GD1.5, July 2011

Global Dialogue

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Here is the fifth issue of Global Dialogue that now appears in 10 languages, the latest addition being Persian. It includes articles on real utopias, accounts of global labor from South Africa, China and Mexico, water politics from Latin America, land politics from India, real democracy movement in Spain, counter-terrorism in the UK, sociology in Iran and Catalonia, a celebration of Robert Merton, and the technique of cow-dung sampling from Africa and much else. The translation work is done by dedicated teams of sociologists across the world. In this issue we introduce you to the exciting young Paulista team from Brazil. This issue concludes the first year (volume one) of Global Dialogue. Thanks to the amazing collaboration of so many we’ve come a long way in one year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do better. If you have any suggestions as to how we might improve the ISA newsletter send me, Michael Burawoy, an email at or add a comment below.


Editorial (1.5)

Sociology has always attempted to defatalize and denaturalize the present, demonstrating that the world could be otherwise. Thus, in this fifth issue of Global Dialogue we begin with a discussion of ‘real utopias,’ an idea advanced by Erik Wright which refers to existing institutions that pose some challenge to the logic of capitalism.  The articles […]

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Real Utopias for a Global Sociology

by Erik Olin Wright, University of Wisconsin, Madison Erik Wright is President-Elect of the American Sociological Association and the theme of his Presidency will be “envisioning real utopias,” which is also the title of his latest book. I assigned him the task of explaining in less than 1500 words what he means by real utopias […]

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Development as Justice: A Real Utopia from India

by Kalpana Kannabiran, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad, ISA Program Committee In India the dense discourse of development is as internally diverse, ironically, as the stunning biodiversity of our forests, hills and forested lands, though not anywhere near as energizing as these might be if conserved. Rather than follow a path through this discourse, I […]

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Confronting Water Injustice

by José Esteban Castro, Newcastle University (UK), ISA Program Committee In the 1980s the United Nations ‘Water Decade’ had set the goal of bringing 40 liters of clean drinking water daily to every human being on earth by 1990.  Needless to say, we missed the target, as in 1990 around 17% of the world population […]

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Global Labour – A South African Perspective

by Edward Webster, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa The English historian, E.H. Carr, was said to have remarked that what you see depends on which side of the mountain you stand. I stand in the southern tip of Africa, in Johannesburg, the city of gold.  Johannesburg was built in the first phase of globalization – […]

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Global Labor – A Chinese Perspective

by Pun Ngai, Hong Kong Polytechnic University The acceleration of the ‘extended reproduction’ of capitalism on a global scale has contributed to a rapid remaking of class relations in China and the rest of the world. Edward Webster (in this issue of Global Dialogue) talks about the possibility of a new form of transnational solidarity […]

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Global Labor – A Mexican Perspective

by Enrique de la Garza, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico City Edward Webster addresses a classic yet timely question: whether, alongside the globalization of capital, a globalization of labor as social movement is possible, and in this connection what is the significance of the constitution of other identities and solidarities? Although Webster focuses on the ‘South,’ […]

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Celebrating Robert K. Merton

by Nadia Asheulova, Center for the Sociology of Science and Science Studies, St Petersburg Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, RC23 Board member; and Jaime Jiménez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, ISA Executive Committee The 100th anniversary of Robert Merton’s birthday was celebrated in July 2010. He was one of the leading sociologists of the 20th […]

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Young Sociologists, Young perspectives

by Ana Vidu, University of Barcelona “Our role in Sociology is essential… The fact that 300 of us, young sociologists, are here today is key to the future of this discipline”. With these words, the President of the Junior Sociology Association – a Master’s degree student and junior researcher – opened the 4th Catalan Congress […]

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Middle East Sociology on the Move

by Syed Farid Alatas, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore The first of what might become a series of regional meetings on sociology in and of the Middle East was held in Tehran on May 28 and 29, 2011. Entitled the “Regional Conference on Social Thought and Sociology in the Contemporary Middle East”, the […]

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History Corner: National Associations and Research Committees

by Jennifer Platt, ISA Vice-President for Publications National Associations are collective members of the ISA, and Research Committees are also a vital part of its internal structure, but their functions have changed considerably over time. When the ISA was founded in 1949, under the auspices of UNESCO, the United Nations model of national representation was […]

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Sociology in the Spanish Revolution

by Teresa Sordé, Autonomous University of Barcelona and Tatiana Santos, University of Girona The Washington Post has dubbed our movement that began on May 15th as “The Spanish Revolution” – a movement that has spread way beyond Spain and reached as far as Japan. Citizens have appropriated public space to debate, argue, reflect on and, […]

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Letter from Egypt: On the Technique of Cow Dung Rolling

I just heard from one of my former students who is working in Juba, South Sudan, who wrote: “I am trying to explain the ‘snowball’ technique of sampling, which is a nightmare for Africans who have no clue what a snowball is. So I described the process of rolling a snowball and how it gets […]

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Introducing the Paulista Editorial Team

In each issue we will present one of the editorial teams that collaborate in the translation and production of Global Dialogue. It is a pleasure to introduce our team of Brazilian regional editors to the readers of Global Dialogue worldwide. Furthermore, we are extremely excited to work in a publication that has contributed greatly to […]

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Attacking Academic Freedom: The Case of The Nottingham Two and a Whistleblower

by Alf Gunvald Nilsen, University of Bergen, Norway At the University of Nottingham (UoN), recent events suggest that academic freedom – the freedom to carry out research and to present the result of that research in the public domain without fear of disciplinary action, dismissal, or infringements upon our civil liberties – may very well […]

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