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

Research Committee on
Social Transformations and Sociology of Development, RC09

  on-line programme

Programme Coordinators

RC09 Liaison in Argentina
Mercedes Krause, Universidad de Buenos Aires,

Volunteer at the venue
Diego Paredes,


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.


provisional as of March 15, 2012, in alphabetical order


Economic globalization, culture, and the transformation of management practices

Modern economy is influenced by globalization. Enterprises need to compete in the global economy if they want to remain competitive. Nevertheless, the question is how local and national cultures can resist the economic pressures of global players or if they are obliged to adapt. But one can also ask what a globalizing economy can learn from cultures and how cultural particularities can or should be integrated in glocalized enterprises.

Which new capacities do global enterprises need to operate subsidiary firms and improve management techniques in the global South or in the East? It is no longer self-evident that Euro-American management practices can be transplanted to non-Western cultures as it was the case some years ago. Instead local and transnational managers have begun to challenge their own values and to adapt foreign values to local cultures to create synergies needed for economic success. First studies on these topics have been done in the last years but it seems as if we need more case studies.

This session invites abstracts on case studies from regions of the global South, Eastern Europe or other emerging economies that analyze local experiences with “globalized” management practices. We will consider the following questions: Are human beings all over the world orienting their economies in the direction of sale and credit? Is economic “reason” the same in each culture? Has each culture got the same understanding of debt, corruption, and games? Or is the picture going to become more complex? Are the directions to be taken different? Who wins and who loses in the process of globalization or can one find an idealized win-win-situation?

The purpose of this session is to bring together a number of case studies that tackle the production and distribution of wealth and that analyze the practices used by social actors belonging to different interacting cultures in economic settings. Papers may include economic situations in different industrial and agricultural sectors. They may discuss particular situations of gender differences, the role of money as means of exchange in different cultures, the particularities of regional or global transnational enterprises where European, American, Chinese cultures, to name just a few, interact with local cultures.

Papers may discuss management practices, social communications, leadership, or decision-making in different settings. Theoretical approaches should influence these empirical case studies whether they come from sociology, social anthropology, cultural studies, or management studies so that they can help us understand this ever-growing complex picture in the global economy that influences increasingly the labor practices of peoples all over the world.


Globalization, futures of management, and resistance movements. Part I

Joint session of RC07 Futures Research and RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development [host committee]
What is the future of ‘management’? What forces can counter its appeal of efficiency and push for a democratization of social organization? The notion of management has penetrated ever more social spheres and has embraced the world with an even tighter grip. Management is the central social technology not only in corporations and state administrations but also in unions, universities, charities, leisure organizations, and an increasing number of daily routines. The global discourse of management has spread through academic programs, professional training seminars, organizational strategies, government policies, and self-help literature. The technologies vary as much as the sites of their deployment. Disciplined bodies and knowledge submit to these forms of control. Yet, there is also a diverse array of resistances from individual misbehavior in the workplace to collective counterstrategies by social movements.

Moreover, one of the most important features of organizations in the last quarter of the 20th century has been the increasing influence of management. There has been a spread of management from large corporations into professions, NGOs, the public sector, and everyday life of social actors. The spread of management has meant the spread of the discourse on management. This discourse consists of a given language and given practices that are produced, distributed, and consumed by actors in the global social world. These forms of disciplined knowledge that have contributed to the creation of a world controlled by managers, and technologies of management have penetrated the global discourse of management. This discourse can be found in individual stories, self-help books, training programs, organizational strategies, and government policies. This discourse is so widespread that it seems difficult to escape from its grip. Microforms of resistance in the workplace are today completed by collective strategies of resistance in civil society.

This joint session of RC07 and RC09 invites papers on the multiple forms of resistance against this discourse of management. Authors may present theoretically inspired case studies of public sector employees, unionists, shareholder activists, or other pressure groups. They should ask the question how the global discourse on management is resisted in different situations at work or outside the workplace. This may then permit to demonstrate the variety of counter-hegemonic movements against the management discourse in the global age and its potential influences on our global future. Papers should thus aim to advance our knowledge on these different forms of new social movements that challenge the global management discourse that has shaped the present and will shape the future of our global world.


Globalization, futures of management, and resistance movements. Part II

Joint session of RC07 Futures Research and RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development [host committee]


Migration and development. Part I.

Joint session of RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development and RC31 Sociology of Migration [host committee]
Scholarly interest in transnational migration has emerged in the context of the massive population movements that have occurred in the current era of globalization. Changes in the international economy and the diffusion of space-time compressing technologies have created the conditions that intensify exchanges between immigrants and their places of origin. Immigrants pursue either individual or collective relationships with the country of origin for a variety of reasons including difficulty in obtaining economic security in either sending and receiving societies, racial and ethnic discrimination in the host society, and/or a desire to assist in the socioeconomic development of communities of origin often neglected by home governments or destroyed by civil conflict.

Migrant-led transnationalism includes maintaining kinship and social networks across borders, sending or receiving remittances, and the establishment of hometown associations that engage in collective community projects in the home region among other activities. The elaborate linkages between migrant sending and receiving areas that emerge lead some analysts to conceive of transnational migration as a phenomenon that may go beyond individuals and households, incorporating entire communities (migrant and non-migrant members) into the globalization process.

For this session we encourage theoretically orientated case studies or theoretical reflections based on empirical facts linked to the issue of transnational migration and development in the Global South. In particular we are interested in papers that address the issue of remittances, both individual and collective, and what they mean for the transformation of the migrant sending communities. Papers that examine the impact of the current economic downturn on remittances and conditions in sending regions are also encouraged. Finally, papers may consider how hometown associations relate to their interlocutors in the migrant sending communities (local elites, community organizations, local government officials, etc.).


Migration and development. Part II.

Joint session of RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development [host committee] and RC31 Sociology of Migration


Migration and Social Change


Migration in (post-) socialist societies

Joint session of RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development [host committee] and RC31 Sociology of Migration
Processes of migration are of longstanding disciplinary and interdisciplinary academic interest. This panel seeks to expand the understanding of migration related processes in (post-) socialist societies. Previously, migration was restricted in most (if not all) socialist societies by strict state regulations and control. Since the fall of the former Soviet Union and the eastern bloc in 1989 many of the former socialist countries as well as some countries that officially remain socialist (e.g. Cuba, China, North Korea or Vietnam) face less state control with respect to migration and thus allow their populations more freedom. While the choice of “free movement” in some countries still heavily depends on the state, others grant their citizens more leeway for self-determination.

The panel hopes to build on empirical data that is theoretically grounded and/or that combines theories of (post-) socialism and migration. We will address the following research questions by relying both on past and current experiences and by pursuing concrete case and country examples. Contributions can focus on the state, the individual or offer a combined approach.

We will inquire into the reasons states encouraged or prevented migration. It is also of interest if these policies are linked with the attempt of states to secure their power in order to prevent social or political unrest (e.g. from ethnic or religious minorities). Papers are encouraged that investigate if, and in what respect, the events of the late 1980’s influenced socialists states’ control of migration on the one hand, and individual choices to migrate out or within their country of origin on the other hand.

In addition we will include perspectives focusing on individuals and their families: How did individual choices to migrate correspond with state regulations? If regulations were restrictive, was it possible to avoid official regulations in order to fulfill the personal wish to migrate and if so what actions were undertaken? If migration was mandated, what kinds of actions were performed in order to avoid a governmental demand to migrate? If an encouraged or forced migration had to be accepted, what experiences did people face? We especially welcome contributions based on Cuba, China, North Korea and Vietnam.


Migration In (Post-) Socialist Societies I


Networks, Cities Governance, and Global Markets


Political inequality outside of the West. Part I.

Joint session of RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development and RC18 Political Sociology [host committee]
Political inequality (POLINQ) can be defined as structured differences in influence over government decisions. POLINQ is a multidimensional concept – comprised of voice and response – that occurs in all types of governance structures, from social movement organizations, to local and national governments, on to global governance. Voice refers to how constituencies express their interests to decision-makers, either directly or through representatives. Response refers to how decision-makers act and react to their constituencies, and take the forms of symbols and policy.

While the established literature on other major types of inequality, such as economic and educational inequalities, addresses basic empirical questions of “what are the causes and consequences of this inequality?” and “how does this inequality impact social transformation?”, empirical studies of POLINQ, especially outside of Western countries, are few. As a result, our knowledge of the relationships between political power, political inequality and social and political transformations experienced outside of the West is lacking. Recent events in the Middle East amplify the importance, and urgency, of these issues.

This session seeks empirical (qualitative and quantitative) papers on the topic of POLINQ that feature (a) processes of social and political transformation in (b) countries outside of the West. Comparative studies are strongly encouraged.

Key research questions include:

  1. How do we define and measure political inequality?
  2. How does political inequality differ from democracy and the quality of democracy?
  3. How does political inequality interact with economic, gender, racial, ethnic, educational, and other inequalities?
  4. What are the relationships between political power, political inequality, and social transformations?
  5. How politically unequal are nations outside of the West?
  6. How does social and political change impact political inequality?
  7. What are the consequences of political inequality on peoples, societies and social structures?


Political inequality outside the West. Part II.

Joint session of RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development [host committee] and RC18 Political Sociology


RC09 Business Meeting


Social change, new technology and democratization in the Middle East and North Africa region

In the Spring of 2011 a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region saw social protests and large-scale pro-democracy movement. Governments that seemed stable began to disintegrate. Several factors have been advanced as possible explanations for the pro-democracy movement in the MENA region. While many see it as a universal process of social change that leads to democratization, others look for local and specific factors. Some argue that social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have played a significant role in the social movements in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Libya.

It would be useful to examine the conditions under which social networks create a space for political mobilization in countries that lacked an overt public sphere. Could one look at social networks as surrogate public space? In what way do new media generated spaces and networks vary from the traditional public sphere or public space?

This session will explore various strands of theoretical and empirical issues to explain social movements that led to political mobilizations and protests forcing autocratic regimes out of office. This session will take a comparative view of social movements to explore social change and political transformation in the MENA region. The session will also examine both the potential and the pitfalls of the new media as a surrogate public sphere and its role in democratic openings.


Socio-political orders beside the state or the limits of the Leviathan

Classical theories of development imply that the creation of a territorial state structured according to the Weberian model of “legal rule” is a core element of development. This state should have a monopoly of legitimate violence, act as service provider for its citizens and according to the concept of “good governance”– as postulated by development policy– respect the basic human rights, and be governed under the rule of law by a democratically elected government.

However, in many parts of the world this kind of a state is far from being a reality. We find often a complex socio-political arrangement with a combination of different socio-political orders. The state has to deal with guerilla forces which (try to) set up quasi-state structures in “their” territories, with local orders legitimized with reference to “tradition” (e.g. chiefdoms, local collectivities, such as clans or ‘communidades’), religious communities following their own concepts of law, local vigilant groups, or local militias (or gangs) filling the gaps in the provision of security that are left open by weak or corrupt agencies of the state.

The simple assumption that these structures of leadership and provision of security, “governance” or “conflict management” besides the state will quickly dwindle is not warranted. Some of these structures have survived since many decades and may grow even stronger. And in some countries there are legal arrangements which legitimize these local non-state orders like traditional rulers in many African states, or the acceptance of ‘comunidades’ as structures of local self-governance in some Latin American countries.


The Arab revolution of 2011 in comparative perspective

The revolutionary transformation of post-communist world, though including instances called velvet, orange and more generally color revolutions, has typically been considered as cases of transition to democracy or the market economy but rarely treated as cases of social transformation in the sociology of revolution. The revolutionary cycle to overthrow Arab regimes in North Africa in January and February 2011, that may yet spread to Bahrain and other parts of the Arab world, shows many similarities to the post-1989 color revolutions and is thus indicative of a new pattern of revolution in world history.

As such, the Arab revolution of 2011 invites immediate comparison not only with the color revolutions but also the failed revolutions of the Green movement in Iran in 2009 and Tiananmen in China in 1989. Less immediate and more challenging comparisons with the European revolution of 1848 also suggest themselves in view of the rapid spread and generality of revolutionary mobilization.


The cultural politics of economic development

National governments as well as firms struggle to manage their identities while intervening in and maneuvering through markets. Sociologists have investigated the role of cultural narratives in the coffee industry where these narratives justify the claims that workers make on processors and other owners of capital. Sociologists have also investigated the importance of identity and public narratives for branded garment retailers, home décor and handcrafted items, among other things. What types of struggles do actors have over meanings that are analytically distinct from the struggles that they wage over money? How do struggles over meanings and symbols shape the development pathways of regions, countries, or industries? What are the specific aspects of culture and politics that help us understand the mechanisms promoting (or hindering) economic development? Papers addressing these or related questions are welcomed.


Women, leisure and the family in the age of transformations

Joint session of RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development , RC13 Sociology of Leisure [host committee] and RC32 Women in Society
The role of women has become considerably transformed in an age when they are bearing the responsibility of being full-time workers while also being the carers of the home and dependent family members. It is also not uncommon for women to be single parents. How do we then understand the notion of leisure for women? What is the kind of leisure that women, burdened with such responsibilities, can expect? How does family life and individual / personal biographical plans shape women’s understandings and experiences of leisure? How do gender, class, ethnicity/race, ability and age impact on one’s concept of leisure and access to leisure? What does leisure mean and how does access to leisure vary for women in different parts of the world? How does the fact that women enjoy more or less leisure impact on the structure of and relationships within families? Such and other questions are proposed to be examined and discussed from an interdisciplinary perspective in this session.




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November 2012