Fourth ISA Forum of Sociology – Porto Alegre 2020

From Prof. Sharlene Swartz

President of ISA-RC34



Dear RC34 Board, Advisory Board and Members

The portal to propose sessions for the upcoming Forum of Sociology to be held in Porto Alegre 14-18 July 2020 is now open. The theme is “Challenges of the 21st Century: Democracy, Environment, Inequalities, Intersectionality”. I have asked Ilaria Pitti and Ana Miranda to join Howard and myself in coordinating the programme this time (but will also be drawing on Ani’s experience from the past two events in Toronto and Vienna) – and of course am open to ideas and innovation from our advisory board and all members.

Please would you organise yourself into likeminded groups (pairs, teams or alone!) and make submissions on the ISA website regarding potential sessions.  We have a total of 18 sessions allocated to us – and in the past we usually receive about 45 proposals for sessions which we then have to negotiate and combine – so any team submissions on similar themes/topics would be welcome.

Please remember that in Toronto we spoke about the following (I’ve extracted this from our most recent newsletter):

  1. Deepening our focus on and commitment to encouraging scholarship from the Global South. We must challenge assumed universals from Northern scholars, and make efforts to centre Southern theory, not just for the South, but for us all. It is now time to deepen our theoretical understandings of Southern youths’ lifeworld’s; showcase theories that remain uncirculated; map out research agendas and theoretical lacunae; and contrast what is available with what is needed. We need to move to real collaborations, partnerships and improving the quality of Southern contributions
  2. We need to find new ways of communicating with each other across our language divides. … we need to find ways to speak and accommodate multiple languages in our conferencing and writing spaces.
  3. There were three questions that received little attention in our many sessions and papers in Toronto…

o   What will be the impact of the fourth industrial revolution with its disruptive and exponential technologies on young people, their social worlds and the labour market in the coming decade or two?

o   What has the sociology of youth to say about the mental health challenges facing young people in an increasingly fast-paced, demanding and relentlessly unequal world?

o   What role do young people have to play in the multiple and complex environmental changes impacting our world and their futures? In short, what kinds of human beings are our changing societies producing, and what kind of humanity do we ultimately want.


I’d like to make a special request to our senior members to tackle some of these innovative and more difficult questions, to break new ground, and for our younger scholars and newer members to take the initiative and both submit proposals themselves and team up with others across boundaries – junior/senior; North/South; across different foci of youth sociology to ensure we have a really stimulating and stretching Forum next year in Brazil.

Your submission requires a title, the type of session you are proposing (oral, roundtable, poster), the people who will lead the session – session organisers (later you will add a chair, respondent etc) a session description (or rationale) of 250 words and an abstract also of 250 words.

The deadline for submissions of proposals  is 15 March 2019 – and as you may know the deadline is hard – the system simply shuts down after that and no further submissions are allowed. Our RC34 organising committee will talk during this period about invited sessions and other special events at the Forum and I’d welcome your feedback here too if you have ideas and contributions to make.