Proposal to create a “Junior Sociologists Network” within the International Sociological Association
1. Rationale for the creation of a “Junior Sociologists Network”
1.1. Epistemic advantages of being a “junior sociologist”
1.2. Increasing international exchange among junior scholars and social practitioners on a more equal footing
1.3. Integrating the next generation of sociologists and social practitioners into the ISA
1.4. Social practice and the practice of Public Sociology: strategies of connection
2. Group Purpose
2.1. Develop social forums of exchange
2.2. Introduce and encourage participation in the ISA
2.3. Serve as a liaison for young members to participate in research committees in the ISA
2.4. Develop international perspectives in social science research
2.5. Expand ISA membership across all world regions
2.6. Provide a platform of exchange between social scientists and social practitioners in order to increase social relevance of research
2.7. Practice Public Sociology
3. Criteria to become a member of this Group
4. Group institutionalization
4.1. Administer membership
4.2. Maintain a network of communication
4.3. Integrate an ISA member representation
4.4.Collaborate in the organization of the upcoming ISA PHD laboratory and Junior Sociologists’ Workshop
4.5. Organize specific sessions on upcoming World Congresses
4.6. Include eligibility to apply for ISA funding
4.7. Create a forum for critical discussion
5. Names and affiliations of people who support the proposal
Appendix I. Testimonies from the 2006 ISA Durban Junior Sociologists Workshop
1. Rationale for the creation of a “Junior Sociologists Network”
The proposal to create a “Junior Sociologists Network” within the ISA grew out of the experience of participants of the ISA’s Junior Sociologists Workshop of the XVI World Congress of Sociology, Durban, South Africa, July 20-29 2006. The participants felt this workshop was a particularly enriching experience and provided opportunities unavailable in the thematic sections of ISA, or on national or regional scholarly forums. Similar sentiments have been shared by other participants of the PhD laboratory workshops in prior years. Currently, no sub-organization is established within the ISA to integrate and institutionalize activities designed for young scholars. Thus, the participants from the 2006 Durban workshop put forth a proposal to call for establishing a Network within the ISA that aims at providing a platform for colleagues at the beginning of their academic careers (such as the participants in the Durban “Junior Sociologists’ Workshop”) as well as for social practitioners, independently of their thematic research interests. The “Junior Sociologists Network” aims to be a network of citizens from different countries who gather to discuss, share and produce knowledge and social experiences in a changing world.
In the following, we provide four major justifications for establishing a network for junior sociologists and social practitioners.
1.1 Epistemic advantages of being a “junior sociologist”
The key point is that young scholars and students, as well as social practitioners found it more productive to discuss their novel, innovative, and often unconventional or experimental research in a more open-minded workshop environment with others who likewise have not been in academia for very long and have not yet become ‘attached’ to certain sets of theories, concepts and methodology. We feel that such a particular forum would better suit the needs of junior sociologists at the beginning of their research careers, by enabling them to test and discuss in-depth their innovative and fresh ideas and approaches, and to get critical feedback for their ongoing research. Furthermore, workshops and seminars on methodology or other basic tools and skills for sociological research addressing especially the new generation as designed by the ISA could also occur within this Network.
1.2 Increasing international exchange among junior scholars and social practitioners on a more equal footing
A main mission of the ISA is to recognize the diversity within the discipline and to narrow the gap between scholars in the North and the South. This orientation has distinguished the ISA from many other regional and national sociological associations. We feel that by establishing the “Junior Sociologists Network”, the ISA will provide a forum for promising young scholars to engage in international exchanges at a much earlier stage in their career. This is important as the experience will help to shape the orientation of their research career to be innovative and go beyond conventional boundaries. In turn, this forum hopes to train a next generation of scholars by widening their perspectives internationally.
The “Junior Sociologists Network” would provide a starting point and also a liaison for those who are new in academia. This will help to solve the problems of a heavily distorted geographical representation within ISA and the often overlooked but important perspectives and debates from the global South and from Eastern Europe. Therefore, the international emphasis of the Network will provide junior scholars with awareness of differences and particularities of sociologies in different parts of the world and thus generate more nuanced perspectives, including those developed by social practitioners. In short, we feel a lot remains to be done in this respect within the ISA and the best way of dealing with these problems is to inform and educate people of these issues right from the beginning of their careers.
The contacts established in our Network will also provide opportunities for collaborative research at the international level. This Network will allow for open discussions on a more equal level, where issues of status and institutional power do not distort the debates significantly. This could prove especially important for women sociologists who are exposed to the double difficulty of being a junior and female in the male-dominated world of academic sociology. Lastly, by establishing the Network, we hope to provide wider accessibility and opportunities for junior scholars from the developing world to participate in international scholarly exchange and training, wherein they would not otherwise have easy access to as students.
1.3. Integrating the next generation and social practitioners into the ISA
The establishment of the Network aims at encouraging junior sociologists to get involved within the ISA. It will serve as a liaison between the junior sociologist and the larger umbrella of the ISA. This liaison is important as sociologists at the junior level might feel lost and overwhelmed within such a large association. Network members could eventually get more involved in research committees relevant to their research interests. There are positive examples of participants from the prior PhD laboratory workshops who are currently actively involved in research committees of their expertise and serve as representatives of their national association to the ISA. More widespread information about the ISA and its activities could thus encourage junior sociologists to approach thematic sections, make their voice being heard and ensure the institutional continuity of the association as well as the sensitivity of thematic sections towards impending fresh perspectives.
1.4. Social practice and Public Sociology: strategies of connection
Lastly, this Network hopes to contribute to the practice of Public Sociology and social practice. We understand social practice as any kind of intentional action to bring about social change. It can stem from any number of political orientations and take a wide range of forms, but it has to be against any kind of physical violence or discursive confrontation. For instance, participants from the Durban workshop found that the presence of local social practitioners and the fact that many participants were engaged in political, social, cultural and environmental activities in their home countries were very positive contributions. The workshop provided an opportunity for the young sociologists to exchange and share their experiences as social practitioners. More importantly, they put sociological knowledge into actual social practice. The social and political relevance of ongoing research and the practice of Public Sociology were highlighted in the course of the workshop, a feature that is not present to the same degree in the existing ISA thematic sections. Even across thematic differences, common problems become visible and new opportunities for linkages emerge. We find it important to orient at least part of future social science research towards the needs of ‘real world’ social actors, which in turn gives sociologists a role in and insight into their struggles. The Network could provide a platform that designs possible links between the academic world of knowledge and the various social worlds of civil society. It is not so much about promoting a political attitude in sociology in the ISA but about promoting the need to explore strategies of connection between two different worlds that could benefit from one another if their dynamics were strategically intersected. Therefore, this Network could work as a means of enabling an attitude of engagement in public debate, so that decision making could implicate an articulation between academic and grounded social knowledge.
2. Junior Sociologist Network Purpose
As stated, the “Junior Sociologists Network” aim is to be a network of citizens from different countries who gather to discuss, share and produce knowledge and social experiences in a changing world. A primary goal of the Network is to generate knowledge in order to advance the state of the discipline, but also to inform political and social intervention aimed at improving social existence in different cultural, political and economic settings.
The short term goal is to institutionalize within the ISA a consistent and continuous network of people from different settings, namely universities and research institutions, community organizations, NGOs and informal civil society.
The mid term goal is 1) to develop creative and progressive ideas and policies that can generate social change, both at the local and global levels; and 2) to engage with as many social actors as possible and create platforms of collaboration, both in terms of social intervention and the production of social knowledge.
The long term goal is to collaborate on the development of a social knowledge platform that represents the variety and continuous change in approaches to society in different continents, cultures, economies and political regimes. This “knowledge platform” could actually work as a tool to produce and share knowledge between different individuals and institutions, and between them and the rest of the world.
2.1. Develop social forums of exchange
Provide a forum for exchange among “not yet established social scientists (in terms of their critical and innovative attitudes)”, so that new social science frameworks can be developed and become engaged in dialogue with established frameworks in the social sciences. This future Network can work to provide a platform in the ISA where “fresh” perspectives may have a field for critical development, expansion and connection. Therefore, to act according to this rationale, we propose the following specific goals:
2.2 Introduce and encourage participation in the ISA
Develop a strategy to attract junior sociologists and social practitioners to get connected to and become members of the ISA.
2.3 Serve as a liaison for young members to participate in research committees in the ISA
Enhance the Network members’ interests and work on strategies of integration into the ISA through encouraging their participation in the existing thematic Research Committees of ISA in conferences, workshops and other events.
2.4 Develop international perspectives in social science research
Includes the creation and establishment of platforms of connection between academic social scientists and social scientists working in different areas of social practice.
2.5 Expand ISA membership across all world regions
Given the uneven distribution of ISA membership and participation in conferences between social scientists from different countries and continents, we propose the creation of outreach strategies towards underrepresented areas of the world. The idea is not so much to try to assimilate new “members” in the existing paradigms, but rather to strategize refreshing engagements and strategies that can reach out to these colleagues and ensure that they can make their own contributions to the discipline.
2.6 Provide a platform of exchange between social scientists and social practitioners in order to increase social relevance of research
To “increase the social relevance of research” means to develop ties between academic institutions and other types of social actors and organizations. The intention is to create sustainable networks that embrace the challenge of creating mutual learning both from academic research and more applied social science work.
2.7 Practice Public Sociology
Public Sociology is one of the most challenging areas in the social sciences, as it seeks to transcend the production of knowledge in the academic world and reach wider audiences. This aim can be achieved by engaging in public debate, by social, political and cultural practice and the forthcoming possible roles of civil society in proposing solutions to contemporary and emerging social problems. One of the purposes of this Network is to work not as an isolated actor in producing knowledge, but as a platform that designs possible linkages between the academic world of knowledge and civil society. Thus, it could explore strategies of connection between two different worlds that could benefit from each other. Therefore, this Network could work as a means of enabling an attitude of engagement in public debate, so that decision making can implicate an articulation between academic and grounded social knowledge.
3. Criteria to become a member of this Network
Be a graduate student
Possess a graduate (post-secondary degree) or PhD within the last 5 years
Be a social practitioner
Be a member of ISA
being affiliated to a Research Committee, Network and/or Thematic Group within ISA
4. Network institutionalization
The institutionalization of this ISA Network, its operation and funding will include:
4.1 Administer membership
Create a platform to administer and continuously update current and upcoming Network members.
4.2 Maintain a network of communication
Establish a continuous and consistent digital platform of communication between members, as well as with the public. This will entail the creation of a website and an electronic newsletter. It will implicate the organization of a core group that is responsible for maintaining the website and newsletter. The website would inform members about social sciences workshops and conferences worldwide and give access to scientific papers based on research by Network members. The newsletter could include presentations of local projects, institutions or organizations, Network members’ opinions about specific social issues of local or global relevance, a general event calendar and the development of methodological approaches to grounded and theoretical work in the social sciences. On a regular basis, a different topic of contemporary global relevance could be chosen and Network members or participants in the wider network could share their knowledge on that topic.
4.3 Integrate an ISA member representation
Have a representative on the ISA Executive Council who serves as the liaison between the ISA and the Network. This member stands for regular elections to the ISA Executive Committee held at each World Congress of Sociology. He or she should be elected by the Network members based on democratic rules and be accountable and bound by decisions taken by all the Network members. This will insure that the actions of the representative follow democratic control from the whole Network.
4.4 Collaborate in the organization of the upcoming ISA PhD laboratory and Junior Sociologists’ Workshop
One of the main goals of the Network is to help organize upcoming PhD Student laboratories, junior sociologists’ workshops, and other kinds of ISA activities directed towards the specific needs and interests of junior scholars. Participants in these activities could then be encouraged to become members of the Network and engage in the organization of the following workshops. This, in turn, will ensure the continuity of workshops and the dissemination of knowledge and experience. Moreover, the Network could take the initiative to create other ISA activities aiming this particular group.
4.5 Organize specific sessions on upcoming World Congresses
These sessions aim not only at presenting current research by Network members, but they will also be spaces of engagement between established scholars in the social sciences and the juniors and social practitioners.
4.6 Include eligibility to apply for ISA funding
This funding could be used for the organization of future meetings, workshops and other events addressing the particular needs of Network members in all thematic areas of sociology put forth by the ISA.
4.7 Create a forum for critical discussion
Establish a platform of exchange between former and current participants of junior workshops in order to continue scholarly discussion and possibly review the final research papers presented. The opportunity to make them accessible through the ISA E-Bulletin is to be discussed.
5. Names and affiliations of people who support the proposal (in alphabetical order):
· Florence Akiiki Asiimwe
Department of Sociology
P.O. Box 7062
· Thomas Blaser
School of Social Sciences
University of the Witwatersrand
Johannesburg, South Africa
· Claudia Pato Carvalho
Center for Reflective Community Practice
Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge MA 02139, USA
Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra
Avenida Dias da Silva, 165, 3004-512 Coimbra, Portugal
· Alinaya Sybilla L. Fabros
Institute for Popular Democracy
45 Matimtiman St. Teachers Village
Quezon City 1101
· Brian J. Gareau
Faculty Teaching Fellow
Department of Sociology
University of California- Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
· Anna Guevarra (PhD)
Assistant Professor, Sociology
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Arizona State University, West Campus
P.O. Box 37100
Phoenix, Arizona, 85069-7100 USA
· Michelle Fei-yu Hsieh (PhD)
Asia Pacific Research Center
616 Serra Street
Encina Hall Rm E301
Stanford, CA 94305, USA
· Wiebke Keim (MA)
Institute for Soziology,
Freiburg University, Germany
Centre des Etudes Sociologiques de la Sorbonne
· Dmitry Khodyakov
Department of Sociology
54 Joyce Kilmer Avenue
Piscataway, NJ 08854
· Jorge Machado
USP (University of S. Paulo) School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities
USP Leste Av. Arlindo Bettio
1000 São Paulo – SP – 03828-080-Brazil
· Jonathan K. Mafukidze
University of Pretoria,
Department of Sociology.
· Francisco Linares Martinez
Departamento de Sociología
Universidad de La Laguna
38201 La Laguna
· Sepetla Molapo
University of the Witwatersrand
Department of Sociology
· Veronica Mothai
North West University
Private Bag X2046
· Tembeka Ngcebetsha
University of Fort Hare
East London campus
50 Church Street
· Yuriy Savelyev, (C.Sc.)
Faculty of Social Sciences and Social Technologies
Head of Postgraduate and Doctoral Studies Department
National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
Tel: +3 8 044 463 69 74
Fax: +3 8 044 463 67 83
2 Skovoroda St.
Kyiv 04070 Ukraine
· Mr A. Chupe Serote
Department of Sociology
University of Cape Town
Private Bag RONDEBOSCH
Republic of South Africa
Testimonies from the 2006 ISA Durban Junior Sociologists Workshop
Meeting junior sociologists from around the world for three intense days of critical reflection was a rewarding experience. As a sociologist based in the South, the engagement with peers from all over the world brought new insights to my own understanding of the discipline. In discussing our work, I could appreciate criticisms that originate in a different social and intellectual environment. The direct exposure to different schools of thought and ways of doing sociology was enlightening. Rare ist the occasion for such direct and creative engagement that one encounters in a workshop with young scholars. Thanks to the discussion with my fellow junior sociologists, I gained a much better understanding of my own research in a global, comparative context. I strongly believe that the possibilities for such an immanent and global engagement among junior sociologists need to be increased in order to advance the emergence of a truly global, critical thought.
There is more that one can say about the pre-conference experience in Durban, but of singular significance for me has been the opportunity to present one's work and have this tested in a safer less threatening environment. Overall, I found the whole experience intellectually stimulating. It opened a whole network of scholars with whom one can collaborate, and share ideas. The pre-conference is a unique opportunity which should be afforded to as many students as possible, and more should be done to get scholars from Africa and Latin America to participate.
As a tenure track faculty at an early stage of my career, my participation at the ISA Junior Sociologist Workshop was particularly instrumental in building potential international networks with scholars engaging in similar types of work. I found the workshop particularly enriching because it provided an intellectual space where scholars felt at ease to ask questions and at times, challenge unremittingly each other's ideas and assumptions. There was a sense of openness and willingness to this kind of intellectual engagement that is rare to find in most academic gatherings. It was an incredible opportunity to share my work but also to hear about the cutting edge scholarship and innovative methodologies that such "junior" scholars are producing. Most of all, I appreciated the dynamic energy and deep commitment to exchanging knowledge that radiated throughout the workshop and among all of the scholars. Just when I thought that I "understood" my work, there were others who are able to contribute a different reading of it and provided me yet another provocative angle through which to view my work. I support the institutionalization of this kind of engagement, especially for those who are still at the very early part of their career because not only can it provide an intellectual space but also a supportive network of scholars transcending geographical spaces and institutional differences.
Florence Akiiki Asiimwe:
The Junior Sociologists Workshop in Durban was an enriching experience in which the junior sociologists were able to interact freely without fear of being looked as inexperienced, unaccomplished scholars. In this forum I was able to talk anything about sociology which I would fear to say among the high profile sociologists. As a Junior Sociologist gripping with publication problems, I felt at home to hear what other sociologists have gone through in order to publish. Yes, we need this Network just like footballers have junior footballers. I get excited when I see the small kids lining up with the big footballers at the football pitch. I know we are not kids, but definately we are junior sociologists who need encouragement to become good sociologists. The Junior Sociologists workshop at Durban was a well thought out idea and it should be upheld come 2010 in Sweden.
The Durban Workshop was a brilliant idea. I thank the organizers who came up with the idea. It felt good, motivating and provided a sense of belonging (or a comfort zone) to interact with the 'not so experienced' but determined people in the field. Knowing that you are not alone, that there are others across the globe, who are also battling with the very issues that keep most of us from getting ahead and learning from each others' experiences and achievements was very encouraging. Mostly, the workshop afforded the rare opportunity to speak out with confidence the views one would otherwise not have raised in a group of more experienced scholars, of course, without departing from established schools of thought. I also appreciated being afforded the opportunity to network with international 'junior' researchers and scholars, knowing that we are all committed to the sociological enterprise. It is therefore crucial that this Network be institutionalised. It needs to be given all the support.