Yokohama 2014

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XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology
Facing an Unequal World: Challenges for a Global Sociology
Yokohama, Japan, July 13-19, 2014

Dear colleagues,

We have the pleasure to inform you that RC 09 will participate actively in the XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology to be held in Yokohama, Japan, on July 13-19, 2014. The main theme of the Congress is: “Facing an Unequal World: Challenges for Global Sociology.”

RC 09 recently completed an internal Call for session proposals; we can now suggest below the main part of the Congress program and invite you to submit paper abstracts. We encourage you to choose topics that reflect the research interests of RC 09 “Social Transformations and the Sociology of Development”. Some of you may want to choose a theme that has a regional focus but we hope that most of the papers will be amenable to comparative viewpoints. Please be as precise as possible in the formulation of your paper abstract to be submitted to the on-line abstract submission system and the chosen session from June 3rd, 2013 to September 30th, 2013. Please include your name, your institutional affiliation and your e-mail address. As RC 09 has more than 150 members and is comprised of scholars with varied interests, we look forward to receiving challenging and diverse paper abstracts from you.

We welcome your cooperation and active participation in the forthcoming Yokohama Congress.

Best regards,

Ulrike Schuerkens, President RC 09,
Habibul Khondker, Vice-President RC 09,

Below please find a preliminary list of RC 09 sessions to be held during the next ISA World Congress in Japan.

Session Proposals 

RC09 Session Proposals (by last name in alphabetical order)


1989 and 2011: Years of Revolution

Said Arjomand, Stony Brook University,; Edward Tiryakian, Duke University,

Following a very successful and well attended RC 09 session on the Arab revolution of 2011 at the ISA Forum in Buenos Aires that has resulted in a book in press, the panel proposes to develop systematically the parallels with the post-1989 collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe. By July 2014, we will have almost enough of hindsight on 2011 to compare with the revolutionary change set in motion in 1989. The revolutionary transformation of the post-communist world has typically been considered as cases of transition to both democracy and a market economy. The revolutionary cycle in January and February 2011 in Arab North Africa shows many similarities and differences to the post-1989 revolutions and is thus indicative of a new pattern of revolution in world history. The Arab revolution of 2011 invites immediate comparison not only with that of Eastern Europe: The failed revolutions of Tiananmen Square in China – also in 1989 — and the Green movement in Iran in 2009 can also be brought into comparative perspective.

Development and Inequality in Post-socialist Countries: Comparative Perspectives

Nina Bandelj, University of California, Irvine,

This session invites submissions that examine the intersection of globalization, economic development, and social outcomes in post-socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia and China. The former communist countries of Eastern Europe and Eurasia were sharply buffeted by the global economic crisis and prolonged difficulties on the European continent. The way forward in this region seems complicated since the massive transformations of the prior two dozen of years had left more or less skeletons in post-socialist closets. It is easily forgotten that the institutionalization of democracy and the market took many decades, at a minimum, in other parts of the world. How has the global economic crisis intervened into these post-socialist developments? In many countries, the crisis has brought a time of recession, high unemployment, and soaring sovereign debt, with governance marred by non-transparency and informality. In some cases, restive publics began to register support for populist and radical parties; in others, they staged protest against current governments. Scholars have even questioned the legitimacy of the economic and political models that East European countries had followed since 1989. Some countries have shown more resistance and have weathered the crisis better than others. Why is that so? We welcome papers that explore any of these topics, employing a cross-national framework to interrogate the divergences and similarities across the region, and between the post-socialist countries and the rest of the world. We welcome quantitative cross-national analyses, qualitative case study comparisons, or multi-method designs.

Memorial Session: Willfried Spohn

Michal Bodemann, University of Toronto,


Long Term Causation Versus Disjuncture in Development

Samuel Cohn, Texas A&M University,

Recent work in the Sociology of Development has argued for the dominance of long-term causation and the relative absence of important conjunctural forces in the determination of levels of development. In their recent work, Salvatore Babones and James Mahoney have argued that the current structure of the division of the world into core and periphery has been enduring and has not experienced significant fundamental changes. Mahoney goes so far as to argue that the seventeenth century patterns of colonialism essentially determined the international differences in Western Hemisphere national incomes that we see today.

Such arguments taken to their logical extension suggests that 95 percent of the work done in the Sociology of Development is irrelevant – since the causal forces that determine development were set in place long ago. Is this really true?

This panel is open to either papers that show that current configurations of development have a deep historic base or to papers that show recent and important changes in trajectories of development. Papers are welcome on either continuities or discontinuities in development. Model topics can include:

1)       In which way were East Asian Developmentalist States shaped by earlier patterns of colonial administration?

2)       Can resource booms change historical patterns of development?

3)       Does popular mobilization have the capacity to change the influence of historical legacies of development?

4)       How can we account for changes in the stature of individual nations such as the fall of Argentina in the mid-twentieth century?

5)       Can contemporary feminism challenge long-term structures of female discrimination supported by global patriarchy in the North and in the South?

Political Inequality and Social Change

Joshua Kjerulf Dubrow, Polish Academy of Sciences,

Political inequality can be defined as structured differences in influence over government decisions. It is a multidimensional concept – comprised of voice and response – that occurs in all types of governance structures, from social movement organizations, to local and national governments, and global governance. Voice refers to how constituencies express their interests to decision-makers, either directly or through representatives. Response refers to how decision-makers act and react to their constituencies, and take the forms of symbols and policy.

Political inequality is a standard feature of modern political systems. Though we often think of political inequality as static, the form, duration, and magnitude of particular political inequalities change as societies change. Local, national, and regional transformations are associated with transformations of political inequality.

This session asks three major research questions:

1)       What are the relationships between political power, political inequality, and social transformations?

2)       How does social and political change impact political inequality?

3)       What are the consequences of political inequality on peoples, societies, and social structures?

This session looks for empirical (qualitative and quantitative) papers on the topic of political inequality that feature processes of social and political transformation. Comparative studies are strongly encouraged.

Transnational Entrepreneurship: Economic Sociology Meets the Sociology of Development

Alexander Ebner, Goethe University Frankfurt,

The phenomenon of transnational entrepreneurship refers to the transnational operations of the start-up enterprises of migrant entrepreneurs. It may be viewed as a complement to the networking dynamics of large transnational companies, thus resembling a ‘globalization from below’ (Portes). Transnational entrepreneurs mobilize resources in their countries of origin and destination, enhanced by resources in third countries. The factors of labor, capital, and knowledge are framed by network relationships that combine local and transnational components in terms of a ‘multiple embeddedness’ (Kloostermann and Rath). Against this background, the question arises in what sense transnational entrepreneurship exhibits strategic qualities regarding the use of socio-cultural resources and identities. This would imply that transnational entrepreneurship gains an institutional logic of its own.

In exploring this phenomenon, sociologists form various branches of the discipline are providing theoretical and empirical work. This applies in particular to the domains of economic sociology and the sociology of development, which are taking on the matter of transnationalisation as a facet of complex social transformations across society and the world economy. Accordingly, the proposed session calls for papers that are both theoretical and/or empirical in their analytical orientation. Topics to be highlighted in the exploration of transnational entrepreneurship may involve issues such as the transition from ethnic to transnational entrepreneurship, national, regional, ethnic and gender varieties of transnational entrepreneurship, institutional dynamics of multiple embeddedness, and the framing role of political, civic, and business associations.


Globalization, Labor Flexibility, and Inequalities

Tamara Heran, EHESS,

In the context of increasing global economic, social, and cultural integration and interconnection, large transnational corporate and financial conglomerates have become important in various sectors of national economies, a consequence that has limited the power of the State. While labor flexibility strategies are promoted, there is also a growing precariousness of work and growing inequality. In both the South and the North, instruments to promote high staff turn-over with fixed-term contracts and variable work-days, variable labor remuneration for activities paid by piecework, bonuses, and commissions, and changes to labor management due to workforce subcontractors, has meant the establishment of precarious working conditions, characterized by partial and unstable jobs, salaries often below the minimum wage, limited access to social welfare, and informal jobs. This precariousness can be shown by unequal access to social welfare such as pensions and sickness allowance, high levels of income inequality, and gender inequality that marginalizes women in flexible, unstable jobs. These labor characteristics not only affect the primary and the secondary sector such as agribusiness and manufacturing, but also the service (such as retail, financial services, education) and the public sectors.

This session addresses this problematic and focuses in particular on the relationships between globalization, labor flexibility, and growing inequality. We invite papers that ask: What forms of inequality arising from this problematic can be identified? What are the links between globalization and labor flexibility in the creation of inequalities? Does labor flexibility in a context of development and globalization contribute to the production of inequalities at the higher and lower end of the social hierarchy? Does development under global conditions mean labor precariousness and social inequality? What are the similarities and differences in Northern and Southern societies in the form, duration, and magnitude of these inequalities? How can societies confront or prevent these inequalities? Papers based on empirical case studies oriented by an analytical framework using qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods are welcome. Comparative analyses are particularly encouraged.


Development and the Transformation of Women’s Capabilities

Ulrike Schuerkens, EHESS,; Tamara Heran, EHESS,

Restarting with the concept of “capabilities” of Amartya Sen, which in general terms refers to the capacity and the freedom of human actors to choose different ways of life through effective opportunities, this session asks provocative yet fundamental questions: Which new opportunities and which capabilities have opened up for women in the context of important social and economic transformations linked to development and globalization? Which real changes have been realized by strategies of gender equality and politics for women in recent decades? Which elements may impede a true empowerment and liberation of women?

Aware of the significant and persistent breach in gender equality around the world related to violence against women, poor female health promotions, different incomes of men and women, low political leadership participation of women, low participation in decision-making at the work-place, or the importance of household chores, this session will focus on the analysis of empirical cases of change in the opportunities and capabilities of women. We want you to identify elements of success and failure that face this challenge in order to better understand continuing gender inequality. We invite the submission of original papers from diverse regions using qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods. We especially encourage the submission of comparative case studies.

Multiple State – Society Perspectives on Labor Migration in Asia

Habibul H. Khondker, Zayed University, and Emma Porio, Ateneo de Manila University,

Depending on the context and the perspective of the stakeholders, labor migration has become a contested idea and a debatable proposition, a panacea for some labor-sending countries for solving their economic problems and a curse for others. An important question is: How sustainable is the strategy of exporting labor overseas to deal with local unemployment problems by siphoning off surplus labor? Due to shortages of labor in the receiving countries, foreign labor is needed, yet the “foreign workers” are not always welcome. It seems as if foreigners originating from Asian countries are needed for a limited period of time and when their work is no longer required, they are unceremoniously discarded in several regions. They are the “golden boys” of foreign currency earners in some countries, yet they face sufferings and live a precarious life overseas with their families exposed to vulnerability in others. They are disposable labor. Hence, migration is both a panacea and a curse. A careful and critical analysis of a comprehensive understanding of the process of labor migration is of utmost importance.

This session will explore the precariousness as well as the benefits of migration. We will explore the perspectives of the labor-sending countries as well as labor-receiving countries on the issues of economic benefits of the state, the welfare of society, and the well-being of the family and the migrants. It is important to examine all aspects of the migration process: the economic, social, political, and cultural aspects around the themes of vulnerability and well-being. It may be useful to deconstruct some of the myths of the economic benefits of migration to the countries of origin and expose the vulnerability and risks involved in migration for the workers. This session will approach labor migration in Asia with all its complexities and contradictions.

The New Demography of Development

Brendan Mullan, Michigan State University,; Matthew Sanderson, Kansas State University,

Development is a complex and contested concept that has most often been correlated with notions of progress and improvement, and is conditioned by class, culture, geography, history, power relations, and demography. Population composition and change are central to development processes. Yet the means and ends of development are in flux as never before. Earlier development models of economic nationalism gave way to neoliberalism and export-oriented industrialization models, which are now being displaced by a development paradigm emphasizing the promotion and expansion of capabilities and the building of agency.

This session will explore the role of demography in a changing and increasingly global context of development. We welcome papers that investigate new, multiple, and variegated interactions between development, population change, mortality, fertility, and migration. Papers may address any of the following questions, including among others: How is the second demographic transition in the developed world linked to economic development? What are the impacts of aging societies in the North with their increasing need for care on economic and social developments in the South? What challenges may China’s one child policy pose for development outcomes? Does the North-South linkage shape aspects of fertility and mortality in developing countries? What are the consequences of new migratory flows, such as those from Africa to China, on ‘South-South’ patterns? Papers using qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods are welcome. Papers that employ a comparative or multi-sited framework are especially encouraged.

Middle Class as Driver of (Democratic) Change?

Dieter Neubert, University of Bayreuth,

In the last years, we have observed a rising interest in the middle class of developing (and transitional) countries. One focus is on the role of the middle class as consumers with reference to the emerging middle classes in large countries like China, India, Brazil, or Russia. Whereas the focus on the middle class as consumers points at their economic role, the debate in sociology and political science is more interested in their political role. The middle class is seen as a carrier of civil society and as an important driver of political change, especially in processes of democratization. According to this view, the third wave of democratization in the late 1980s and 1990s in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa was driven by the middle class. And in the so-called “Arab Spring,” the middle classes have been identified as important actors in the social protest movements. Is this thesis, “middle class as driver for democratic change,” true? At least in some cases this formula fails. In Thailand, the middle class tries to protect a conservative monarchist regime against an electoral majority and the Arab revolution shows that in the middle class different political opinions can be found, e.g. aside from liberal democrats, there are also radical Islamists and supporters of the old regime. These examples show that the middle class is not homogenous but may be composed of different groups with different social and political visions.

Papers should focus on some of the following questions:

  • Are processes of fundamental sociopolitical change linked to the emergence of a middle class?
  • Is the middle class an important driver of democratic change or does the middle class try to block change?
  • How homogenous is the middle class?
  • What are the visions of the future promoted by the middle class?

Globalization, Culture, and Management

Ulrike Schuerkens, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales,

Globalization is here conceived as a process that unfolds through activities influenced by identifiable actors as opposed to a vision that emphasizes systemic forces and inevitable market actions. The modern economy is currently moving towards globalization. Companies are forced to follow this trend if they want to remain competitive. It is pertinent to ask how long culture will adapt or resist the pressure of the neoliberal economy. What is the future of culture in economic globalization? How may culture be necessary to the world of global business and wage labor? Are cultural particularities forced to disappear with the global expansion of neoliberalism? In fact, companies must develop new skills if they want to relocate where two different economic cultures meet. Global management must accept and implement foreign aspects according to the categories of local cultures. Global managers must therefore study foreign cultures in order to adapt their branch offices to the economic project of their headquarters. Yet, in the South and the East, management practices of big business along with local forms of social interactions are still very hesitant. Often, American management methods are imported.

The aim of this session is thus to reunite case studies of cultural confrontations that managers can and should become aware of. This will allow a better approach of intercultural management as it takes place or should take place. Some central questions of this session are: Do groups around the world seek to accumulate private property and maximize profits? Are “economic rationality” and the pursuit of profit identical in each individual culture? How can this economic rationality be changed by socio-economic globalization and post-colonialism? Does everyone think in the same way on debt, corruption, and games? What are the long-term economic changes that may occur in cultures that did not know individual property before the advent of European colonialism? Do human beings develop without exception from the public to the private sector, from gifts to sale and credit? Or is this picture more complex? Who wins and who loses in the socio-economic globalization of the twenty-first century?

This session will therefore discuss and analyze management practices, social communications, leadership, and decision making in various socio-economic contexts where different economic cultures confront each other. Theoretical approaches used may come from economic sociology and socio-economic anthropology and may be influenced by certain aspects of management studies in order to help understand the increasingly complex picture of global economy and post-neoliberalism that affects more and more economic practices of people around the world.


RC09 Business Meeting

Ulrike Schuerkens, ÉHÉSS,; Habibul H. Khondker, Zayed University,

The purpose of the RC09 Business Meeting is to discuss current organizational matters and activities of the Committee. Among the topics to be discussed at this meeting, we highlight an activity report for the ending period, the preparation of the election of the board for the 2014-2018 period, RC09 participation in the next ISA Forum and Congress, and other future activities.


Joint Session Proposal

RC09 and RC02 Economy and Society 

The Culture and Currency of Money

Frederick F. Wherry, Columbia University,

Since Viviana Zelizer’s publication of The Social Meaning of Money (1994), there has been a growing recognition among social scientists that money, budgeting, and the creation of currencies have less to do with technical concerns and mathematical optimizations than with cultural codes and social relationships. Nonprofit organizations and government agencies have increasingly paid attention to how households categorize and prioritize their expenditures. Questions remain about how budget categories emerge and how priorities shift (or not) due to financial education. What exactly is culture and how does it mediate attempts to change budgeting practices? At the macro-level struggles ensue over what currencies should look like, which countries should belong in a currency community and what the cultural characteristics are of those countries deemed most suitable for inclusion versus exclusion. These meaningful struggles at the household level and at the national and regional levels call for a culturally specific and socially situated analysis of money and social transformations. This session invites papers on the dynamics of money, currency, cultural characteristics, and social identities, broadly understood.

Futures of Post-Neoliberalism in a Time of Global Crisis 

Joint session organized by RC 02 Economy and Sociology, RC 07 Futures Research and RC 09  

Neoliberalism has become the focus of much public debate as to what extent global financial crises should continue under this economic order. For most global elites it is out of question to argue for or against the end of neoliberalism. But alternatives are rather few. One may find them in the Occupy movement. This movement and its many forms all over the world may challenge the current democratic order, predicated on the extent to which national elites understand its message. Another alternative that tries to reconstruct the global capitalist order is built by the ‘Andean capitalism’ that one can find in several Latin American countries. Countries, such as the ALBA space attempt to construct an alternative hegemonic discourse and practice. In North Africa, the Arab Spring required a democratic change of postcolonial regimes narrowly linked to neoliberal states of the North. In other countries, conflicts turned around the cost of living and corruption, but not on the structural reform agenda tackled by the Occupy movement. Social protests are likely to revolve around unmet expectations of populations who do not perceive a sufficient socio-economic share from the prevailing political order. 

This joint session will bring together leading scholars for a focussed investigation of the futures of post-neoliberalism outlined above. Questions to be addressed include: What is post-neoliberalism? Does the global financial crisis herald a new economic era? Which avenues for public policy are opened up by the global financial crisis? Which possibilities are given for democratic participations of populations in the governance of States?