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

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Research Committee on
Women in Society RC32

Programme Coordinators
Margaret Abraham, Hofstra University, USA, mabraham2010wc@hofstra.edu
Esther Ngan-ling Chow, American University, USA, echow@american.edu

Congress Programme


A major objective of the Research Committee on Women in Society (RC32) is to advance the development of theory, methods, and practice concerning women in society and the gendered nature of social institutions. RC32 is also committed to improve research, organize meetings, and promote other means of communication, cooperation, and collaboration among researchers at the national, regional, and international levels.

One of the ways that RC32 achieves these objectives is by organizing multiple regular sessions and collaborating on joint sessions as part of major conferences. The XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology with its theme of Sociology on the Move provides a major forum for RC32 to interrogate theoretical paradigms and methods, discuss current research, hear a diversity of voices, and inspire collective action to empower women and men, locally and globally.

Sessions descriptions

Session 1: Gender and ‘traditionalism’ in global times: Women negotiating difference
Organizers: Cynthia Joseph, Monash University, Australia, cynthia.joseph@education.monash.edu.au and Shanti Thambiah, Universiti Malaya, Malaysia, shanti@um.edu.my
How do we understand women’s identity practices in new contemporary times? How do women negotiate ethnic and cultural traditions of patriarchy, neo-colonialism and globalisation? How are they (dis)empowered by the material inequalities of their lives and the globalised neo-colonial webs of power? How are ‘new’ gender identities being re-defined and re-constituted through discourses operating at the local and global levels? This panel welcomes papers that will address these important questions through case studies located in diverse social and national contexts. The session will look at the ways in which cultural, educational and/or work spaces are both dynamic and constraining within the processes of women’s self-identifications. The papers presented will raise important issues of doing research on multiple identities in challenging and changing globalised racial/ethnic and gendered spaces of education, work and/or womanhood.

Session 2: Women, war, and peace building
Organizers:Josephine Beoku-Betts, Florida Atlantic University, USA, beokubet@fau.edu, Bandana Purkayastha, University of Connecticut, USA, bandana.purkayastha@uconn.edu and Abha Chauhan, University of Jammu, India, acju@rediffmail.com            
This session will focus on the gendered nature of armed conflicts in national/civil and across international spaces, with emphasis on the distinctive ways in which women and girls are affected. It will also focus on gendered peace.  Much attention has been given in social science scholarship to the role of states, civil society, and historical processes, such as colonialism and globalization in perpetuating conflict, and ways in which women and girls have been victimized including the institutional and ideological factors that make women’s suffering invisible. Emerging scholarship also addresses particular ways in which women contribute to peace building across public and private spheres, reconstruction, and democratization locally, nationally and globally, after armed conflict. We invite proposal submissions that reflect current theoretical and empirical sociological scholarship on the gendered nature of armed conflict and strategies women employ to attain peace, justice, and the reconfiguration of gender roles in post-armed conflict societies.

Topics may include but not be limited to:


Session 3: Gendering migration in a globalized post Cold War era

Organizers: Oluyemi Fayomi, Covenant University, Nigeria, olu_fayomi@yahoo.com and Ehiyamen Ozezua, Covenant University, Nigeria, osezuaomo2002@yahoo.com
Globalization entails multiple and contradictory processes in the era of post Cold War and women make up an increasing proportion of international movements. Political and policy environments of the host countries are influenced by the neoliberal ideological principles, which are contributing to changes in migration policy, labour markets, and social provisions that make female migrants vulnerable to socio-political inequalities. The Session seeks papers on theoretical and empirical studies that reflect the most pressing and contested issues-neoliberal policies, democracy, multiculturalism in the era of post Cold War. Gendered work environmental impacts on the migrant such as the erosion of socio-political provisions  and deregulation of labour market that undermine commitment to principles of economic redistribution that threatened the well-being of women who migrate to other countries.

Session 4: Violence, war and beyond: Gender, embodiment and women’s lived experiences of war and violence
Organizers: Abha Chauhan, University of Jammu, India, acju@rediffmail.com Josephine Beoku-Betts, Florida Atlantic University, USA, beokubet@fau.edu and Bandana Purkayastha, University of Connecticut, USA, bandana.purkayastha@uconn.edu
Resolution 1325 at the UN encapsulates decades of women’s activism to recognize the ways in which women are harmed by armed conflict along with the ways in which women build peace. This session will focus on women—as embodied beings—in situations of war and conflict.  How are women’s bodies used, reconstituted, and reframed in times of war and violence?  How are caste, community, religion, nation, race, and gender in their complex interconnections inscribed on women’s bodies in situations of war and violence? And what roles do ideologies of shame, honour, chastity and stigma play in this process? As their lived experiences suggest, women have been abducted, beaten, raped, rendered destitute, widowed, rehabilitated, and fenced in refugee camps.  At the same time embodied women have quietly and vocally initiated and sustained peace-building efforts promoting social conditions that ensure human beings are able to live to their fullest capabilities. We welcome papers that bring out such lived experiences of women—who belong to diverse communities and groups across the world--who have faced war and violence of various forms across the world. 

Session 5: Confronting the politics of racialized sexualities: On regulating minority gender relations and sexualities
Joint Session of RC05 Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations and RC32 Women in Society [host committee]

Session 6: Gender, private life and quality of life
Organizers: Laura Maratou-Alipranti, Greek National Centre for Social Research, Greece, lalipranti@ekke.gr  and Alexandra Koronaiou, Panteion University, Greece, alexkoron@gmail.com
The session will focus on gender roles in the private sphere and will try to investigate and identify the processes that sustain and reproduce the unequal gender division of paid and unpaid work within the context of private life and the degree of change in social practices and behaviors. We welcome papers that examine the intersection of work and family, the father-mother balance in the distribution of child care and housework tasks, the new patterns of life, the allocation of unpaid work assumed by parents and how this is accommodated in the new model related to the shift to the adult worker model. The nature of the choices made by men and women depend on the extent to which social policies address the implementation of equality in everyday practices and the position of men and women in the labour market where there are substantial variations. In addition, free time is an important issue for the understanding of citizens’ quality of life. The formal time for childcare and work versus the informal time, that is free-leisure time of men and women, indicate that there is a dichotomy and unequal balance of family responsibilities in private life. Women usually carry the burden of family responsibilities which affect their quality of life at all levels and this tends to limits their personal free time for different activities.

Session 7: Women, social movements and collective action
Organizers: Margaret Abraham, Hofstra University, USA, MAbraham2010WC@hofstra.edu,  Anna-Britt Coe, Umea University, Sweden, anna-britt.coe@soc.umu.se and Eva Blay, Brazil, eblay@usp.br
Women have played a critical role in social movements. Through collective action they have advocated for social justice and equality. The goal of this session is to examine how women have organized social movements, historically and in contemporary contexts, to address social justice issues, access to resources and to secure the rights of individuals and communities at the local, national, transnational and global level.  Particular attention will also be paid to conceptual frameworks for understanding the ways that women mobilize to tackle the emerging issues of our time and use collective action to influence public policy and practice. We will also look at the impact of feminism in shaping social movement outcomes and the ways that women have organized, within and across differences of class, ethnicity, race, religion and nationality for social change.

Topics for submission may include but are not limited to:


Session 8: RC32 Reception and Essay Competition for New Scholars from the Economic South on "Women's Social Movements: Struggles for Change Throughout the World" award

Session 9: Multiple visions of gender equality
Organizers: Minako Konno, Kobe University, Japan, konno@kobe-u.ac.jp  and Linda Pietrantonio, University of Ottawa, Canada, Linda.Pietrantonio@uottawa.ca
Sociologists have not been very good at directly asking normative questions. This is true for the works of feminism as well, which is among the most normatively oriented within the field. Normative orientations as to what exactly is meant by the concept of gender equality are often taken for granted, or not discussed very openly, which have made true dialogues difficult among those from diverse backgrounds. For example, the vision of equality upheld in some “Western” countries is sometimes viewed as an ideal, which have lead to label other societies “more patriarchal,” while hasty dichotomy between the “East” and the “West” have masked the important commonality between them as well as the inner diversity of the “East” as well as of the “West”. Many would agree that the visions of basic equality, such as those concerning basic living and social conditions, should be shared by a wide variety of people. Yet we have gradually been aware that beyond this basic level there are multiple visions of gender equality in different parts of the world and they can be a powerful tool for “immanent critique” in each society. Articulating them in a different level of abstraction and sharing them with those from different cultural backgrounds must be a great opportunity for mutual learning. This session aims to help understand the multiple visions of gender equality, which can offer a basis for unity in diversity in the tradition of feminist imagination. Papers that address the above are welcome.

Session 10: Business Meeting

Session 11: Globalization, gender and families
Joint Session of RC06 Family Research and RC32 Women in Society [host committee]

Session 12: Transnational feminism and cultural boundaries: Theory, research and practice
Organizers:Esther Ngan-ling Chow, American University, USA, echow@american.edu, Tan Lin, Women's Studies Institute of China and All China Women's Federation, China, tanlin6030@yahoo.com, and Marilyn Porter, Memorial University, Canada, mporter@mun.ca
Transnational processes emerge in a variety of ways to intersect at the juncture where global forces are intricately linked to the local cultures, people and changes. Transnational analyses cover a wide spectrum ranging from transnational corporations, diaspora and migration, cultural diffusion, sexuality, citizenship, nation-state, religion, tourism and women trafficking, decolonization, women's activism, social movements, war and environment.  As feminists try to overcome the barriers between researchers from north and south and from different cultural backgrounds, we explore how transnational and transcultural research creates new forms of feminist knowledge. This session seeks to illuminate transnational and transcultural scholarship on women and gender that broadens and deepens sociological knowledge and enhances women's agendas for positive social change.  We are soliciting both theoretical and empirical papers that employ transnational
frameworks as well as those that examine the challenges of methodological issues and those that consider issues of agency, policy and change in studies that cross borders.  We welcome work that reflects a variety of perspectives, approaches, and methods and that draws upon empirical research from different countries and contexts to address the complexity and dynamic relationships between gender and transnationalism.

Session 13: Women’s empowerment; pathways to well-being: Global lessons
Organizers: Akosua Adomako Ampofo, University of Ghana, Ghana, adomako@gmail.com and Akosua Darkwah,  University of Ghana, Ghana, keseboa@ug.edu.gh
Growing out of lessons from a 2004/2005 Fulbright New Century Scholar collaboration as well as the work of a Global Research Project Consortium (2005-2008) this panel seeks to bring together experiences from the Global North and South on Pathways to Women's Well-being. Kabeer (2001) has defined empowerment as “the expansion in people's ability to make strategic life choices in a context where this ability was previously denied to them." This definition contains the elements of change from a condition of disempowerment, and that of human agency and choice.  While this kind of empowerment will be context specific and differ from one woman to another it is likely to include economic, socio-cultural, familial/interpersonal, legal, policy, political, and psychological aspects.  Papers are invited that speak to aggregate lessons on positive change for women under different circumstances and in different contexts.  For example, market traders in the Global South might benefit from policy changes that improve their access to global markets, while women in the industrialised North might benefit from popular constructions that free them from the bondage of the fashion and cosmetic surgery industry.  The papers should speak to original research that shows how and why these experiences or changes have been empowering for the specific group of women.

Session 14: Roundtables
Organizers: Margaret Abraham, Hofstra University, USA, mabraham2010wc@hofstra.edu and Esther Ngan-ling Chow, American University, USA, echow@american.edu

Session 15: Women's bodies, religion, and politics: Unveiling the veil in the Middle East
Organizers:Nazanin Shahrokni (Iran), University of Berkeley, USA, nazanin@berkeley.edu and Suaad Zayed Al-Oraimi, UAE University, United Arab Emirates, s.aloraimi@uaeu.ac.ae
Behind the veil, beyond the chador, beneath the scarf, Middle Eastern women’s lives have been under scrutiny of the “Western eye”. The veil has become the central element around which Middle Eastern women’s stories are told. These stories and the scholarship on the veil predominantly make use of binaries such as oppression / resistance, tradition / modernity, and religious / secular. The veil means different things to the women who wear it (or those who don’t), to the “Western” observer, and to the states which make their women to veil or unveil. The story of the veil in the Middle East is more complicated than the current scholarship suggests it is. This session is about women’s bodies, religion and politics. It aims at bringing together papers that offer fresh approaches to this rather over-studied issue. The session especially welcomes papers which critically engage with the abovementioned binaries and investigate their implications for the study of the veil in the Middle East.

Session 16: The Gender challenge(s) in Academia: Local, national and international perspectives
Organizers: Liisa Husu, Hanken School of Economics, Finland, liisa.husu@hanken.fi and Jan Currie Murdoch University, Australia, j.currie@murdoch.edu.au
Women have made great gains in higher education and academia globally during the last decades, but despite the growing presence of women it is obvious that academic careers, organisations and their knowledge production have remained gendered. In many parts of the world gender inequalities in academia and science have been taken visibly up in the national or regional policy agenda, and as a result numerous gender equality interventions have been launched. The problems are still frequently framed as women’s problems, and men are seldom problematized as men. Universities in many countries are currently experiencing major structural and governance reforms and internatio­­naliza­­tion pressu­­res but the gender impacts of these are rarely discussed. To this RC32 session on Gender Challenge(s) in Academia we invite papers exploring various gender challenges in modern academia from local, national and international perspectives. Theoretical, empirical or policy oriented papers are all welcome, and we would especially like to attract papers building on international or comparative studies. The gender challenges concern both structures and dynamics of academia: careers, networks, governance, allocation of resources, gatekeeping, interventions, sexualities, discrimination and harassment, intersectionality, as well as content of knowledge production in sociology or other disciplines.

Session 17: Gender and sexuality and discourses on citizenship
Joint session of RC25 Language and Society and RC32 Women in Society [host committee]

Session 18: Men, masculinities and gender equality: National, transnational and global contexts

Organizers: Jeff Hearn, Linköping University, Sweden, hearn@hanken.fi, Robert Morrell, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, morrell@ukzn.ac.za and Sofia Aboim, University of Lisbon, Portugal, sofia.aboim@ics.ul.pt
Building on the successful session at the Durban ISA Conference, we invite papers, as well as offers of short information pieces and posters on the theme of ‘Men, Masculinities and Gender Equality: National, transnational and global contexts’ (Form: 1 & 7). In this, we are keen to attract presentations that engage with theoretical, empirical and policy/political aspects of attempts to involve and transform men and masculinities in furthering gender equality and feminist agendas, or indeed responses and resistances to those attempts. While these can be framed in local and national political and policy contexts, we particularly encourage examinations of interventions that are international, multinational or transnational in scope and vision. This inevitably means attention to the relation of the gendering of men to other social divisions, such as ethnicity, racialisation, nationality, sexuality and geographical location. We would especially welcome contributions that attend to social intersections, such as around age, disability and violence (both military and interpersonal), that often remain neglected in such interventions and analyses.

Session 19: Middle Eastern women in the public space and sphere
Sponsored by: Research Committee on Women in Society, The Association for The Study of Persianate Societies and, The Turkish Sociological Association
Organizer: Nazanin Shahrokni, Iran, University of Berkeley, USA, nazanin@berkeley.edu

Session 20: RC32 Authors’ Books Display and Meet the Authors
Organizers: Bandana Purkayastha, University of Connecticut, USA, bandana.purkayastha@uconn.edu and Analia Cardoso Torres, ISCTE, Portugal, analia.torres@iscte.pt

Joint sessions hosted by other RC

Joint Session:  Sites of conflict and cooperation: Women at the intersection of ethnicity, nation and citizenship
Joint Session of RC05 Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations [host committee] and RC32 Women in Society

Joint session: Women’s health and health risks in an unequal world
Joint session of RC15 Sociology of Health [host committee] and RC32 Women in Society

Joint session: Gender, education and reproductive choices: A cross-cultural perspective
Joint session of RC32 Women in Society and RC41 Sociology of Population [host committee]

Joint session: Gender, science, technology and innovation, and the future
Joint Session of RC07 Futures Research, RC23 Sociology of Science and Technology [host committee] and RC32 Women in Society

Joint session: Leisure time: Women, work and family
Joint Session of RC13 Sociology of Leisure [host committee] and RC32 Women in Society

Joint session: Gender equality and family transitions
Joint session of RC06 Family Research [host committee] and RC32 Women in Society