Challenging Linearity-Third Annual International Conference School of Economics and Social Sciences, IBA Karachi


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The constantly evolving and intricate knowledge landscape of our times makes it increasingly challenging to answer long-standing questions about our society, economy, and environment through linear and myopic conceptualisations. This 'fatigue of imagination' is evident in several fields and is sometimes influenced by ideological biases that overlook institutional biases, power imbalances, and historical legacies of our social, economic and political systems. This may explain our inadequate progress in addressing issues like economic disadvantage, social isolation, discrimination, and psychological distress. This year's conference aims to recognise these challenges and explore how they are reflected in different social sciences disciplines.

Overarching Idea:

As we live in an era where the knowledge landscape is rapidly changing and becoming more complex, answering age-old questions about our society, economy, and environment has become more challenging today than ever before. In the wake of this change and challenge, falling back on linear and myopic conclusions is sometimes all too irresistible. A fatigue of imagination that leads to easy answers seems to be prevalent within several disciplines and is sometimes driven by ideological biases. Resultantly, the progress in addressing economic disadvantage, social isolation, and discrimination, psychological distress remains suboptimal often because of linear conceptual frameworks which fail to recognize institutional biases, power imbalances, and historical legacies and their differential impact on individuals and communities.
Such realizations reinforce the need to re-examine what we perceive as self-evident, the-only-logical, and the-only-workable solutions. How can we register and process the most important social, technological, economic, institutional, and environmental questions of our time without succumbing too much to linear thinking? Instead of simplifying (and undermining) complexity, how do we equip ourselves to acknowledge, embrace and work with it? In what ways does linearity manifest itself in our lives and our world? Is there a substitute for linear thinking? What are the generative possibilities of non-linearity and what fears do they evoke?

This year's conference will acknowledge these challenges and shall strive to understand how these changes and challenges reflect in different disciplines of social sciences and deliberate on pertinent social sciences questions, particularly concerning the following themes.

Competitiveness, Productivity, and Growth

The linear conception of interdependent and dynamic processes that regulate the relationship between competitiveness, productivity, and economic growth sometimes results in situations like the “productivity paradox", “competitiveness trap”, and the "race to the bottom". The policies that follow can backfire on economic growth due to declining wages, labor exploitation, worsening working conditions, and declining aggregate domestic consumption. Papers invited under this theme of CBERCON2023 should appreciate the complex relationship between competitiveness, productivity, and economic growth and display how variables such as innovation and technology adoption, human capital development, and the regulatory environment mediate it.

Monetary Policy Effectiveness, and Inflation

The monetary policy and macroeconomic stabilization nexus involve complex and non-linear processes involving the responsiveness of consumers and businesses to changes in interest rates, the level of economic activity, and the structure of any economy. Papers invited under this theme of CBERCON2023 should appreciate the effectiveness of various monetary policy tools and transmission mechanisms in controlling inflation and promoting economic growth. Studies that help to understand the footprint of inflation on households, businesses, financial institutions, and distributional aspects of monetary policy are highly encouraged.

Insights from Complex Economic Datasets

Uncovering meaningful insights from large and complex economic datasets through machine learning and artificial intelligence is in itself a challenge to linearity. The use of big data presents both exciting opportunities and challenges for economists and social and data scientists to dare to study non-linear relationships that govern social and economic exchanges. For this theme of the CBERCON2023, we welcome the contributions that use big data to unearth complex and nuanced insights into social and economic phenomena and study, and among other areas, the relationship between important social and economic variables and social media and advertisement and consumer behaviors.

Equalizing Opportunities

Inequality is a paradox and has a very complex relationship to economic and social progress. While a kind of inequality that originates from the level of effort one puts into a productive activity may be good for the economic development of societies, another kind of inequality that originates from circumstances beyond one’s control needs serious attention. The concept of equalizing opportunities refers to creating a level playing field for individuals, regardless of their socio-economic background. Under this theme of CBERCON2023, we welcome contributions that unveil the complex structural factors that perpetuate inequality and help recognize, understand, and address them in our social and economic systems.

Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Psychology

Linear thinking in psychology results in oversimplification and decontextualization of complex socio-psychological phenomena by ignoring the interplay of biological, environmental, cultural, and social factors that shape human behavior. Without focusing on the connections between psychology and other disciplines, understanding human behavior and psychological phenomena would remain partial at its best. Under this theme of CBERCON2023, we invite contributions that go beyond interventions and research designs adapted from the Global North and engage in inter- and multidisciplinary dialogue in the fields of clinical, counseling, social, behavioral, health, community, environmental psychology, and localized psychometrics tests.

Questioning the Known in Political Science

The influence of domestic political actors on international processes, the formation of public opinion through media, interest groups, and national institutions, as well as the impact of transnational pressures on domestic policies, and the negotiation between political parties and non-political actors, are pressing questions of political science. As the political processes become more intertwined, the traditional boundaries between national, international, and transnational pressures, as well as social and economic processes, become blurred. Under this theme of CBERCON2023, we invite research papers that provide a re-evaluation of existing theoretical frameworks and models, and assumptions of linearity within various sub-fields of political sciences while exploring these complex dynamics.

Rethinking Media, Communication, and Culture

Complexity is nowhere more evident than in media and cultural production due to the diversity of perspectives, experiences, and contexts. Under this theme of CBERCON2023, we invite contributions that challenge Western linear thinking and philosophical impositions by exploring how media and social formations in the Global South can be understood through local realities and norms. It should also examine divergences and contestations from dominant theories, methods, and epistemologies in media and culture studies. Additionally, contributions should explore the unique functions of media in shaping local and global realities, and the distinct characteristics of various media forms, and consider how aesthetics, production methods, and audience dynamics challenge prevailing media frameworks.

Governance and Non-traditional Security Challenges

Contemporary security challenges have become diverse, more complex, and nonlinear, encompassing diverse issues like climate change, environmental degradation, nuclear concerns, energy access, water resources, food security, cyberspace, economic interdependence, pandemics, and migration. These non-traditional security threats (NTST) involve various state and non-state actors, their communication and financing methods, their networks, resources, tools, strategies, and interests, and require alternative forms of governance. This sub-theme of CBERCON2023 invites contributions that explore the nature of non-traditional security threats, the involvement of states, institutions, networks, communities, and individuals in addressing these threats, their varied impacts on different demographic groups, and the utilization of technology to address NTSTs.

Food-Water-Energy Nexus

The interdependence of food, water, and energy resources is one of the major links through which human-environmental interaction takes shape at various levels. Human decisions related to any of these resources will intricately impact the other two in highly complex and multifaceted ways and, therefore, requires interdisciplinary perspectives from various fields. This sub-theme of CBERCON2023 invites contributions that innovate ways to make food affordable and accessible to all without incurring further environmental degradation; methods for sectoral energy and water demands through complex trade-offs, resource use efficiency, equity and productivity, and use of technology in managing this nexus according to the principles of sustainable development.

Important Dates:

Deadline for submission of Abstracts        July 24, 2023
Deadline for submission of full paper        August 20, 2023
Notification of accepted papers                September 4, 2023
Conference Event                                     November 16 – 18, 2023



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Main Campus, IBA, University of Karachi, University Road

75270 Karachi , Pakistan