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

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Research Committee on
Social Indicators RC55

Programme Coordinator
Heinz-Herbert Noll, GESIS-Leibniz Institute for Social Sciences, Germany, heinz-herbert.noll@gesis.org

Congress Programme


Sessions descriptions

Session 1: Social indicators of progress in societies
Organizer: Valerie Moller, Rhodes University, South Africa, v.moller@ru.ac.za
The Age of Enlightenment introduced the idea that the civilised world is moving in a positive direction at all levels of society - individual, community, nation state, and world organisations. New technologies and progressive social arrangements are thought to contribute to the good life. However, since the 18th century, we have reason to doubt that the path of progress is not altogether straight forward. Our capacity as humans to change our social and natural en-vironment has produced results that are uneven – developing and damaging society and the planet. In the 21st century social indicator researchers are asked to develop the measures that accurately monitor and evaluate change for the better or worse and for whom. Based on this evidence it may be possible to achieve real progress or at least to forestall the worst consequences of human endeavour. Particularly welcomed for this session are papers reporting on evaluations of social progress at different levels of society in various regions of the world, but also papers discussing the suitability of indicators and indices as measures of progress from a conceptual or methodological point of view.

Session 2: Social indicators of subjective well-being and happiness
Organizer: Ruut Veenhoven, Erasmus University, The Netherlands, veenhoven@fsw.eur.nl
Research on subjective social indicators, subjective well-being and happiness has been booming in recent years and the results of this research have attracted a lot of interest in academic debates, but also among policy makers and the general public. Part of the success story are new data bases, as for example cross national surveys as well as long lasting household panel studies, new measurement approaches and not least also innovative methods of data analysis. This session invites papers discussing issues of measurement, such as indicators of subjective well-being, papers discussing the use of subjective indicators in policy making as well as papers presenting results of empirical studies on various issues of subjective well-being and happiness. Papers presenting results of comparative research are particularly welcomed. 

Session 3: Social indicators of migration and the integration of migrants
Organizer: Rob Bijl, Netherlands Institute for Social Research/SCP, The Netherlands, r.bijl@scp.nl

Migration and immigrant integration have become major concerns in Europe. This has created a strong demand for knowledge and expertise on policy formulation as well as its implementation and evaluation. The policy approach to integration rested for many years on qualitative measures and most often formulated in terms of ethnic minority’s participation in the host society and their sharing ‘fundamental values’. With the increase of available quanti-tative data and indicators on more structural aspects of integration (labour, education, hou-sing), in many countries a shift towards more empirical support to migration and integration policies can be recognised. Parallel with this, the growing utilisation of integration criteria in the legal management of immigration, what one could call the “governance of integration,” has reinforced calls to produce indicators, the latter no longer solely used to describe the situation of immigrants or ethnic minorities at a group level, but also at an individual level to decide who may be granted a resident permit or visa. Several European countries have conditioned the deliverance of resident visas on integration criteria such as proficiency in the host country language. Papers discussing the suitability and validity of migration and integration indicators, papers adressing the methodological pitfalls of developing such indicators, and papers presenting results of comparative research between different ethnic groups or countries) are particularly welcomed.

Session 4:  Reciprocity, social ties and wellbeing: indicators and comparative studies
Organizer: Ming-Chang Tsai, National Taipei University, Taiwan, mtsai@mail.ntpu.edu.tw
Exchanges powerfully enhance quality of life by way of giving and taking within family or in communities. Societies differ in formulating specific social network relations and facilitating reciprocal behaviors. This session is devoted to understanding exchange-related phenomena and its outcomes on wellbeing across countries. Papers discussing measurement issues as well as comparative studies are particularly welcomed.      

Session 5: Inequality, insecurity and well-being: indicators and analyses
Organizer: Christian Suter, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, christian.suter@unine.ch
In the last decades a variety of new concepts – like social exclusion, risk, flexibility, pre-cariousness, vulnerability – have been introduced into the analysis of social structures and inequality in order to grasp the effect of social and economic change. Thus, recent debates claim that life in modern societies has become more insecure, risky, vulnerable and pre-carious and that inequality structures and social cleavages have become more fluid and dynamic. This session aims at discussing the contribution of these conceptual tools for the empirical analysis of social structures and their implications for the relationship between structural positions and subjective wellbeing. The session invites papers discussing the measurement of these concepts, such as indicators of vulnerability, precariousness, insecurity etc., and applying them in empirical analyses. Papers providing comparative analysis are particularly welcomed.

Session 6: Social indicators and policy making
Organizer: Ming-Chang Tsai, National Taipei University,  Taiwan, mtsai@mail.ntpu.edu.tw
Policy making, which increasingly tends to be evidence based, needs appropriate empirical information in order to be able to identify needs for action, but also yardsticks and bench-marks allowing to evaluate the outcomes and success of specific policy measures. The dynamic interplay between social indicators, government, and policy making explains to a considerable extent why things are getting better in certain countries or regions and not in others. This session aims to re­flect the role of social indicators to inform and to guide public policies and invites different kinds of papers addressing related issues. Particularly welcome are papers on indicator-based monitoring of quality of life and trends of social change, pa-pers on the underlying political settings of social indicator construction and application, reflections on methodological characteristics of policy relevant indicators, and examples of ‘good practice’ in the use of social indicators for policy making.  

Session 7: Social indicators ‘on the move’
Additional session on the Congress theme
Organizer: Heinz-Herbert Noll, GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, heinz-herbert.noll@gesis.org
Picking up the general theme of the congress, this session does not have a specific thematic focus, but rather invites papers on new developments and innovations in social indicators and quality of life research more generally. The session addresses conceptual as well as methodological issues, and welcomes also papers on innovative applications of social indicators research in different settings.      

Session 8: Business Meeting
Organizer: Heinz-Herbert Noll, GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, heinz-herbert.noll@gesis.org

Session 9: Worlds of difference in qualities of life for older people living in developing and developed countries
Joint session of RC11 Sociology of Aging [host committee] and RC55 Social Indicators

Session 10: Older people's contributions to societal well-being
Joint session of RC11 Sociology of Aging and RC55 Social Indicators [host committee]

Session 11: Sustainability and quality of life: concordant or conflicting goals of societal development?
Joint Session of RC24 Environment and Society and RC55 Social Indicators [host committee]

Session 12: Assessing children’s quality of life
Joint Session of RC53 Sociology of Childhood and RC55 Social Indicators [host committee]