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

Research Committee on
History of Sociology, RC08

RC08 main page

Program Coordinator

Program Coordinating Committee

Number of allocated sessions including Business Meeting: 18.


Planned sessions and dates/time subject to further changes

in alphabetical order:


Friday, July 18, 2014: 08:30 AM - 10:20 AM

Author meets their Critics
Fernanda Beigel (ed.), Politics of Academic Autonomy in Latin America (Ashgate 2013)

Session Organizer
João Marcelo Ehlert MAIA, Fundação Getúlio Vargas, Brazil,

Session in English

Not open for submission of abstracts.
The book is a collective work that puts together articles from different Latin American researchers on the struggle for academic autonomy in the continent. The idea is to offer an opportunity to present a Southern perspective on a major theme of debate in our field, which is the so-called “public sociology”.


Monday, July 14, 2014: 3:30 PM - 5:20 PM

Circulation of Social Science Knowledge – The Influence of Textual and Contextual Elements

Session Organizers
Wiebke KEIM, Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, Germany,
Veronika WOEHRER, Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, Germany,
Ercüment CELIK, Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, Germany,
Christian ERSCHE, Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, Germany,

Session in English

Studies of circulation of knowledge and ideas have increased steadily over the past years – the current state of the literature on the theme is extremely rich, but also disparate. This session intends to focus on historical studies on the circulation of social science knowledge. While there is a tendency in the literature to focus either on contextual factors, pointing to the situatedness of knowledge and the external conditioning of its circulation, or on an exclusively text-based interpretation of circulating ideas beyond their context, we encourage contributions that attempt to link the two perspectives, i.e. text and context, in innovative ways.

We particularly welcome contributions that conceptualize particular problems around the international circulation of knowledge between places that enjoy differential status and recognition within the international scholarly communities (i.e., across a “centre-periphery-divide”). Systematic, in-depth and empirically grounded research that allows to critically question critiques of parochialism, provincialism, localism, Eurocentrism or particularism, i.e. critiques often voiced against social science knowledge that internationally circulates, especially across power and status differentials, are particularly welcome.


Monday, July 14, 2014: 5:30 PM - 7:20 PM

Cold War Social Science

Session Organizer
Christian DAYE, University of Graz, Austria,

Session in English

The recent years have seen an increasing interest in the role social scientists and social scientific knowledge played in shaping political strategies during the Cold War. Especially in the U.S., but also in Western Europe and in other countries, social scientists came in close relation to decision-makers in military and government agencies. This was, at least for some observers, a historically new situation for the social sciences. As C. Wright Mills put it in The Sociological Imagination, social scientists have “[f]or the first time in the history of their disciplines ... come into professional relationship with private and public powers well above the level of the welfare agency and the county agent.” In Mills` view, this resulted in a profound change in the orientation and the societal position of social sciences: “Their positions change – from the academic to the bureacratic; their publics change – from movements of reformers to circles of decision-makers; and their problems change – from those of their own choice to those of their clients.”

However tendentious and simplifying Mills` perspective upon the history of social sciences is, it opens up several potential potential lines of inquiry for historians of sociology. Papers in this session can explore the relations between the social sciences and the Cold War in many ways: or point in any other way to the change brought about to the intellectual trajectory of social sciences by the new situation Mills alluded to.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 08:30 AM - 10:20 AM

Failed Sociologists and Dead Ends in the History of Sociology

Session Organizers
Christian FLECK, University of Graz, Austria,
Eric ROYAL LYBECK, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom,

Session in English

The idea that the history of any scientific discipline follows the paths of linear progress by accumulating bits and pieces of research has been abandoned in recent decades. Progress is no longer an integrating idea about the emergence of disciplines. If this perspective, or mood, has any advantage for the writing of the history of sociology it should help raise new research questions. One of those new approaches in writing the history could be seen in the assumption that an analysis of cases of “dead ends” in the history of sociology might reveal something about the social and normative structures forming a discipline like sociology.

Dead ends are seldom recognized by contemporaries; but how much time has to be elapse until a dead end is identified as such? Is there a consensus about what counts as a dead end or did sociologists quarrel about what should be seen as a dead end and what not? Closely related to the explication of the meaning of dead ends is the question about the relationship between the occurrence of dead ends and those sociologists who acted as advocates of these approaches. Are particular types of sociologists prone to land in dead ends?

We welcome any paper which is more than just a description of a particular constellation of dead ends and discusses its case with regard to general patterns or potentials for generalizations.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 10:30 AM - 12:20 PM

Geopolitical Framing of Social Sciences

Session Organizer
Albert TZENG, International Institute for Asian Studies, Netherlands,

Session in English

Geopolitics shaped the history of social sciences in various ways. On the one hand, the scholar migration driven either by imperial expansion or by wars played a critical role in the dispersion of social scientific expertise; it also prone to cast an impact on the intellectual trajectories of those displaced scholars. On the other hand, the emerging interests and concerns in the changing geopolitical context are often channelled to the setting of scholarly agenda by either state authorities or private funding bodies. The earlier development of colonial scholarship; the various scholarly impacts brought by World Wars; the Cold War investment by the United States in exporting social sciences abroad and developing “area studies” at home, were just some examples. This panel invites papers that explores, and critically reflects upon, the geopolitical framing of social sciences and its legacies.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 03:30 PM - 05:20 PM

History of Empirical Social Research and Statistics

Session Organizer
Irmela GORGES, Free University of Berlin, GERMANY,

Session in English

The session wants to attract papers that deal with the emergence or development of methods of empirical social research and/or statistics in any country. All forms of analyses are welcome, case studies, longitudinal studies etc. The analysis should be, if possible, embedded in the historical context of the respective country.


Monday, July 14, 2014: 10:30 AM - 12:20 PM

History of Japanese Sociology

Session Organizer
Kiyomitsu YUI, Kobe University, Japan,

Session in English

This session welcomes paper proposals on any aspects of the history of sociology in Japan.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 05:30 PM - 07:20 PM

Ordinary Sociologists

Session Organizer
Jennifer PLATT, University of Sussex, United Kingdom,

Session in English

Most biographical work in the history of sociology is on exceptional sociologists. They are very interesting, but can we as sociologists really understand their careers without knowing more about their social contexts? And can we really understand the social production of sociology without knowing how the rank and file used to do it?

This session invites papers – about individuals, departments, cohorts, or the discipline in a whole country – who have not been prominent or exceptional. Their “ordinariness” could be defined on the basis of preliminary data (rising only as far as the median academic rank? publishing a number of books or articles around the average, and receiving an average number of citations to them? holding a post at a typical institution?), or could be attributed more impressionistically.

Descriptive issues to be addressed could be


Monday, July 14, 2014: 7:30 PM - 8:50 PM

RC08 Business Meeting


Friday, July 18, 2014: 03:30 PM - 05:20 PM

RC08 Roundtable I: General Session on the History of Sociology

Session Organizer
Peter BAEHR, Lingnan University, Hong Kong,

Session in English

Titles of the five tables:


Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 08:30 AM - 10:20 AM

Sociological Trajectories from the Global South and Peripheral Countries

Session Organizers
Fran COLLYER, University of Sydney, Australia,
João Marcelo Ehlert MAIA, Fundação Getúlio Vargas, Brazil

Session in English

The history of sociology as we know it has been mainly a Northern enterprise. Textbooks and mainstream accounts tend to focus on sociologists and theories from Europe or North America, leaving aside the contributions from other regions of the world. This session will thus include papers from, and about, sociology as it has been, and is currently practiced in countries from the Global South and the world periphery. Papers may interrogate concepts such as post-colonialism, imperialism, modernisation or globalisation, or may be empirical, focusing on the impact of these, or related, social dynamics. We particularly welcome papers which adopt a comparative or transnational perspective, focusing on biographies, intellectual traditions, discourses and institutions.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 05:30 PM - 07:20 PM

The Books that Made Sociology

Session Organizer
Filipe Carreira DA SILVA, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom,

Session in English

This session welcomes papers on the books that helped make sociology – the so-called “sociological classics”. Sociological classics such as Weber’s The Protestant Ethic or Durkheim’s Division of Labour have performed important functions over the years, which historians of sociology have been carefully documenting especially since the late 1980s debate on the “sociological canon”. Yet sociologists still know relatively little about the history of these books, let alone incorporate that knowledge in their teaching and research. A better understanding of this overlooked aspect of our heritage promises to destabilize entrenched yet deeply problematic understandings regarding the nature and scope of the sociological enterprise.

Research questions thus include:


Friday, July 18, 2014: 12:30 PM - 2:20 PM

The Global South and Postcolonial Perspectives in International Sociology

Integrative Session: RC08 History of Sociology, RC35 Conceptual and Terminological Analysis and WG02 Historical and Comparative Sociology.
Not open for submission of abstracts.

Session in English


Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 03:30 PM - 05:20 PM

The History of Ideas of Transformation Processes

Session Organizers
Sven ELIAESON, Uppsala University, Sweden,
Larissa TITARENKO, Belarus State University, Belarus,

Session in English

There are a number of works that stick out. Unthinking Talcott Parsons is difficult; up-dating Parsons a natural theme. There are many stages-theories, only to mention W. W. Rostow and Stein Rokkan. Rokkan might have the Northwest-European experience in focus but his stages have high relevance for any comparison. Four-stages-theories from Scottish Enlightenment are early examples of transformation theorizing, and same goes for Karl Marx and Max Weber. Samuel Pufendorf as an early bird and forerunner for later studies on civil society could also be mentioned, and Karl Polanyi’s “Great transformation” could also be listed as examples; same for Francis Fukuyama, Norbert Elias, Gunnar Myrdal and Joseph Schumpeter, etc. Transformations East of the Elbe after “die Wende” are naturally important fields of application, addressing such issues as why development to rule of law and democratic civic culture fails in Russia, succeeds in Estonia, and sort of in between in Poland. The different roads to Modernity are path-dependent.


Thursday, July 17, 2014: 05:30 PM - 07:20 PM

The Origins of Modern and Contemporary Sociology – Panel Session

Session Organizer
Shoji ISHITUKA, Tokyo University of Information Sciences, Japan,

Session in English

Not open for submission of abstracts.
This panel session deals with the origins of modern and contemporary sociology. The panel consists of eight invited speakers from six countries: In concluding this session we will set up a new space of investigation open to the sociological world as a thematization of the Origins of Modern and Contemporary Sociology giving to it a temporary synthesis from an open discussion.


Thursday, July 17, 2014: 08:30 AM - 10:20 AM

The Role of Sociology in Relation to other Social Sciences

Session Organizer
Hedvig EKERWALD, Uppsala University, Sweden,

Session in English

What is the genealogy of the social sciences? Is there empirical support for a thesis of sociology within the social sciences being the subject most likely to correspond to physics within the natural sciences, a sort of mother discipline from which many of the other disciplines emanate? What counterarguments are there to such a thesis? What is the time order of the appearance of the disciplines on the social science field? What interdisciplinary relations form which mechanisms in the growth and expansion of the social sciences since the mid-19th century?

The questions are big and the answer consists of many small answers. Both theoretical, even speculative, and empirical contributions are welcome to this explorative session.


Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:30 AM - 12:20 PM


Session Organizer
Andreas HESS, University College Dublin, Ireland,

Session in English

Almost anywhere around the world a closer look into any sociology course outline or any sociology bibliography will reveal the many book titles that have been translated from another language. The history of sociology would almost be unthinkable without translation. However, translation is not just a mechanical exercise about the compatibility and appropriateness of words and sentences but also about meaning and context. This session will address the complications that usually arise when meaning and context of the original text differ from the context in which the text is read. This session will include case studies of sociological translation(s) and perception(s) outside the original context(s); it will also look into the issue of cultural peculiarities, neglect or ignorance, non-translation, misperceptions and cultural misunderstandings.


Thursday, July 17, 2014: 03:30 PM - 05:20 PM

Transnational Organisations in the History of the Social Sciences

Session Organizers
Per WISSELGREN, Umeå University, Sweden,
Jennifer PLATT, University of Sussex, United Kingdom,

Session in English

Studies on the history of sociology have often used the nation-state as a taken for granted framework. There are many good reasons for this. But most social research is at the same time, as Heilbron, Guilhot and Jeanpierre (2008) have argued, embedded also in transnational relations of various kinds. This session pays special attention to transnational organisations in the history of sociology and related social science disciplines. Today a few studies are available on e.g. the International Sociological Association and the International Social Science Council (Platt 1998, 2002). But there are several other organisations that have either been transnational in character or had explicitly international aims. These include the Institut International de Sociologie (IIS), UNESCO and its branches, the Asociación Latinoamericana de Sociología (ALAS), the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), the Asia Pacific Sociological Association (APSA), the European Sociological Association (ESA), the European Union, and many more.

Paper proposals dealing with any of such organisations, or related transnational and organisational questions in the history of social sciences are welcome. The possibility of a publication based on the session will be explored.


Joint Sessions

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

The Emergence of Sociology in an Interdisciplinary Context – Nothing but Success?

Joint session of RC08 History of Sociology [host committee] and WG02 Historical and Comparative Sociology



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March 2014