Research Committees


Published in ISA Bulletin number 29, year 1982
Prepared by Kurt Jonassohn, ISA Executive Secretary 1974-1982


The Committee was organized by a group of sociologists, who met within the working group on Social Forecasting and Long Term Planning, at the VII World Congress of Sociology (Varna, September 1970). 

A request to set up a RC on Social Forecasting and Long-Term Planning was signed by 31 persons, from 15 countries.

Chairman of the original working group was Igor Bestuzhev-Lada (USSR). The committee was officially recognized by ISA in 1971, for a trial period of two years. 

In its meeting of April 17, 1971, the Executive Committee of the ISA unanimously accepted the suggestion, but recommended its title be changed into "Futurology". Its first title was Research Committee on Futurology.

Executive and members

In July 1972, professors Bestuzhev-Lada (USSR) and de Jouvenel (France), accepted to be co-presidents of the RC. Jacqueline Niaudet and Eduard A. Lisle (both from France) acted as General Coordinator and Secretary, respectively, after Varna. All of them were ratified by voting in a business meeting held in Bucharest, September 9, 1972, on the occasion of the 3rd International Future's Research Conference. 

This first official Board was the following:

Chairmen Bertrand de Jouvenel (France)
Igor Bestuzhev-Lada (USSR)
First Vice-President Eduard A. LisIe (France)
General Secretary Jacqueline Niaudet (France)

A report of October 1972 informs of 17 new participants from 10 countries.

In May 1973, the membership was of 52 persons from 23 countries.

During the Eighth World Congress of Sociology (Toronto, 1974), the Committee changed its title to "Sociological Problems of Futures Research"; Futures Research, for short. At the same time, a new Board was elected:

Co-Presidents Igor Bestuzhev-Lada (USSR)
Johann Galtung (Norway)
Vice-President Victor Scardigli (France)-alternate
General Secretary Anne Jaumin (Belgium)-delegate to RC

At the same time, Anne Jaumin-Ponsar became director of the project "Level and Quality of Life: Social Indicators for the Year 2000". Victor Scardigli acted as co-director.

In the beginning of 1975, 70 persons were members of the Committee, coming from 23 countries.

A new Board was elected at the 9th World Congress of Sociology (Uppsala, 1978). It included Ms. Eleonora Masini, at that time General Secretary and since 1981 President of the World Future Studies Federation, in order to coordinate more effectively their working efforts.

Co-Presidents Igor Bestuzhev-Lada (USSR)
Eleonora Masini (Italy)
Co-Vice-Presidents Andrzej Sicinski (Poland)
Doublas Woodward (Canada)
General Secretary Anna Coen (Italy)

In May 1979 it was proposed to include three additional members in the Board; this motion was accepted after consultation by mail. The new members and charges were the following:

Vice-Secretary Marcin Swiecicki (Poland)
Del. to ISA Research Council Margrit Eichler (Canada)
Alt. to ISA Research Council Radmila Nakarada (Yugoslavia)

A list dated from 1980 contains the names of 142 persons coming from 30 countries.

Meetings and projects

At the VII World Congress of Sociology (Varna, 1970), there was a working group on "Future Societies and Long Term Planning", chaired by Igor Bestuzhev-Lada (USSR). Its work consisted of five sessions on the following issues:

  • The Theory of social forecasting and policy making (2 sessions, 10 papers).
  • Social forecasting, planning and policy making in practice (2 sessions, 10 papers).
  • Social forecasting and planning in the developing countries: The Latin American example (1 session, 6 papers).

The committee's program for 1970-74 was determined as "Human Needs Forecasting". These problems, studied in some national research groups, were discussed in some seminars in 1971-73 initiated by CREDOC (Centre de Recherches et de Documentation sur la Consommation).

Eight papers of members were reproduced and sent to the 17 members who were to attend the meeting in Bucharest. Members of the RC participated in preparing and attended the sessions of the Rome World Special Conference on Future Research: "Human Needs – New Societies - Supportive Technologies", in September 1973, initiated by IRADES (Istituto Riceche Applicate Documentazione e Studi) in Italy. 

There are five volumes of collected documents presented at the conference and a book: "Human Futures: Needs, Societies, Technologies" published by "FUTURES", London, 1974.

At the VIII World Congress of Sociology (Toronto, 1974), a new program was approved, which consisted in promoting an International Research Project on "Level and Quality of Life: Social Indicators for the Year 2000". To implement this project the Board was supposed to have organized periodical1y a seminar on research in progress.

In the four sessions of the Committee at this Congress (Toronto) there were presented and discussed eight papers coming from: USSR (3), US (2), Belgium (1), France (1) and GFR (1). Some important future studies were also discussed in the Ad Hoc Group 2: "Images of the World in the Year 2000", chaired by Johann Galtung (Norway).

At Uppsala, August 1978, the program of the Committee consisted of seven sessions, including the Business meeting, on the following issues:

  • Level and quality of life: a social indicators system for the year 2000 (2 sessions, 8 papers).
  • Social Policy and education in perspective (1 session, 4 papers).
  • Distribution of self-fulfilling prophecy (1 session, 2 papers).
  • Quality of life: approaches from ecology and sociology (2 Joint sessions with Symposium 4 co-chaired by Edgar Morin and Magda Talamo with Igor Bestuzhev-Lada as a rapporteur, 10 papers).

The papers were coming from: USSR (6), US (4), Canada (3), France (2), Iran (2), Israel (2), Hungary (1), Australia (1), Czechoslovakia (1), Finland (1) and Italy (1).

For the Research Project 1979-82, it was suggested to focus on the theme presented at Uppsala by co-chairperson Bestuzhev-Lada: "Global Exploratory Forecasting: Towards a Social Problem System in Perspective. Key Problems", by promoting an international Research Projection "Level and Quality of Life: Social Indicators for the Year 2000" with the added specification of "National Responses to Global Problems".

The first working meeting of the committee took place during the W. F. S. F.’s Conference on "Science Technology and the Future", which was heId in Berlin, May 8-10, 1979. On this occasion, important decisions were taken, and there were many possibilities to have other meetings before the X World Congress. There was a local meeting in Rome, September 28-30, 1981, organized by co-chairperson E. Masini.


  • The Committee published a Newsletter only during the year 1973 (June and November), with the help of CREDOC (Paris). At present, there is no Newsletter, and the Committee uses the facilities of the World Future Studies Federation Newsletter (WFSF).
  • VII World Congress: Transactions of the Seventh World Congress of Sociology, Vol. II. Sofia: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Publishing House, 1972. Contains five papers of the Working Group on "Future Societies and Long Term Planning".
  • Victor Scardigli, “Mode de Vie et Inégalités: Elements pour une Prospective du Changement Social”. In: Margaret S. Archer (ed.), Current Research in Sociology, published on the occasion of the VIII World Congress of Sociology. Mouton, 1974.
  • Igor Bestuzhev-Lada (ed.), Forecasting Social Needs of Youth. Moscow, Nauka Publ., 1978 (in Russian).
  • Igor Bestuzhev-Lada (ed.), Soviet Society Way of Life Indicators. Moscow, NauKa Publ., 1980 (in Russian).
  • Igor Bestuzhev-Lada, Exploratory Forecasting: Toward a Social Problems System. Moscow, Nauka Publ., (in progress).
  • Anna Coen, "A Direction for Long Term Development: Quality versus Quantity". Paper discussed at the WFSF Conference, Berlin, May 1979, and published in: Buchholz and Guelin (eds.), Science and Technology in the Future. München & New York, Sauer Ed., 1979, pp. 396 -414.
  • Eleonora Masini , "Explorative and Normative Methodologies in Social Forecasting". Paper discussed at the ISA Research Council meeting in Jablonna (Poland) August 1980.