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


RC homepage


Research Committee on
Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management RC10

Main Theme
Democracy: the resource of last resort in a crisis

Program Chair
Heinz Suenker, Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Germany, suenker@uni-wuppertal.de

Program Coordinator
Julia Rozanova, Brown University, USA, Julia_Rozanova@brown.edu

Congress Programme

Sessions descriptions

Session 1: Participation, democracy and social development
Special session on the Congress theme
Organizer: Heinz Suenker, Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Germany, suenker@uni-wuppertal.de
As we know the future of mankind is at stake, not only with respect to sustainability but, too, with respect to democracy. The decline of democracy worldwide, i.e. the rise of oligarchic rule all over the world, requires political answers which are concerned with the development of a real democracy and a real democratic progress. The papers of this session will deal with the different elements of the problem and of the answers.

Session 2:  Participation in childhood and youth
Organizer: Heinz Suenker, Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Germany, suenker@uni-wuppertal.de
Democracy is based on the existence of educated citizens. Real education is based on the competences of all members of a society. To accomplish this we need to deal with experiences of participation in the lives of children and youth. Therefore participation is a key component in concepts of politics of childhood and youth. The papers of this session deal with different approaches concerned with participation in childhood and youth.

Session 3: Participative democracy as a way to manage the actual economic and social crisis
Organizer:  Francesco Garibaldo, fgaribaldo@gmail.com
The global crisis came out not from the blue but from the role of economic transnational elites. What is evident for social science is that in periods of deep and revolutionary changes, as to the economic dimension, of capitalistic societies, since the first Industrial Revolution, the economic process of change is more and more unfettered of any social, political, administrative and cultural effective regulation; all the dimensions of everyone’s life, both private and public, are driven by the demands coming from the economic and financial realm; a divorce between economic institutions and society at large, that is a lack of legitimatization and democratic control on their lives by people becomes the rule.
It happened in the 1880s, in the 1920s, in the 1990s and this is the actual situation of our societies; that is the reason why many researchers and also financial and popular magazines are stricken by an historical comparison such as this one:
“It has been a great time to be a capitalist. All around the world, profits have been rising as a percentage of gross domestic product. According to Goldman Sachs, the profit share of US GDP in the first quarter of this year was an all-time high. HSBC says 2005 was the best year for UK profits since records began”. (Financial Times, July 29, July 30 2006). The journalist is aware of the consequences of the situation and he adds: “High profits and the extreme wealth they usually imply can be extremely unpopular (...). It is easy to assume that the liberalizing processes of the past 20 years are irreversible. But such reforms have little bedrock support; they have been effectively imposed on many countries by economic elites.”
The crisis has actually questioned the legitimacy of these elites and a new political trend and a brand new cultural mood are emerging.
The risk is that the governments facing the threads and the challenges of finding a way out of the crisis will simply substituting a non-democratic global governance system with a technocratic and elitist crisis management. This risk is very dangerous because the problem at stake is not simply fixing the system but to redefine it. Such a task cannot realistically achieved without the direct a purposefully awareness of the people affected by the crisis. They hold the ingenuity and the subjective capacity the situation need. To mobilize these subjective resources a specific way should be created, that is a democratic participation. Such a way implies a new definition of the role of the State and of the civil society, new governance systems at all societal levels and in all places.
The session aims at analyzing the theoretical approaches and the practical experiences supporting this perspective.  

Session 4: Social and solidarity economy
Organizer: Anup Dash, Utkal University, India, dashanup@hotmail.com
Social and Solidarity Economy(SSE), as an approach to the study and structuring of the economy, represents an alternative to both the Market Economy and the Political Economy variants of the mainstream, orthodox neo-classical economics. Both as an idea and as practice, it has been evolving through a search for answers to the problems created by the hegemonic structure of the market economy. As a result, SSE today presents an extremely rich and complex reality, and refers to an umbrella for a confederation of diverse concepts (e.g., solidarity finance, socially responsible investment, social enterprise, alternative money, peoples’ economy, fair trade, microfinance etc.) and a wide range of innovative experiments (cooperatives, self-help groups, local savings groups, time banks, LETS etc.) sprouting up at the margins of the economy that subordinates profits to human ends, reclaims the market for social ends and democratizes the economy. At the heart of these diverse forms of expression is an attempt to create an alternative  communitarian response to the growing gaps in meeting citizens’ needs created especially by the recent developments in the market economy (globalization of the market) and in the political economy (decline of the welfare State). Thus the contemporary rise and growth of SSE around the world is explained in terms of the “state failure” and the “market failure” theories. As an alternative philosophical system, it challenges the science and craft of neo-classical economics built around the “Rational Choice” paradigm based on the instrumental rationality and the ontological construct of the homo economicus and offers a contrastive explanation of the “human agency” – situated and embedded, multi-dimensional, by the cooperative logic and motivated by an ethical purpose.
This session will focus on the theoretical and empirical analyses of the development of the SSE in a comparative perspective and examine the problems and possibilities of the SSE in making another world possible through building an inclusive, participative, self-managed, democratic, ethical, and sustainable peoples’ economy rooted in the values of communitarianism, cohesion, and cooperation.

Session 5: Construction of the common core of participation, organizational democracy and self-management research instrument
Organizer:  Vera Vratusa-Zunjic, University of Belgrade, Serbia, vvratusa@sezampro.rs
This session seeks to overcome the present lack of comparable longitudinal data on participation, organizational democracy and self-management by exploring the possibilities of construction of the common core of the relevant research instrument. The papers will critically analyze available research instruments and recommend the content of proposed common core items. Papers are encouraged to address the problems of theoretical, methodological and practical political assumptions involved in item formulations, including but not limited to the issues of operationalization, language barriers, validity, reliability.

Session 6: Organizations on the move: Participation, work culture and quality of work life
Organizer: Siddharamesh L. Hiremath, Gulbarga University, India, slhiremath@rediffmail.com
The rise of giant corporate structures having transnational operations is assumed to have had significant implications for the nature, extent and levels of participation of members in the process of decision making, setting and realization of goals in work organizations. Further the adoption of ICT in the management and administration of work structures is viewed as having impacted the nature of interaction at work place leading to greater individuation and individualistic as well as more informal work structures. Even the nature of supervision and regulation appear to have become less formal compared to the bureaucratic work structures of yesteryears during the days of dominant technology. Thus, the constraints on participation at macro level appear to have been compensated with greater informality and lesser bureaucracy at micro level on the shop floor. Thus, the contemporary work culture appears to be characterized by less of participation at corporate levels, greater individual autonomy and informality at work place. The prototype blue-collar work culture characterized by strict bureaucratic supervision, participation in and control over corporate decisions through unionism, low levels of autonomy and informality, appears to be on the wane. Reduced levels of corporate participation and greater depth and scope for social participation appear to be interfaced in the contemporary work place culture. The implications of such a work milieu for productivity, performance on the one hand and employee satisfaction and morale on the other could the issues of sociological relevance and significance to be imperically focused upon and analyzed.
Hence, this session invites papers that theoretically and empirically focus upon and analyze the issues outlined above.

Session 7: Democracy and sustainability. Balancing individualism and collectivism: Interactive design for democracy and sustainable futures
Joint session of RC10 Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management [host committee], RC36 Alienation Theory and Research, and RC51 Sociocybernetics

Session 8: Aging well and its’ societal determinants in international perspective
Joint session of RC10 Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management [host committee] and RC11 Sociology of Ageing  

Session 9:

Session 10: Business Meeting

Session 11: Latin-American participative democracy
Organizers: Jaime Preciado Coronado, Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico, japreco@hotmail.com, and Isabel da Costa, École normale supérieure de Cachan, France, idacosta@idhe.ens-cachan.fr
At the beginning of the 21st Century, the map of the Latin-American region appears related to participative democracy with predominant experiences. Twelve of seventeen countries in the region have a national left government, even if they show an open spectrum of political tendencies. Although the democratization processes are analyzed principally at the state-nation level, there are also other local and supranational ways to make participative democracy work. In these case, the social movements appear as protagonists of social and democratic change, and in the meanwhile, the institutional processes are embedded in a polemic between the social left pressures, pushed by the social movements to go deep into the program of justice and equity, and the left government who tries to make compatible the goals of the participative democracy demanded by the movements and the pragmatism imposed by the market.

Session 12: Citizen and Corporate Participation in meeting human, social and organizational needs. International examples of sensitivity and social responsibility
Organizer: Litsa Nicolau-Smokoviti, University of Piraeus, Greece, lnicola@otenet.gr and Ake Sandberg, Stockholm University, Sweden, ake.sandberg@sociology.su.se
The topic includes cases of social sensitivity and responsibility taking place at the macro- and micro- level by organized groups (such as workers associations or employers' organizations) and/or by formal management of business organizations, in an effort to meet human, social and organizational needs and solve existing problems. The discussions will refer to some recent trends and examples at various organizational and social environments to examine changes in ideology and practices as they developed over time and future prospects.

Session 13: Entrepreneurship for a sustainable development of society
Organizers: Erik Lindhult, Mälardalens University, Sweden, erik.lindhult@mdh.se an Azril Bacal, Uppsala University, Sweden, bazril@gmail.com

There is urgent need for redirecting forces of development towards more sustainable futures. It represents a challenge not only to governments but to a broad spectrum of agencies from activist groups, communities and green businesses to global collaborative bodies (e.g. UN, World Social Forum), NGOs, social movements and multinational corporations.

An important force for change is entrepreneurship. The role of entrepreneurs as individual wealth creators is well recognized, but these efforts have frequently not been sufficiently sustainable in broader perspectives, leading to detrimental ecological and social footprints. Recently, broader conceptualization and practices of entrepreneurship has emerged like "social entrepreneurship", "sustainability entrepreneurship", "ecopreneurship", "societal entrepreneurship, "activist entrepreneurship" (e.g. see Ashoka and Scholl Foundation).

It encompasses driving people - "entrepreneurs" that want to make a difference not only in area of business but also environmentally sound development, fulfillment of basic human needs, democracy and justice and a more sustainable world. These trends have as yet received limited treatment in sociological research theoretically as well as empirically.

We are open to all types of topics; e.g. critical studies on the opportunities and obstacles facing entrepreneurial forces for ecological modernization and transformative attempts, as well as constructive theoretical and practical work on entrepreneurial activity for sustainable change. A broad spectrum of approaches is fruitful; surveys, case studies as well as engaged, participant research and action research. We also welcome efforts at connecting entrepreneurship theory with sociologically informed theory of sustainable development of society, e.g. theories of change and participatory development.

Session 14: Women's managerial rhetoric and actual practices
Organizer: Michal Palgi, EmekYezreel College, Izrael, palgi@yvc.ac.il
The aim of the session is to look at perspectives on overt and covert power relations between women and men in gendered management posts; to examine the voices of women in shaping organizational policy and practice at the strategic level; to discuss their awareness of gender influence (the power of 'gender blindness') on the structuring of relationships between male and female office holders.

We encourage participants to submit papers that examine issues such as compatibility between women's managerial rhetoric and their actual practices. In this respect to look at the "manageresses"' preferences regarding organizational processes such as decision-making, staff development, conflict management patterns.

Some of the questions we would like to discuss are: How women managers construe the meaning of their roles and position? What is their managerial philosophy and actual organizational practices? How do their professional socialization, gender and career patterns shape their professional identity and determine their managerial style? How do they evaluate their organizational power and influence? Generally speaking - what is the quality of their working-relations in the specific organizational reality?

Session 15: Session dedicated to memory of Dr. Jürgen Hoffmann
Organizer: Isabel da Costa, Centre d'Etudes de l'Emploi, France, idacosta@idhe.ens-cachan.fr and Francesco Garibaldo, Fondazione Istituto per il Lavoro, Italy, fgaribaldo@gmail.com
Jürgen Hoffmann was a prominent scientist in many different labour related fields such as European Industrial Relations, Labour studies, and the post-fordist transformation of global capitalism. To our regrets he left us too soon at the age of 65 in October 2009.
The importance of his scientific contribution to our fields of interest is such that we have considered it our duty and privilege to honour his work in a special session of the ISA congress dedicated to his memory. The themes of this session will be derived from his latest contributions to the European and global studies in the fields mentioned. The session will be introduced by a keynote speaker, which will recall the main features of Jürgen Hoffmann's work: Volker Telljohann.
Testimonies and papers from all those who knew him or were familiar with his studies are most welcomed. Papers and oral testimonies proposals should be sent to the organisers.

Joint sessions hosted by other RC

Joint session:  Society on the move(ments)  
Joint session of RC10 Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management, RC36 Alienation Theory and Research [host committee] and RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change

Joint session: Capitalism and crisis: Wither its future
Joint session of RC07 Futures Research, RC10 Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management, RC36 Alienation Theory and Research [host committee], RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change, and RC51 Sociocybernetics
Organizer: Lauren Langman, Loyola University, USA, llang944@aol.com