ISA Forum of Sociology

Common Sessions

List of Common Sessions approved by the Program Committee (as of 12 June 2019)

Applying Intersectionality to Understanding Diverse Forms of Racialization
Endorsed by RC05 Racism, Nationalism, Indigeneity and Ethnicity, RC31 Sociology of Migration and RC32 Women, Gender and Society
Organizers: Helma LUTZ (RC05), Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany,  Evangelia TASTSOGLOU (RC32, RC31, RC05), Saint Mary's University, Canada,  Nira YUVAL-DAVIS (RC05, RC32), University of East London, United Kingdom

Intersectionality has been one of the major sociological analytical frameworks of understanding social inequalities internationally and within many societies, locations and social groups. More recently, however, its general usefulness and politics have been questioned and become the subject of heated debates, such as the accusation of anti-semitism and appropriation by “white scholars” (“whitening”). This panel will explore some of these debates, analyze their methodological and political implications and assess the ways in which intersectionality can help analyze different forms of racialization.

The Life and Work of Erik Olin Wright  
Endorsed by RC44 Labor and Labor Movements, RC02 Economy and Society, RC20 Comparative Sociology
Organizer: Michael Burawoy (RC44), University of California, Berkeley, USA

Internationally renowned sociologist Erik Wright has been lauded across the planet as scholar, teacher, colleague, and human being. He left us with an intellectual legacy that has two strands: class analysis and the exploration of real utopias.  On the one hand, starting with his dissertation in 1976, he advanced novel Marxist frameworks for the study of class – frameworks that he elaborated and tested in social surveys conducted in more than 15 countries, culminating in 1997 with the book Class Counts. On the other hand, starting in 1991, he began a seemingly different project to discover actually existing institutions, organizations and visions that exemplified socialist values of freedom, equality and solidarity, what he called real utopias.  The project has so far given rise to a series of 6 investigations of real utopias – associational democracy, market socialism, recasting egalitarianism, deepening democracy, basic income grants, and gender equality. They are all based on conferences at the Havens Center in Madison, Wisconsin (recently renamed the Havens Wright Center) and published by Politics and Society and Verso. Wright wrote two programmatic assessments, one in 2010, Envisioning Real Utopias and a second one, intended as a guide to “strategic logics” to transform capitalism, completed only a few months before he died: How to be an Anticapitalist in the 21st Century (Verso, 2019 forthcoming).  

The Politics of the Population Census: Key Indicators for Sustainable Development?
Endorsed by RC41 Sociology of Population, RC55 Social Indicators, RC02 Economy and Society, RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development, RC11 Sociology of Aging
Organizers: Walter BARTL (RC41, RC55) , Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany and Christian SUTER (RC02, RC55), Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland

The slogan „Better Data, Better Lives“ of the United Nations Statistical Commission captures the widespread instrumental belief that better information, such as collected through the 2020 World Population and Housing Census, will lead not only to better collective decision making but also to better individual results. However, this instrumental view becomes debatable if we look at the performative effect of counting populations. By producing key indicators on the populations to be governed censuses shape the knowledge of democracies about its demos in important ways. The systematic description of standardised features of the population transforms the object itself by defining those to be included and the classification of subgroups. Hence, otherwise latent subgroups become visible by their operationalisation and description through certain indicators. For example, the US census created racial categories that ultimately came to represent heterogeneous populations as homogeneous and consequentially changed patterns of identification in private and in public life, which are very different from the patterns of identification in Brazil. On the other hand avoiding the application of existing social classifications during the production of population indicators, might contribute to a blurring of social boundaries but also to a neglect of social problems relating to particular subgroups. This common session aims at exposing the current state of the art on the politics of the population census and sparking a more vivid sociological debate on what some may see as a rather technical and hence uncontroversial field of inquiry. 


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