From ESA – Strategies & Activities
Spotlights on Members: Teresa Consoli, Italy
Teresa Consoli, ESA Executive Committee member 2017-2019
During the last ESA Conference in Athens in 2017, I proposed the University of Catania in Sicily and the Department of Social Political Sciences as a possible venue for the mid-term conference of RN26 Sociology of Social Policy and Social Welfare which was straightaway accepted. In February 2018, as member of the Board of the RN27 Regional Networks of Southern European Societies, I was also asked to send a call for proposal for the mid-term conference and I offered to hold it in parallel with RN26. With the two RN coordinators (Janne Paulsen Breimo for RN26 and Manuel Fernandez-Esquinas for RN27) we immediately agreed that the combination of the two mid-terms could be very productive and that we could also arrange some common sessions. As soon as the two midterms were confirmed I asked ESA President Sue Scott to join us and she enthusiastically accepted. I really have to thank our president for her support and competent presence before and during the days of the conference.
But the two RN mid-terms were not enough! Soon after the organisation of the mid-term conferences started, the President and Vice-President of the Italian Association of Sociology (AIS), Enrica Amaturo and Paola Borgna , asked me and some colleagues in Catania to host, in the same period of time, the mid-term conference of the National Association. It seemed tremendously arduous to connect everything but we decided to accept the challenge. From the beginning of April 2018 we worked hard in team with very cooperative colleagues (Carlo Pennisi, Simona Gozzo, Stefania Fragapane, Deborah De Felice, Maurizio Avola, Rossana Sampugnaro, Carlo Colloca, Francesco Mazzeo Rinaldi), with a strategic communications expert (Tiziana Longo) and with extraordinary students and volunteers (Ketty Gulino and Chiara Boscarino). We benefited from the financial and local support of the University of Catania, of the Department of Social and Political Science, of the University Center Laposs and thanks to RN27 we also delegated ISVI, a local Research Institute, for secretariat, registration and the entire administrative organisation.
So, in October (4th, 5th and 6th) 2018 the Department of Social and Political Science of the University of Catania hosted the mid-term conference of RN26 entitled “New worlds of welfare services: the intertwinement of organisations, professions, users and the state”, the mid-term of RN27 entitled “Social structures, Culture and Institutions in Southern European Societies” and the AIS mid-term entitled “Sociology and European Societies: Social structures, Culture and Institutions”.
The focus of the three mid-terms were to some extent different: RN26 concentrated on changes affecting welfare services and on common developments and differences among countries and welfare regimes; RN27 focused on challenges and dilemmas of Southern European Societies along different strands of sociological research and AIS concentrated on social structure, culture and institutions in European societies and the understanding of contemporary processes offered by Italian sociologists. The organisation of the three meetings, with 300 papers presented and up to 10 parallel sessions in two different buildings of the department, was very tiring but at the same time really exiting. The weather was dreadful, raining as never before in Sicily and we also had an earthquake! However, all the sessions were very interesting so we happily enjoyed our time together. Many students and colleagues from all over the world enjoyed the “sociological” atmosphere in those days in Sicily and we all really had a nice touch of ESA!
Sue Scott gave her warm welcome at the opening session of the RN26 mid-term with Anneli Anttonen (University of Tampere) as keynote speaker, and did the same for the opening of the RN27 sessions with Maurizio Ambrosini (University of Milan) as keynote speaker. With these two keynote speakers she also represented ESA in the plenary session entitled “Disentangling the North: new perspectives from the Southern European Societies” in which the Rector of the University and the Director of the Department gave their welcome. We also heard contributions by Enrica Amaturo (AIS President), Ingo Bode (past RN26 coordinator) and Manuel Fernandez-Esquinas (RN27 coordinator). Since the conference(s) we have shared the opportunity, with many participants and colleagues, of a new book series on Southern European Societies and we have also published a call for papers on Social policies and welfare systems in Southern Europe for the journal Autonomie Locali e Servizi Sociali.
All this started in Athens, two years ago! At the end of that conference in 2017 I was elected to the ESA Executive Committee and since then I have participated in passionate sociological meetings and debates and shared unforgettable times with colleagues from all over Europe. All this has been possible thanks to ESA and its real heart: RNs and all the members. Thanks!
 Read their report in The European Sociologist, no. 41.