The Nordic and East / Central European Network for Qualitative Social Research

Charter for the network

1. Purpose

NECEN is an academic network for qualitative and micro-oriented social scientists based in the Nordic and East / Central European countries (East / Central Europe is here defined as the geographical region whose borders coincide with those of the former socialist countries in Eurasia).

NECEN's immediate goal is to increase our understanding of the changing conditions in the East / Central European region, by facilitating interdisciplinary and cross-regional academic cooperation among Nordic and East / Central European social scientists (anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, ethnologists, historians and others) who are engaged in qualitative and / or micro-oriented research in East / Central Europe. The network will also collaborate with leading international institutions in the field, and with independent NGO's, whose goals correspond to those of the network.

NECEN is based on a principle of reciprocity between Nordic and East / Central European research milieus. In the increasingly interdependent world of today, changes taking place in one locality will increasingly reverberate elsewhere, and research in East / Central Europe therefore has relevance for our understanding of the changes taking place in the Nordic countries. NECEN therefore encourages qualitative and micro-oriented research by East / Central European scholars in the Nordic countries, as well as comparative studies of localities in the two regions.

NECEN will work to achieve specific long-term benefits for the research communities in both of the participating regions:

The network gives particular attention to junior researchers, students and Ph.D.'s, by providing a non-hierarchical social space, where novices and established researchers may interact and learn from each other freely.

2. Membership

Membership in NECEN is open for individuals and institutions:

Individual membership is open for students and scholars who are based in the Nordic countries or the countries of East / Central Europe, and engaged in qualitative and / or micro-oriented research of society or culture in the East / Central European region. In addition, individual membership is open for:
(a)  East / Central European scholars and students doing research in the Nordic countries,
(b)  East / Central European and Nordic students doing research in East / Central Europe who study at institutions in other parts of the world, and:
(c)  Scholars with research experience in other parts of the world who teach at academic institutions in East / Central Europe.
For students, the minimal requirement for membership is that at least one independent field study with a relevant academic profile has been carried out.
Institutional membership is open for research and teaching institutions in the Nordic and East / Central European countries with a relevant academic profile. Institutional membership will be formalized with a written statement of intent, which includes an endorsement of the provisions in this charter.
Network membership is as a rule restricted to persons living and working within the East / Central European or Nordic countries. However, institutions and individuals permanently based outside these countries may be invited to participate as associated members.

All members will be included in the network's mailing list and will have their academic profile and contact details published on the network's homepage. Members will have priority for participation in events and activities organized by NECEN.

3. Steering group

NECEN is directed by a steering group, consisting of one representative from each of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden), and 4-6 representatives from countries in East / Central Europe. Each representative chooses a substitute, who may belong to the same or another institution than the representative. The steering group is self-recruiting.

4. Advisory Board

The steering group may invite a number of senior researchers in the field - from within or outside the participating regions - to form an advisory board for the network. The advisory board will serve as a resource base for the steering group, lend support to applications for funds etc.

5. Secretariat

The daily management of NECEN is conducted by a secretariat, consisting of the coordinator and his/her substitute. These may also recruit a secretary.

The secretariat performs the following functions:

The secretariat is initially located at the Institute of Anthropology in Copenhagen. The steering group may later move the secretariat to another institution.

6. Activities

NECEN is a project-based network, which offers a flexible framework for a wide range of cooperative academic activities. Members may organize themselves into sub-networks, and cooperate freely with institutions and individuals outside NECEN. In administrative terms, NECEN's main goal is to supply an infrastructure for this framework, by providing opportunities for discussion, cooperation, joint fund-raising, mobility and dissemination of information among its members.

Examples of projects that NECEN will encourage are comparative research, conferences, sub-regional and thematic workshops, convention of panels at non-NECEN conferences, joint publications, student and teacher exchange programs among participating institutions, intensive summer / field schools, curriculum development, etc. NECEN's steering group and secretariat will support such initiatives to the extent that it is practically possible, and will seek to acquire the means to further increase the possibilities for such support.

NECEN will organize a conference once every 2-3 years, thus continuing the Nordic and East / Central European conference series that has been kept up since 1994. The conference will rotate among the participating institutions, with the host institution carrying the main responsibility for practical organization and procurement of funds. The conference will be open for established researchers, Ph.D.'s and M.A. students.

Helsinki, October 19th 2003,

Vytis Ciubrinskas (Lithuania) Finn Sivert Nielsen (Denmark)
Elisabeth L'orange Fürst (Norway) Oleg Pachenkov (Russia)
Galina Lindquist (Sweden) Anna-Maria Salmi (Finland)
Vintila Mihailescu (Romania)
Klavs Sedlenieks (Latvia)