Towards an ‘E-Forum for Sociology’

by Vineeta Sinha, Member of the Executive Committee

In 2005, I became involved with the ISA E-Bulletin, initiated by the-then Vice President for the ISA Publications Committee, Susan McDaniel, who invited me to apply for the position of editor. As someone who had some involvement with the editorial board of the Asian Journal of Social Science and as a sociologist based in the Department of Sociology at the National University of Singapore, this innovative concept of an ISA publication appealed to me. I thought this signalled an exciting moment and I wanted to be involved in this creative initiative in the world of social science.

This electronic document was first conceptualised as a space for showcasing the work, practices, ideas and voices of the diverse global community of sociologists, engaged in substantive, ethnographic, demographic, theoretical, historical and critical research, and operating out of different locations. To some extent, the E-Bulletin has achieved this function since it was launched in July 2005. Issues published thus far have reflected the diversity of the global sociological community and addressed the multi-layered and complex sociological problematic that engage us. From its inception, the document was further intended as a forum in which ISA members could not only present their work but also engage in scholarly debates and discussions. Thus far this purpose has yet to be actualized.

Five years and 16 issues later, it is timely for the document and the embedded concept to be reconfigured to reflect the vastly altered world in which we live today. This publication needs to be taken forward in terms of its content, mode of presentation and greater readability through wider access and dissemination. To begin, a name change is crucial to reflect a new identity and tone of the publication; the proposed alternative which will take effect from 2011, is the ‘ISA E-Forum for Sociology,’ with the intent of offering opportunities for exchange of views and facilitating greater interaction.

A second more fundamental change is for this publication to now not just be ‘electronic’ (i.e., a non-print medium) but to truly ‘go digital.’ For a non-print publication in this day and age, a website, a blog or ‘going live’ is critical. I am optimistic that this will also be helpful in jumpstarting a discussion forum and allow greater immediacy and spontaneity in rendering opinions and reflections on a range of crucial issues. A coterie of new technologies has redefined everyday lives in the second decade of the 21st century. The ways in which sociologists now ‘work,’ interact and think about sociological research have been restructured given the pervasive digital presence in our lives.

The idea of this publication ‘going digital’ is both an acknowledgement of the interface of technology and social science domains and an effort to theorise the consequences of these intersections. The technological features will allow colleagues to showcase sociological work that is visual and aural, in the form of films, visual images, visual essays and audio recordings of important conversations. I see immense value in this move in diversifying the content of the publication, in recognizing the varied and multifaceted forms in which sociological work is expressed, in disseminating this work more widely and in enhancing possibilities for more sustained interaction amongst the global community of sociologists. Conversations and negotiations are underway to realise these plans and I invite everyone to come and visit the website when the ‘ISA E-Forum for Sociology’ goes live.

Singapore, Volume 1, Issue 2

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