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

Research Committee on
Social Indicators, RC55

RC55 main page

Program Coordinator

Number of allocated sessions including Business Meeting: 14.


For sessions program and schedule see

On-line congress program


Changes and Dynamics: Challenges in Constructing and Defining Complex Social Indicators

Session Organizer
Filomena MAGGINO, University of Florence, Italy,

Session in English

One of the most important issues to face in measuring and monitoring quality of life through comlex indicators is stability and change (well-being dynamics). Generally, studies on change and stability may have different objectives, such as:
  1. describing detailed patterns of change
  2. predicting change values from those obtained in the past
  3. obtaining insight into underlying causal processes

In order to attain these goals, measuring and analysis of change require two aspects to be carefully and systematically considered: 1) theoretical, concerning the definition and conceptualization of change; 2) methodological, concerning: (i) design, (ii) measuring procedures, and (iii) data analysis.

Papers are urged focussing on this particular issue, crucial in monitoring societal well-being also in policy perspective.


Community, Aging, and Well-Being

Session Organizer
Emily NICKLETT, University of Michigan, USA,

Session in English

Populations are aging in developing and developed societies. Adults aged 65 and older compromise 15% of the population in developed societies. This is targeted to increase to 25% in 2050 on average, but will be higher in some European countries and in Japan (approaching 35-40%). Although developing countries will remain young on average, they too will face unique challenges in the coming decades. Aging in Place is defined by the Centers of Disease Control as "the ability to live in one`s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level." The promotion of age-friendly communities through research, policy, and action is fairly new in urban sociology and planning.

However, creative practices to promote aging in place, intergenerational social interaction and participation are seeped in tradition. This session highlights investigations of aging in place that fuse sociological theory with community-based social action.


Conditions for Happiness

Session Organizer
Ruut VEENHOVEN, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands,

Session in English

The rational pursuit of happiness requires sound knowledge about conditions for happiness. Such knowledge is required at three levels. At the micro level individuals need it for making choices in life, such as where to live, what work to do and having children or not. At the meso level organizations need information about what will contribute to the happiness of their members and clients, such as what leadership practices provide the most happiness. At the macro level governments view on the consequences of policy options on the happiness of citizens, such as how much taxation is optimal. The evidence base for informed choice in these matters is growing, but many questions are still unanswered.

Additions to this strand of research are welcomed in this session.


Construction of Composite Index: Methodological Innovation

Session Organizer
Ji-Ping LIN, Academia Sinica, Taiwan,

Session in English

Constructing a “reasonable” and “acceptable” composite index has long been a great challenge for social indicator researchers. The new issue lies not only in the problem of measurement, but also in the integration of different measurement scales and in the availability of sufficient real-world data. For instance, how can we integrate qualitative (nominal and ordinal) and quantitative data (interval and ratio)? How can we construct a composite index using both subject and objective indicators? How can reasonable weights associated with a given set of indicators be quantified while constructing an index? How can we take advantage of increasing availability of high quality micro big data to deal with these issues? Is emerging crowdsourcing method an ideal collaborative research method?

This session aims to call for papers that present innovative methods for constructing composite index.


Happiness in Social Theory

Session Organizer
Ming-Chang TSAI, National Taipei University, Taiwan,

Session in English

This session is devoted to new sociological theorizing of happiness and well-being. Sociological research on life satisfaction has conventionally drawn insights from the Durkheimian and functional traditions. Other social theories can be brought in to broaden the scope of observation, renovate research design, and enrich interpretations. This panel aims at addressing the theoretical issues of quality of life and well-being from conflict theory, exchange theory, utilitarian theory, cultural theory, feminist, or post-modern/structuralist perspective, etc. Papers that address how happiness is understood distinctively in various social theories and how suitable social indicators can be constructed accordingly are particularly welcome.


Keynote Speech Session

Session Organizer
Ming-Chang TSAI, National Taipei university, Taiwan,

Session in English

Not open for submission of abstracts
Speaker: Kenneth C. Land, John Franklin Crowell Professor of Demographic Studies and Sociology, Duke University, USA


Pain and Social Suffering Indicators around the World

Session Organizer
Ronald ANDERSON, University of Minnesota, USA,

Session in English

This session solicits reports on new research or re-analysis of existing social indicator data focusing upon the low-end of measures of well-being and quality of life. Of special interest are studies that explicitly measure pain, despair, suffering, or social traumas from either a social or an individual framework. Both qualitative and quantitative evidence are of interest. Like quality of life and well-being, suffering is generally examined as an outcome or something to be explained by social dysfunctions like poverty. In the past two decades, several theorists (Pierre Bourdieu, Arthur Kleinman, David Morris, and Iain Wilkinson) pioneered the concept of social suffering, which casts pain and suffering as systemic.

In this perspective, social suffering is not so much a cause or an outcome of poverty, violence, health risks, and other social traumas. Conceptualizations of suffering as well as empirical analyses of comparative ill-being are most welcome. Comparisons within as well as across countries are useful. The justification for research on suffering is not just a matter of humanitarian concern, but of strategic planning for social and economic progress. Pain and suffering are arguably the most fundamental criteria for judging differential social inequality, because they produce agony, distress and personal hurt and other negative emotions most feared by human beings.


Physical Punishment in Japan / Wellbeing in Latin America

Session Organizers
Ichiro TANIOKA, Osaka University of Commerce, Japan,
Hachiro IWAI, Kyoto University, Japan,

Session in English

The use of physical punishment in intimate spheres often raises a controversy. Some cultures view the use of physical punishment as an effective means of discipline, whereas other cultures view it as an unacceptable conduct. Nevertheless, both explicit and implicit forms of punishment by parents, partners, teachers, and coaches have repeatedly reported in many societies, especially among Asian countries. This session calls for submissions on the cultural differences in the prevalence of physical punishment, its social background and its outcome on life experiences.


Quality of Life across Life Courses: Early Predictors, Mediating Processes, and Moderators

Session Organizer
Yi-fu CHEN, National Taipei University, Taiwan,

Session in English

With the accumulation of longitudinal data sets, researchers have more chances than before to investigate the continuity and discontinuity of human behaviors. Past research has established the predictors, mediating processes, and moderators of individual`s externalizing and internalizing behaviors. However, on the area of quality of life, this type of studies remains few.

This panel calls for original papers addressing the long-term effects of early predictors on the quality of life in later stages of life course. We also welcome papers that elaborate the mediators connecting the early predictors and later quality of life and the factors that moderate the link(s). Cross-cultural studies are also encouraged.


Quality of Life in Times of Recession

Session Organizer
Robert BIJL, Netherlands Institute for Social Research, Netherlands,

Session in English

The financial crisis worldwide has influenced the real economy and the daily life of people in many countries. In this session we explore the consequences of the crisis on quality of life of citizens and their possible reactions. Have there been predominantly negative changes in QoL (e.g. in life situation, happiness, inequality, discrimination) due to the recession and the policy measures taken by governments? Or has there (also) been a positive contribution of the crisis, caused by a changing awareness about what `really` is important in personal and social life of citizens? Has the crisis contributed to a paradigm shift in thinking about QoL?


RC55 Business Meeting


Social Policy and Well-Being

Session Organizer
Piotr MICHON, Poznan University of Economics, Poland,

Session in English

Social policy aims at providing social protection, social investments and well-being to citizens and includes actions to prevent social risks and to resolve existing social problems. Social policy affects social well-being; individuals’ motivations, relations between groups, and between individuals. It can influence behaviors and choices related to: employment, family, care, education, migration etc. It can affect objective living conditions and it can help to reduce social inequalities. The influence can be direct (for example: system of benefits and taxation affects financial situation of the families), but it can also be indirect (for example: means-tested benefits can be stigmatizing; universal welfare arrangements can promote trust).

Examples of topics that could be addressed include, but are not limited to:
  1. discuss the relationship between social policy and social well-being
  2. introduce the state-of-the-art approaches, methodologies and their applications of measuring the relationships between economy, socio-demographic changes, political developments, social policy and social well-being


Social Quality/Social Well-Being Indicator: From Social Economic Security to Social Empowerment

Session Organizer
Lih-Rong WANG, National Taiwan University, Taiwan,

Session in English

Not open for submission of abstracts.
The panel discussion will address the development of social quality indicator adopted in certain countries as a way for examining wellbeing of the society. Papers will join together to illustrate the quality of life in Asia like Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and China. Cross cultural comparison study will be presented through forum. Major findings include current social quality/social well-being from for dimensions –social economic, social inclusion, social cohesion and social empowerment. The implication for the public policy will be addressed in this roundtable based on critical data exposed from analysis.


Sustainability of the Welfare State: Implications for Social Indicators and Quality-of-Life Studies

Session Organizer
Kenneth C. LAND, Duke University, USA,

Session in English

The welfare states across the globe are facing increased difficulties. Challenged by growing openness of national economies to globalization, the welfare states particularly in advanced countries need to develop new capacities to survive mounting adversities and justify their legitimacy. How the welfare states can be sustainable in the future, achieve redistributive justice and continue to contribute to human quality of life is an urgent research question. Papers that explore the sustainability of the welfare states and its impacts from a social indicator approach are welcome in this session.



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June 2014