January 2009 Issue Volume 37 Issue 1

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International Perspectives

American Sociological Association and International Initiatives

A sampling of several ASA initiatives, highlighted below, is relevant to the Association’s international collaborations. We have a powerful intellectual stake in learning from worldwide research in our discipline and facilitating international scholarly communication (Vantage Point, March 2007).

Conference on Challenges and Tensions in International Research Collaborations: October 2-3, 2008, University of Minnesota-Minneapolis

Sponsors: U.S. Office of Research Integrity and the University of Minnesota

This conference focused on issues that arise in the context of international collaborations in scientific research. Speakers and discussants addressed problems stemming from cross-national differences in the organization and funding of science, cultural perspectives, the training of students and research personnel, and legal and policy systems.

National Research Council: International collaboration in the social and behavioral sciences is the subject of a recent report, International Collaborations in Behavioral and Social Sciences Research: Report of a Workshop, published in 2008 by the National Research Council for the U.S. National Committee for the International Union of Psychological Science (and its Committee on International Collaborations in Social and Behavioral Sciences Research).

Based on the outcomes of a workshop and a survey of social scientists who have led cross-national projects, this National Science Foundation-funded report addresses the multiple benefits of research extending across national boundaries and describes factors common among successful collaborations. (See www7.nationalacademies.org/usnc-iupsys/Report_Brief_International_Collaborations.pdf)

The National Science Foundation identifies as a mission and core value "exploring every opportunity for partnerships, both nationally and internationally" in its strategic plan for FY2006-2011, Investing in America’s Future (see www7.nationalacademies.org/usnc-iupsys/Report_Brief_International_Collaborations.pdf).

International Sociological Association (ISA)

The ISA is the major international organization of sociologists, and to date, is the organization through which most U.S. sociologists have participated in international events.* Established in 1949 under the auspices of UNESCO (along with international associations for anthropology, political science, economics, and psychology), the ISA draws its membership from 109 countries. In addition to about 4,000 individual members, the ISA includes official representation from 59 participating countries, as well as regional and specialty associations, and other affiliated institutions (see www.isa-sociology.org/colmemb/). The goal of the ISA is to represent sociologists everywhere, regardless of their school of thought, scientific approaches, or ideological opinion, and to advance sociological knowledge throughout the world.

ASA Participation in the ISA

ASA participation in ISA activities and programs dates back to at least the 1960s. The ASA hosted the Fifth World Congress of Sociology in Washington, DC, in 1962. Since then, the ASA, as an organization and through its leadership and membership, has participated in ISA activities in many ways. The ASA is the national association representing the United States in the International Sociological Association (ISA), and, in that capacity, organizes sessions at ISA congresses. The ASA and ISA have also cosponsored projects and events. In August 1997, ISA-ASA sponsored the North American Conference on "Millennial Milestone: The Heritage and Future of Sociology," in Toronto, Canada. A volume, Continuities and Cutting Edges: Sociology for the Twenty-First Century, edited by conference organizer Janet Abu Lughod, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 1999. In addition, during the 2005 ASA centennial year, ASA cosponsored events with the ISA Council of National Associations (CNA), including at the 2005 ASA Annual Meeting, where four special CNA-led sessions following the theme of "Local, Regional, and Global Sociologies" were held.

Many of ASA’s prominent members hold (or have held) elected office in the ISA as individual scholars. Immanuel Wallerstein (Yale University) was President of the ISA from 1994-98, as was Reuben Hill from 1970-74; Robert C. Angell from 1953-56, and Louis Wirth from 1949-52. Currently, ASA Past-president Michael Burawoy (University of California-Berkeley) serves on the Executive Committee as Vice President for National Associations and Valentine Moghadam (Purdue University), the official ASA representative to the ISA, is a member of the Executive Committee. Other ASA members serve on boards of the research committees of the ISA or in other organizational and functional roles.

Research Committees of the ISA

Research committees (RC), working groups, and thematic groups (each dealing with a well-recognized specialty in sociology) carry out the ongoing scientific activities of the ISA. They constitute the basic networks of scientific research, international debate, and professional exchange within the ISA. U.S. sociologists are well represented in several RCs.

Interim Meetings of Research Committees

Many RCs hold several meetings between the world congresses, and some actively collaborate with other research committees, with international associations (e.g., the International Political Science Association, International Rural Sociological Association) on events and projects, or with other professional societies or institutions. logo_small

*The International Institute of Sociology (IIS), established in 1893 is another worldwide sociological association (www.iisoc.org/). The ASA does not maintain formal relations with the IIS.

Submit Ideas for the International Perspectives Column

globeFootnotes invites contributions from knowledgeable non-North American sociologists on the state of the discipline and profession of sociology in countries outside North America for publication in the new occasional column, "International Perspectives." Sociological analyses of significant national events in these countries that would be of interest to North American sociologists are welcome for publication. Original contributions must be in English and no more than 1,100 words. To discuss possible contributions or send material, contact Lee Herring, Associate Editor (herring@asanet.org), or Johanna Olexy, Managing Editor (olexy@asanet.org).


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