XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Sociology on the move, Gothenburg, Sweden, July 2010

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Research Committee on
Armed Forces and Conflict Resolution RC01


Programme Coordinator

Guiseppe Caforio, CEMISS, Italy, gcaforio@fastwebnet.it

Sessions descriptions

Session 1: Methodological problems in the study of the military. Part I
Organizer: Helena Carreiras, ISCTE, Portugal, Helena.Carreiras@EUI.eu
This panel invites papers which reflect on methodological aspects of social scientific research on the military or in military contexts. Its main aim is to discuss a variety of methodological problems related to both the specificity of this particular field of study and commonalties with other fields. The panel should bring together researchers who use distinct methodological strategies and tools, including extensive-quantitative, intensive-qualitative or comparative approaches, to address topics such as research designs, theoretical frames and empirical testing, conceptual stretching, gaining access; ethics of field research; data validity and reliability, case-selection, the researchers’ social characteristics and its impact on the research dynamics, etc… Papers based on concrete research experiences are particularly welcome.

Session 2: Building and sustaining peace
Organizer: Bandana Purkayastha, University of Connecticut, USA, tbandanapurkayastha@yahoo.com
This session seeks papers that explore many dimensions of building and sustaining peace. Papers can focus on a range of themes beginning from resolving conflicts (after war and or violence) to building peace as a way of preventing and minimizing violence.  Papers can span  a range of efforts, from government or international organizations’ sponsored activities to the efforts by charismatic individuals, and/or grass-roots groups.    

Session 3: Prolonged, frozen and new conflicts
Organizer: Vladimir Rukavishnikov, Russia, rukavish@hotmail.com
War, evidently, is understood in remarkably different ways by the military, politicians, civilian scholars, and the public at large. All agree, however, that war is most frequently violent. And there is a widespread acknowledgement that the nature of war waged by particular states is determined by the conflicting nature of interstate relations.  Therefore there is a natural tendency to use all available means to avoid a transformation of conflict in a form of dispute into war. War is always a climax of conflicts of various types.  Similarly, there is a consensus that conflicts cannot be divorced from their political and social origins, historic roots, etc. 
Modern sociological theory and research practice pays too little attention towards sociological dimensions of both conflicts and ways of their resolution in the world in which (unsurprisingly) war is inherent.  The purpose of the panel of the RC 01 is to tackle the entire problem.
The current global economic crisis is likely to intensify various types of conflicts in our world of scarce resources.  Because vital national interests are given a priority, new conflicts necessary follow, but the old so-called ‘prolonged’ and ‘frozen’ conflicts might get a new sounding too.

Session 4: Asymmetric warfare: The West answer
Organizer: Guiseppe Caforio, CEMISS, Italy, gcaforio@fastwebnet.it
The end of the Cold War and the resulting disappearance of the two opposing blocs of states whose equilibrium was nevertheless a strong guarantee of the preservation of some sort of status quo, opened a Pandora’s box from which have progressively and tumultuously emerged religious wars, ethnic conflicts, the disintegration of states and the birth of new state entities often in conflict with each other, phenomena all strongly at odds with the free trade and globalisation needs of the victors in that war. Most of these new conflicts (new wars, according to the M. Kaldor definition) are asymmetric and the Western World (in a broad sense) has now to face a different and peculiar form of warfare, characterised by a situation where a weak side (state or non state actor) is opposed to a strong military state power. What could an appropriate answer from the West be?

Session 5: Methodological problems in the study of the military. Part II
Organizer: Helena Carreiras, ISCTE, Portugal, Helena.Carreiras@EUI.eu

Session 6: Military leadership and irregular threats: Empirical evidence and an emerging theoretical basis
Organizer: Gerry Larsson, Swedish National Defence College, Sweden, Gerry.Larsson@fhs.se
Demands posed by irregular threats on military leadership during modern international missions possibly constitute the worst stressor for commanders and soldiers. Irregular threats include terrorism, organized crime, child soldiers, riots, etc. A typical example is the so called Improvised Explosive Devices (IED's). The assumption is that these kinds of threats are more likely in the foreseeable future than large-scale conventional warfare. Given this, researchers have begun to study this issue intensively, both in terms of direct leadership at the field level and indirect leadership at central staff levels and the political arena.
 The session will have two foci: (1) presentations of empirical evidence and (2) theoretical attempts to understand the issue from a broad multi-disciplinary perspective.

Session 7: Recruitment and retention
Organizer: Tibor Szvircsev Tresch,  ETH, Switzerland, tibor.szvircsev@vtg.admin.ch
As compulsory military service was abolished in Belgium in 1993 and the Netherlands in 1996 the aspect of voluntary service in Europe became increasingly recognised. Through this European armed forces have faced new challenges in the field of recruitment and retention. These can be described on a social and economical level. Socially, the demographic change is a major factor. Furthermore the change of values in society is influencing the way on how the armed forces are accepted and on how the gap between existing social values and military culture is increasing.
On the economic level the armed forces are confronted with the present employment situation. They have to face the free market and compete with private industry for suitable human recourses. Hereby they can often only offer inadequate financial and non monetary incentives. This competition is enhanced through low unemployment and strong economy and makes successful recruitment and retention even more difficult.
For the session the following questions are important: Are just European armed forces facing this problem or is the recruitment of military personnel over the world a difficult task? How successful is the recruitment of new professional military personnel in European armed forces and how successful is the recruitment of professional personal in other regions of the world? What incentives have to be provided to provide an adequate number of volunteers for the military profession? How successful is the retention of military personnel? What incentives have to be provided that military personnel prolong their first term contracts?
The session is open for all interested researchers.

Session 8: Constructing warriors in films and videogames
Organizer: Gerhard Kuemme, SOWI, Germany, GerhardKuemmel@bundeswehr.org
Description: The panel deals with constructs of warriors in films and video-/computer-/online-games in a gender perspective. It is thought to focus on how these media construct the warrior and whether there are differences in these constructing endeavors depending on gender.

Session 9: Managing military organizations: Theory and practice
Organizer: Joseph Soeters, NLDA, The Netherlands, JMML.Soeters@NLDA.NL
 Following up on an edited book (Routledge, 2010) that according to planning will have been published during the time of the conference, this session proposes to collect papers on managerial issues concerning military organizations. We want to make use of concepts that emerge from the sociology of organizations as well as from military sociology and related disciplines. The idea is that military organizations are conventional organizations, to which conventional ideas and concepts may apply, but flavoured with specific features that make them different: dealing with life threatening circumstances surrounded by a highly political context. They resemble so called High Reliability Organizations, but they are more politically influenced and more uncertain about their strategy, legitimacy, effectiveness and operational styles. In this session we welcome contributions on any sort of managerial issues: organizational structure, strategy and legitimacy/reputation/status, cooperation with other organizations/networking, management control of operations (including Effects Based Operations), military culture and manpower policies.

Session 10: Soldier’s profession, gender and private life: Trade-offs and support needs in military families
Organizer: Marina Nuciari, University of Torino, Italy, nuciari@econ.unito.it
The panel is intended to present and discuss papers devoted to research on military families of various types: families where one or both partners are military members, families where parents have a son/daughter in the military. Topics could cover family difficulties and stress related to deployment, mission legitimacy and consequences on recruitment as derived from parents’ attitudes toward mission deployments in high-risk theatres, family vs. career tradeoffs in double-career families. The aim is to consider the topic under a comparative perspective in order to control the role of culture in defining the different ways developed by families in various situations to cope with a highly demanding profession.

Session 11: Peacekeeping operations and multinational cooperation
Organizer: Franz Kernic, Sweden, franz.kernic@fhs.se
This panel will focus on current peacekeeping operations, particularly on sociological and cultural aspects, civil-military relations and multinational cooperation. The main goal is to analyze and discuss the socio-cultural context of today’s peacekeeping operations as well as sociological, anthropological and political questions related to the peacekeeping operations themselves. The panel particularly welcomes papers with a strong sociological focus and multi-disciplinary approach. It also welcomes presentations of recently conducted field research.

Session 12: Public opinion and the military in a glocalized world
Organizer: Jan Van der Meulen,  NLDA, The Netherlands, JS.vd.Meulen.01@NLDA.NL
Researches of public opinion and mass media on security issues are carried out quite regularly in different countries, but they remain confined in a national domains. We are interested in comparing results of these researches in a cross-national ways and in the new context of a glocalized world, where globalization on one hand and the resurging of local aspects of different civilizations on the other created different forms of warfare, of communication, of
governing. Of course multi-national polls fit in also

Session 13: Round Table on war and violence
Special session on the Congress theme  
Organizer: Bandana Purkayastha, University of Connecticut, USA, bandanapurkayastha@yahoo.com
Sociological scholarship on violence and wars span a focus on victimized groups--women, minorities and other vulnerable populations--organizations that contain or mitigate violence—e.g. militaries, civil society groups--and sponsors of violence.  Yet, such scholarship often remains fragmented, immersed in sub-disciplinary sections and conversations.  Research Committee 01 has historically focused on multiple aspects of conflicts—symmetric and asymmetric warfare, ethnic conflicts—on militaries—their organization, engagements, relations with civil societies—engagement of ‘civilians’ in violence and wars, and on different types of conflict resolution including processes of building and sustaining peaces.  For this thematic session on War and Violence, we are calling for interdisciplinary and sociological sub-discipline-spanning papers that challenge our current understandings of War and Violence.  We seek theoretically engaging and methodologically innovative papers that will transcend the artificial divide between the public, community and private spheres, examine the macro, meso, and micro underpinnings of wars and violence, examine questions about perpetrators, victims, organizers of violence and peace in ways that link institutions and groups, ideologies and practices. Comparative, historically-nuanced papers are especially welcome. 

Papers might include:

    • Examination of an episode of war and/or violence—ethnic cleansing, terrorism, genocide, riots, use of extraordinary weapons--from more than one sociological approach to develop more robust theoretical insights.
    • Analysis of political processes that construct ideologies of war and violence.
    • Relative changes in the institutions, in the late 20th and early 21st century, that perpetrate violence or institutions that mitigate violence.
    • Definitions of war in an increasingly global—economically, technologically, politically tied—post-national world.
    • Cultures and institutions of war and violence.
    • Economics of violence and wars.
    • Civilian-involvement in glocal violence.
    • Victims of wars and violence and institutions that fail to protect them.
    • New communication processes and their roles in promoting and/or mitigating war and violence. 
    • Glocalization of structures of violence.
    • Discourses and practices of peace building and what they tell us about prolonged violence.
    • War without violence.

Session 14:  Business meeting

Joint sessions hosted by other RC

Joint session: Leisure and tourism: Harbinger of peace and conflict resolution
Joint session of RC01 Armed Forces and Conflict Resolution and RC13 Sociology of Leisure [host committee]