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

Working Group on
Historical and Comparative Sociology, WG02

WG02 main page

Program Coordinator

Number of allocated sessions including Business Meeting: 14.


For sessions program and schedule see

On-line congress program


Author Meets Critics. Part I: Said Arjomand (ed.) Social Theory and Regional Studies in the Global Age

Session Organizer
Manuela BOATCA, Free University of Berlin, Germany,

Session in English

Not open for submission of abstracts.
The efforts to integrate social theory and regional studies in this volume represent a major departure from the foundational focus of classical sociology on modernity. They seek to decenter modernity heavy in social theory in two directions: by historicizing social evolution and developmental patterns in different civilizations as well as varying regional paths of modernization, and by introducing varieties of modernity lite in the overlapping forms of multiple, colonial, subaltern and peripheral modernities. Unjustly ignored by social scientists for too long, regional studies are at last being theorized and are thus poised to inject new life into stagnant social theory, and to reopen the way for the arrested advancement of comparative sociology in the global age.


Author Meets Critics. Part II: Said Arjomand, Elisa Reis (eds.) Worlds of Difference

Session Organizer
Manuela BOATCA, Free University of Berlin, Germany,

Not open for submission of abstracts.
How can differences be understood in social theory through comparisons, and how should social theory relate to regional studies to do so? This question has been prevalent within the sociological field for over a century, but is becoming increasingly important in a globalised age in which cultural borders are constantly challenged and rapidly changing. The book edited by Arjomand and Reis illuminates the importance of exploring spatial, cultural and intellectual differences beyond generalisations, attempting to understand diversity in itself as it takes shape across the world. Scholars from diverse parts of the world explore key sociological themes such as citizen-ship, human rights, inequality and domination.


Childhood and Abuse in Comparative-Historical Perspective

Session Organizer
Robert VAN KRIEKEN, University of Sydney, Australia,

Session in English

Through phases of development, perceptions and expectation of childhood have changed considerably. Within these changes, the concept of abuse has been formulated and continues to be extended to incorporate previously normative forms of behaviour.

In this session, comparative-historical analysis will be applied to broader processes and particular instances in order to interconnect childhood and constructed fears and insecurities with the rise in prominence of the classification of abuse and abuser.


Development and Protest

Session Organizer
Stephen VERTIGANS, Robert Gordon University, United Kingdom,

Session in English

Levels of pacification and violence continue to confound sociological expectations. The post-Second-World-War dismissal of the bellicose tradition from sociological insight has meant the interrelationships between pacification and violence are largely neglected within sociology.

This session seeks to reposition bellicosity within sociology, drawing upon civilising and decivilising processes to illuminate phases of pacification and forms of violence. Processes will be localised, national and/or global.


Glocalization Effects of the Migration of Ideas Across the World

Session Organizer
Ewa MORAWSKA, University of Essex, United Kingdom,

Session in English

Migration of ideas is an ideal field to explore the workings of glocalization understood as the process of simultaneous homogeneization and heterogeneization of economic, cultural, and po-litical forms as they travel around the world and take root in particular time – and place-specific settings (Robertson 1994), yet for some reason this concept – and phenomenon – has attracted less attention among social scientists than Arjun Appadurai’s (1996) “multiscalar scapes” denoting the simultaneity of the multilevel, here, global and local dimensions of human actors’ experience, including their ideas and orientations. Although the premise of the simultaneity of the global (remote) and the local is shared by the notion of multiscalar scapes and that of glocalization, these two concepts are not identical with the former implying coexistence, often side by side, of different realms of experience, and the latter their fusion which generates distinct, new phenomena.

The purpose of this session is to elucidate the glocalization effects of the migration of ideas from East to West, West to East, South to North, and North to South of the world. Papers focused on theoretical representations of this process are welcome as are empirical assessments of the transformative impact on the understanding and use in particular past and present settings of concepts and approaches absorbed from different cultural contexts.


How to Continue with the Master Concept of ‘Differentiation’? Historical and Comparative Analyses in Non-Western Settings

Session Organizers
Kathya ARAUJO, Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano, Chile,
Wolfgang KNOEBL, University of Göttingen, Germany,

Session in English

It is obvious that the concept of differentiation has played an enormously important role in the history of sociology beginning from the times of Herbert Spencer and Émile Durkheim up to Niklas Luhmann’s theory of social systems. It was and still is used as a master-concept in order to analyze almost all processes of social change insofar as it is often assumed that phenomena such as individualization, bureaucratization, secularization are somehow related to – or are even the very essence of – functional differentiation. It is not so clear, however, whether this concept of ‘functional differentiation’ originally being developed in a western context can be used fruitfully with respect to other parts of the world. Even if – to use Luhmann’s language – codes such as ‘money’ or ‘truth’ might be used everywhere, does that also mean that functional differentiation will be victorious all over the world?

The organizers would like to ask members of the panel to look empirically and/or historically into contexts where functional differentiation is not so much an established fact but more an open question. Problems such as the following could be dealt with:


Inequality in Rich Societies

Session Organizer
Stephen MENNELL, University College Dublin, Ireland,

Session in English

Studies of the global poor quite rightly concentrate upon the needs and experiences of people living in absolute poverty. This focus tends to result in the implications of people living in relative poverty within rich nations being overlooked at a global level.

In this session, attention is placed upon the contradictions between wealth and poverty in ‘egalitarian’ societies. Particular focus is placed upon long-term processes that enable the inequalities between socio-economic, religious, ethnic and racial groups to be normalised and for the compliance of the most adversely affected.


Modernities in Theories: Perspectives from the Colonized and the Subaltern Other(s)

Session Organizers
Manuela BOATCA, Free University of Berlin, Germany,
Sujata PATEL, University of Hyderabad, India,

Session in English

The session intends to present a critical perspective to the contemporary analysis of modernity and its theories of multiplicity, hybridity, alterity and cosmopolitanism by bringing together critical approaches articulated by various subaltern groups in the Global North and South. In this panel, we wish to initiate a dialogue between the Latin American modernity/coloniality group’s thesis of unfinished decolonization and the expressions of the many subaltern others regarding the relevance (if at all) of conceptualizing modernities and the ways to understand them from the perspective of subjects constructed as others(s).

We invite papers dealing with critiques formulated by a variety of “othered” groups: women, racial and ethnic groups, indigenous people/scheduled tribes, dalits, nomadic communities.


Modernizing Moves in the ‘Non-Western’ World: Historical and Comparative Analyses

Session Organizers
Jose Mauricio DOMINGUES, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
Yutaka KOYAMA, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Japan,

Session in English

In contrast to theoretical debates on globalization or on "world society" that often paint a too homogeneous picture of modernity and/or assume somewhat unilinear processes of global social change, this panel wants to bring in a more historical and thus empirical perspective.

The organizers would like to ask members of the panel to analyse closely social change in post-revolutionary and post-colonial periods in the world outside of Europe and North America. How did, for example, actors in Latin America at the beginning of the 19th century, in Japan after the Meiji-Revolution in the 1860s and 1870s or in Africa and Asia in the 1950s and 1960s think about the future shape of ‘their’ countries? How did they conceptualize modernity, what (if at all) were their ‘reference societies’ (R. Bendix)? How was foreign domination (empire, hegemony) related to those pictures of modernity? And which were the conflicts (with respect to the relationship between the state and religion, with respect to free trade versus protectionism, individual and collective rights etc.) emerging in these ‘modernizing moves’?

This also means that the organizers want to hear more about how models of modernity were accommodated to indigenous traditions, under which circumstances translations happened, and how in these processes a plurality of modernities took shape.


New Humanitarianism and International State-Building

Session Organizer
Abu BAH, Northern Illinois University, USA,

Session in English

The path to modernization has often been marked by conflicts and wars. Since the end of the Cold War, the efforts to move from authoritarian rule to democracy and/or make major economic reforms have produced mixed results. While many countries have made peaceful democratic transitions and major economic transformation, political and economic reforms in many other countries have resulted in conflicts and civil wars. Such countries include the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d`Ivoire, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.

The security, political and economic challenges that face many of the countries undergoing violent conflicts have wider global implications. Moreover, global political, economic, and social factors shape the events in these countries. This global interconnection is best exemplified in the new system of global liberal governance, which merges security and development policies. Under global liberal governance, there is a renewed policy and academic discourse of human security, human rights, sovereignty, human development, humanitarian intervention.

All of these are embodied in a new sense of humanitarianism that redefines security, human rights, sovereignty, and economic and social development. Most importantly, efforts to end violent conflicts and address the economic, social and political causes of civil wars are no longer national task, but a challenge for the wider international community. This shift toward new humanitarianism and global liberal governance poses questions about state-building in countries that have experienced civil wars.

The security and development role of the major powers, UN, regional organizations (NATO, EU, AU, ECOWAS, etc.) and international NGOs has significantly increased in these countries. This raises questions about the implications of international state-building. What are the boundaries of new humanitarianism? How do domestic and external agents negotiate state-building? What are the comparative lessons in international state-building?

These kinds of questions can be addressed in a panel consisting of 4 to 5 papers. Ideally, the papers should inform both the theoretical and methodological issues and provide rich cases studies. Such papers will add a critical angle to the general interest on inequality at the global level. New humanitarianism and international state-building are not only born out of pathological inequalities, but they also breed new dimensions of inequality.


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


WG02 Business Meeting


WG02 Roundtable session: Process-oriented Social Research in Historical and Comparative Sociology

Session Organizer
Fumiya ONAKA, Japan Women’s University, Japan,

Session in English

The WG02/RC33 Joint Session ‘Process-oriented Methodology and Theories in Historical and Comparative Sociology’ held during the 2012 ISA Forum of Sociology at Buenos Aires attracted a large audience. It highlighted the challenges of naive ‘historical’ or ‘comparative’ sociology and the conflicts between subjective and objective standpoints. This session was originally proposed on the basis of the existence of close relationships between the nature of data and theories, and that the use of ‘process-generated data’ is more important for these process-oriented theories than ‘research-elicited data’, which the majority of sociologists rely upon. However, this session encouraged us to reconsider the relationship between `process-generated data` and ‘social research’; some of which were based on ‘historical’ literature and others on ‘social research’ (e.g. ‘time-related action research’, and ‘socio-communicational research’). Such differences are re-lated to the aforementioned standpoints.

The main topics of discussion during this session will include the following points:
  1. Is it really possible to collect ‘process-produced data’ through ‘social research’ or not?
  2. If it is possible, what are the guidelines to be followed by this ‘social research’?
  3. What data can be collected through this ‘social research’?
  4. What does this ‘social research’ contribute to historical and/or comparative sociology?
  5. What is ‘process-produced data’?
  6. What exactly is ‘process-oriented’?
Such focused discussions will enable us to ascertain the proper methods and importance of social research in process-oriented historical/comparative sociology.

This session welcomes papers based on empirical social research focusing upon the concept of ‘process’ whilst attempting to answer the relevant questions.


Why Bother About Inequality?

Session Organizer
José Esteban CASTRO, Newcastle University, United Kingdom,

Session in English/Spanish

The concern with social inequality that underpins the organization of ISA’s XVIII World Congress is not an object of consensus among social scientists, including sociologists. In fact, for influential traditions of thought inequality is not something to be “faced”, as indicated in the congress’ title, but rather to be accepted, perhaps even nurtured as an essential mechanism for the structuring of social orders. Although the session is based on the assumption that a large section of the sociological community shares the position that Sociology should accept the challenge and make a contribution to ongoing (intellectual, political, and so on) struggles against old and structural inequalities, it recognizes that for a range of different reasons this position is not universally accepted.

This session invites papers that propose to engage with this long-standing debate in the light of current global challenges including the inequalities related to the ongoing global “crises” (ecological, economic-financial, political, etc.). We will give priority to proposals that place emphasis on conceptualization, where empirical cases provide the ground for a theoretical discussion.

The proposals should address the topics from a process, historical or comparative perspective.
The topics could include such issues as:


Joint Sessions

Click on the session title to read its description.

Becoming a Racial Subject, Negotiating Power: Comparative Historical Contexts

Joint session of RC05 Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations [host committee] and WG02 Historical and Comparative Sociology


Socio-Ecological Inequality: Water Futures

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


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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July 2014