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

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Research Committee on
Alienation Theory and Research RC36

Programme Coordinators
Lauren Langman, Loyola University, USA, llang944@aol.com
Knud Jensen, The Danish University of Education, Denmark, knud@dpu.dk

Congress Programme


Sessions descriptions

Session 1: Education as alienating or empowering force in the 21st Century
Organizer: Knud Jensen, Aarhus University, Denmark, knud@dpu.dk
The rapid structural standardization of secondary, tertiary and university education and the relentless comparison establish a key issue in the contemporary development of education. While we in the discouse in western capitalist societies a few decades ago could talk about  educational opportunities as essential in the struggle for empowerment and equal opportunities,  it looks as if the opposite  – education as a means of selection of citizens – has been the dominant result.
While most will agree that primary and secondary schooling has to be a global human right, less concern are given the issue that even in advanced western societies up to 20 % of the youth never succeed upper secondary schooling and consequently are doomed to a life with low status work, poorer health and living conditions and low salaries.
Education as a critical and democratic force in modern society empowering the students or even to resist inequality is more than the individual need to collect and build up detailed portfolios and the nearly automatically selection of access to enter the world of work and unequal conditions for their future social life.
The session intend to open and reerect, reconsider and reflect some basic sociological issiues about the mission and function of the primary, secondary, tertiary and university education. Especially interesting is the alienating and empowering functions of the structure opening and closing the access to both citizens' influence and the distribution of wellfare.

Session 2: Organizations, institutions and alienation
Organizer:  Dirk Michel, Aarhus University, Denmark, dimi@dpu.dk
Within the trajectory of modernity organizations and institutions have functioned as the primary form of social rationality. The session deals with (social) organizations and institutions with respect to the social formation of society. Are organizations and institutions on the move? Is it possible to speak about reasonable and reflexive forms of organizations in contemporary societies rather than about rational and oppressive ones? Organizations and institutions, and their relatedness to (capitalist) societies will be analyzed in this session in relation to major challenges such as the recent economic crisis as well as problems in ecology.

Session 3: Migration and alienation
Organizer: Gerhard Schutte, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, USA, agschutte@rcn.com
Globalization in the 21st century has intensified voluntary and involuntary mobility of groups and individuals. They are the 'new' migrants ranging from high status groups such as intellectuals and professionals to economic and war refugees on the lower end. This session focuses on migrant experiences in the context of their relationship and interaction with host societies and other immigrant groups and the accompanying forms of alienation, resistance and the recovery of a sense of self.

Session 4: Alienation, liberation and governance
Organizer: Pirkkoliisa Ahponen, University of Joensuu, Finland, pirkkoliisa.ahponen@joensuu.fi
The cultural liberation of individuals from all social restraints has been celebrated in the era of neoliberalism. Critical observers have remarked that civilians of soft means of governance have increased at the same time. The Foucauldian term governmentality has become very popular when interpreting the image of the contemporary society. We need discussions on how individual liberation and the governance of people are entwined and how these processes are related to alienating forces which prevent people from becoming active citizens in the proper meaning of this concept.

Session 5: Alienated youth and the 21st Century
Organizers:  Vessela Misheva, University of Uppsala, Sweden, Vessela.Misheva@soc.uu.se and Vera Nikolski, Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France, veranikolski@hotmail.com
A variety of social factors now converge in ways that foster alienation among youth and make it difficult to establish a coherent identity.  On the one hand, while globalizatioin has made many people wealthy in the advanced countries of the world, economic stagnation, if not decline, has rendered occupational attainment more problematic for many others, especially for males.  At the same time, a hedonistic popular culture of instant gratification has proliferated, and aspects of that popular culture have indeed  embraced the transgressive as a way of overcoming the alienation of late capitalism in  the 21st century. This session is concerned with the problems of adolescence that range from  the difficulty of  establishing meaningful identities, to the embrace of counter-cultural identities in popular culture, especially such genres of rock music as heavy metal or satanic rock.

Session 6: Alienation in everyday life
Organizer: Devorah Kalekin-Fishman, University of Haifa, Israel,   dkalekin@univ.haifa.ac.il
As process and emergent condition, alienation is not a category restricted to a pre-defined repertoire of phenomena. It can be applied to the description and analysis of the trivia as well as of the finer points of everyday life. We will be seeking to account for effects of macro-processes on agency, micro-structures (including sensory experiences), the coordination of action, and on experiences of time and space in everyday life.

Session 7: Alienation and emotions
Organizers:  Lauren Langman, Loyola University, USA, llang944@aol.com and Vessela Misheva, University of Upsalla, Sweden, Vessela.Misheva@soc.uu.se
Arlie Hochschild pointed out twenty-some years ago how emotions have been alienated and feelings commodified. Recent socio-psychological research has been more concerned with such themes as emotions, self and socialization in relation to the growth of service jobs and the development of the various new forms of electronic networking and communication (Internet, chat, blogs etc). This session will attempt to locate this work within the new realities of globalized capitalism, the subsequent new forms of alienation, and new ways of overcoming alienation.

Session 8: Alienation on the Move. Part I 
Additional session on the Congress theme
Organizers: Lauren Langman, Loyola University, USA, llang944@aol.com and Devorah Kalekin-Fishman, University of Haifa, Israel,   dkalekin@univ.haifa.ac.il
The concept of alienation has a long history in legal theory as well as philosophy.  For modern sociology, the concept became important for Marx in that the fundamental condition of capitalism was the commodification of wage labor in which the workers were not only exploited, but bereft of  agency, community or even a human identity.  But as our society has moved from the early industrial era of Marx to the late industrial era of Fordist production and in turn to the advanced techno-capitalism of the global age, sociology has changed in order to make sense of these transformations. Classic models of stability and change, causality and teleology have been challenged. The concept of alienation, while rooted in Marx’s critique of capital, has endured as a rich tool for social analysis.  The concept can shed light on everyday life in late modernity in its consumerist and post consumerist moments.  It helps us understand the anger and frustrations of those deprived of the fruits of modernity and face only its adversities.  Thus we can see that such diverse social moments as fundamentalisms, reactionary nationalisms or many aspects of popular culture, especially certain themes in punk, metal and rap are rooted in certain new forms of alienation.  This session will serve to highlight many of the ways in which alienation, as a concept and as a reality is “on the move”.

Session 9: Alienation on the Move. Part II 
Additional session on the Congress theme
Organizers: Lauren Langman, Loyola University, USA, llang944@aol.com and Devorah Kalekin-Fishman, University of Haifa, Israel,   dkalekin@univ.haifa.ac.il

Session 10:  Business Meeting  

Session 11: To be announced


Joint sessions hosted by RC36

Session 12: Art, alienation and politics of resistance
Joint session of RC36 Alienation Theory and Research [host committee] and and RC37 Sociology of Arts

Session 13:  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

Session 14: 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


Joint sessions hosted by others RC

Session 15: The Language of terror
Joint Session of RC25 Language and Society [host committee] and RC36 Alineation Theory and Research

Session 16: Waving the bloody body: The modern mobilization of a wounded imagery on behalf of multiple identities
Joint session of RC36 Alienation Theory and Research and RC54 The Body in the Social Sciences [host committee]

Session 17:  The boundaries of the body
Joint session of RC36 Alienation Theory and Research and RC54 The Body in the Social Sciences [host committee]

Session 18:  Gender, work and bodies   
Joint session of RC36 Alienation Theory and Research and RC54 The Body in the Social Sciences [host committee]

Session 19: 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



Self, Society and the 21st century
RC36 symposium
Gothenburg, Sweden
July 10, 2010

Submissions: March 15, 2010

The relationship of self and society has intrigued philosophers, psychoanalysts, and sociologists for over a century. In the early part of the last century, as economic conditions fostered alienation, malaise and despair, the Frankfurt School, among the first scholars influence by both the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, as well as Freudian psychology, began to investigate and theorize the social psychological factors that disposed certain people to Fascism. At about the same time, in the US, scholars such as Cooley, James and above all GH Mead began to think about socialization and the formation of self. These early perspectives played a major role in the rise of symbolic interactionism.

These theories have seen a number of developments and transformations. While the work of Reich, Fromm, Adorno and Horkhiemer was groundbreaking, Marcuse, Habermas and Jessica Benjamin have added to that tradition. Surely the work of Althusser, Lacan and Foucault has added a number of other concerns and dimensions.

For the past few years, a number of scholars have gathered together before the American Sociological Association meetings to discuss the vagaries of contemporary selfhood, largely, but not exclusively from a psychoanalytical perspective. This year, given the many European and International scholars that will be attending the ISA, we decided to move our venue to Gothenburg, Sweden, and schedule our meeting the day before ISA meets.The meeting will be sponsored by RC36 Alienation Theory and Research.

We would like to invite all interested scholars to join us in what have been among the most stimulating meetings. Please send an abstract of about 200 words to Lauren Langman, Llang944@aol.com and Lynne Chancer, lchancer@hunter.cuny.edu. Please send by March 15, 2010.