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

Research Committee on
Women in Society, RC32

  on-line programme

Main theme

Women, social justice and democratization


Programme Coordinator

Evangelia TASTSOGLOU, Saint Mary´s University, Canada,

RC32 Liaison in Argentina
Delia E. Franco,

Volunteer at the venue
María Paula Esquivel,


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


Aging and the care crisis

The increase in life expectancy for men and women in most wealthy, post-industrial societies is one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. Yet, these same societies are largely unprepared to address the challenges that come with such achievement. Among the many pressing issues, one is particularly urgent: the growing need for long-term care. Aging populations tend to develop physical or mental disabilities that require increasing levels of support. The question haunting many states and individual families : “Who will provide this care?” and “Who will pay for it?”

This session aims to answer these questions by exploring different approaches to ageing and the care process and industry in different societies. In specific, the session is interested in addressing how state, market and families interact in providing a response for this growing social issue both in the global North and the South.


Challenging the logic of neoliberalism: Labor-feminist coalitions and work-family policy campaigns

Joint session of RC32 Women in Society and RC44 Labor Movements [host committee]
In an era when government regulation and state-sponsored safety nets are under attack worldwide, one of the few areas in which new initiatives have been successful is work-family policy. In Australia, universal paid family leave was established in 2011. Even in the U.S.– long an extreme laggard in this area – several state and local governments have established new programs guaranteeing paid family leave or paid sick days to workers. The U.S. and Australian programs have incorporated principles of gender equity from the start; indeed they came into existence in large part due to the efforts of advocates for women, in partnership with organized labor.

By contrast, in many of the countries that established such paid leave programs in earlier eras, gender equity was often absent; indeed in some cases only mothers were eligible for such leaves. Yet in the neoliberal era, even as other social programs have been cut back, many countries have reconfigured their parental leave programs with the aim of making them more gender-egalitarian.

This session will include papers from selected countries to explore the implications of these recent developments in a comparative perspective, with an emphasis on the role of labor movements as well as the impact on gender relations.


Democracy, work and gender equality: A comparative and cross-cultural perspective

In the last decades of the 20th century, women in Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe played important roles in the transition from authoritarian regimes to democratic institutions. Currently women in other world regions, notably in Arab countries, have been active agents of democratic change.

This session raises questions about the relationship between new democratic institutional arrangements (political and legal), new economic models and the promotion of gender work equality, both in the labor market and home. What kinds of democratic institutional arrangements and economic change may be effective in promoting women’s equal participation in the labor market? To what extent has related value change affected the domestic division of labor and unpaid work performed by women? Have increasing levels of women’s workforce participation been associated with decreasing gender inequality? What are the challenges facing gender equality in consolidated democracies?

This session will address those questions looking at various experiences with the objective to a) assess the convergences and dissimilarities among contextualized local and national processes, and b) allow a comparative, cross-country, and cross-cultural analysis that might be relevant for current women’s struggles to connect democratic processes to gender equality promotion.


Ethnographies of Middle Eastern women's everyday life


From subordination to representation: Democratization, social justice and empowerment in the Middle East

The focus of this session is on democratization, social justice, transformation and empowerment of women in the Middle East. In many Middle Eastern countries a significant transformation has been taking place, whereby women are considerably engaged in this social movement. This session, principally, aims at exploring the underlying reasons behind this phenomenon. What are the implications of having a large number of women taking a substantial role in the process of democratization? Has this contributed to the transformation of traditional gender roles in both private and public spheres? The session also intends to address the reasons behind why some Middle Eastern states have responded to this episode and started to promote social justice, democratization and women`s rights. It also aims at identifying ways in which women’s movements have utilized this revolution as a tool for self and collective empowerment. Themes and topics are centered around the following but not limited to:


Gender & Arab revolts: Where are the women?

On March 9, 2011, a very disturbing event took place in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt. Women commemorating the Women’s Day were removed from the square when a group of protestors targeted them, launching a forceful intervention of the army and the removal of the women. Throughout the world, the media have shown women at the forefront of the Arab revolts. Some examples are: the case of Imane al-Obaidi, who was arrested while charging Kaddafi’s forces of rape live on TV; the journalist Tawakul Karmane, whose detention in Yemen brought the very first virulent protests against the government; Iraqi mothers protesting the occupation, in men’s clothing as a way to invoke gender role switching; Syrian women’s demonstration in quest for a regime change.

Cases such as these which cut across, class, age, and social backgrounds indicate that Arab women are challenging perceived notions of marginality and silence, and taboos about the sexual division of space and labor. The presence of women in these different geographies and temporalities defies the classic categorization of social movements into “new” and “old”. In the meantime, women’s unprecedented level of politicization across different locales raises questions about catalysts for such upsurge whether socially, economically or politically.

This session aims at exploring these gendered spaces of revolution. We ask the questions: How did women in various parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) inscribe themselves in this revolutionary moment? How do they perform their gender identities, political sensibilities, claims, and desires in relation to other players? What kind of projection do women have as they envision better futures?


Gender empowerment and microfinance: Theoretical and empirical perspectives

This session will examine varying perspectives on microfinance and microcredit options for poor women in developing countries. Microfinance programs which first emerged in the 1970s in Bangladesh and Brazil, refers to the provision of financial services including credit, savings, insurance, and money transfers to groups in low-income countries for various entrepreneurial activities. Microfinance programs first emerged in the 1970s in Bangladesh and Brazil. Since these early years, microfinance has spread, in particular, throughout South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Central and South America.

These programs have evolved to incorporate savings options and a broader range of recipients, including in some places young adolescent girls. Microfinance is often credited with bringing economic development to poor rural areas and for providing women with bargaining tools in their households. While microfinance carries many promises of social and economic transformation, not all of these have been realized in practice. Critics of microfinance have pointed out that this is a contemporary form of female servitude as it is primarily women who take on family debt, and it is often the men in families who profit from these ventures or who react negatively to changes in the balance of household power.

This session will examine the various facets of microfinance, drawing on case studies that document the successes and challenges of these initiatives. In particular, the gender dimension will be examined in detail. Under what conditions does microfinance empower women? Are nation-states displacing their moral and economic responsibilities by encouraging banks and NGO’s to target low-income women? How do family dynamics, and specifically patriarchal norms and practices come into play with respect to microfinance? How does women’s access to microfinance increase or decrease household well-being? How does women’s differential access to household income play out with respect to access to microfinance? Why do women generally receive lower loan amounts than men? Does the exclusion of men from microfinance disadvantage women?


Gender policies in Latin America: A route to social justice?

The purpose of this session is to examine gender public policies after the democratization of Latin America and to look at the ways in which the election of socialist or social-democratic candidates have contributed to issues of social justice and gender issues. The contribution of women in positions of power in government in improving gender public policies is also considered. Papers in this session examine Latin American gender policies, projects and programs within the context of democratization of Latin American countries. Contributions drawing on case studies from Latin America may address any of the following issues:


Gender, science and technology: Post-colonial and feminist perspectives

Joint session of RC23 Sociology of Science and Technology and RC32 Women in Society [host committee]
Post-colonial feminist perspectives on gender, science, and technology accommodate a vast array of disciplines and contesting perspectives. Essentially, the interconnectedness of racism, colonialism and globalization, and their impact on women and gender, set a context for understanding the concerns, priorities, and contributions of post-colonial feminist scholars regarding the democratization of science and technology– from the rejection of a widely assumed neutrality to the active deconstruction of male scientific imaginary and practice, based upon a hierarchical opposition between science and nature. Post-colonial feminists have long questioned the aims and methods taken for granted in a white, male, upper-class scientific community which used to enjoy colonial privileges – and successfully unveiled the power relations underlying scientific knowledge, in terms of class, race, gender and sexuality.

This session will discuss the meanings and understandings post-colonial feminism brings to the subject of gender, science, and technology. Questions to consider include: Has the ‘critical mass’ of women in the scientific professions been achieved? How do women in scientific careers locate themselves in relation to science and its practice? How can women change the directions of science and technology? What about the different feminist standpoints, politically and ethically, on hot issues such as nuclear energy, genetically modified seeds and embryos, military research and nano-biotech? In an era of growing economical and environmental crises, what are the priorities, the criteria, the objectives? How can social scientists contribute to this discourse, in terms of a re-definition of a socially useful science and technology?


Identity politics and skilled migration: Negotiating social justice issues


Movimientos de mujeres por la justicia social y la democratización en América Latina/ Women`s movements for social justice and democratization in Latin America


RC32 Business Meeting


RC32 Women in Society Round Table Session: Women, social justice and democratization, Part I

RC32 Women in Society Round Table Session: Women, social justice and democratization, Part II

Researching women's lives in post-colonial contexts: Challenges and transformations in decolonizing self and research


The ethics of intersectional politics and the challenges to alliances and coalition building in and outside academe

Joint session of RC05 Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations and RC32 Women in Society [host committee]
What are the ethics of intersectional politics and alliance building? What are the do’s and don’ts of being an "ally"? Taking as point of departure Crenshaw’s pioneering analysis of political intersectionality, or how competing single-issue politics erase particular individuals and groups, foregrounding certain forms of ‘problems’ and ‘victims’ over others, the session will deal with the ethics and potentials of intersectional politics, and the challenges of building alliances and coalitions between distinctive social movements, which have different social justice agendas that are often organized around competing single issue/identity claims, in particular antiracism, feminism and gay and lesbian activism. Central to our discussions will be a) the adverse effects of the partitioning of political space and civil society around single issues, despite loud declarations of commitment to diversity and multiple issues by many organizations and movements, and b) how the ways in which debates and problems are framed and organizations structured lead to various forms of exclusions and silencing through denial, displacement, misidentification, tokenism and cooptation.


The role of language in shaping gender justice and sexual rights movements

Joint session of RC25 Language and Society [host committee] and RC32 Women in Society
What is the importance of language in shaping gender justice and sexual rights movements in the 21st century? How do discourses concerning race, class, age and other minority statuses affect the formation of coalitions in such movements? What role does language and culture play in creating and breaking down obstacles to the goals of attaining gender justice and sexual rights? Finally, what is the place of identity in movements relating to sexuality, gender, the family, and relations of intimacy? Papers investigating gender justice and sexual rights movements may incorporate a number of methodologies, such as frame analysis, conversation analysis, feminist analysis or Critical Discourse Analysis. Topics may include but are not limited: movements relating to gender equality, same-sex partnership and parenthood, lesbian, gay and bisexual rights, human trafficking, transgender rights, sex work, sex tourism, adolescent sexuality and child abuse.


Violence, liberty and constitutionalism: Feminist perspectives

What are the ways in which violence may be understood from a feminist perspective? Cutting through a range – from sexual harassment and domestic violence to collective sexual assault, femicide and genocidal violence, women across different regions have been systematically subjugated through spiraling and shifting practices of violence. And women are targeted through intersecting negations and violence – disability, ethnicity, class, race and caste, among others. This session seeks to explore the precise boundary between the force and violence interrogating the limits of “permissible action” [that guarantees immunity] and definitions of legitimacy within the frameworks of state and non-state actors and importantly courts of law.

Struggles around the world with respect to rights to the environment, natural resources and the commons have witnessed the increasing use of force and state violence against indigenous communities. Explorations of state violence and the abstinence from the exercise of due diligence by the state in episodes of non-state violence spawned by neo-liberal “development” agendas importantly foreground the counter-constitutional project of the anti-democratic [even authoritarian] state. This session invites feminist reflections on these realities.

Women’s experience of grave and everyday derogations forces a re-examination of the problem of liberty and an exploration of the possibilities of transformative constitutionalism in combating violence in different locales. What is the precise relationship between constitutionalism, social justice and democratization in different regions? What is the place of international instruments like CEDAW and the Rome Statute for instance in strengthening the local articulations of constitutionalism and social justice for women?


Women, Islamic piety and social justice:'The headscarf ban' at the intersections of intimate and public democratization


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.


Women, poverty and the struggle for survival

Statistics indicate that women are more vulnerable to hunger, more likely than men to be poor and are at risk due to systematic discrimination in matters of food, education, health care, employment and control of assets. The process of liberalization, privatization and globalization of economies in the developing nations makes women’s lives further vulnerable and results in a huge toll on their livelihoods. The recent recession in the developed as well as developing countries affects women severely as they become the first victims of layoffs. Thus the goal of eradicating poverty among women and their consequent empowerment becomes uncertain. Women have scarce opportunities to influence economic policy because they are allotted only a few seats at the tables where economic decisions are made, and economic policies and institutions often fail to take gender disparities into account. Thus, the vicious circle of poverty goes on, and women continue to struggle for their survival.

Papers are invited that deal with a range of issues such as: women and social exclusion; poverty and poverty alleviation programmes; women and agrarian economies; social vulnerability and women’s health; gender disparities and human rights issues; women, livelihood and life chances in a globalising world; women in the informal economy; poverty, education and socio-cultural marginalization; women, poverty and hunger.


Women, violence and social justice. Part I.

Domestic violence, sexual harassment, racism in the workplace and the broader society, bullying in schools, classist, sexist and racist social constructions and exclusions of immigrant women, pornography and trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation, systemic rape of women in conflict zones, are some of the forms of violence (human rights violations) that require our attention. How do women navigate their lives and resist these forms of violence? How do they enact their agency and take action for individual and social change for a more just society in which women’s rights are also social rights? This session hopes to explore violence in all its forms as well as women’s resilience and agency in the face of adversity, women’s organizations and women’s movements against violence.


Women, violence and social justice. Part II




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November 2012