The Council of National Associations, which is composed of representatives
from ISA member countries and affiliated organizations, holds a conference
every four years. The first one was held in Miami, Florida in 2005 and
Sujata Patel, former ISA Vice-President for National Associations, is publishing a Handbook on Diverse Sociological Traditions
based on the papers given there.
The second conference of the Council of
National Associations was held at Academia Sinica in Taipei, March
23-25, 2009. The theme of the conference was Challenges for Sociology
in an Unequal World. The conference was organized by Michael Burawoy, ISA Vice-President for National Associations in cooperation with the Taiwanese Sociological Association and Academia Sinica.
Chalenges for a global sociology, Short film of the conference.
Throughout its history the ISA and its journals have generated debate about and aspirations for an “international” sociology – debates about modernization and dependency theory, globalization and the information society, which, in turn, have spawned support for indigenization, Khaldunian sociology, subaltern studies, and Southern sociology. In the end what has emerged has been diverse sociologies with national roots, sometimes with universalistic ambitions. At the same time such national sociologies have operated within an unequal, and, many would say, increasingly unequal global terrain. Behind claims of universalism have stood the concentration of research, journals, publishing ventures, graduate training and linguistic monopolies, underpinned by skewed patterns of cross-referencing and professional mobility, all embedded in patterns of world economic, political and military domination. Nation states have not been innocent in this but have often participated in producing this unequal terrain with
endorsements of “international evaluation” of academics, close regulation or even closure of universities, and the demand for immediately useful policy research. How have sociologists – not just in the South but in the North too -- responded to these challenges. A concrete examination and constructive evaluation of these responses is the purpose of this conference.
These, then, are some of the issues wich were addressed:
1. Facing the hegemony of northern sociologies, and assessing alternatives that have emerged in different parts of the world (including the north itself) in response to that hegemony.
2. The significance of the global concentration of material resources (journals, research funds, etc.) and symbolic resources (language, intellectual traditions, etc.)
3. The ascendancy of audit culture and international evaluation of academic work and institutions
4. The increasing pressures for policy relevant research and its implications for sociology.
5. Teaching sociology in a globalizing world -- who are our students and what should we teach them, and how?
6. How inter-national inequalities shape intra-national inequalities and thereby pose specific challenges to the practice and development of robust national sociologies?
7. The possibility of sociologies-from-below based on local, national and regional specificities as well as those based on gender, class and ethnicity.
Michael Burawoy, ISA Vice-President for National Associations