Research Committees


Revised 2006, 2012, 2018

Article I.

The Research Committee 38 "Biography and Society" has been established as a Research Committee of the International Sociological Association in accordance with Article XI of the Statutes of the ISA.

Article II.

Its purposes are:

  1. to help develop a better understanding of the relations between individual lives, the social structures and historical processes within which they take shape and which they contribute to shape, and the individual accounts of biographical experience (such as life stories or autobiographies);
  2. to promote meetings in this field at national, regional and international levels;
  3. to circulate information about advances in this field, whether in sociology or in other disciplines;
  4. and develop links among all scholars working in this domain.

Article III. Activities

The RC38 will carry out the following activities:

  1. publish a newsletter, at least twice a year;
  2. keep the members informed of ongoing and planned activities;
  3. organize sessions at the ISA World Congress of Sociology. It may sponsor national, regional or international conferences;
  4. organize at least one mid-term conference between ISA World Congresses;
  5. any other activities that promote the objectives of the RC38.

Article IV. Membership

Membership is open to individuals or institutions working in the field of biographical research in Sociology or neighbor disciplines.

Membership can be distinguished into two types:

  1. "regular members in good standing" are defined those members who paid membership fees to both RC38 and ISA
  2. "affiliated members" are defined those members who paid membership fees only to RC38

This distinction applies to both individual and institutional members.

All regular and affiliated members of the RC38 are obliged:

  1. to uphold the present statutes of RC38
  2. conscientiously fulfill the tasks entrusted to them by the General Meeting or other bodies of RC38
  3. to pay their fees for the respective period (i.e. four years).

The rates of the membership fees are periodically fixed by the officers or Board of RC38.

In order to facilitate participation in the RC's activities, a reduced level of dues will be proposed to scholars from countries of category B and C and students.
Regular members in good standing are entitled:

  1. to receive travel grants made by RC38, subject to such rules of eligibility as are established by the Board of RC38.

All regular and affiliated members are entitled:

  1. to vote at the General Meeting of RC38 which usually takes place during ISA World Congress
  2. to participate in the scientific activities of the Research Committee
  3. to receive the newsletter issued by the RC38 free of charge
  4. to be informed of the various scientific activities of the RC38.

Article V. Governing Bodies of RC38

The governing bodies of the RC38 are

  1. the General Assembly
  2. the Board

The General Assembly is made up of all members in good standing. A Business Meeting Assembly is held at least every four years, preferably at the ISA World Congress. The meeting is chaired by the President or by one Vice-President of the RC38. Votes can only be cast by RC38 members in good standing who are present at the meeting. The duties of the Assembly are:

  1. to evaluate and approve the four-year- report
  2. to discharge the outgoing Board of its responsibilities, including the financial statement
  3. to discuss and carry motions on any other point that may arise

Decisions in a Business Meeting Assembly are taken by simply majority.

The Board is made up of one President, one Secretary, and up to twenty members who have specific responsibilities (e.g. Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Newsletter Editor).

The Secretary shall:

  1. organize the General Meetings and the meetings of the Board of RC38 in co-operation with the President
  2. assist the President in organizing the work of the Board and observe the fulfillment of its decisions

The Treasurer shall:

  1. collect the membership fees and other incomes
  2. keep financial documentation
  3. prepare the financial report to the Board to be accepted by the General Meeting
  4. realize the financial relations between RC38 and the ISA.

A statement of financial affairs will be given by the Treasurer every four years to the Board of RC38 and to the Business Meeting Assembly. The Treasurer must be discharged of their financial responsibilities by the Business Meeting Assembly.

Pairs of candidates in the Board (co-presidents, co-secretary, co-treasurers or co-editors of the newsletter are possible. It is also possible to separate the position of secretary and treasurer.

An effort will be made to ensure a fair regional and national representation.

The Board should meet at World Congresses and at least once between World Congresses.

The Board shall identify the Research Committee´s delegate to the ISA Research Council and other organizations and the alternate delegate to the Research Council.

Each member of the Board must at all times be a member in good standing of the ISA in accordance with the ISA Statutes and a member in good standing of RC38.

Article VI. Electoral Procedures in RC38

a. The election of the Board and of the President will take place in the business meeting of the ISA World Congress.

b. Three months before the ISA World Congress the Board should be asked to nominate candidates for the Board and for the president, encouraging a fair regional and gender balance of candidates. Only members of good standing may stand as candidates. A list of these nominated persons and an entire list of all regular members should be sent to all regular and affiliated members who will be asked for further nominations. To ensure participation of all regular and affiliated members, nomination shall be done electronic.

c. Nominated candidates shall confirm their preparedness to accept the respective position on the Board in case they are elected and to remain a regular member in good standing for the duration of their mandate, and shall return the nomination form to the election officer, together with a brief curriculum vitae.

d. Six weeks before the business meeting, the election officer sends a ballot paper and the CV’s to all regular and affiliated members for voting. In case of several nominations for the same position, the nominated candidates shall be listed in alphabetical order.

e. For those who are unable to attend the meeting, it is possible to vote per post. Postal votes should be completed on the voting form issued by the election officer, according to the instructions on the voting slip. They should be placed in a sealed envelope with the voter's signature across the seal. The voter's name should also be clearly printed above this signature. There should be no other contents contained within the envelope.

f. If less than twenty-five members are present at the General Assembly, then a mail ballot needs to be organized. A mail ballot may also be organized if more than one third of the RC constituency asks for it; in which case the ballot's result will take precedence over any other ballot.

g. The whole election procedure is conducted by an election officer (e.g. Secretary/Treasurer), who will be appointed by the President. The election officer and two members who are not standing for election execute the election at the business meeting. The envelopes of the postal voting will be opened at the business meeting. During the meeting, members in good standing who have not submitted votes by regular mail will be invited to vote by secret ballot. All votes submitted in person and by regular mail will then be counted by the election officer and two other members who are not standing for election. The results of the election will be announced at the end of the business meeting.

h. The President is elected for four years. No President can stay in office for more than two terms in a row. The Board, once elected, will set some of its members other tasks (Executive Secretary, Vice-President, Treasurer).

i. The naming of the delegate and alternate to the Research Council is based on a decision of the board members.

j. Inactive board members (ones who do not respond or ones who do not maintain their ISA and RC memberships throughout the mandate) can be relegated from office by a two third majority of the board. Temporary vacancies in the Board between consecutive ISA World Congress may be filled by appointment by the President.

Article VII.

It is the responsibility of the President that a newsletter is regularly produced, that workshops and/or conferences are organized, and generally speaking to enhance the RC's dynamism and compliance to ISA rules.

If the president does not carry out the presidential responsibilities, to depose him/her from office the board members have to pass a unanimous resolution.

One of the Board members, identified by the Board, will assume the responsibilities of the President of the Board in the case of the death, incapacitation, resignation, or other inability of the incumbent to carry out the responsibilities of the office of the President.

Article VIII.

Amendments to the Statutes need to be voted by a two thirds majority of the votes of the board members. In case of conflict, a mail ballot that involves the whole RC constituency shall take precedence.