Conference panels

1. Democracy and political activism in the shadow of the pandemic

In the context of different crises (financial, health, climate), politics is not the same as it was at the beginning of the millennium. And no one is really certain where things are heading: there is evidence of erosion of democratic systems as well as inspiring examples of democratic resilience and innovation, party strategies are changing, values and norms are called into question,  voter loyalties and calculations are shifting, various protest movements are gathering strength and the repertoires of political behaviour are being reshaped. The symposium will consider these developments, focusing in particular on how far-right and populists parties, as well as different social movements have responded to changed circumstances.

Moderator-discussant: Stefano Braghiroli (University of Tartu)


Vassilis Petsinis (University of Tartu) – Elections in times of global pandemic: a comparative perspective

Katrin Uba (Uppsala University) – How does an Estonian protest look like? Repertoires, claims and targets of protests mobilized since the 1990s

Stefano Braghiroli (University of Tartu) – MEPs' voting perspective on COVID19: The European Parliament to the test of global pandemic

Louis Wierenga (University of Tartu) – Populism and the radical right in Central and East Europe: Diverging or converging in post-crisis

2. Governance in the digital era: opportunities and challenges

The panel addresses opportunities and challenges associated with the increasing reliance on digital technologies in governance. Democratic societies around the world face the question of how to reap the benefits of new technologies, such as increased efficiency and effectiveness, while safeguarding privacy and ensuring security and equal access. The panel welcomes papers focusing on technological, behavioral, legal, and cultural aspects of digital innovation in the public sector.

3. Liberal norms in post-liberal times: the EU and its Eastern neighbors

The panel aims at discussing various concepts through which the EU builds its relational identity in communicating / interacting with its post-Soviet neighbors. This theme is part of a larger debate on the current transformations within the (neo)liberal international order, largely triggered by controversies stemming from encounters between and intermingling of liberal and illiberal practices. These transformations are paralleled by EU’s more definite self-characterization in global terms and are often discussed through the prism of a growing securitization of EU’s foreign policy engagements. However, they are also marked by a gradual shift from the post-political ‘normative power’ lexicon to such concepts as resilience and “European way of life” that in one way or another connote biopolitical momentum in EU’s self-conceptualization. In a series of case studies, mostly focused on Eastern Partnership countries and Central Asia, panelists intend to critically assess (neo)liberal normativity and discuss lessons drawn by the EU from external norm projection.

Moderator-discussant: Prof. Viacheslav Morozov (Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu)


Dr. Prof. Fabiene Bossuyt (Department of Political Science, University of Ghent) – The ‘good life’ as an alternative to neo-liberal governance: proposing a post-development approach to EU resilience-building in Central Asia

Dr. Matthew Blackburn (University of Uppsala) – Civilizational and geopolitical narratives at home; populist alliances abroad? The nature of Russia’s discursive challenge to the EU Eastern Partnership

Prof. Andrey Makarychev (Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu) – After the Lockdown: Covid-19 and EU’s Eastern Borders

4. Challenges of welfare state

In this panel, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of the responsibilities of the welfare state across several branches of social protection, from newborns to the elderly. The panel starts from the historical perspective, and critically questions the binding nature of the social protection provision of the Estonian Constitution of 1920. This leads to a broader discussion about the validity, enforceability and withdrawal of the promises made by the welfare state and the debatable balance between the responsibilities of the state and the individual. The presentations further observe current developments in selected spheres of social protection – support to vulnerable families in child protection cases, and social rehabilitation and old-age pensions. The panel points out that the government has played a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens in the traditional understanding of a welfare state. However, the modern approaches place growing responsibility on the individual and make increasing use of the wider potential of society. Thus, the ‘provider’ state has shifted towards a more liberal ‘guarantor’ state that concentrates to the regulatory and supervisory functions. Challenging times induce the question whether the state is able to shift this position and fulfil its role as a guarantor or whether the changing times require a renewed distribution of the responsibilities. 


Marju Luts-Sootak, Hesi Siimets-Gross, Karin Visnapuu (University of Tartu) – Social Protection as a Constitutional Challenge. Early Experiences of Estonia

Mari-Liis Viirsalu (University of Tartu) – Marketisation of social services: legal implications of redistributing responsibilities of the State. The case of social rehabilitation services in Estonia

Katre Luhamaa (University of Tartu) – European welfare states fulfilling their promises to the youngest vulnerable children? Comparing eight European jurisdictions.

Gaabriel Tavits (University of Tartu) –  Elderly people in the society – responsibility of the state or an individual?

5. Child and childhood vulnerability: Who cares? 

Vulnerability is a universal feature of humankind. However, children are specifically vulnerable because of their dependant status. Their problems cumulate in everyday life and endanger doing their agency. The panel will discuss subjective well-being of children in the context of Estonian pronatalist family policy and comparatively with children from many other countries of the world by drawing data from international Children’s Worlds Study (representative samples of 8-, 10- and 12 years old children). The panel will ask, does low subjective well-being of children matter in terms of a future society. Who cares and who is responsible?

Moderator-discussant: Prof. Dagmar Kutsar (University of Tartu) – Child and childhood vulnerability in the context of pronatalist ageing societies: Introduction


Oliver Nahkur (University of Tartu) – How vulnerable are children in Estonia: a comparative perspective

Kadri Soo (University of Tartu) – Emotional wellbeing of children: do children’s rights matter?

Heleen Lauwereys (University of Ghent) – Sentencing the parents, punishing the children? The role of children’s best interests in Belgian sentencing decisions

Judit Strömpl (University of Tartu) – Children in Estonian judicial proceedings: A narrative analysis of children’s stories about their experiences

6. Personality and well-being

There is ample research showing the impact of personality on important life outcomes. In this symposium, we concentrate on studies that help understand the relationships between personality traits and well-being (including subjective well-being and health-related quality of life). We discuss conceptual and methodological issues, as well as the recent relevant research.

Moderator-discussant: Kenn Konstabel (University of Tartu), Filip de Fruyt (University of Ghent)


Liisi Kööts-Ausmees (Univesity of Tartu) – Subjective health, well-being and personality

Kelli Lehto (Univesity of Tartu) – Childhood adoption and mental health in adulthood: utilizing genetic data to look at gene-environment interplay between genetic risk and family related stress

Kenn Konstabel (Univesity of Tartu) – Correlated changes in health behaviours, well-being and personality

Filip de Fruyt (University of Ghent) – Personality and well-being

7. Productivity and technological change: determinants and effects

The session will include papers on the determinants of productivity (e.g. innovation activities, foreign direct investments etc) and socio-economic effects of technological changes. The session will include in particular papers from the H2020 project GROWINPRO (

Moderator-discussant: Jaan Masso (University of Tartu)


Ilona Pavlenkova (University of Tartu), Luca Alfieri (University of Tartu) – Technology adoption and employment dynamics: effects of automation and gender pay gap

Jaan Masso (University of Tartu), Priit Vahter (University of Tartu) – Learning by supplying in global value chains: indirect FDI spillover effects

Ruben Dewitte, Bruno Merlevede and Glenn Rayp (Ghent University) – Gains From Trade: Demand, Supply and Idiosyncratic Uncertainty

Giovanni Dosi, Marco Grazzi (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy), Le Li, Luigi Marengo, Simona Settepanella – Aggregate Productivity Growth in the Presence of (Persistently) Heterogeneous Firms

8. The replication crisis and application craze: how do they interact? 

Behavioral science has witnessed two parallel trends during the last decade: the growing popularity of applying psychological insights to solve real-world problems at a large scale (e.g. nudging, wise interventions, mental health apps) and the growing realization that some of these insights are unreliable (i.e., the replication crisis). We invite presentations that discuss aspects of how these two trends do or should interact. The questions to be addressed can include but need not to be limited to: Does the replication crisis invalidate or further justify real life intervention studies? What can small-scale lab studies learn from large-scale nudging studies? How to apply the remedies to replication crises in large-scale interventions?

Chair: Kairi Kreegipuu (Univeristy of Tartu) 

Moderator: Nele Põldver (Univeristy of Tartu) 


Prof Kairi Kreegipuu (Univeristy of Tartu) – Validity-applicability trap in behavioural sciences: is there a way out?

Uku Vainik (Univeristy of Tartu) – How to measure the psyche and why does it matter?

Kristian Pentus (Univeristy of Tartu) – Aspects in eye tracking - easily overlooked methodological concerns

9. Migration

Europe faced in the late 2000s increasing migration flows from the African continent, in particular after the Arab Spring and the increasing instability in North Africa and the Middle East. This accentuated in 2015, when Germany announced a welcoming policy, which led to a massive arrival of immigrants and to the consequent opposition of a number of other European countries, such as Hungary, which did perceive this policy as a negative example. Other regions in the world are equally affected, with similar problems such as the Venezuelan crisis, and the in Asia due to ethnic persecution. These migration crises in different parts of the world highlight the inadequacy of the existing governance structures of the national and supra-national institutions to deal with issues. In practice, the solution proved difficult, and the question of how to deal with migrants remains unsolved. The aim of the panel is to analyse migration flows and migration governance from a number of analytical perspectives:
-    Analysis of the socio-economic determinants of international migration flows in different world regions: Central America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
-    Migration governance in developing and developed countries and its implications
-    Changing dynamics in internal and international migrations
-    Effects of immigration on the labour market of the receiving countries
-    Refugee flows and impact on migration governance in the long term

Moderator-discussant: Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso (University of Goettingen)


Adriana Cardozo (University of Goettingen) – The Impact of Migration on Wages in Costa Rica

Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso (University of Goettingen) – Extreme Climatic Events and South-North Migration

Felicitas Nowak-Lehmann (University of Goettingen) – Migration and Asylum Flows to Germany: Facts and Analysis

Luis Pávez Díaz (University of Goettingen) – Remittances Flows and Covid-19 in Latin American Countries

10. Gender and development

This panel focus on issues related to gender-gaps in labour force participation and entrepreneurship. It aims to cover a broad spectrum of female engagement on economic activities and the constraints faced in relation to access to credit, discriminatory laws, etc.

Moderator-discussant: Anna Minasyan (University of Groningen)


Sarah Khan (University of Goettingen) – The transition from female education to work/marriage in Pakistan: The role of financial shocks and marital customs

Manuel Santos Silva (University of Goettingen) – Right-wing populism in the tropics: Economics crisis, the political gender gap, and the election of Bolsonaro

Liza van Grafenstein (University of Goettingen) – Why are Indian Children So Short? The Role of Birth Order and Son Preference - Replication and Extension

Anna Minasyan (University of Groningen) – The role of conflict is sex discrimination: the case of missing girls

11. Who moves out from the ethnically segregated neighbourhoods – does school and ethnic context matter?

There are increasingly clear lines between neighbourhoods where the wealthy, the educated, the middle class and the less affluent live in the cities worldview. Spatial clustering of people with similar backgrounds in terms of income and ethnic origin is not a new phenomenon; it has been a feature in historic cities, and it is occurring everywhere in the world today, be it Paris banlieue, New Delhi slums or the rich neighborhoods on the coast of the Baltic Sea. This panel discussion focuses on the impacts of residential segregation and inequalities that place of residence might have on resident’s life path focusing criminology, income and education.
Panel questions:
- Why people with similar socio-economic backgrounds gather to particular neighbourhoods and how it affects the development of those and near-by communities?
- What is the role of housing and residential segregation on the increase or decrease of socio-economic inequalities?
- How residential segregation based on ethnicity, language or income and education are connected?
- How does the neighbourhood of residence and living environment influence one’s loyalty to state, risks of radicalization or criminal behavior?

Moderator-discussant: Kadri Leetmaa (University of Tartu)


Kati Kadarik (Uppsala University)

Christophe Vandeviver (Ghent University)

David Leonard Knapp (University of Tartu)