History Corner

by Jennifer Platt, Vice-President for Publications

The history of ISA journals throws light on wider trends in the development of the ISA and of sociology.  This account starts in 1973, with the first issues of the only journal we had then, Current Sociology, produced from outside the secretariat or UNESCO staff.  Each issue consisted of extensive bibliographical essays on chosen subfields. That changed in the 1990s to more traditional articles.  In 1984 International Sociology was founded, with a very clear internationalising mission within a conventional format.  In 1999 this added a book review section, which also strove to be international in perspective. It soon became a substantial separate volume, the IS Review of Books.  Around the same time Current Sociology also added to its range the CS Monograph volumes, concentrating on presenting work in fields drawn from Research Committee sessions.  Finally, in 2005 the very modern e-bulletin, with an original mixture of types of presentation, completed the set.  The recent levels of creativity and increased participation seem striking.

Who has done the work?  Gender patterns have not been quite as one might expect.  Over the years the proportion of female editors has sunk from100% in the 1970s (Margaret Archer, later our only woman president so far) to 67% in the 2000s, with almost entirely male cohorts in between.  Nationality also has interesting patterns.  Until 1990, 100% were British; then Canada, continental Europe, Israel and Singapore came on the scene, though the British were still strong.  Most striking historically, given the numerical bases, is the representation of the US by only one editor, Said Arjomand, and the absence of France.  The dominance of native speakers of English is evident, though that has now shifted somewhat.  The latest appointments (with new editors from Brazil, India and Australia – see our last issue) suggest growing levels of success in full internationalisation, though questions of language and of local resources must still affect which candidates come forward.

United Kingdom, Volume 1, Issue 2

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