Research Committees


Published in ISA Bulletin number 32, year 1983
Prepared by Kurt Jonassohn
ISA Executive Secretary 1974-1982


A Committee for Comparability in Community Research was created in 1964 which would eventually constitute the Research Committee on Community Research.

It was created in an effort to bring together researchers working on analogous studies throughout the world so that they might, through mutual contact, achieve more cumulative results.

The executive of the original group consisted of Terry N. Clark (USA), chairman; Michel Bassand (Switzerland), Jean Cuisenier (France), Cveto Kostic (Yugoslavia), Stefan Nowakowski (Poland) and Margaret Stacey (UK).

From the outset, a goal of the Committee was to assist in the confrontation of findings in different national settings so as to help move towards more general theories. In these efforts, it was assisted by the International Sociological Association.

A session of the Committee was held at the Evian World Congress of Sociology (September 1966). After the Evian Congress, a Working Group on Community Research was established under the ISA Committee on Political Sociology, which in early 1969 became the ISA Research Committee on Community Research.

Conferences and publications had been the Committee's main activities.

The Grenoble Conference was held in September, 1968, in the Institute of Political Studies of the University of Grenoble, which generously supported local expenses.

Meetings were devoted mainly to discussing areas of comparability in community decision-making studies in Europe and North America.

Participants included scholars coming from Italy, Switzerland, Canada, USA (one from each), Yugoslavia (2), and France (10). The Grenoble meeting also served as a planning session for a conference nine months later in Milan (Italy).

The first publication related to this subject was "Community Research", a trend report and bibliography prepared by Robert J. Havinghurst and Anton J. Jansen, published in CURRENT SOCIOLOGY, Vol. XV, Nº 2 (1967).

Publications involving primarily ISA Research Committee support include an edited volume COMMUNITY STRUCTURE AND DECISION MAKING: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS, edited by Terry N. Clark (San Francisco: Chandler, 1968). The last chapter contains a discussion of the Committee's activities.

Executives and members

The first board was in office between 1969 and 1972, and included the following persons: Terry N. Clark (USA), chairman; Michel Bassand (Switzerland), Jean Cuisenier (France), Cveto Kostic (Yugoslavia), Stefan Nowakowski (Poland), Margaret Stacey (UK), members; Michael Aiken (USA), Jean Jacques Mercier (Belgium), delegate and alternate to the Research Council.

Later, the board experienced some structural changes: Terry N. Clark (USA), chairman; Ken Newton (UK), secretary; Michael Aiken (USA), chair of the Working Group on Cross-national Research and delegate to the Research Council; William J. Hanna (USA), chair of the Working Group on Current Research, alternate to the Research Council and editor of COMPARATIVE URBAN RESEARCH; board members: Charles M. Bonjean (USA), Peter Jambrek (Yugoslavia), Edward O. Laumann (USA), Jorgen Westerstahl (Sweden).

After the Toronto World Congress (1974) a liaison was well established with the section on the Community of the American Sociological Association. Another organization with which the Committee maintained close contacts was the European Consortium for Political Research.

In 1976 William J. Hanna (USA) served as chairperson of the Nominating Committee which conducted the election of officers for the new board: Terry N. Clark (USA), chairman; Peter Jambrek (Yugoslavia) and J. E. Ellemers (The Netherlands), vice-chairmen; Kenneth Newton (UK), secretary; Herman Turk (USA), liaison officer and delegate to the Research Council; Donald Rosenthal (USA) alternate to the Research Council; William J. Hanna (USA), chair of the Working Group on Current Research and editor of COMPARATIVE URBAN RESEARCH; Charles Roig (Switzerland), Roland J. Liebert (USA), Irwin T. Sanders (USA), and Richard A. Lamanna (USA), board members.

About 30 persons out of 82 on the membership list attended the business meeting held during the World Congress in Uppsala (1978).

In the summer of 1979 the Committee distributed a list of 71 paid-up members, coming from the USA (48), Canada (7), The Netherlands (3), Finland (2), Argentina, Australia, England, France, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Yugoslavia (1 from each).


The International Conference on Community Decision-Making was held in Milan (Italy), 1-3 July 1969, in cooperation with the Scuola di Formazione in Sociologia and THE NEW ATLANTIS.

In contrast to many earlier meetings the Milan conference was held specifically to prepare papers for a joint publication: a special issue of the Italian journal THE NEW ATLANTIS. Participants came from the USA (4), Italy (4), France (5), Yugoslavia (2), UK, FRG, Sweden, Spain (1 from each).

Round-table discussions on community research were organized by the Committee at the national meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco (USA), September 1969, and of the American Political Science Association in New York, September 1969. About 25 persons sent communications or attended each of the round-tables.

A panel on Strategies for Cross-national Research was held at the annual meeting of the South-Western Social Science Association in Houston (USA), in March 1970, where 5 persons presented papers and compared their comparative strategies.

  • The first official meeting of the Committee during the World Congress of Sociology took place in Varna, September 1970. The program included two sessions and a round-table.
  • Session 1: Planning and the Local Community - Centralized versus Decentralized Strategies (7 papers).
  • Session 2: Planning and the Local Community - Cross-National Differences (5 papers).

Round-table on Systematic Cross-National Comparisons (2 papers).
During the World Congress held in Toronto 1974, about 110 persons presented papers and attended sessions of the Committee. About 40 persons attended continually the discussions which were all tape recorded.

  • Session 1: Community Autonomy in the National System - Sources, Variations, Consequences (7 papers).
  • Session 2: Comparative Sub-national Policy Outputs (7 papers).
  • Session 3: Community Structure and Innovation (8 papers).
  • Round table: Current Issues in Community Research.

At the IXth World Congress held in Uppsala 1978, the Committee had 8 sessions, one round table and a business meeting. In all about 55 papers were presented and many more were brought in and circulated in various sessions.

  • Session 1: Local Autonomy and Fiscal Responsibility – Meaningful Sources of Policy Variation (4 papers).
  • Session 2: National-Local Relations: Emerging Perspectives (6 papers).
  • Session 3.A: National-Local Relations: Cross-national Differences (6 papers).
  • Session 3.B: Urban Financial Problems (1), (6 papers).
  • Session 4.A: Urban Financial Problems (11), (6 papers).
  • Session 4.B: Business meeting.
  • Session 5: Citizens Values, Participation and Community Development Strategies (8 papers).
  • Session 6: Urban Fiscal Difficulties (round table).
  • Session 7: Patterns of Urban Leadership: New Directions and Analysis (8 papers).
  • Session 8: Urban Residential Patterns: Collective Planning and Individual Response (7 papers).

The Committee organized eight sessions and one business meeting at the Xth World Congress in Mexico City, 1982.

  • Session 1: Whither the Welfare State: Urban Fiscal Strain and the Taxpayers' Revolt (10 papers).
  • Session 2: organized jointly with the Research Committee on Regional and Urban Development: National Urban Policies for Whom? (7 papers).
  • Session 3: Community Networks (4 papers).
  • Session 4: Urban Decisions and Public Policy (6 papers).
  • Session 5.A: Citizen Values, Participation and Collective Decisions (6 papers).
  • Session 5.B: Round table - Modes for Encouraging Professional Contacts Among Urban Researchers (25 participants).
  • Session 6: Residential Choice, Neighborhoods and Urban Development (5 papers).
  • Session 7: Community Development - The South Asian Experience (6 papers).
  • Session 8: Special Topics in Community Research (6 papers).

The contributors' country of origin for the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th World Congresses is indicated below:

  Varna 1970 Toronto 1974 Uppsala 1978 Mexico 1982
USA 4 12x 40 19
UK 4 1 1 3
France 1 1 1 3
FRG 0 1X 1 9
Switzerland 1 2 0 0
USSR 2 1 0 0
Belgium 1 1x 0 0
Israel 1 0 0 0
Canada 0 2 2 6
Yugoslavia 0 1 1 2
Australia 0 0 1 2
Indonesia 0 0 1 1
Finland 0 0 1 1
Italy 0 0 1 2
Japan 0 0 1 1
Poland 0 1 0 0
Spain 0 1 0 0
Mexico 0 0 0 2
Denmark 0 0 0 1
Netherlands 0 0 0 1
Bangladesh 0 0 0 1
India 0 0 0 5
Total: 14 24 51 59

(x - in Toronto two papers were written by contributors identifying themselves with two countries. USA-Belgium in one case, USA-FRG in the other.)

Within the program of the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association held in New York City, August 1976, there was a panel on "The Urban Community in National Development" which was sponsored jointly by the Research Committee and the ASA section on the Community.

During 1977 two meetings took place. One was a session with the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) Working Group on Local Government and Politics (Berlin, April 1977). The other was a conference of 20 persons on Local-National Linkages held in Chicago jointly with the ASA.

In March 1979 there was a discussion held on a special conference on "Migration Patterns, Sources, Causes and Changes '". This was a joint project in cooperation with the Research Committee on Social Ecology which led into a larger conference organized in Great Britain.

The Committee participated also in organizing a conference with the German Political Science Association in Essen. It took place in October 1981, on the theme "Applied Urban Research".

The topics included Urban Political Economy, Urban Social Movements and Neighborhood Revitalization, Urban Housing and Politics, and Urban Management and Evaluation Research.

Over the years, perhaps 20 other conferences and meetings have been organized by the Research Committee, often in cooperation with other professional groups.

The cumulative meetings have led to many continuing professional contacts which took more tangible form after the Mexico World Congress. At that point the Fiscal Austerity and Urban Innovation Project was conceived.

In 1983 it included over 60 teams in countries from Japan to Yugoslavia who collaborated by using a standard set of items to survey local government leaders. National samples of cities in each country are being surveyed, conferences organized (6 in 1983), and publications prepared.

Progress is documented in a series of PROJECT NEWSLETTERS (available from Terry N. Clark).


  • The Research Committee edits its own NEWSLETTER. Some past numbers are available in the ISA Secretariat.
  • A special issue of THE NEW ATLANTIS was devoted to "Comparative Research on Community Decision Making" including eight papers emerging from two conferences arranged by the Research Committee (Milan 1969).
  • The journal COMPARATIVE URBAN RESEARCH was published about three times a year until 1981, then twice a year as double issues, each issue consisting of about 80 pages. It was created in 1972, edited by William J. Hanna (University of Maryland, USA), and is published by Transaction Books.
  • RESEARCH IN URBAN POLICY (Greenwich, CT: JAI Press) is an annual edited by Terry N. Clark of about 300 pages per year. The first volume, devoted to the topic "Fiscal Austerity and Urban Innovation", is going to press in 1983.
  • TRANSACTIONS OF THE VIIth WORLD CONGRESS OF SOCIOLOGY, 1970, Vol. IV, contain 3 papers on "Community Research".
  • Becquart-Leclerq, Jeanne, PARADOXES DU POUVOIR LOCAL, Paris: Presse de "la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 1976.
  • Burt, Ronald S., TOWARD A STRUCTURALTHEORY OF ACTION, New York: Academic Press, 1982.
  • Clark, Terry N., COMMUNITY POWER AND POLICY OUTPUTS, Sage Publications, 1973.
  • Clark, Terry N., ed., COMPARATIVE COMMUNITY POLITICS, Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1974.
  • Clark, Terry N., ed., "Citizens' Preferences and Urban Public Policy: Measures, Uses" in a special
  • issue of POLICY AND POLITICS, June 1976.
  • Clark, Terry N., ed., "Urban Policy Analysis" in: URBAN AFFAIRS ANNUAL REVIEWS, Vol. 21, Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1981.
  • Galaskiewicz, Joseph, EXCHANGE NETWORKS AND COMMUNITY POLITICS, Beverly Hills and London: Sage Publications, 1979.
  • Hellstern, Gerd-Michael, Frithjof Spreer, Helmut Wollmann, eds., APPLIED URBAN RESEARCH: Proceedings of the European Meeting on Applied Urban Research, Essen, October 1981. Bonn: Bundesforschungsanstalt für Landeskunde und Raumordnung, 1982.
  • Jacob, Philip E., ed., VALUES AND THE ACTIVE COMMUNITY, New York: The Free Press, 1972.
  • Jambrek, Peter, DEVELOPMENT AND SOCIAL CHANGE IN YUGOSLAVIA; CRISES AND PERSPECTIVES OF BUILDING A NATION, Westmead, Farnborough, Saxon House and Lexington, Massachusetts: Lexington Books, 1975.
  • Laumann, E.O. and F.U. Pappi, NETWORKS OF COLLECTIVE ACTION, New York: Academic Seminar Press, 1976.
  • Leif, Irving P. and Terry N. Clark, "Community Power and Decision Making", CURRENT SOCIOLOGY, Vol.XX, Nº2 (1972).
  • Liebert, Roland J., DISINTEGRATION AND POLITICAL ACTION, New York: Academic Seminar Press, 1976.
  • Liebert, Roland J. and Allen W. Imershein, eds., POWER, PARADIGMS AND COMMUNITY RESEARCH, SSIS Nº9., London and Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1977. Contains 9 papers largely drawn from the ISA World Congress in Toronto.
  • Newton, Kenneth, "Community Performance in Britain" in: Margaret S. Archer, ed., "Problems of Current Sociological Research", CURRENT SOCIOLOGY, Vol.XXII, Nos. 1/3, 1974.
  • Newton, Kenneth, ed., URBAN POLITICAL ECONOMY, London: Flarnces Pinter, 1981.
  • Rosenthal, Donald B., ed., THE CITY IN INDIAN POLITICS, New Delhi: Thomson Press Ltd., 1976.
  • Turk, Herman, ORGANIZATIONS IN MODERNLIFE, San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 1977.
  • Zimmermann, Erwin, INTERESTS AND CONTROLIN COMMUNITY DECISION-MAKING, Bern-Frankfurt-Las Vegas: Peter Lange, 1981.