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

Research Committee on
Mental Health and Illness, RC49

  on-line programme

Programme coordinator

Bronwen LICHTENSTEIN, University of Alabama, USA,

RC49 Liaison in Argentina
Eugenia Bianchi, Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani, Universidad de Buenos Aires,


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


Disaster, society, and mental health

Disaster struck on March 11, 2011 when Japan was struck by a massive earthquake and tsunami, followed by a meltdown of nuclear reactors in Fukusima. Japanese people and society will struggle with this natural and technological disaster for the foreseeable future. Up to now, about 27,500 died or are missing; private and public properties, as well as communities vanished along Sanriku Coast; 100,000 people are refugees; and more than 88,000 people were forced to evacuate because of serious radioactive contamination. Despite this severe disruption, the social order was maintained, and sufferers and victims alike experienced solidarity and reciprocity amid a chaotic aftermath. It is surprising that not only despair or fragileness, but also hope or resilience emerged simultaneously among people who were affected by the disaster. The Japanese example is only one of many that occurred in recent years.

We invite papers related to mental health and society following all types of disaster. These papers could address natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, flood, drought and famine, disease outbreaks or epidemics of E. coli cholera or HIV/AIDS, or sociopolitical disasters related to terrorism, war, social upheaval, and human displacement. Papers that address the sociology of disaster - especially mental health effects - are not only timely but will advance our understandings of the sociology of mental health during periods of social and existential crisis.


Distinguished speaker panel: Emerging issues in the sociology of mental health

The panel brings together four distinguished speakers from three countries– Professor William C. Cockerham of the United States, Professor Victoria Grace of New Zealand, Professor Breno Fontes of Brazil, and Dr. Anne Scott of New Zealand. Each speaker has been engaged in developing a body of work that advances our understanding of the theoretical intersections and practical applications of research on mental health and society. Session and speaker details will be posted by December 2011.


Gender, social justice, and mental health

Over the last decades, many efforts have been made to strengthen the social position of people with mental illnesses in order to enhance social equity and social justice. It is evident that gender equality is an essential criterion within the idea of social justice. Yet, despite some tremendous changes in gender roles in many societies, several gender based inequalities still exist due to different socioeconomic as well as sociocultural positions. Accordingly, there is a substantial knowledge of gender as a significant determinant of mental health and illness.

This session aims at the various links between gender, social justice, and mental health and encourages papers which deal with issues that include but are not exclusive to:


HIV/AIDS, social change, and social justice

Approximately 30 million individuals have died from AIDS since the first identified cases were treated in 1981. The majority of these deaths were in poor countries with limited healthcare systems and access to life saving medications. Currently, there are about 34 million persons infected worldwide with HIV/AIDS; most of these in resource limited Sub-Saharan Africa. About two thirds of the more than 1.1million persons living with HIV in the U.S. are Blacks or Hispanics. Globally, social movements formed around AIDS changed attitudes of citizens and policy makers regarding the illness. These change agents pushed through legislation for more research, better health services, protection of rights and greater advocacy. Changes in the social organization of healthcare delivery made treatment available in Africa and in other developing areas. More effective behavioral science based prevention enhanced with medications offer the promise of reduced infection and a diminishing epidemic. We welcome abstracts dealing with the theme of HIV/AIDS, social change and social justice in varied settings from developing or industrialized countries.


Involuntary psychiatric treatment and the misuse of psychiatric institutions as instruments of political oppression

Beyond its role in treating mental disorders it had always been the role of psychiatry to protect the public against the potential dangerousness of mentally ill persons and to protect mentally ill persons from self-harm. In modern democratic societies it is generally expected that involuntary psychiatric admissions and involuntary treatment takes place only on the basis of legal and human rights principles and that such activities be reduced to an absolute necessary minimum. Nevertheless, international studies indicate large differences in the legal principles, the practice and the figures of involuntary psychiatric measures. In additions, in some countries psychiatric institutions will still be misused as measures against political opposition and insubordination against the authorities. In this session current research on the various aspects of involuntary psychiatric treatment should be presented.

Papers can include the following research topics:


Mental health and illness in modern societies

Although the current discourse on the etiology of mental disorders is mainly triggered by genetic and neurobiological research, it is becoming more and more clear that there is some renaissance for social factors and societal developments. This session invites contributions which cover empirical research and theoretical ideas on social patterns and questions such as:
- Are mental disorders on the increase?
- Does modern society lead to individual sickness?
- How is the discourse on mental health and illness culturally and socially constructed?
to name just a few possible topics.


New challenges in mental health policies. Part I


New challenges in mental health policies. Part II


RC49 Business meeting




isa logo
International Sociological Association
November 2012