ISA World Congress of Sociology

Integrative Sessions

Integrative Sessions will be held parallel during the morning semi-plenary blocs of time, 12:30-13:50, Monday-Friday, July 16-20, 2018

Urbanization, Environment and Uncertainty: Shifting Paradigms, New Agenda and the Potential of Visual Methods

Participating units: RC21 Regional and Urban Development, RC24 Environment and Society, RC33 Logic and Methodology in Sociology, RC57 Visual Sociology
Coordinator RC57: Valentina ANZOISE, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy

Urbanization is a global, multidimensional process that is drastically altering human–environment relations, and which is riddled with increasing uncertainties. At the same time, they  have also introduced a new kind of awareness about the man’s responsibility stemming from new types of vulnerabilities in cities, never experienced before, which have serious - if not irreversible - cascades of consequences for natural and human environments (South 1998; Beck 2007).
Therefore, urban context offer not only a privileged vantage standpoint to look at how scientific, technological and organizational achievements might have reduced the direct dependence of people on their immediate surroundings, but also a crucial object of study for the dynamics implicated by other interlinked and emerging phenomena – such as Climate Change, massive migration of people, economic and geo-political crises and changes in the capacity to sustain ecosystem services – which make urbanization a “dynamic, multi-scalar, and complex process where no actor, or set of actors, can have full knowledge or full control” (Ernstson et al., 2010). Already some decades ago scholars claimed that the side effects produced by modernization were nearing the end of their latency (Beck 1992). Nowadays, the scale of risks that affect the cities is increasingly higher, damages occur more frequently and their effects are more widely experienced - directly or indirectly - by individuals.
Such a complexity, we believe, demands radical shifts in paradigms, research agendas and methodological approaches, but also to foster discussions and design processes and organizations that will enable cities and the ecosystems they are part of, to become more resilient, adaptive and capable of facing uncertainties.
To this regard, Urry and Law (2011), in their brilliant reflection on the enactment of social sciences and the performativity of methods pointed out not only how much social research methodology has been generally ill-equipped to deal with the visual, sensory, emotional, fleeting or mobile which, indeed, characterize contemporary societies, but also how much social sciences need to embrace complexity theory, and re-imagine themselves, their methods, and their ‘worlds’, because “the social-and-physical changes in the world are – and need to be – paralleled by changes in the methods of social inquiry”.
On the one hand urban and multilevel governance can harness and introduce policy to assess and sustain ecosystem services and urban resilience, while nurturing discourses, visions and practices that re-situate the city as part of larger ecosystems we have to care about. On the other, these circumstances require also a more radical shift in scientific research and researchers’ agenda.
Given these premises, the main aim of this integrative session is to explore and question methodological, epistemological and theoretical approaches in research focused on the multi-dimensional consequences of environmental hazards in urban contexts. The speakers will address these issues in a comparative perspective but focusing in particular on the challenges posed by developing countries, and discuss the potential of visual methods to investigate the politics and materiality of fast evolving urban systems and the environmental risks and uncertainties that these transformations cause.

Language Diversity: The Role of Language in Unequal Knowledge Disseminations about Gender, Racism, Nationalism, Ethnic Relations and Work

Participating units: RC05 Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations, RC25 Language and Society, RC30 Sociology of Work, RC32 Women in Society
Coordinator RC25: Stéphanie CASSILDE, Centre d'Etudes en Habitat Durable, Belgium

This session is concerned with the circulation of scientific knowledge. Identifying the main channels for this circulation on researchers’ initiative (scientific publication, presentations during conferences, civil society addresses (newspaper articles, participation to radio broadcast, etc.), teaching, and research consultancy), the objective of this session is to offer critical approaches of knowledge disseminations looking at language issues.
While scientific publication and presentations during conferences are mainly subjected to the key role of English, other channels are either limited to a given audience or also limited because of the language used for the communication. Initiative like Global Dialogue, ISA multilingual publication, needs a strong support for the translation in various languages. And when submissions in several languages are encouraged, as for example for Language, Discourse & Society, scholars still choose English.
One consequence in this time of digitalization, social networks, and potentially quick dissemination of knowledge, is that language issues are related to greater inequality towards the dissemination. While this question is not new – there was always a time for translation for the spread of (key) sociologists’ works – it challenges again our responsibilities and creativity to reflect and answer to the power, violence, and justice dimension of language.
Focusing on research related to gender, racism, nationalism, ethnic relations, and work, contributions will shed light on the role of language in unequal knowledge disseminations.
How the participating units will contribute to an integrative reflection about the topic? The integrative reflection is first supported because there are overlaps through the focus on working situations, on women in relation to men, or because it is strongly related to migration. Second, all speakers conduct a critical analysis of the used categorizations. Third, speakers come from various backgrounds, shedding light on diverse knowledge disseminations challenges in articulation to language.

Violence, Health and Well-Being

Participating units: RC06 Family Research, RC15 Sociology of Health, RC32 Women in Society, RC34 Sociology of Youth, RC41 Sociology of Population, RC49 Sociology of Mental Health and Illness, RC53 Sociology of Childhood, Canadian Sociological Association
Coordinators RC41: Yonathan ANSON, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel and Bali RAM, Carleton University, Canada

Violent conflict - whether at a global, national, neighbourhood or family level - does not just lead to health problems; it is a public health problem. Conflicts between nations and groups, interpersonal violence, or self-inflicted violence, can lead to a wide range of adverse physical, psychological and behavioural consequences, including injury, illness, poverty, forced displacement, psychological trauma, suicidal behaviour and death. In some countries, interpersonal violence - physical, emotional, sexual (e.g., rape, trafficking, honour killing, genital mutilation) - continue to be widespread, most of which go unreported.  Despite the gravity of the issue, those in power exploit the situation for their own benefit, perpetrate the violence or remain helpless spectators without any viable solution. Consequently, those hit the hardest are young men, women, children, and members of minority groups.
To what extent are persistent violent conditions linked to general health status, psychological health, behavioural outcomes, disability and death? How pervasive and enduring are the effects of adverse childhood experiences on health and well-being later in life? What programs and policies need to be developed in order to deal with the negative effects of violence on victims? The proposed session will provide a forum for scholarly exchange among researchers studying physical and mental health, child and youth issues, family relations, and women and gender issues, in addressing these and related questions. The discussion will enhance our knowledge of the impact of violence on physical and mental health and will foster the development of useful social and health policies.

Knowledge and Revolution

Participating units: Lebanese Sociological Association, Association for Friends of Sociology in Morocco, Syrian Association for the Social Sciences
Coordinator: Mohammed BAMYEH, University of Pittsburgh, USA

In the framework of the theme of this ISA World Congress of Sociology Power, Violence and Justice: Reflections, Responses and Responsibilities, we would like to propose some reflections on the Arab revolutions as contestations of power, violence and injustice, but also as expressions and producers of knowledge. Apart from the question as to whether the uprisings of 2011 have political accomplishment or not, we propose to explore their roots in and consequences for Arab social science knowledge. (see particularly the first report of The Arab Social Science Monitor [Bamyeh, 2015; 2016] of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences).
The participants of this integrative session reflect on at least one of the following questions:
1) how have Arab social scientists viewed or studied (radical) social change?
2) what relation have their thought had on the revolutions (however indirectly)?
3) what is the current state of thinking about revolutions or radical change among Arab social scientists, in light of uprisings?
4) how have Arab social scientists participated in/reacted to the uprisings (through activism and/or different forms of research activities: professional, critical, public and policy)?
The three national associations (Lebanese, Moroccan and Syrian) will report and reflect from their respective local/regional perspective on the four questions above.

Race and Colonial/Imperial Erasure: Sociology’s Dysfunctional Relationship with A Foundational Concept

Participating units: RC05 Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations, RC08 History of Sociology, RC56 Historical Sociology
Coordinator RC56:  Manuela BOATCA, Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, Germany

The relationship between sociology and race (Lentin/Hund 2014) and sociology and empire (Steinmetz 2013) is slowly gaining attention as a topic equally relevant to the history of sociology, historical sociology, and the sociology of race and ethnicity. The session focuses on the nexus between these research areas in order to address the ways race has been written in and out of sociological theories and the effects its centrality and its erasure have equally resulted in racializing accounts of non-Western, non-white or non-European peoples and regions. Sociological works of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century were rarely centered on modernity, industrial society, and capitalist structures, and more often on the idea of “global difference” (Connell 1997) – the contrast between the alleged primitiveness of the periphery and the self-proclaimed civilization of the metropole. With Parsons’ generation, the construction of the sociological canon as a sequence of theorists of modernity from Marx through Weber to
Durkheim gradually erased the experience of the periphery from mainstream social theory and, with it, the centrality of race to an understanding of the metropole. The session reunites contributions that trace sociology’s contradictory and dysfunctional treatment of race through the history of the discipline and as part of the construction of a historical sociology that legitimates colonial differences while professing comparative or global perspectives.

Labour and Nature: Breadth, Depth and Worker Agency

Participating units: RC02 Economy and Society, RC24 Environment and Society, RC44 Labour Movements
Coordinators RC44: Dimitris STEVIS, Colorado State University, USA, and Nora RÄTHZEL, Umea University, Sweden

Environmental degradation on a global scale presents unions and workers with multiple challenges and opportunities. Across the world trade unions are developing broad environmental policies, aiming to protect the environment while ensuring meaningful employment. However, these policies are not uncontested, neither by environmentalists and other social forces nor within unions themselves. One challenge stems from the differential positions of workers and unions depending on geography and sector. How will environmental politics affect unions in the global north and the global south? What will be the impacts on capital and labour intensive sectors? Another challenge is the preparation of workers for green transitions in terms of skills and agency. How does the character of work need to change, and with it workers’ capabilities and positions at the workplace, in order to reconcile work and nature? How can unions contribute to making green transitions also just transitions in order to transcend conflicting interests? While some unions aim towards a green capitalism others see capitalism as the main culprit and argue that environmental policies must challenge their neoliberal turn. Is it possible for unions across sectors and geopolitical economy to converge around just green transition policies that create synergies rather than competition? Can just green transitions also offer broader political opportunities as various social agents, from the local to the transnational, need to and aim to engage in such transitions, thus opening up space for new and broad coalitions across countries and social actors (i.e. industrial workers, farm workers, indigenous movements, communities, environmentalists). Will unions expand their own political repertoire to become leaders in the formation of a different future or will they react to changes, tethered to historic practices and narrow social horizons? Can unions become environmental innovators and promote changes that reconcile nature and work?
To investigate these dynamics, this integrative session draws on academics and activist, researchers from three primary Research Committees (RC44, RC02, and RC24). The presenters represent a depth of knowledge from various parts of the globe, spanning Africa, Asia, South America, Europe and the US and include early career scholars as well as experienced trade union activists. Collectively their work addresses the relationship between labour and nature from a variety of geographic, practical and theoretical angles and promotes environmental labour studies as an emergent field of study and labour environmentalism as an emergent political practice, investigating how they can learn from each other.

Sociology and Social Movements in the Global South

Participating units: RC08 History of Sociology, RC32 Women in Society, RC47 Social Classes and Social Movements, RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change
Coordinator RC47: Geoffrey PLEYERS, Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium

Social and intellectual movements have coexisted during the last decades in a cognitive and geopolitical critique that has questioned the classic Western narratives of sociology and the forms of knowledge production. The labels used (Southern theories; alternative epistemologies; peripheral sociology; post-colonial theories, etc.) are diverse and take on distinct epistemological, theoretical and methodological assumptions and local / national/regional traditions, projecting also different interpretations of modernity, the legacy of colonialism and the role of sociology and social movements. The progress of this discussion has been notable in recent years in both political and intellectual fields. Several authors, collective actors and initiatives have widened the scope for questioning Euro-centrism and the structural bases of Western hegemony, while constructing dialogues between a diversity of alternative voices, ideas, spaces, experiences and generations. However, there are also many critiques, limitations and difficulties to expand and consolidate the agenda so far advanced.
This integrative session aims to bring together different perspectives and fields (gender, social movements, and history of sociology, among others) and well-known sociologists to critically address the relationship between social movements and epistemologies of the South in the last decades as well as pointing out challenges and possible paths for the future. It’s expected that a critical assessment of this discussion could contribute to move forward from some impasses and dilemmas related to the reification of the North; the global transition of the social sciences; the new geo-political and economic scenario; the spaces and frontiers of knowledge; the permanent dynamic of canonization, reception and legitimation within universities; the construction of alternative theoretical proposals and the emerging conceptions of social change linked to contemporary social movements.   

Luchas y resistencias de pueblos en movimiento. Poder y justicia social: Diálogo entre América Latina y Europa

Participating units: Argentinian Sociological Association, Latin American Association of Sociology, Colegio de Profesionales en Sociología de Costa Rica.
Coordinator: Alicia PALERMO, National University of Lujan, Argentina

En esta sesión discutiremos, desde una perspectiva comparativa entre América Latina y Europa, la emergencia de nuevos espacios de movilización de sujetos colectivos y grupos sociales, que se constituyen en nuevas modalidades de participación ciudadana, no violentas y que se producen en el marco del incremento de las desigualdades globales, nacionales y locales producto de la globalización capitalista. En algunos casos la participación ciudadana busca abrirse espacios en el poder institucional, en otros, lo confronta, en otros, se ejerce el poder comunitario
Pretendemos abordar y reflexionar acerca de estos “pueblos en movimiento” a partir de diferentes enfoques teóricos, metodológicos y empíricos, que contribuyan a la democratización y a la justicia social de nuestras sociedades.

Social Responses to Capitalist Crises and Changing Power Relations:
The Future of Democracy

Participating units: RC10 Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management, RC36 Alienation Theory and Research, RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change
Coordinator RC36: Vessela MISHEVA, Uppsala University, Sweden

For many thinkers, industrialization and modernization should lead to a growing middle class devoted to democratic representative government. Since the defeat of Fascism in 1945, we have observed a move toward democracy in Germany, Japan, and Italy; the demise of Salazar in Portugal, Franco in Spain, and the generals in Greece, Latin America, and Burma; and, of course, the collapse of the USSR. However, neo-liberal globalization has created vast wealth, but also growing inequality and alienation in many parts of Europe and the United States, along with capitalist crises that engender powerful feelings. Certain groups have become engaged in a variety of progressive social mobilizations, seeking freedom, peace, democracy, and, above all, justice and dignity. The movements of 1968, the Arab Spring, Podemos, and Syriza are pertinent examples. The World Social Forum claims that “another world is possible” and alternative movements are emerging.
But there are many others who feel a growing resentment and anger provoked by the economic stress, anxiety, and cultural change they are experiencing. This has fostered support for destructive forms of violence directed towards both the economic elites above and the perceived “subalterns” below. Nietzsche regarded this situation as calling for punitive revenge, while Fromm viewed it as generating the fury of humiliation, violent destructiveness, and love of death that emerges from thwarted self-fulfillment.
How will the current nature of economic development and property ownership, which is generating environmental distress and increasing inequality worldwide, affect the social bases of obedience and revolt? Will violence precede new democratic institutions? How can existing sociological interpretations apply to the rise of populist and authoritarian leaders today? This integrative session will bring together noted scholars with perspectives on alienation, the emotions, social movements, collective action, agency, and social change, hopefully tipping the scale towards more participative and democratic societies.

Social Movements and Labour: Joining Forces against Authoritarian Neo-liberalism’ in the Global North and South

Participating units: RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development, RC44 Labour Movements, RC47 Social Classes and Social Movements
Coordinator RC47: Sabrina Zajak, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany

Social movements and labour have been key forces contributing to building and strengthening democracies and creating institutions that democratically govern capitalism. These institutions, being under pressure for a long time now, seem to be in decline in many countries around the world. Against the background of the ongoing global economic crisis, ‘authoritarian neo-liberalism’ in multiple facets is on the rise around the world. Authoritarianism here does not refer to an order imposed by non-democratic means and brute force. Rather, it can it is manifested in the reconfiguring of state and institutional power in an attempt to insulate certain policies from dissent. Although processes, mechanisms and reasons for the emergence of authoritarian neo-liberal governance differ across countries and world regions, the shrinking democratic space has become a new global phenomenon. This has some serious consequences for social movements and trade unions, as they run the danger of being exposed to repressive acts in various forms. At the same time, it spurs new forms of resistance finding expression in social movement activities.  
This integrative session wants to explore the rise, development, challenges and innovative strategies of alliances and joint collective action between the so called “new” and “old” social movements and between the global South and the global North in their fight against repression and for the renewal of democratic space. Our panellists will discuss the formation (and erosion) of solidarities across labour and other social movements, the innovative, multi-scalar strategies of such cross-movement networks to regain democracy and how these networks deal with multi-facetted repression, from social movement, labour and development studies perspective. This cross-disciplinary debate will also help to reflect about the commonalities and differences of theoretical view on the relevance and capacity for social change of such alliances.


We use own or third-party cookies to improve your user experience. If you allow the installation of cookies or continue to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies..

Read more