Call for Papers: The Handbook of Failure

Handbook of Failure: Perspectives from Sociology and Other Social Sciences

Editors: Adriana Mica, Anna Horolets, Mikołaj Pawlak and Paweł Kubicki

Failure is one of the most complex and richest phenomena in the contemporary society. The possible angles of approach are multifaceted and situated at the intersection of various disciplines. Failure may turn out to be a success, but it may also turn out to be an ultimate experience. It may mobilize and push forward, but it may also paralyze the economic activities of actors and organizations, or place these in a strange state of political and institutional inertia. Failure may persist, but it may also disappear overnight, as if it never happened. For social actors, there is nothing set and predictable about failure. To the same extent as there is nothing certain about processes such as success, social capital, power, entrepreneurship and the like.

This obvious appeal of failure makes its study a recurrent enterprise in social sciences. This, notwithstanding, the research on failure is rather dispersed and unable to transform into a more encompassing paradigm in sociology or other social sciences. What have concretized instead are several types of failure, as well as the study of institutionalization of failure, its persistence, and reaction to low performance in relation to these models. Some of these failure types have managed to attract followers and critical discussants. At the same time, the research persistence of downturn and reaction to low performance enjoyed considerable echo and continues to attract followers ever since. Yet, the opportunity and possibility to systematize all this knowledge and bring a general approach that would go beyond one type of failure, or the other has only recently been taken in consideration.

This is where the Handbook of Failure comes in. Its aim is to draw a comprehensive approach to this substantive issue that would bring the intermittent installments, both theoretical and methodological, under the same roof. The handbook will articulate findings about failure coming from sociology, social theory, anthropology, organization theory, public policy and management experience. Its aim is to show the theoretical linkages and brokerages that could be made between this field and other disciplines – such as sociology of uncertainty, sociology of ignorance, as well as that of social change.

The Handbook of Failure will cover the following four streams:

  • Failure in sociology or sociology of failure?
  • Definition of failure and related analytical concepts
  • Strategic research sites for the study of failure
  • Relation between failure and other processes


Topic outline:

The provisional list of the topics that will be covered in the handbook is available HERE (updated 17 April 2018).


Table of contents:

The provisional list of contributions is available HERE (password protected, updated 6 June 2018).



Contributions to this book project are welcome. For further details, please contact Adriana Mica (a.mica[at] prior to submission.

  • 30 April 2018 deadline extended to 31 May 2018 !! – extended abstract;
  • Late May 2019 – first submission


Technical details:

The extended abstract should be around 1,500 words and contain the idea that will be further developed in a publishable form.

Regarding the full papers for the review and manuscript selection process: