Executive Committee 2018-2022/23
Greetings from Beirut’s blossom season!
The COVID-19 pandemic is keeping us busy rethinking and rescheduling ISA activities. In this letter, I would like to update you with some important information regarding our current activities and our efforts to overcome some hurdles imposed by the present health and social crisis.
ISA IV Forum of Sociology: Recordings are online
I am so glad to inform you that all session recordings of IV ISA Forum of Sociology held on February 23-27, 2021 are now available online for all registered participants. Over 800 sessions including more than 3,000 papers by sociologists from 105 countries can be accessed in the Forum Online Program here. I would like to acknowledge here the hard work of the Program Coordinators and Session Organizers of the 53 Research Committees, 4 Working Groups, and 3 Thematic Groups, which contributed to the success of this Forum. I would like to add my warm thanks to our colleagues who generously donated to the Solidarity Fund, enabling many sociologists experiencing hardship to participate in this Forum.
The XX ISA World Congress of Sociology
The XX ISA World Congress of Sociology scheduled for July 24-30, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia, will focus on the theme “Resurgent Authoritarianism: Sociology of New Entanglements of Religions, Politics, and Economies.” The vertiginous rise of authoritarianism, populism, xenophobia, and racism makes our task as sociologists more crucial than ever.
Yet the Local Organizing Committee informed us that Australia will most likely still have border closures, travel restrictions, and reduced accessibility in 2022, in addition to an expected uneven rollout of vaccines worldwide. At the ISA Executive Committee meeting held on March 28, 2021 we came to the conclusion that it was not feasible to hold this congress in face-to-face or even hybrid format on the originally scheduled date of July 24-30, 2022. The Executive Committee therefore put forward two options: either to maintain it on July 24-30, 2022 but moved to a virtual format; or to postpone it to June 25-July 1, 2023 to meet face-to-face, likely with some hybrid options. The postponement of the Congress to 2023 implies the postponement of ISA Executive Committee elections and the extension of the current Executive Committee’s mandate.
In order to decide on the best option, a broad online consultation was set up earlier this month with ISA members, Research Committees (RC), and National Associations (NA). Here is a summary of the outcome: Among ISA members, 1089 (18.8%) participated in the survey, from which 45 are RC delegates and 24 NA delegates, with 66% coming from the Global North and 34% from the Global South. More than two thirds (72%) have opted for a postponement of the Congress to 2023, against a quarter (24%) in favor of holding it in virtual format on the original date in 2022, and around 4% are indifferent. RC delegates are massively in favor of a postponement (91%) compared to NA delegates (71%). Survey participants from the Global North (72%) are slightly more in favor of a postponement than those from the Global South (66%).
Those who opted for a postponement were asked to reply to the question of whether they agree to extend the mandate of the current Executive Committee until the elections at the Congress in 2023. The responses were massively in favor (96%).
The Executive Committee met on April 18 and discussed these results taking into account the many complexities entailed by whatever options that might be adopted. Thus, it decided to bring the decision to the Assembly of Councils, a supreme decisive body of the ISA. A joint meeting of the Research Council and Council of National Associations will be held on May 1 at 13:00 GMT to deliberate on the two options, consider the financial implications, and make a final decision after a formal vote.
Please contact your RC and NA delegates for any thoughts you may wish to communicate for our forthcoming meeting. Needless to say that the Executive Committee and myself as ISA President have sought to make our decisions transparent and democratic and to reflect the thoughts and inspirations of our informed constituency.
The Publications Committee is running an ‘Academic Writing month’ on social media via ISA and ISA journals accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and is disseminating the videos on “how to write a good article” that Vice-President for Publications Eloísa Martín has been preparing. Besides, a number of sessions about writing and publishing skills were organized by ISA editors at the recent IV ISA Forum and a virtual three-day Academic Writing Workshop will be hosted in May 19-21, 2021 by the West Indies University in Trinidad & Tobago. I would like to thank Eloísa and all the editors for their great work in this regard.
A Best Paper Prize for Current Sociology has been created. The journal’s editors will nominate 5-6 papers from each year’s published articles. Members of the journal’s international Editorial Board will volunteer to sit on the Prize judging panel. The winning paper will be made free to access and publicized on social media, and SAGE Publishers will provide £200 worth of SAGE book tokens.
I am so glad to inform you that the ISA website will host a portal for National Associations which are ISA collective members. I strongly encourage national sociological associations to let us know of activities they would like to be featured on the ISA website or in our electronic newsletter isagram.
In its last meeting in March 2021 the National Associations Liaison Committee (NALC) allocated two grants for regional conferences, one jointly organized by the Austrian Sociological Association and the German Sociological Association, and one by the Palestinian Sociological and Anthropological Association, and two grants for website development. I would like to thank Vice-President for National Associations Filomin Gutierrez and her NALC for their great work.
ISA Audited Financial Statement for 2020
ISA Executive Committee started publishing financial statements in 2014. The most recent one for 2020 is now available at https://www.isa-sociology.org/en/about-isa/budget.
I would like to thank Vice-President for Finance and Membership Sawako Shirahase for her meticulous work in this regard.
ISA at the UN
The ISA has a historical relationship with the United Nations (UN) since the Association was first founded in 1949. For some time now this relationship has been vague, not known by most members and with responsibilities not clearly articulated. Membership of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) provides many opportunities for ISA members to participate in and attend UN meetings, conferences and summits, and to contribute to the work of related specialized agencies such as UNESCO, FAO, UN Women and UNDCP. This engagement provides opportunities to bring sociological knowledge, research information and critical engagement to a larger global policy-making arena, but also to learn.
So far ISA participation to the UN has been dependent on the interests and commitment of individual representatives. I would like to warmly thank our current EC members Jan Fritz and Rhoda Reddock and former EC member Rosemary Barberet who have been so active in many commissions. I hope we will strive to be more present in other UN commissions and meetings.
Much of what is accomplished by the ISA is the result of all the hard work and diverse contributions of our members. I also take this opportunity to thank our four Vice-Presidents, Filomin Gutierrez, Eloísa Martín, Geoffrey Pleyers, and Sawako Shirahase, as well as ISA Executive Committee members, ISA editors, ISA Executive Secretary Izabela Barlinska, and the ISA Secretariat staff for their work and dedication to the Association.
President, International Sociological Association
Prof. of Sociology, American University of Beirut