III ISA Forum of Sociology

The Futures We Want: Global Sociology and the Struggles for a Better World
Vienna, Austria, July 10-14, 2016

ISA Forum Presidential Address, Margaret ABRAHAM

THE FUTURES WE WANT: Global Sociology and the Struggles for a Better World

The WebForum is an experimental space for intellectual debate on the broadly conceived theme “The Futures We Want: Global Sociology and the Struggles for a Better World” and other matters of interest to the ISA’s Research Committees, Working Groups, Thematic Groups. It will feature cutting-edge contributions on forward-oriented sociology, on the pertinent trends, risks, and opportunities of our time, on scenarios of probable, possible, preventable, or preferable futures. It is a virtual sphere for sharing thoughts on empirical, theoretical, and normative research across geographic, linguistic, and disciplinary boundaries.

The Third ISA Forum will be convened in Vienna, Austria, 10-14 July 2016 on the theme “The Futures We Want: Global Sociology and the Struggles for a Better World.” This theme encourages a forward-orientation in empirical, theoretical, and normative research to tackle the problems and opportunities that often cut across borders.

Protests around the globe have challenged inequality, oppression, and ecological destruction, and have insisted on the possibility of another, better world. Intensifying uncertainties demand innovations in methods and theories. Tomorrow no longer appears as pre-determined by inevitable trends but as a rather contingent outcome of complex, typically multi-scalar dynamics that vary in their intensity of contentiousness. Social actors aspire, desire, envision, expect, fear, imagine, plan, project, reject, sustain, and wage war over futures. What can sociology contribute to these broader debates? How do assumptions and aspirations about the future influence daily routines and long-term collective lives? How are risks identified, avoided, mitigated, transferred, or shared? What closes and opens the horizons of social imaginaries? How are different forces positioned to shape futures? How can the making of futures be democratized? What can be learned by comparing struggles in different countries and settings? How do emancipatory movements and everyday practices at the grassroots overcome discipline, exploitation, and misrecognition? What visions for alternative futures are imaginable, desirable, and achievable? What are viable roadmaps for social transformation?

This general theme provides a platform for dialog among ISA’s many participating Research Committees (RCs), Working Groups (WGs), and Thematic Groups (TGs). It calls for research on the full range of sociological topics from the tiny worlds of micro situations to the broad macro dynamics affecting the entire planet. It encourages inquiries into the multiplicity of possibilities, projects, and visions. It welcomes diverse approaches, including comparative and interdisciplinary collaborations.

Markus S. Schulz
ISA Vice-President for Research
and Forum President