The Third ISA Forum of Sociology: Going Local, Going Global

Ed.: This post was previously published on Global Dialogue. 


The local organizing committee welcomes sociologists from all around the world to the Third ISA Forum of Sociology in Vienna.  

We, the local organizing committee welcome you, the global community of the ISA, to the Third ISA Forum in Vienna. We would like to highlight some of the ways in which the local and global will be interwoven at the forum.

Going local – Insights in Austria’s everyday life and history of sociology

We are very honored and delighted to host the Third ISA Forum of Sociology at the University of Vienna, a university with strong traditions in philosophy and social sciences. The local organizing committee has already been preparing for more than two years in order to make the forum a success, work which would not be possible without the support of collaborating Austrian universities and sociological institutes of Innsbruck, Graz, Linz, Salzburg, Vienna, and our colleagues in Hungary.

We would like to welcome you to “go local” with us, to meet, to talk and to get inspired by the atmosphere of the international city of Vienna. In addition to the official program of the forum, we encourage our guests to better get to know each other and the hosting city and country through an array of touristic and sociological tours and get-togethers.

Enjoy visiting a traditional Viennese wine-tavern, for a walking tour of the city or for a night cruise on the Danube River, as part of our touristic tours. One of the highlights of our sociological tours will be two guided visits of the Marienthal museum in the village of Gramatneusiedl outside of Vienna. In their path-breaking research “Die Arbeitslosen von Marienthal” or “Marienthal: the sociography of an unemployed community” Marie Jahoda, Paul Lazarsfeld and Hans Zeisel showed how unemployment destroys individual and social life. Their findings and their method-mix have inspired a lot of research and remain impressive until today.

The sociological legacy of Vienna and Austria can only be studied within its greater historical and societal context. On the one hand we have the “Red Vienna” of the early decades of the last century. But on the other hand, later, hundreds of Austrian sociologists, including the abovementioned, were forced to flee Austria during the Nazi regime. Several posts reflecting on the history of fascism and its effect on Austrian sociology and society can be found here on our ISA Forum blog.

Going global – the struggles for a better world

As sociologists hosting the forum in Vienna, Austria and Europe we also have to take up ISA’s theme “Global Sociology and the Struggles for a Better World” and the agenda to build up a global sociology by reflecting on the global and the local from our local perspective.

You will see that Vienna is a profoundly international city, it is located in the center of Europe and strong influences from neighboring countries can be found in the culture, cuisine and language. The city is host to several international institutions, such as the House of the European Union and the Viennese UNO-City, supporting the forum as a site for international discourse. Nevertheless, looking at Vienna, Austria and Europe the theme from the World Congress in Yokohama, “facing an unequal world”, still hasn’t lost it significance. When inviting sociologists from all around the world to come together in Vienna, we have to acknowledge the current challenges faced by Austria and Europe to assume their responsibility for equality, freedom, justice, democracy and human rights. The war in Syria, catastrophes and poverty in large parts of the world – and the colonial and postcolonial capitalist history behind such developments – are again forcing people to escape and migrate.

One path taken in the last years and months – as a way of struggling for a better world – indeed has been to intensify protest and initiatives against violence and inequalities. But another path – enforcing boundaries and inequalities – is characterized by politics of exclusion conceptualizing Austria and Europe as a closed society. The forum will come to Vienna during a historic moment when issues such as asylum, forced migration and politics of integration are challenging the European societies and right wing movements are again growing and connecting to create a Europe closed to “non-Europeans”, in a chilling parallel to an all-too-recent part of European history.

Austria’s sociology is facing all of these issues and Austrian sociologists are strongly connected globally. This is reflected in the composition of our plenaries, in which global topics and their local manifestations will be discussed by speakers from many countries. The themes of the international plenaries are “Facing the Multiple Crises in Europe and Beyond”; “Overcoming Boundaries and Polarizations between Centers and Peripheries” and “Sociological Thought and the Struggle For a Better World”.

Last but not least the ISA and the local organizing committee have invited local as well as international publishers to present their books in the exhibition hall and to organize a publishers’ lounge. There books of special sociological and public interest will be presented by and discussed with the authors. In the exhibition hall it will also be possible to get informations about the Austrian institutes of sociology, research foundations and programs for those who want to apply for studies or fellowships.

Going global and going local – come together at the ISA Forum

What we can learn from ISA’s discussion over the last decade is that we have to be sensitive for the interrelations of the global and the local. And, indeed, many contemporary local struggles are caused by global tendencies like the marketization of labor and nature, the transnationalization of work and politics, and far-reaching changes in statehood within dictatorships and democracies. When we will meet in Vienna in July all these issues will be on the agenda and must be discussed in their global and local manifestations, following the example set by sociologists all around the world. The forum will be the next window of opportunity to come together and to continue this global dialogue. Therefore: We welcome you very much from all around the world to Vienna, Austria, Europe and to the Third ISA Forum of Sociology!

AulenbacherprofilBrigitte Aulenbacher, Johannes Kepler University Linz/Austria, member of ISA Research Committee on Economy and Society (02), Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy (RC 19), Sociology of Work (RC 30), and Women in Society (RC 32) and Vice-Chair of the Local Organizing Committee of the Third ISA Forum of Sociology, Vienna 2016.



Rudolf Richter, University of Vienna, Austria, member and former president of ISA Research Committee on Family Research (RC06); Chair of the Local Organizing Committee of the Third ISA Forum of Sociology,Vienna 2016


Seljeskog cv foto

Ida Seljeskog, University of Vienna, LOC Project Coordinator for the Third ISA Forum of Sociology, Vienna 2016

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