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ISA WG01 Sociology on Local-Global Relations

Established in 1996. Recognized as Working Group in July 2006.


The subject matter of the WG01 is the emergence and shifts of the new 'localisms', neighborhoods, local communities, ethnic and language identities, affinity groups, and economic and political associations, and their aggregation into networks and their formation of systems that create regions and impact the incipient world system. As part of this, the role of the individual will be examined, in particular the processes of individualization within a global framework.

The theoretical contexts include spatial and temporal relations, the development of increased complexity or integrated diversity that transcends traditional boundaries, the logics of regionalism, including those of political integration as well as classical concepts from human and social ecology.

The new methodological base of the WG01 would be that of fuzzy sets, most of which has been advanced in the engineering sciences and yet has limited applications in the social and behavioral sciences other than psychology. This methodology would depart from standard cross-level analyses, so much a part of ecological research with fixed sets, to that of fuzzy and sets and systems in which the member components have multiple and shifting memberships. Some of this has now been developed in computer programs, at a stage similar to that of cross-level analysis about 15 years ago, that can be adopted to sociological data.

The data to be addresses are at several levels, community, region, country, transnational regions, and the world as a whole, at two or more points in time. This would be the ideal. Much less structured data are expected to be the norm. Since the 1950s data on sub national units and groups within countries have been accumulating, and, of course, these data are being stretched into several points of time. Indeed, the combination of individual survey data within structures of groups, countries, and associations beyond national boundaries, envisioned by Stein Rokkan more than three decades ago, have now become a reality for many domains of human activity and organization.

The group organized Ad Hoc sessions at the ISA XIII World Congress of Sociology in Bielefeld, 1994, and since then has been involved in exchange of research among the participants on the Democracy and Local Governance research program which now has gathered data on local political leaders in 24 countries.

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