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

Research Committee on
Social Indicators, RC55

  on-line programme

Programme Coordinator

Mariano ROJAS, La Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Mexico,

RC55 Liaison in Argentina
Florencia Chahbenderian , Universidad de Buenos Aires,

Volunteer at the venue
Mariela Giacoponello,


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


Assessing quality of life and social development: Notions, approaches and indicators

This session calls for papers addressing notions, approaches and indicators about quality of life and social development.

Quality of life has been defined as a concept that involves objective and subjective dimensions. The notion of quality of life emphasizes people’s potentialities rather than their weaknesses and incorporates psychological, social, political, and community considerations. Some approaches emphasize the using of domains of life and aggregation techniques to measure quality of life while others follow a single-dimensional approach. Some psychometric techniques are commonly applied while different validation criteria are considered.

In addition, there is the conception that social development constitutes a multidimensional field based on the progress of civilization, which emerges from better knowledge about the human condition and from the advance of human rights. However, the adequate appreciation of social development faces crucial methodological and theoretical challenges associated to the measurement, comparison and evaluation of different societies and cultures. A recent trend in the understanding of social development takes advantage of a human-rights approach to define those dimensions and indicators that allows us to appreciate social development and quality of life.


Human Relations and its Importance for Well-Being


Inequality in Quality of Life, Well-Being and Happiness


Keynote speaker session: Ruut Veenhoven: Quality of life: Its past and its future


Measuring and Monitoring Social Progress I


Measuring and Monitoring Social Progress II


Methodological issues in constructing complex social indicators

One of the most critical issues to be faced in social indicators field is represented by the methodological difficulties in constructing complex indicators. Complex indicators’ goal is that to summarize information in order to describe in a synthetic way the observed reality, which is and remains complex.

That is why, the construction of complex indicators is currently being deeply criticized as inappropriate approach in conveying into unidimensional measures all the relevant information pertaining to phenomena which are complex, dynamic, multidimensional, full of ambiguities and nuances, and which are represented by data being sensitive and qualitative (even when quantitatively measured) and containing errors and approximations.

In other words, complex indicators are hardly able to reflect the complexity of a socio-economic phenomenon and to capture the complexity of the variables’ relationships. This incapacity is related to the comprehensiveness and complexity of the phenomenon that should be covered by the complex indicators. In this perspective, researchers are currently urged to reconsider old strategies and/or find new ones by identifying empirical, theoretic, methodological approaches in dealing with complexity.

The session aims at encouraging scholars to share their experiences and reflections in managing the complexity issue by presenting methodological and empirical solutions (scaling techniques, aggregation approaches, weighting procedures, presentation issues, …) able to transform statistical information (even though, synthetic) into a comprehensive knowledge, with particular attention to the use of indicators in policy context.


Migration and quality of life. Part I

Joint session of RC31 Sociology of Migration and RC55 Social Indicators [host committee]
Migration is typically a means by which migrants attempt to improve their quality of life (and/or that of their families). What does “quality of life” mean for migrants, i.e., to what extent and in what ways does that concept hold different meanings for migrants relative to natives and to governments in the receiving countries? Under what conditions do migrants end up succeeding in improving their lives via migration? What factors impede their efforts in this regard? Are there already or should be designed and implemented policies that would increase migrant’s well-being? How can we measure the impact of these policies? Which social indicators should be used for the field of migrant’s well-being?

The “Migration and quality of life” is a session of RC55 (Social Indicators) and RC31 (Sociology of Migration) that aims at deepening sociological knowledge on the migration situation and policies while contributing to conceptualization and development of social indicators for this particular area. Organizers seek to attract papers that give systematic consideration to the meaning and determinants of “quality of life” and “well-being” among migrants, as well as to the public policies in this field.

Drawing on the increasing tendency among sociologists to rethink/transcend conventional and sometimes unexamined assumptions about quality of life (in part as a consequence of the rapidly growing interest in “happiness studies”), we also look for case studies or comparative papers that will make a base for a global awareness of the problems of migrant’s well-being. Papers exploring normative/ethical questions relating to migrant situation and/or link individual action in this field with problems of social justice and democratization are also very welcomed.


Migration and quality of life. Part II

Joint session of RC31 Sociology of Migration and RC55 Social Indicators [host committee]


Objective living conditions, poverty, and social status


RC55 Business Meeting


Social Indicator Databases


Translating research on subjective well-being into public policies

The role of public policy as a factor in hindering or maximizing subjective well-being has been the object of vast and growing empirical literature. Yet this intellectual endeavor remains incomplete and contentious: little is known about translating empirical findings into policymaking and disagreements persist about the role that public policy has to play in improving subjective well-being. This session will contribute to the debate about whether and how policymakers can use research findings to promote greater subjective well-being.


World suffering

Quality of life researchers have focused almost all of their attention on well-being rather than ill-being and happiness rather than unhappiness. Consequently, they have overlooked the wealth of data they have on indicators of suffering. This session solicits re-analysis of social indicator data focusing upon the low end of measures of well-being, quality of life, social progress, and happiness. Also of interest are studies that explicitly measure pain, despair, suffering, or social traumas from either a social or an individual framework.

Both qualitative and quantitative evidence are of interest, particularly if they can be compared. Like quality of life and well-being, suffering is generally examined as an outcome or something to be explained by social dysfunctions like poverty. Consider also that suffering may serve as a precipitating cause of poverty, violence, health risks, and other social traumas. Complex models of suffering as well as empirical analyses of comparative ill-being are most welcome. Comparisons within as well as across countries are of interest. The justification for research on suffering is not just a matter of humanitarian concern, but of strategic planning for social and economic progress.




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International Sociological Association
November 2012