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

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Research Committee on
Biography and Society RC38

Programme Coordinators
Gabriele Rosenthal, Georg August University of Göttingen, Germany, g.rosenthal@gmx.de
Michaela Köttig, Georg August University of Göttingen, Germany, michaela.koettig@gmx.de

Congress Programme


Sessions descriptions

Session 1: Worlds of difference: Life stories and education
Additional session on the specific congress theme
Organizers: Devorah Kalekin-Fishman University of Haifa, Israel, dkalekin@construct.haifa.ac.il and Peter Alheit, Georg-August University Goettingen, Germany, palheit@gwdg.de
The life stories of teachers, students, inspectors, and teacher-educators intersect in the daily life of educational institutions. Yet, effects of individuals' lives on these forced encounters and of the encounters in formal frameworks on life outside school are rarely investigated. In this session, we will be exploring the 'worlds of difference' along several dimensions: differences in the intersection of lives and education in different parts of the world; differences in the life worlds of those meeting in school situations; differences in the strategies adopted by incumbents of different roles in order to cope with changes in educational demands arising from the progress of globalization.

Session 2: Transnational migration and (family) life-courses – Theoretical, historical and comparative perspectives
Joint session of RC38 Biography and Society [host committee] and TG02 Historical and Comparative Sociology

Session 3: Biographical processes and supranational identity formation in a European context. Part I: Mobility
Organizers: Robert Miller , Queens University Belfast, North-Ireland r.miller@qub.ac.uk and Kaja Kazmierskal University of Lodz, Poland, kajakaz@uni.lodz.p
The current state-of-the-art research into European identity has been driven almost exclusively by a ‘top down’ elitist perspective that focuses upon the development of an identification with ‘Europe’ through centrally-driven policies originating for the most part from within the European Commission.  This session will focus upon biographical research and/or conceptualizations that can provide wider insights into the evolution and meanings of a European identity or identities from the ’bottom up’ perspective of the individual. 
Biographical identity is neither solely solid and fixed for all time nor completely fluid and contingent but rather a combination of both.  Identity functions as an internalized cognitive schema or habitus of stored meanings and modes of reacting to the world that enables one to maintain continuity and remain 'the same' over time.  At the same time, identity is a process in which one's self-conception is (re)formed and transformed over time during the course of life experiences that take place within a changing grid of often conflicting multiple groups, interests, loyalties and responsibilities.  The retention of a balance between these two -- the need to maintain continuity and the imperative to change -- can be seen as an ongoing biographical process of identity work.  We welcome proposed papers, either conceptual and/or research-based, that deal with the question of evolving European identity or identities within these contexts.

Session 4: Biographical research in countries of the global South
Organizers: Gabriele Rosenthal , Georg-August-University Goettingen, Germany, G.Rosenthal@gmx.de and Steve Tonah University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana, tonah@operamail.com
This session aims at bringing together colleagues who are involved in biographical research in countries of the global South. We are interested in papers devoted to this field of research - especially in countries of Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, as well as South, Central, and Southeast Asia. We are interested both in contributions concerned with questions of methodology (What kinds of biographical research? What are the main research questions? What kinds of data are used in order to answer these questions? What are the techniques of data collection and data analysis used? Etc.) as well as papers concerning substantive empirical analyses of biographical accounts of people living in these regions. We will attempt to cover a wide variety of experiences of social conflicts including armed conflicts, poverty, inequality, violence, social and political change, of biographical and/or collective or societal crises as well as experiences of biographical and/or collective success.

Session 5: Performing ethnicities
Organizers: Eva Judit Kovacs University of Pécs, Hungary, kovacseva@chello.at and Hee Yong Hee-Young Yi, Sungkonghoe University, Seoul, Korea, biograf@hanmail.net
The poststructuralist theories of the 1990s tried to re-think the concept of groups, communities and ethnicities. The cultural and performative turns stressed the performative and constitutive faces of ethnicity. Our session will explore the performative strategies used by biographical narrations to embody cultural representations of the ‘other’; how these narrations represent and explore diverse and multiple ethnic identities and how performing ethnicities have opened up debates around structures of power and representation. We are especially interested in papers from colleagues doing researches in the global South.

Session 6: Perpetuating conflicts within/between societies. Part I
Organizers: Noga Gilad , University of Haifa, Israel, giladn@post.tau.ac.il and Lena Inowlocki , Frankfurt University Applied Science, Germany, inowlocki@soz.uni-frankfurt.de
Next to the decisive roles of politics and news media, the micro and meso levels of interaction and sensemaking also need to be better understood in perpetuating conflicts and violence between groups in a society or between nations. We invite abstracts of papers that explore and analyze processes and mechanisms of prolonged hostilities through biographical narratives, conversations, or ethnographic protocols of conflict sites. The specific focus is on long lasting and recurring conflicts as well as on different positions and perspectives taken towards these conflicts.

Session 7: Different perspectives on biographies
Organizers: Michaela Koettig , Georg-August-University Goettingen, Germany, Michaela.Koettig@gmx.de and Tazuko Kobayashi, Japan Women`s University, Kanagawa, Japan, kobaya@fc.jwu.ac.jp
The session enables the discussion of methodological approaches and methods of analysis of biographical data. It has become an established forum - similar sessions have been very successful at the last world congresses. Participants from different theoretical and cultural backgrounds and methodological approaches will be asked to exemplify their way of biographical case study analysis using the same biographical-narrative interview provided by the session organizers. Researchers will be invited to demonstrate their methodology and "techniques" and this will form a basis for comparison during discussion.

Session 8:  Bodies and pictures
Organizer: Roswitha Breckner , University of Vienna, Austria, roswitha.breckner@univie.ac.at
This session seeks to explore the meaning of pictures photographies, collages, drawings, painting, video, film, and other) in interactional and biographical processes. Pictorial performances of the body and mutual visual perceptions of bodily appearances are important dimensions of social interaction. We create pictorial images of ourselves and of others while we are looking and gazing at each other (Goffman). Also in biographical processes the visual dimension plays an important role, e.g. while creating gender relations, images of otherness and familiarity, of generational and community bonds, and of memories of biographically relevant events. Papers are invited which address this kind of biographical and interactional processes from a visual point of view.

Session 9: Doing biographical analysis in a global framework
Organizers: Kathy Davis , Utrecht University, Netherlands, Kathy.Davis@let.uu.nl and Helma Lutz , Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany, Lutz@soz.uni-frankfurt.de
In this session, we explore the methodological and theoretical consequences of engaging in biographical research in a global context. Inspired by the work of Michael Buroway and others in the field of global ethnography, we invite biographical researchers to consider the problems and possibilities that arise when they take the global context in which their informants’ life stories are situated into account in their analysis. What specific challenges do processes of globalization provide for biographical research and how can we do biographical research in ways that take both the local and the global into account?

Session 10: Roundtable on ‘the role of transnational public intellectuals’
Joint sessionof RC05 Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations [host committee] and RC38 Biography and Society

Session 11: Biography and mental health
Joint session of RC38 Biography and Society and RC49 Mental Health and Illness [host committee]

Session 12: Biographical processes and supranational identity formation in a European context. Part II: Civil society
Organizers: Robert Miller , Queens University Belfast, North-Ireland r.miller@qub.ac.uk and Kaja Kazmierskal University of Lodz, Poland, kajakaz@uni.lodz.p
The current state-of-the-art research into European identity has been driven almost exclusively by a ‘top down’ elitist perspective that focuses upon the development of an identification with ‘Europe’ through centrally-driven policies originating for the most part from within the European Commission.  This session will focus upon biographical research and/or conceptualizations that can provide wider insights into the evolution and meanings of a European identity or identities from the ’bottom up’ perspective of the individual. 
Biographical identity is neither solely solid and fixed for all time nor completely fluid and contingent but rather a combination of both.  Identity functions as an internalized cognitive schema or habitus of stored meanings and modes of reacting to the world that enables one to maintain continuity and remain 'the same' over time.  At the same time, identity is a process in which one's self-conception is (re)formed and transformed over time during the course of life experiences that take place within a changing grid of often conflicting multiple groups, interests, loyalties and responsibilities.  The retention of a balance between these two -- the need to maintain continuity and the imperative to change -- can be seen as an ongoing biographical process of identity work.  We welcome proposed papers, either conceptual and/or research-based, that deal with the question of evolving European identity or identities within these contexts.

Session 13: Perpetuating conflicts within/between societies. Part II
Organizers: Noga Gilad , University of Haifa, Israel, giladn@post.tau.ac.il and Lena Inowlocki , Frankfurt University Applied Science, Germany, inowlocki@soz.uni-frankfurt.de
Next to the decisive roles of politics and news media, the micro and meso levels of interaction and sensemaking also need to be better understood in perpetuating conflicts and violence between groups in a society or between nations. We invite abstracts of papers that explore and analyze processes and mechanisms of prolonged hostilities through biographical narratives, conversations, or ethnographic protocols of conflict sites. The specific focus is on long lasting and recurring conflicts as well as on different positions and perspectives taken towards these conflicts.

Session 14: Business meeting
Organizers: Gabriele Rosenthal, Georg August University of Göttingen, Germany, g.rosenthal@gmx.de and Michaela Köttig, Georg August University of Göttingen, Germany, michaela.koettig@gmx.de

Integrative session 7: Narratives, citizenship, health, and social change
Integrative session of Research Committees RC05 Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations, RC15 Sociology of Health, RC38 Biography and Society