ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, July 2014

Research Committee on
Futures Research, RC07

RC07 main page

Program Coordinator

Number of allocated sessions including Business Meeting: 22.


For sessions program and schedule see

On-line congress program


BRICS and Global Futures

Session Organizer
Jan NEDERVEEN PIETERSE, University of California, USA,

Session in English

Major concerns about the BRICS and other emerging societies are their quality of growth and whether growth is shared and inclusive, and second, the implications for regional and global transformations, including relations with other developing countries.


Environmental Futures: Disasters, Climate Change, and the City

Session Organizer
Timothy W. LUKE, State University of Virginia, USA,

Session in English

This session serves as platform for debating transdisciplinary research on the environment from a forward-oriented perspective. How do climate change, environmental pollution, and resource exhaustion impact global society and relations between regions? How do nation-states, corporations, and publics anticipate environmental change, and how do anticipations impact their actions? How is knowledge about environmental future scenarios being constructed? Does the current debate about a transition from the Holocene to an Anthropocene Age shape how future scenarios are being imagined? How do different social actors and stakeholder shape public debates and policies? How is knowledge about environmental future scenarios being constructed? How do different social actors and stakeholder shape public debates and policies?


Global Change, Local Continuities: Focus on the Global South and Environmental Changes

Session Organizer
Wilson AKPAN, University of Fort Hare, South Africa,

Session in English

If there is one thing the growing body of knowledge on global environmental change makes clear, it is that the future is littered with ominous signs. The literature on climate change, for instance, provides a prognosis of a future in which vulnerabilities and adaptation challenges in the global South seem particularly dire. One interesting consensus that seems to have emerged is that hopes of survival, for both human communities and the natural environment, increasingly depend on the size and quality of the basket of mediating “assets” that households and communities possess – and how deliberately and creatively these “assets” are deployed in times of crises or even before disasters strike. They range from human, physical and social capital, to financial and natural assets.

However, sociologists are taking a keen interest in what these assets are in specific locales and what they mean for local inhabitants. The question that is increasingly being asked is: What knowledge and whose knowledge dominate current thinking on global environment change and strategies for sustainably adapting to it – and does it matter?

This session will feature presentations from scholars who are currently researching, or who have researched, local discourses and understandings of climate change and how communities utilize local knowledge (or a combination of knowledges from different ideational terrains) to pursue a future in which climate change-related vulnerabilities are sustainably contained.


Inequality and Difference as Challenge for Social Theory

Session Organizer
Emil Albert SOBOTTKA, Pontificy University do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil,

Session in English

Inequality has historically had a mobilizing potential for social movements and public policy agents as well as in many academic circles. It has tacitly been assumed that it is undesirable and should be overcome. However, the growing assertion of the right to difference, in recent years, showed that combating inequality can – and has been – highly homogenizing if not oppressive.

The purpose of the session is to make a balance of how social theory recently has dealt with the tension between both and how it has managed to give convincing reasons to justify the normativity that is claimed for both.


Inequality and the Future of Aging: Global and Comparative Perspectives on Trends, Implications, Policies, and Practices

Integrative Session: RC07 Futures Research, RC10 Social Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management and RC11 Sociology of Aging
Not open for submission of abstracts.

Session in English


Media Futures: Designs, Practices, Policies, Visions

Session Organizers
Timothy W. LUKE, State University of Virginia, USA,
Martine REVEL, Université de Lille, France,

Session in English

One or more sessions are planned on the broadly conceived theme of media futures. Contributers may explore from theoretical, empirical, or normative perspectives critical issues such as Papers may address current trends, alternative future scenarios, policy implications, social consequences, or processes for imagining and shaping media futures.


RC07 Business Meeting

Session Organizer


RC07 Rountable I. Open Themes. Temas Abiertos. Thèmes Ouverts. Part I

Session Organizers
Celi SCALON, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
Hiro TOYOTA, Kansai Gaddei University, Japan,
Walden BELLO, University of the Philippines, Philippines,

Session in English


RC07 Rountable II. Open Themes. Temas Abiertos. Thèmes Ouverts. Part II

Session Organizer
John URRY, University of Lancaster, United Kingdom,

Session in English/French/Spanish

One or more sessions are planned on themes not covered by the topics in other sessions in English, French, and/or Spanish.


Real Utopias

Session Organizer
Erik Olin WRIGHT, University of Wisconsin, USA,

Session in English

This session provides a platform for discussing social innovations and proposals for social transformation that simultaneously embody utopian aspirations and grapple with the inevitable contradictions of coping with the constraints of the real world. Examples include such things as workers cooperatives, Wikipedia, participatory budgeting, the social and solidarity economy, and transition towns. Papers for the session can be case studies of particular examples of real utopias, comparative studies of success and failures in implementing particular models, and theoretical discussions of real utopian proposals.

The papers should include at least some discussion of normative ideals and the dilemmas and challenges in realizing those ideals in practice.


Social Movements, Publics, and the Contentious Politics of the Future. Part II

Session Organizer


Sociological Images of the Future

Session Organizer
Elisa REIS, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,

Session in English

While in classical sociology the discontinuities between past and present played such a crucial role, trends and broad anticipations of the future were also an important dimension of the sociological imagination. Can we find in today`s sociology equivalent concerns about both discontinuities with the past and anticipations of the future? What future images emerge from approaches to global processes, postmodern society, late modernity, and many other theoretical approaches to contemporary social dynamics? Does the growing differentiation within sociology confine imageries of the future to a particular niche? How does the increasing demand for interdisciplinary research affects the development of social forecasts? How is sociology responding to the environmental concern and the threats facing future generations? To what extent is there an explicit commitment to mold the future when sociologists dedicate themselves to formulate, analyze or criticize social policies?

The session intends to provide an opportunity to survey sociological possibilities to tackle the future issue, and at the same time to search for fruitful dialogues across different theoretical approaches to imagining tomorrow society.


Sociology and the Knowledge Society

Session Organizer
Sonia K. GUIMARAES, Federal University do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil,

Session in English

Societies are experiencing substantive changes: a number of breakthroughs in social, economic, political and cultural dimensions (globalization; scientific and technological advances, represented by Digitalization, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Neurosciences; new forms of sociability) are challenging today’s knowledge about the social. The nature of those shifts has profound implications for societies, not only in social, economic and political terms, but also, in terms of altering the conceptions on “the way we are born, we live, we learn, we work, we consume, we dream, we fight or we die.” (Castells, 1997).

The revolutionary character of the changes will become stronger, as the digitalization of manufacturing is already a reality (as the new processes such as 3D printing). Economies are going from mass manufacturing towards much more individualized and flexible production, which will tend to empower micro, small and medium-sized firms and individual entrepreneurs. In the same way, neurosciences are transforming the ways we "know ourselves", as human beings. Yet, despite the revolutionary character of the changes, they are still under-described and under-theorized by today`s Sociology.

Several questions remain to be raised by future research; among many others:


The Aftermath of Violence: The Lingering Memory of Genocide, War, and Political Terror

Session Organizer
Lynn RAPAPORT, Pomona College, USA,

Session in English

Violence is a ubiquitous feature of human society, expressed as a means of domination within face-to-face interactions, intimate relations, social relations, institutions, and between groups and nations. An estimated 1.6 million people worldwide lose their lives to violence annually. Collective violence includes armed conflicts within or between groups or states, and state-perpetuated violence such as genocide and war. The twentieth century was one of the most violent periods in human history. An estimated 191 million people lost their lives directly or indirectly as a result of armed conflict, and over half of them were civilians. Moreover, the twentieth century has also earned the title, “The Century of Genocide,” as more genocide occurred during that century than any prior one in human history. Philosophers, historians, psychologists, theologians, and social scientists have been grappling with understanding the causes and processes of violence. Yet, the aftermath and consequences of violence is also important to study, in order to understand its causes and move toward a more peaceful future.

How do groups and societies deal with the aftermath of conflict and cultural trauma? Is reconciliation an option and, if so, how is it most effective? Who determines the memory of the conflict, and whose interests does it serve? How do different ways of grappling with a violent past impact future peace and/or subsequent conflict?

This panel presents a sociological exploration of the aftermath of collective violence, paying particular attention to how groups and societies deal with cultural trauma, reconciliation, and memorialization. The panel will showcase sociologists focusing on the aftermath of genocide, war, terrorism, and other forms of collective violence, in order to reach a better understanding of its impact on future relations between the perpetrators and their victims.


The Future of Research on Global Inequalities

Session Organizer
Sergio COSTA, Free University Berlin, Germany,

Session in English

New empirical evidences as well as a variety of innovative perspectives have recently challenged classical research on social inequality, which is mostly focused on present inequalities between individuals and social classes exclusively within national societies.

On the one hand, findings coming from transnationalism research have shown how conventional research is insufficient to describe contemporary phenomena such as the emergence of a transnational middle class or new multi-local spaces created by migrants.

On the other hand, word system approach has convincingly demonstrated that existing inequalities have been produced and reproduced through modern history across national borders.

Therefore, a global and transnational frame is needed in order to explain how, for instance, increasing social inequalities followed by more meat consumption in China lead to higher land-ownership concentration in Latin America; or how social mobility of migrants in Germany impacts life conditions in a Turkish town.

We invite to submit papers addressing conceptual aspects as well empirical results related to the present and the future of research on global inequalities. Relevant questions include among others:


The Self as Project: Memory and Future in the Formation of Identity

Session Organizer
Mariolina GRAZIOSI, University of Milan, Italy,

Session in English/French/Spanish

The purpose of the session is to explore the interplay of memory and future in the formation of identity in contemporary society. Sociologists, such a Antony Giddens for example, maintain that identity is presently the result of a reflexive process rather than a fixed model imposed by society as in the previous stage of modernity. Before Giddens, French existentialists, such as Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, during the sixties, saw identity as a project, defined as an act toward an end and a decision to be a presence in the world. If in Giddens` view memory plays a central role, in the French existentialists` view future plays a central role. They see identity as the result of an act of free will and as the result of actions directed toward a goal. Individual choice thus plays a central role in spite of the social constrictions into which a person is born.

The process of self-realization is then seen as not only concerned with social mobility but as a project that includes the formation of the entire personality. The idea of identity as a project emerges for instance also in the feminist view of authors such as Judith Butler.


Urban Futures and Technologies of Inequality

Session Organizers
Sultan KHAN, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa,
Gerardo DEL CERRO SANTAMARIA, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York, USA,
Eliana HERRERA-VEGA, University of Ottawa, Canada,
Radhamany SOORYAMOORTHY, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa,

Session in English

With rapid urbanisation and population concentration in the world`s cities, increasing concern is expressed by urban planners and policy makers in both developed and developing countries. This concern is further exacerbated by globalisation, rapid environmental changes, urban decay, and enormous strain on basic infrastructure, escalating urban poverty, natural disasters and social issues. Despite these urban challenges cities are viewed as engines of growth at a national government level. For the impoverished populace of rural areas migration to cities provides a window of hope and aspiration to succeed and improve on their quality of life only to find the harsh reality of being confined to periphery of the city as second grade citizens.

In the discourse on urban development and regeneration the buzz word is sustainability. Although the concept urban sustainability carries many ambiguous facets on how to maintain synergies between and amongst competing social forces that affect urban planning and decision making a key question is how sustainable are solutions in a context where levels of predictability are challenged by a wide range of sociological variables that will realise a positive rather than a negative future for urban citizens especially those living on the urban periphery.

This session invites papers that provide insights into the potential impacts on present day urban planning and design decisions which challenge the conventional mainstream approach to sustainability by incorporating changing priorities and different ways of thinking on urban spaces with the intention to ensure relevance in the future planning processes. Papers should focus on a wide range of urban issues that has an impact on the present day city and provide suggestions on how these challenges can be surmounted for the future.

The field of urban sustainability is intrinsically transdisciplinary. This session is open to urban researchers and scholars aware of the intrinsic limitations of disciplinary epistemes and interested in crossings with other worldviews (architecture, design, ecology, engineering etc) for a richer and innovative understanding of globalized urbanization.


Wither the 2011 Mobilizations: Progressive, Regressive or Irrelevant

Integrative Session: RC07 Futures Research, RC36 Alienation Theory and Research and RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change
Not open for submission of abstracts.

Session in English


Joint Sessions

Click on the session title to read its description and the scheduled day/time.

Challenges and Innovations in Contemporary Counter-Hegemonic Politics

Joint session of RC02 Economy and Society and RC07 Futures Research [host committee]


Characteristics of Neoliberalism in a Time of Global Crisis

Joint session of RC02 Economy and Society , RC07 Futures Research and RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development [host committee]


Civil Society and Collective Actions. Part II

Joint session of RC07 Futures Research and RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change [host committee]


Future of Aging: Global and Comparative Perspectives on Trends, Implications, Policies, and Practices

Joint session of RC07 Futures Research [host committee] and RC11 Sociology of Aging


Future of Education: Innovation, Reform, Struggle, and Vision / Futuro de la educación, reforma, lucha, y visión

Joint session of RC04 Sociology of Education and RC07 Futures Research [host committee]


Futures of Post-Neoliberalism in a Time of Global Crisis

Joint session of RC02 Economy and Society , RC07 Futures Research and RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development [host committee]


Intellectual South-South and North-South Dialogues from Critical Thinking, Theory and Collective Praxis

Joint session of RC07 Futures Research and RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change [host committee]


Social Movements, Publics, and the Contentious Politics of the Future. Part I

Joint session of RC07 Futures Research [host committee] and RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change


Socio-Ecological Inequality: Water Futures

Joint session of RC07 Futures Research [host committee] and WG02 Historical and Comparative Sociology


The Future of Teaching and Research in Universities

Joint session of RC04 Sociology of Education , RC07 Futures Research and RC23 Sociology of Science and Technology [host committee]



isa logo
International Sociological Association
June 2014