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Besnik Pula

Besnik Pula, Associate Professor and Director of International Studies

Besnik Pula portrait
Besnik Pula, Associate Professor and Director of International Studies

Department of Political Science
International Studies Program (0448)
Major Williams Hall 119B
220 Stanger Street
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-8475 |

Dr. Pula is a political economist and social theorist. He has researched and published on social movements, nationalism, empire, colonial urbanism, agrarian politics, communist industrialization, and the globalization of production in the postcommunist world. He has also written on critical realism, organizational analysis, comparative historical methods, and phenomenology and interpretive social science. His first book, Globalization Under and After Socialism: The Rise of Transnational Capital in Central and Eastern Europe (Stanford University Press, 2018), was based on archival research, reconstructed historical data and extensive fieldwork across five countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The book develops a novel interpretation that challenges dominant understandings of the nature of economic "transitions" in Central and Eastern Europe. His new book, Alfred Schutz, Phenomenology, and the Renewal of Interpretive Social Science (Routledge, 2024) critically reevaluates and recasts the contributions of phenomenology, and particularly the groundbreaking work of Austrian-American theorist Alfred Schutz to interpretive social science. Pula is currently investigating the implications of Schutzian phenomenology for the historical social sciences and critical social and political analysis and advancing applications of the Schutzian-based political economy of knowledge he has developed in his book. In particular, he is examining the contentious social distributions of expert and lay knowledge that have characterized the global rise and diffusion of computing technology.

Prior to his arrival at Virginia Tech, Dr. Pula was Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center for the Study of Social Organization at Princeton University, Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, and Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. He has held fellowships from the National Science Foundation, Fulbright-Hays Program, International Research and Exchanges Board, and the American Council for Learned Societies. Currently, Dr. Pula serves as Director of the International Studies Program and is also Associate Director for Academic Affairs at the Center for European and Transatlantic Studies (CEUTS). He is a faculty affiliate of the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical and Cultural Thought (ASPECT), and the Center for Future Work Places and Practices (CFWPP). Recently, Dr. Pula served as a consultant for the Government of the Republic of Kosovo in the creation of the country's sovereign wealth fund.  

  • Global and Comparative Political Economy
  • Post-Communist Transformations
  • Social and Political Theory
  • Qualitative and multi-method research
  • PhD, University of Michigan
  • MA, Georgetown University
  • BA, Hunter College
  • American Sociological Association
  • American Political Science Association
  • International Studies Association
  • Council for European Studies
  • Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
  • Honorable Mention, Distinguished Scholarly Contribution Award, Section on the History of Sociology and Social Thought, American Sociological Association, 2023
  • Recipient, American Sociological Association Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and the National Science Foundation, “Understanding the Current Economic Crisis and its Social Impacts,” 2012-14. Host institution: Princeton University. 
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, “Institutional Change in Contemporary Capitalism,” 2012-13 (Declined). 
  • Reinhard Bendix Best Graduate Student Paper Award, Section on Comparative and Historical Sociology, American Sociological Association, 2008


Alfred Schutz, Phenomenology, and the Renewal of Interpretive Social Science (New York: Routledge, 2024).

Globalization Under and After Socialism: The Evolution of Transnational Capital in Central and Eastern Europe (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2018).

Journal Articles

“What Does a Phenomenological Theory of Social Objects Mean?”. Human Studies, Vol. 45 (2022), pp. 509-528.

“Does Phenomenology (Still) Matter? Three Phenomenological Traditions and Sociological Theory,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, Vol. 35, No. 3 (2022).

“The Logico-Formalist Turn in Comparative and Case Study Methods: A Critical Realist Critique.” International Journal of Social Research Methodology, Vol. 24, No. 6 (2021), pp. 735-751.

“From habitus to pragma: A phenomenological critique of Bourdieu’s habitus,” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, Vol. 50, No. 3 (2020), pp. 248-262.

“Disembedded Politics: Neoliberal Reform and Labour Market Institutions in Central and Eastern Europe,” Government and Opposition, Vol. 55, No. 4 (2020), pp. 557-577.

“What Makes Firms Competitive? States, Markets, and Organisational Embeddedness in Competitive Firm Restructuring in Postsocialist Economies,” New Political Economy, Vol. 23, No. 4 (2018), pp. 458-474.

“Whither State Ownership? The Persistence of State-Owned Industry in Postsocialist Central and Eastern Europe,” Journal of East-West Business, Vol. 23, No. 4 (2017), pp. 309-336.

“Institutionalizing a Weak State: Law and Jurisdictional Conflict between Bureaucratic and Communal Institutions in the Albanian Highlands,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 57, No. 3 (2015), pp. 637-664.

“Effects of the European Financial and Economic Crisis in Kosovo and the Balkans: Modes of Integration and Transmission Belts of Crisis in the ‘Super-periphery’” East European Politics, Vol. 30, No. 4 (2014), pp. 507-525.

Book Chapters

Globalization Under and After Socialism: The Evolution of Transnational Capital in Central and Eastern Europe (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2018)
“Building the Cities of Empire: Urban Planning in the Colonial Cities of Italy’s Fascist Empire,” in George Steinmetz (ed.), Sociology and Empire (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013). 

“Iterations of Sovereignty: Kosovo and the New Mode of Peripheralization,” in Vida Knežević, Kristian Lukić, Ivana Marjanović and Gordana Nikolić (eds.), Free and Sovereign: Art, Theory and Politics. A Collection of Essays and Interviews on Kosovo and Serbia (Novi Sad, Serbia: NAPON, 2013).

  • CLAHS Niles Grant for the study of skill formation regimes in Hungary and the Czech Republic, 2017-18
  • American Sociological Association / National Science Foundation Fellowship for the study of the effects of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, 2012-14.
  • Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, US Department of Education, 2005-06.

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