Politics of Multiculturalism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Chapoutot, Johann (2020), Libres d'obéir. Le management, du nazisme à aujourd'hui, Paris, Gallimard.

Clark Ian (1997) Globalization and Fragmentation: International Relations in the Twentieth Century, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Cross, Hannah (2013) Migrants, Borders and Global Capitalism, Abingdon, Routledge.

Dejours, Christophe (2016) Situations du travail, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France (PUF).

della Porta, Donatella, Andretta, Massimiliano, Mosca, Lorenzo and Reiter, Herbert (2006) Globalization from Below: Transnational Activists and Protest Networks, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.

della Porta, Donatella, O’Connor, Francis, Portos, Martin and Subirats Ribas, Anna (2017) Social Movements and Referendums from Below: Direct Democracy in the Neoliberal Crisis, Bristol, Policy Press.

Dunleavy Patrick, Park Alice and Taylor Ross (eds) (2018) The UK's Changing Democracy. The 2018 Democratic Audit, London, LSE Press.

Eymard-Duvernay (2006), L’Économie des conventions, 2 vol., Paris, La Découverte.

Falk Richard (2004) The Declining World Order: America’s Imperial Geopolitics, London and New York, Routledge.

Flathman, E. Richard (2005) Pluralism and Liberal Democracy, John Hopkins University Press.

Golub Philip (2010) Power, Profit & Prestige: A History of American Imperial Expansion, London, Pluto Press.

Golub Philip (2016) East Asia’s Reemergence, Cambridge, Polity.

Graeber David (2015) The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy, New York, Melville House.

Giugni Marco and Grasso Maria (2019) Street Citizens: Protest Politics and Social Movement Activism in the Age of Globalization, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Hirsch, Jean-Pierre (1991) Les deux rêves du commerce: entreprise et institution dans la région lilloise, 1780-1860, Paris, Éd. de l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS).

Hirschman, Albert (1970) Exit, Voice and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Harvard, Harvard University Press.

Kamens David (2019) A New American Creed: The Eclipse of Citizenship and Rise of Populism, Stanford, Stanford University Press.

Kettl Donald (2020) The Divided States of America: Why Federalism Doesn’t Work, Princeton, Princeton University Press.

McAdam Doug and Kloos Karina (2014) Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Postwar America, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Mancini Paolo (2013) “Media Fragmentation, Party System, and Democracy”, International Journal of Press/Politics, 18 (1), 43-60.

Modood Tariq (2019) Essays on Secularism and Multiculturalism, London, European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) Press.

McGirr, Lisa (2001) Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right, Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Piketty, Thomas (2013) Le Capital au XXIe siècle, Paris, Seuil.

Polanyi, Karl (1944) The Great Transformation, New York, Farrar & Rinehart.

Pollitt Christopher (1993) Managerialism and Public Services, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Provine Doris Marie, Varsany Monica, Lewis Paul and Decker Scott (2016) Policing Immigrants: Local Law Enforcement on the Front Lines, Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

Reynaud, Jean-Daniel (1989), Les Règles du jeu: l’action collective et la régulation sociale, Paris, Armand Colin.

Stoker, Gerry (2004), Transforming Local Governance: From Thatcherism to New Labour, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Sunstein Cass (2017) #republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media, Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Wood, Ellen Meiksins (1999) “The Politics of Capitalism”, Monthly Review, 51 (4), 12-26.


Type :
Colloque / Journée d'étude
Contact :
Lieu(x) :

mise à jour le 21 juin 2022