Second ISA Forum of Sociology

Second ISA Forum of Sociology, Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 1-4, 2012

In August 2012 the RC 25 participated in the Second ISA Forum of Sociology in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Main theme: The language of justice

Programme Coordinators

Celine-Marie PASCALE, American University, United States,

Amado ALARCON, Rovira & Virgili University, Spain,

Number of allocated sessions including Business meeting: 14.


  • On-line abstract submission from August 25 to December 15, 2011.
  • All Forum participants (presenters, chairs, discussants, etc.) need to pay the early registration fee by April 10, 2012, in order to be included in the programme. If not registered, their names will not appear in the Programme or Abstracts Book.
  • On-line registration will open August 25, 2011.

Only abstracts submitted through the ISA website platform will be considered. Guidelines for the submission process can be found at:

For more information, see also the website of ISA.


The following list of proposed sessions can also be downloaded as PDF.

Session A
Language and discourse in online social media

Joint session of RC14 Sociology of Communication, Knowledge and Culture and RC25 Language and Society [host committee]

Corinne KIRCHNER, Columbia University, United States,, RC25
Diana PAPADEMAS, Old Westbury, United States,

Online social media allow horizontal mediated interaction in real time across the world. The technologically-induced capacities and constraints of such interactions are drawing scholarly attention under the concept,”mediatised” communication (July 2011, Language and Communication). This session explores mediatised language and discourse in the digitised milieu, considered at macro-, meso- or microlevels of analysis. Governments and corporations have new means to control informational content, discourse practices and language use, while their constituencies develop new means of resistance and advocacy. These innovations proceed mainly through language, creating as by-product enormous databases (“corpora”) for sociological and linguistic analyses. Visual imagery and photographic presence increasingly factor into online interactions, including creation (often collaboratively, among strangers) of aesthetic, intellectual or politically-directed cultural products. The suggested topics should stimulate, not limit, the range of submissions:
1) The social media environment itself merits study, featuring diversity and inequalities: Do online inequalities match social divisions in geographically-circumscribed communities? Traditional bases of unequal access to information technologies might apply — e.g., financial, disability-related, geographic, age-cohort, linguistic — while specific parameters change.
2) Groups and individuals enter communicative contact as never before, requiring new norms of privacy, disclosure, politeness, etc., probably triggered by communicative failures with irreversible serious consequences.
3) Parallel social media networks reflect linguistic boundaries that are, however, becoming permeable as machine translation improves. Conversely, removing geographic barriers allows scattered small language communities to preserve threatened languages.
4) For-profit and non-profit groups develop platforms for social media in niche markets. These platforms carry linguistic and discourse constrictions, e.g., short “tweets;” users communicate distinctively, developing “registers” and “jargons.”
5) The social organization of work reflects emerging expertise in the conditions and content of language use online, widely affecting occupational discourse styles and status-rankings — journalists to political organizers to humanists, etc.
6) New conditions of language use infringe on traditional linguistic authority (arbiters of “correctness”), accelerating linguistic change.
7) The conditions of online conversations (anonymity; disembodied conversation partners ; misperceptions of alter’s characteristics) affect discourse styles, in ways needing documentation.


Session B
Spanish-English contact/ Lengua española e inglesa en contacto

Organiser and Chair
Laura GARCIA LANDA, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México,

The aim of this session is to contribute to the debate on language contact between Spanish and English in the context of the tensions between globalization and re-nationalization (debordering / rebordering). Spanish and English are the two major languages by number of speakers of the Western world. Some of the most important situations of contact between English and Spanish are the border between Mexico and the United States and U.S. Hispanic concentrations. Furthermore, in the context of globalization we are witnessing the proliferation of virtual and physical spaces (public and private) in which there is contact between the Spanish and English language and their speakers, from call centers to language training and scientific meetings, involving different levels of the population, both in anglophones and Spanish-speaking countries. Against the “superstition of the numbers” on the dimension of language communities as an indicator of health status, the position of its speakers in the social, political and economic are key to understanding the representations, attitudes and behaviors of Spanish and English speakers.

Esta sesión tiene por propósito contribuir al debate sobre el contacto lingüístico entre la lengua española y la lengua inglesa en el contexto de las tensiones entre globalización y renacionalización (debordering/rebordering). Español e inglés son las dos mayores lenguas por número de hablantes del mundo occidental. Algunas de las situaciones más importantes de contacto entre estas dos lenguas son la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México y las concentraciones hispanas en Estados Unidos. Además, en el contexto de globalización asistimos a la proliferación de espacios físicos o virtuales en los que se produce el contacto entre estas dos lenguas y sus hablantes, desde centros de atención de llamadas a clases de formación y encuentros científicos, implicando a diferentes estratos de la población en países anglohablantes y castellanohablantes. Frente a la “superstición de los números” relativos a la dimensión de cada comunidad lingüística como indicador de su estado de salud, la posición de sus hablantes en los ámbitos social, político y económico son clave para entender las representaciones, actitudes y comportamientos de los hablantes de español y/o inglés.


Session C
The language of collective memory

Organiser and Chair
Roberta VILLALON, St. Johns University, United States,

Abstract: Democratization processes have been usually accompanied by concerted efforts to build a collective memory (or collective memories) of the non-democratic times that passed with the ultimate aim of achieving justice. Despite their intrinsic value, the processes of collective memory-making are complex, contentious, contradictory and long-lasting. The languages used in these efforts reflect the underlying politics of collective memory-making and the intricacies of democratization and justice struggles.

In this panel, we call for researchers who have analyzed the language of diverse expressions of such processes of collective memory-making across the world. How does language shape, mirror and/or challenge the knowledge that societies have of their non-democratic times? How do these languages of justice and processes of collective-memory making influence the development of democratic institutions and cultures? Do the languages of justice change together with the changing socio-cultural context? If so, how? How are the languages of justice related to the politics influencing the processes of collective memory-making and democratization? What are the implications of the use of various languages in collective memory-making in the achievement of justice? How do competing and complementing languages of justice affect the process of collective memory-making? These are some of the quandaries we would like to discuss in this panel with the purpose of furthering the links between sociology and public efforts of social justice and democratization.


Session D
Public media and language

Organiser and Chair
Lynn CIOCETTO MASSEY, New Zealand Unversity,

In the last three decades the globalisation of the economy and business has been facilitated by technological changes in the public media addressed to large audiences such as television, press and radio. The main purposes of public media have remained the same– marketing and advertising, entertainment, education and propaganda – but the conditions have changed dramatically. Evolving technological changes in public media and their interrelation with new forms of mediated communication, especially the internet, have significant cultural impact. Changes in the media are also changing the way communication takes place, how it takes place as well as the content of communication.

The dynamic interaction between written, spoken and visual languages is evolving. These changes have social, cultural and environmental consequences (including but not confined to climate change and social justice for ‘the bottom billion). Traditional forms of vertical and unidirectional public communication interact with new technological options and different societal contexts. In this panel we welcome papers exploring aspects of these themes, with the focus on the languages, discourses and dimensions of the dynamic interrelationship between written, spoken and visual languages in the public media.


Session E
Lenguas indígenas/ Indigenous languages

Organiser and Chair
Amado ALARCON, Rovira & Virgili University, Spain,

Indigenous languages are characterized by a variety of situations depending on the number of speakers, standardization of the corpus or level of political institutionalization. As a point in common, these languages are in contact with a small number of powerful languages originating from colonialism and imperialism that have occupied the superordinate position in the local language systems. At present, both the social emergence and spread of new technologies of communication and information and the processes of political change in the context of globalization, with new demands for recognition of local diversity, are two of the most relevant processes before facing indigenous languages. In addition, indigenous languages face these new processes without final or stable outcomes for the relation between indigenous and state languages. Based on this factors, this session will revisit the question of language contact with other languages and the new conditions of indigenous languages shift in the environment emanating from globalization and network society.

Las lenguas indígenas se caracterizan por una gran variedad de situaciones según número de hablantes, estandarización del corpus o institucionalización. Como punto en común se encuentran generalmente en contacto con un reducido número de lenguas con origen en el colonialismo y el imperialismo. Lenguas que han ocupado la posición superordinada en los sistemas lingüísticos locales. En la actualidad, la aparición y extensión social de las nuevas tecnologías de la comunicación y de la información por una parte y los procesos de cambio político en el contexto de la globalización, con nuevas demandas de reconocimiento de la diversidad local, son dos de los procesos más relevantes ante los que los que se sitúan las lenguas indígenas. Además, las lenguas indígenas afrontan estos nuevos procesos sin que la relación entre lenguas indígenas y lenguas estatales esté resuelta. A partir de estos elementos, esta sesión se plantea exponer y debatir sobre las nuevas condiciones del desplazamiento de las lenguas indígenas en el contexto que emana de la globalización y de la sociedad red.


Session F
Empowerment, language and the body

Joint session of RC25 Language and Society [host committee] and RC54 The Body in the Social Sciences

Organisers and Chairs
Celine-Marie PASCALE, American University, United States,
Bianca Maria PIRANI, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

This panel will explore discourses on the body and empowerment:
1. How discourses of construct, reproduce and contest particular conceptions of empowerment relative to the body.
2. How discourses of embodiment construct, reproduce and contest particular notions of power.

We are particularly interested in papers that explore identity formation and empowerment through analyses of language and representation and which address possibilities for social change. Analyses may include any variety of cultural, historical and political spheres. Themes for paper submissions may include but are not limited to:

  • Recent theoretical developments, strategies, and trends in discursive analyses of the body and embodiment;
  • Intersections of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race and class in discourses of embodiment;
  • Language, identity formation and the body; and
  • Role of feminist sociology in shaping the discourses on the body


Session G
Discourses of exclusion and resistance

Organiser and Chair
Viviane de MELO RESENDE, University of Brasilia, Brazil,

The critical studies of discourse are considered `critical` since its approach is relational-dialectical, i.e., is driven to understand how the discursive element works in social practice, specifically regarding its effects on hegemonic struggles (Chouliaraki &Fairclough, 1999). A theory of social functioning of language must consider theories of the functioning of society – and a key issue when focusing on social change, is the question of the relationship between structure and action, or between society and individual (Ramalho & Resende, 2011).

Society provides conditions for human action, but only exists in human actions, which always use some form of previous social order (Bhaskar, 1998). This temporal asymmetry between structure and action implies that their relationship is not of equivalents,which leads to an intermediate organizational entity: the position-practice system. This approach allows focusing, in discursive terms, not the language itself, nor the texts alone, but the types of relationship established between social structure and discursive action in specific contexts, linked to the positions occupied in the practices performed.

This panel will explore the functioning of language regarding social problems that include social inequality, abuse of power or resistance from organized social groups. Given specific contexts and their historical contingencies, how discourse is used to maintaining domination practices related to social exclusion? On the other hand, how it functions as a focus of resistance, especially in situations of social mobilization?

Themes for paper submissions may include but are not limited to:

  • Social functioning of language and research on exclusion/ resistance
  • Methods for textual analysis: the texturing of exclusion and resistance
  • Exclusion and resistance in the media
  • Ethnography: contexts of exclusion and resistance
  • Ethics in qualitative research

Analyses may include any variety of cultural, historical and political spheres, like education, work, public policies, social movements etc.

Discursos de la exclusión y la resistencia
Los estudios críticos del discurso son considerados “críticos” ya que su enfoque es relacional-dialéctico, es decir, pretende comprender cómo el elemento discursivo funciona en la práctica social, específicamente en relación con sus efectos sobre las luchas hegemónicas (Chouliaraki y Fairclough, 1999). Una teoría de la función social del lenguaje debe tener en cuenta las teorías del funcionamiento de la sociedad – y un tema clave cuando se centra en el cambio social, es la cuestión de la relación entre estructura y acción, o entre la sociedad y el individuo (Ramalho y Resende, 2011). La sociedad provee las condiciones para la acción humana, pero sólo existe a través de las acciones humanas, que siempre utilizan algún tipo de orden social anterior (Bhaskar, 1998). Esta asimetría temporal entre la estructura y la acción implica que su relación no es de equivalentes, lo que conduce a una entidad intermedia de la organización: el sistema de posición-práctica.

Este enfoque permite estudiar, en términos discursivos, no sólo el lenguaje en sí mismo, ni los textos, sino el tipo de relación que se establece entre estructura social y acción discursiva en contextos específicos, vinculados a las posiciones ocupadas en prácticas particulares. Este panel explorará el funcionamiento del lenguaje en relación con los problemas sociales que incluyen la desigualdad social y el abuso de poder, así como la resistencia por parte de los grupos sociales organizados. Teniendo en cuenta los contextos específicos y sus contingencias históricas, ¿cómo se utiliza el discurso para el mantenimiento de las prácticas de dominación con la exclusión social? Por otro lado, ¿De qué manera funciona como un foco de resistencia, especialmente en situaciones de movilización social?

Dentro de los temas posibles, se sugieren los siguientes:

  • El funcionamiento social del lenguaje y la investigación sobre la exclusión / resistencia
  • Métodos de análisis textual: la texturización de la exclusión y la resistencia
  • La exclusión y la resistencia en los medios de comunicación
  • Etnografía: contextos de exclusión y de resistencia
  • La ética en la investigación cualitativa

Los análisis pueden incluir cualquier variedad de ámbitos culturales, históricos y políticos, como la educación, el trabajo, las políticas públicas, movimientos sociales, etc.

Les discours d`exclusion et de la résistance
Les études critiques du discours sont considérés “critiques” car son approche est relationnelle-dialectique, c`est à dire, est entraîné à comprendre comment fonctionne l`élément discursif dans la pratique sociale, en particulier concernant ses effets sur les luttes hégémoniques (Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999). Une théorie du fonctionnement social du langage doit prendre en compte les théories du fonctionnement de la société – et une question clé lors de la focalisation du changement social est la question de la relation entre structure et action, ou entre la société et l’individu (Ramalho & Resende, 2011).

La société offre des conditions de l`action humaine, mais n`existe que dans les actions humaines, qui utilisent toujours une certaine forme d`ordre social précédent (Bhaskar, 1998). Cette asymétrie temporelle entre la structure et l`action implique que leur relation n`est pas d`équivalents, ce qui conduit à une entité intermédiaire: le système position-pratique. Cette approche permet de se concentrer, en termes discursifs, pas à la langue elle-même, ni aux textes seuls, mais aux types de relations établies entre la structure sociale et l`action discursive dans des contextes spécifiques, liés à des positions occupées dans des pratiques particulières.

Ce panel explorera le fonctionnement du langage concernant des problèmes sociaux lies à l`inégalité sociale, l’abus de pouvoir ou la résistance de groupes sociaux organisés. Compte tenu des contextes spécifiques et de leurs contingences historiques, comment le discours est utilisé pour maintenir des pratiques de domination liés à l`exclusion sociale? D`autre part, comment il fonctionne comme un foyer de résistance, en particulier dans des situations de mobilisation sociale?

Thèmes pour les soumissions d’articles peuvent inclure, mais ne sont pas limités à:

  • Le fonctionnement social du langage et la recherche sur l`exclusion/ résistance
  • Méthodes d`analyse textuelle: la texturage de l’exclusion et de la résistance
  • L`exclusion et la résistance dans les médias
  • L`ethnographie: contextes d`exclusion et de résistance
  • L`éthique dans la recherche qualitative.

Analyses peuvent inclure n`importe quelle variété de sphères culturelles, historiques et politiques, comme l`éducation, le travail, les politiques publiques, les mouvements sociaux etc.


Session H
The role of language in shaping gender justice and sexual rights movements

Joint session of RC25 Language and Society [host committee] and RC32 Women in Society

Melanie HEATH, McMaster University, Canada,

What is the importance of language in shaping gender justice and sexual rights movements in the 21st century? How do discourses concerning race, class, age and other minority statuses affect the formation of coalitions in such movements? What role does language and culture play in creating and breaking down obstacles to the goals of attaining gender justice and sexual rights? Finally, what is the place of identity in movements relating to sexuality, gender, the family, and relations of intimacy? Papers investigating gender justice and sexual rights movements may incorporate a number of methodologies, such as frame analysis, conversation analysis, feminist analysis or Critical Discourse Analysis. Topics may include but are not limited: movements relating to gender equality, same-sex partnership and parenthood, lesbian, gay and bisexual rights, human trafficking, transgender rights, sex work, sex tourism, adolescent sexuality and child abuse.


Session I
Analyzing racist discourses

Organiser and Chair
Sergey RYAZANTSEV, Institute of Socio-Political Researches of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia,

Despite wreck of systems and the states, in which racism has recently been a state policy, problems connected with racism in every day life—as well as racism in public and institutional levels— remain throughout the world. Participants in this session are invited to investigate and discuss modern forms of racism and the role of a racist discourse in political and public life in modern society. It is obvious that the character of racist discourse has changed in recent years and new forms have appeared.

In particular, we seek papers that analyze racist statements of politicians, racist publications in a press, and the influence of racist discourses on public life, moods in a society, immigration/emmigration policy. In addition, this session welcomes papers on ultra-right organizations and youth involvement in them as well as racism and the internet, which is an increasingly important social resource with far-reaching consequences.

Finally, it seems essentials to work also include analyses of discursive counteractions of racism within the limits of the session at national and international levels. It is necessary to analyze successful experience of the counteraction of the above mentioned racist displaces in different countries, local communities and mass media as well. All forms of language analyses are welcome, including for example, poststructural discourse analysis, conversation analysis, ethnomethodology, critical discourse analysis and frame analysis.


Session J
Author meets critics

Session by invitation only

Organiser and Chair
Federico Farini, University of Modena and Reggio, Italy,


Session K
Nationalism and identity

Organiser and Chair
Nadya GEORGIEVA, Trakia University, Bulgaria,

Nationalist discourses construct different identities, such as nation, ethnicity and race, as objective facts that “interpellate” individuals into subject positions by resorting to particular primordialities of origins, kinship, shared language, religion, customs and tradition, as stable points of identification. They hold a particular power and mobilizing capacity not only in political rhetoric, media and public discourses, but in everyday practices in which actors engage in identity-building processes. The language of nationalism functions in terms of binary oppositions of inclusion and exclusion, but is also found to be inherently ambivalent and antagonistic, allowing for the production of certain “thresholds of meaning that can be crossed, erased or transgressed in the process of cultural production” (Bhabha 1990).

In what ways does the language of nationalism enforce commonality and create differences, and who does it exclude from the imagined community of the nation in different discursive practices?

The panel session intends to discuss issues related to the power-contested terrain of the nation, erecting boundaries and creating inequalities in terms of national belonging, race, ethnicity, gender and social class. More particularly, it will focus on the conditions and strategies utilized in creating and sustaining discourses of hatred, exclusion, marginalization and stigmatization, but also look for those particular “recesses” or “fissures,” allowing for greater agency on the part of the subaltern, as well as for “hybrid” subject positions, capable of generating different meanings and incorporating novel actors (Bhabha 1990). Therefore, our further attention will be directed to the study of the language of social justice, equality and freedom, to the discursive conditions for its enunciation as well as to the particular channels for access to representation, its proliferation, capacity for mobilization and creating bonds of solidarity serving as vehicles for social change.

Papers are invited on topics of nationalism, language, identity and inequality, which may involve some the following issues:

  • Nationalist discourses, migration processes, minority problems and social exclusion;
  • Hate speech and the language of social justice in political, media and public discourses;
  • The role of intellectuals and their strategic positions in deconstructing nationalistic practices;
  • Post-nationalism, transnationalism or identity and social justice


Session L
Whiteness and the discursive mobilization of emotion

Organiser and Chair
Melissa STEYN, South Africa,

How does the way white people talk about feelings, emotions, and affective states relate to the terrains of whiteness? In the Cultural Politics of Emotion (2004) Sarah Ahmed has written powerfully about how feelings attached to objects produce the contours of communities, and the effects of boundaries. Following this line of argument, this panel will further explore how discourse conditions, shapes and activates feelings, both about self and others in ways that produce, protect or even undermine whiteness. How do discourses mobilized in white spaces shape feelings that differentiate between those we are to care about, and those we should hate, or be indifferent to? How does the naming of emotions teach us orientations towards particular lives, bodies, experiences? How does language, specifically through its power to shape our feelings, contribute to creating privilege and injustice? Where and how does the dichotomy of language and affect start to become unstable as we explore how language “feels” and feelings “talk” in racializing discourse? What are the implications for educational efforts in Critical Whiteness Studies?

This panel seeks papers that will address issues such as the above in explicating, exploring and complicating our understanding of the nexus of relationships between discourse/language, feelings/affect/emotions, and white privilege.


Session M
Language and migrations/ Lengua y migraciones

Roland TERBORG, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico,
Rodolfo GUTIERREZ, Universidad de Oviedo, Spain,

This session discusses the relationship between language, migration and social inequality. In the process of globalization language becomes a key element at the operational level due to the centrality of information and communication. Furthermore, the discourses about cultural and linguistic diversity as a source of wealth creation are becoming increasingly relevant in guiding social practices. In parallel, the conceptualization of language as human capital has been strongly developed and applied in social sciences. The assessment of linguistic capital has been measured by the income expected or obtained in the labor markets of host societies. However, immigrants and their native languages occupy a paradoxical situation in receiving societies. Their languages and varieties can operate more like an ethnic attribute through which discrimination is exercised than as a human capital remunerated at the market. From a sociological perspective, conceptual approaches to language as social or cultural capital and approaches to the relationship between immigration and language from political sociology contribute to a better understanding of this paradox.

Esta sesión debate las relaciones entre lengua, migraciones y desigualdad social. La lengua se convierte en un elemento clave a nivel operativo en el proceso de globalización debido a la centralidad de la información y de la comunicación. Además, los discursos de la diversidad lingüística y cultural como fuente de creación de riqueza adquieren una creciente relevancia en la orientación de los discursos y prácticas sociales. En paralelo, se ha desarrollado y ha ganado un importante peso en las ciencias sociales la conceptualización de la lengua como capital humano. El capital lingüístico ha sido valorado especialmente a través de las rentas esperadas u obtenidas en los mercados de trabajo de las sociedades de destino.

Sin embargo, en la organización lingüística de la sociedad los inmigrantes y sus lenguas de origen ocupan una situación paradójica. Sus lenguas y variedades pueden operar a efectos prácticos mas como un atributo étnico a través del que se ejerza la discriminación que cómo un capital humano retribuible por el mercado. Desde la perspectiva sociológica, aproximaciones conceptuales a la lengua como capital social o cultural y aproximaciones a la relación entre inmigración y lengua desde la sociología política contribuyen a una mejor comprensión de esta paradoja.


Session N
RC25 Business Meeting