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TetraStructure of International Sociological Association

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13. TetraStructure of the International Sociological Association

This project, unlike the others, is not global, but it concerns an influential international organization, which influences, or can influence, both the ways the rising challenges get interpreted and international responses to the challenges.

ISA's structure has been historically shaped over 50 years: this period embraces the end of industrial civilization and transition to an informational o­ne. Today ISA has 53 Research Committees, 2 Working Groups and 4 Thematic Groups. This structure reflects not o­nly realities of the social world, but the level of sociological knowledge too. Obviously, the reflections of both are not up to the new civilization's demands and, I believe, do not adequately respond to the rising global challenges. These challenges call for a re-structuring of the ISA. The new structure should rest o­n an inter-disciplinary synthesis, rather than o­n traditional branch division. The ISA branch structure can o­nly record the rising global challenges, but it is not able to generate adequate responses to them and to produce big sociocultural projects. Social construction of the responses and the projects is impossible without appropriate interdisciplinary synthesis, because all global challenges are multi-dimensional and multi-aspected; and ISA branches cannot properly respond to them.

To get to the level of global challenges and adequate responses, ISA, we believe, should replace its branch structure with a sphere (tetrar), or integral o­ne. The purpose of re-structuring the ISA is to overcome the current compartmentalization and disconnection between the branches of sociological researches and to give permanent priority to inter-disciplinary researches. TetraSociology, with its SST coordinates as a global model of the social world, is o­ne of the sources to draw o­n to re-structure the ISA. We suggest that o­n the basis of these coordinates, 59 structural (branch) ISA divisions be re-organized into 5 Research Unions (or Departments). Four among the Unions correspond with four SST coordinates/dimensions: resources/statics, processes/dynamics, structures/structuratics, states/genetics. These Research Unions can be called accordingly:

  1. Social statics and resources,
  2. Social dynamics and processes,
  3. Social structuratics and structures,
  4. Social genetics and states.
    The fifth Research Union, which elaborates general theoretical models and methodological foundations for the other four Unions and creates various SST paradigms, can be called Global, or Systems Union.

Three points should be stressed here. 1. Integral (tetrar) structure of the ISA does not abolish the branch structure, but rather complements it and sets it in order. 2. Importantly, because the ISA divisions have many aspects, the division proposed further is only tentative and exploratory. 3. The integral structuration represents an inter-disciplinary synthesis, consolidation and classification of the ISA branch divisions o­n the basis of the criteria formulated above and of SST dimensions.

We believe that the structuration of the ISA within the system of TetraSociology's SST coordinates is a natural result of the total course of sociology's history. We propose the following tentative scheme for grouping the ISA divisions into five Research Unions (RU).

  1. Social statics and resources RU unites the ISA divisions focusing o­n various social resources: human, informational, organizational, things (material-technical). To them it is possible to relate the following RCs: 03, 04, 05, 11, 13, 15, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32, 34, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 47, 49, 50, 52, 53, as well as Thematic Groups 01, 03, 04. This amounts to 32 ISA divisions.
  2. Social dynamics and processes RU unites the ISA divisions focusing o­n various social reproduction processes: production, distribution, exchange, consumption. To them it is possible to relate the following RCs: 09, 14, 31, 36, 45, 46, 48, as well as Working group 05. This amounts to 8 ISA divisions.
  3. Social structuratics and structures RU unites the ISA divisions focusing o­n various society's structures, the largest among which are four spheres: social, informational, organizational, technical (economic). To them it is possible to relate the following RCs: 01, 02, 06, 10, 12, 17, 18, 21, 29, as well as Thematic Group 06. This amounts to 10 ISA divisions.
  4. Social genetics and states RC unites the ISA divisions focusing o­n various states of society development: prosperity, deceleration, decline, ruin. To them it is possible to relate the following RCs: 07, 08, 39. 3 ISA divisions overall.
  5. Systemic (global) RC unites those ISA divisions that focus, mainly, o­n elaboration of general theoretical paradigms and sociological methodologies in general. To them it is possible to relate the following RCs: 16, 20, 33, 35, 51, as well as Working Group 06. 6 ISA divisions overall.

The current ISA divisions are distributed between the RUs in the following proportion: 54 : 14 : 17 : 5 : 10. It means that more than half of the ISA (54%) is focused o­n social world's statics, and its tiniest factions, o­n social world's developmental states (5%) and o­n theoretical paradigms (10%). Based o­n this, we will formulate a hypothesis: what accounts for the weakness and inadequacy of ISA responses to the rising challenges is insufficient attention to social world's states/genetics and its theoretical paradigms, even giving the due credit to the high quality of the research into social statics.

Certainly, no clear-cut boundaries between the RUs can ever exist. The differences between the Unions are relative. The RUs' research interests are inter-penetrative and inter-inclusive; still, each RU's dominant subjects are easily identifiable. These subjects serve as the criterion for the classification. The author is far from claiming that this classification is error-free and the o­nly possible o­ne.

The ISA RUs can be, in turn, divided inside themselves into four groups according to the four classes of variable constants. But this is o­ne of debatable issues that gets raised with a further discussion in mind within this TetraSociological sociocultural project.

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