Second ISA Forum of Sociology, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1-4 August 2012

Research Committee on
Economy and Society, RC02

  on-line programme

Programme Coordinator

William CARROLL, University of Victoria, Canada, wcarroll@uvic.ca

RC02 Liaison in Argentina
Ariel Wilkis , Universidad Nacional de San Martín, ariel.wilkis@googlemail.com

Volunteer at the venue
Maria Florence Blanco Esmaris, blancoesmaris@hotmail.com

Deadlines

All Forum participants (presenters, chairs, discussants, etc.) need to pay the early registration fee by April 10, 2012, in order to be included in the programme. If not registered, their names will not appear in the Programme or Abstracts Book.

Sessions

provisional as of March 15, 2012, in alphabetical order

 

Alternatives to neoliberal globalization: Comparing counter-hegemonic projects - Part I

Joint session of RC02 Economy and Society and RC07 Futures Research [host committee]
The global financial system has increased inequalities through booms and crises. Far from collapsing, global capitalism keeps permuting. The rise of Brazil, Russia, India and China has led to a new multipolarity. Transnationally linked civil society actors protested the neoliberal mode of globalization and the activities of transnational corporations, governments, and intergovernmental organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF.

The huge demonstrations in Prague, Washington, Seattle, Genoa, and Cancún were televised to global audiences, as had been images of the earlier Zapatista uprising of Mayan peasants in Chiapas. Latin American countries have catapulted into positions of power a wave of new populist leaders from Hugo Chávez in Venezuela to Ollanta Humala in Peru. Spending cuts in the wake of the recent financial crisis have triggered protest throughout the Euro zone, most visibly in Greece and Spain.

What alternative projects do the diverse actors in the Global South and the Global North articulate? How can they overcome the linguistic and cultural barriers, and how do they manage to network across borders and vastly different local contexts? How do they interact with transnational elites, the mass media, and repressive forces? – This session welcomes scholars working on any of these aspects from a theoretical, empirical, and/or normative viewpoint.

 

Conflicting economies, livelihoods and social-environmental interactions in coastal regions

Joint session of RC02 Economy and Society and RC24 Environment and Society [host committee]
The decline of fisheries around the world has a profound impact on livelihoods and collective identities in coastal communities. However, coastal environments remain key sites of social interaction with nature, through tourism, offshore oil development and aquaculture. Each of these economies and livelihoods offers a different vision for the future of coastal communities, and they produce different types of environmental risks and impacts. They also often come into conflict with each other, as was spectacularly demonstrated by the impacts of the recent BP oil spill on local fisheries and tourist economies in the Gulf of Mexico. This session invites papers that analyse the tensions and conflicts among divergent models of economic development and social interaction with coastal environments.

 

Diversity in corporate networks

Elite ‘old boys’ networks of corporate directors are, in general, not well regarded. The closed network restricts the pool of talent from which new directors can be recruited and reinforces established social cleavages in our societies. Both in public discussion as in academic debates there have been many calls for a more diverse board composition.

The (dis)advantages of less homogeneous boards have predominantly been studied from an individual firm perspective. In this perspective diversity is related to board efficacy. This research however suffers from the problem of causality: are successful firms recruiting minorities or is it in fact the other way around. Nevertheless, a wide consensus remains in place concerning the need for more homines novi to be recruited on corporate board, especially women and ethnic minorities. If not for the positive effect on board performance, diversity enhances representation. In that sense diversity is an inherent good and part and parcel of the democratization of society.

This suggests that one can also approach the issue of diversity from a business community perspective. Corporate elite networks express demographic and political changes in society, but they have hardly been studied as such. Taking this new perspective opens up a wide variety of new and exciting questions this panel invites to ask, such as: how large has the inflow of homines novi actually been and what has been the effect on the corporate elite networks, both in its structure as in its content. Do the norms and values that govern the business community change when de composition of the business elite changes? Do the new directors also bring more trust and better reputation? Does diversity have an impact on the structure of the corporate networks? Does diversity indeed improve the efficacy of the corporate networks? And how did the call for governmental or quasi-governmental control following the financial crisis caused new recruitment patterns?

The aim of this session is to ask these and related questions and build an answer from a business community perspective.

 

Economic sociology: New approaches from Latin America

This session invites scholars producing innovative research in the area of economic sociology in or about Latin American countries. Possible topics include: organizations, cultural economy, economic performativity, work and professions, the social production of markets, money and finance, network analysis, and business-state relationships studies, among others. The session invites to discuss the way economic sociology (as an innovative approach to the so-called "economic objects") has contributed to the understanding of issues and processes relevant to the region. Also, it invites scholars who, thinking from Latin America, are making contributions to the development and innovation of new perspectives on Economic Sociology. The session also looks to creating networks among scholars who share an interest for the study of this topic in the region.

 

Economy, economists & public decision making

Since the sixties, the ways to develop, discuss and implement economic policy unveiled a new form of articulation between science and politics. Economic experts interact with the state and society, promoting or resisting certain reforms. At the intersection between academia, political parties, governmental agencies, mass media, business corporations and international agencies, these experts, frequently grouped in private think tanks, established themselves as a “passage point” in policy orientation on economic matters.

This panel welcomes empirical (qualitative and quantitative) papers, from economists as well as from historians, sociologists and political scientists, on the following topics:
  1. What have been the areas of interest and influence of economic knowledge and expertise? What events introduced turning points on these subjects and challenges?
  2. How do national scientific communities relate to international institutions and trends on economic matters? How are external alliances and support used locally in different periods by researchers, consultants and decision makers?
  3. What was the influence of professional economists’ on public decision making and/or on decision legitimation? (circumstances, issues, carriers, outcomes).
  4. Given the significance of economists’ influence recently in many Latin-American countries, what ideological, political and institutional dimensions would allow to establish differences and similarities across these cases?
  5. What are the consequences of the strong engagement of economic scientific communities with specific reforms? How do economic and political crises impact on scientific communities and their relations to political parties and elites? Can we identify changes in national economic scientific communities and public decision making on the economy since the left-turn in Latin American politics?

 

Global stratification

This session invites presentations that are engaged in research and theoretical development on the issues concerning the relationship between globalization and stratification.

The session will include comparative studies of various spatial and temporal scales—such as the comparisons across different periods, countries, and regions as well as comparisons between different periods of globalization. The topics of the session include the evolution of stratification and inequality, the impact of globalization on stratification at different levels, the influence of global stratification on each country or region, regional growth and its dynamic consequences for global stratification, and the relationship between- and within-county stratification/inequality over time.

This session engages the discussion on the complex relationships among globalization and economic, political, and social changes that revolve around global stratification. It is also intended to include the debate between those who see a single world society emerging with a global class system and those who see a continuing core/periphery hierarchy composed of different national societies. Both quantitative studies of changes in the amount of global inequality over time and studies that examine qualitative changes in global stratification are encouraged.

 

Informal economies and the ethnography of economic life.

 

Knowledge based economies and networks of knowledge transfer

Joint session of RC02 Economy and Society [host committee] and RC23 Sociology of Science and Technology
Many academics and researchers have demonstrated the strong relationship among science and technology investment and GPI growth. This statement has become a fruitful inspiration to relatively new development recipes for developing countries. Some countries have growth. Nevertheless, other countries are still far away from thinking about a knowledge-based economy. Why? What are the consequences?

Thousands of corporations, governments and universities across the world have benefited from knowledge transfer. Networks have played a key role to expand, assimilate and adapt global knowledge. What are the configurations of these networks at regional and national level? What are the impacts of adopting a knowledge development model that has been generalized to every national system? How could a knowledge regime emerge and what are their characteristics and possibilities in different countries and regions?

This joint session tries to understand successes and failures in implementing knowledge-based economy models; conflicts between knowledge, economic and political regimens; and the configuration and consequences of knowledge networks on economics, politics and society. Our goal is to present and discuss the determinants, mechanisms and impacts of knowledge-based economies and networks of knowledge transfer.

 

Latin America and global social change

This session will include research papers on how the processes of globalization have impacted and been effected by developments in Latin America over the past few decades. Transnational social movements and populist regimes in Latin America have challenged the logic of neoliberal capitalism. A new global indigenism asserts the rights of nature, while Latin American cities have become some of the largest urban areas on Earth. The Social Forum process has tried to move toward populist collaboration of grass roots movements across the Global South. These developments and others will be studied in the papers presented on this session.

 

Neoliberalism and recomposition of Latin American elites. Part I

 

Neoliberalism and recomposition of Latin American elites. Part II

 

Organizing global and domestic finances

Joint session of RC02 Economy and Society [host committee] and RC17 Sociology of Organizations
Recent fluctuations in finance have important implications for contemporary sociology. The impressive technological transformation of financial markets since the 70s attracted the attention of Science and Technology (STS) scholars who have made a very convincing case for introducing non human agents (such as: screens, formulae, trading rooms, and economics itself) as essential characters of economic lives. Related work has drawn attention to the processes through which an apparently ever increasing array of objects are measured, calculated, valued, qualified, financialised or in some other sense `economized`.

More recently, the sub-prime crisis has dramatically exposed how finance is not just a dis-embedded game played by a global elite, but is intricately tied to domestic economies. In this context, increasing sociological attention is given to the analysis of retail finance (such as mortgage and consumer credit) and insurance, and the complex socio-technical chains that connect these services (through risk ratings, securitization, and even public guaranteed credit) and global markets.

Finally, the crisis has become a compulsory impulse to rethink classical concerns in economic and organisational sociology, such as the relationship between the economic and the `social`, between regulations and the management of technological uncertainty and the balance between market, quasi-market and non-market players in the organization of global finance. What all these developments point to is the significance of the techniques, technologies, processes and practices which combine to organize global and domestic finance. Papers responding to or extending these issues are welcome.

 

Organizing markets

Joint session of RC02 Economy and Society and RC17 Sociology of Organizations [host committee]
“Organizing a market” is normally associated with central planning. However in neo-liberal contexts markets are also organized. In this latter case organization has to do with both the already classical sociological suggestion that exchange is embedded in institutions and regulations, as well as the consequences of a particular form of government that has proliferated since the late seventies, namely producing markets. In this context, markets have been created in areas as diverse as education, health, transport, housing and even pollution. To describe and to understand these processes has become one of the central concerns of contemporary sociology.

Some of the issues that have gathered more attention are: the consolidation of economics as a global advisory profession and the performative character of this type of knowledge; the costly processes of enacting the subjects and objects of exchange (firms, consumers, goods, price making mechanisms); and the continuous surprises and conflicts produced when the outcomes of the markets are not what were expected (failures, crises, crashes).

In this session, we welcome articles that both describe the process of producing and organizing markets as policies and that use their evidence not only to criticize marketization but also to reflect on how sociological knowledge could be useful to find better and alternative forms of managing these complex organizations.

 

Organizing the production of alternative visions to support social justice

Joint session of RC02 Economy and Society and RC44 Labor Movements [host committee]
Since the mid-1970s, but particularly since the 1990s, alternative think tanks, policy groups, popular institutes and other sites of counter-hegemonic knowledge production and mobilization have generated important ideas, both visionary and strategic, for a ‘globalization from below’ in which transnational social movements have often been leading protagonists. Groups such as the Transnational Institute (Amsterdam), Instituto Paulo Freire and Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes (Sao Paulo), Focus on the Global South (Bangkok), Centre for Civil Society (Durban) and Asia Monitor Resource Centre (Hong Kong) have served as ‘collective intellectuals’, critiquing corporate agendas and promoting democratic alternatives to neoliberal globalization in contestations that often transect national borders. This panel session welcomes papers and presentations that explore the challenges and possibilities in organizing the production of alternative visions, strategies, critiques and modes of analysis to support social and eco-justice. How is counter-hegemonic knowledge produced, mobilized and articulated with on-the ground activism? What alternative projects and methodologies are emerging for strengthening anti-systemic forces? How does counter-hegemonic knowledge production contribute to a new left anti-capitalist politics and to the formation of new subjectivities from below? Papers that take up issues relating to labour movements and/or economy and society are particularly welcome, as are presentations from activist intellectuals directly engaged in the production of alternative visions and strategies

 

Panel session: Intellectual property, democracy and social justice

Whether we realize it or not, intellectual property (IP) affects our lives in many different ways. From structuring current economic systems to our daily communications, the rights to “creations of the mind” structure our economic interactions and have become salient features of the political landscape. The subject and its implications, however, remain under-theorized and under-researched by economic sociologists. The regular panel session with five 20-mintue presentations invites scholars to submit papers for presentation about the topic of intellectual property (IP) and its relationship to social justice, democratic politics, capitalism, and equality. The scope of IP is broad as it affects the universities we work at, the provision of health care, the entertainment industry and the high-tech industry. Governance structures of IP are also changing at the national and global levels, so the impact of IP on developing countries’ industrial policies, health systems, and agricultural systems are particularly invited, as are papers on that relate IP to human rights, social movements, and alternative knowledge regimes.

 

RC02 Business Meeting

 

RC02 Economy and Society Round Table Session

The ethnography of economic life

In the last few years, there has been a renewed interest in the close-up examination of economic life. Ethnographic methods have been crucial for recent research that sheds light on the workings of trade-floors and the financial world in general, the intersections between economy and culture, the conflictive relations between market and non-market exchanges, the relations between commodities and gifts, the uses of money and credit, the world of economic policy-making and expertise, the complexity of currencies, the configuration of markets and economic subjects, and the nature of calculation in the economy, among other topics. This session invites innovative work based on substantial participant observation of economic life, broadly considered. Papers in English, Spanish or Portuguese are welcome.

 

Theorizing gender, state and economy

Feminist political economists interrogate assumptions about the nature and consequences of changing (re)production processes, practices and structures, and argue that narrow conceptualizations of the capitalist economy cannot fully explain valorization processes and distributional patterns. Gendering institutional architectures of capitalism provide a stronger edifice for building a more inclusive and integrative framework to consider the structuring influence of gender relations within and across households, states, civil societies and firms. The type of welfare state regime, gender regime, and variety of capitalism are consequential for determining the relative “inclusion and exclusion” of different groups or configuration of inequalities. This session on “Theorizing gender, state and economy” encourages papers that address the theme in comparative perspective.

Questions that might be covered include: What do we gain or lose from different methodological and interpretive strategies and from conducting research at different levels of analysis (micro, meso and macro)? How can our comparative perspectives be historical and dynamic? What temporal concepts (such as tipping points) or complexity theory are appropriate? What accounts for the different state responses to crisis of reproduction? How do varieties of gender regimes affect different trajectories? Does the social organization of care (structures of social reproduction) matter in explaining differences? Are there significant differences in public sector occupational patterns among women across countries? Should the “third sector” (non-profits) be integrated in welfare state theory? How might this change our understanding of welfare state regimes? What role and impact do gender politics and women’s mobilization have on trajectories of change?

 

Work, labour, and climate change

While few countries in the Global North or the Global South ignore the socio-political pressures exerted by climate change, there is a puzzling silence about the role of the work world in responding to climate change. On the one hand, work and workplaces of every type—schools, farms, hospitals and stores as well as mines, factories and home offices—are major producers of greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs)—the principal source of climate warming. On the other, work and workplaces can also be powerful agents in reducing the production of GhGs, through ‘greening’ jobs and ‘green-adapting’ the organisation of work.

The impact of climate warming is unequal geographically, socially and by gender, and the inequalities are likely to intensify. As public policies and labour market organisations respond to climate warming, training and education, labour markets, trade unions, and the organisation of work itself, feel the pressure to restructure. The unequal impact of climate change is already shaking things up, and with it comes a renewal of workplace environmental activism which is, unexpectedly, intergenerational.

Topics of particular but not exclusive interest are these:
-Impact both of climate change and responding to climate change in specific economic sectors, Global North and/or the Global South
-Youth environmental activism and trade union renewal
-Climate change, Climate migration and industrial relations systems
-Best practice, good practice, and bad practice in trade union response to climate change
-What role for the State in making a green turn in the work world?
-Public policies in environment and employment: comparative or country studies

 

 

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November 2012