From ESA – Strategies & Activities
President’s Message: Sociology moving ahead
Marta Soler-Gallart, ESA President 2019-2021
This new issue of The European Sociologist had to be released with some delay, due to technical issues in the Office and with our web provider. Notwithstanding, ESA members’ contributions to this special issue are still relevant and timely, amid changing scenarios of the Covid-19 pandemic, in which all citizens are expectant of how the pandemic will evolve, the effectiveness of the vaccines, with lots of uncertainties and hopes mixed all together. We do not know what will happen in the next months, we are sociologists and not futurologists; however, we do know that the ESA and the sociologists across Europe are ready for any possible contingency, and that we are already doing the best possible from sociology, for society.
Since the publication of last issue (June 2020), the ESA has accomplished many things along these lines. Maybe the most remarkable one is how the Research Networks have responded to the challenge of this pandemic and moved from postponing their mid-term conferences to transforming them into highly successful online events. Back in May 2020, because RN activities are a priority for us, the ESA decided to purchase a Zoom business plan with several virtual rooms. In this way, many RNs have already organized their mid-term conferences with ESA’s or other platforms with wonderful results – both in attendance and quality of debates.
We have continued with the organization of the ESA2021Bcn Conference, inviting Keynote speakers, launching the call for semi-plenaries and research streams, launching the Call for papers, and working on all the necessary dimensions that would allow for any possible conference scenario (from different hybrid modalities to fully online). All the RNs have been really involved in proposing sessions, which really touch on a diversity of key issues crucial for Europe now, and consequently, there is already a rich and exciting programme moving ahead. The Local Organizing Committee did an amazing job negotiating with a great number of institutions which granted spaces for free in Barcelona, while at the same time making proposals to allow for multiple ways of participating in the conference through both academic and social events. Furthermore, and for the first time in ESA history, we organized a meeting of the RN Council to share prospects, expectations, and proposals for the conference. It was very well attended, by over 56 members actively providing feedback, and extremely helpful for the Executive Committee’s decisions. Back in January it was decided that the Conference would be hybrid; however, at the beginning of May, the Executive reconsidered its decision, after a re-evaluating the current situation of the pandemic across Europe. We then informed all members that the Conference will be held online, and asked the LOC to shift all their efforts towards the online venue. With all, by the Early Bird registration deadline, 2873 delegates had already registered to the conference, which is a record in ESA conferences. We are excited and look forward to meeting all of you in the diverse virtual conference plenaries, paper sessions, social events, self-organized meetings, publishers’ booths, and the like that we will be able to experience in this 15th ESA Conference. A second meeting with RNs will be organized soon in preparation of the Online Conference, which will contribute to meeting delegates’ needs. Maybe the widespread use of online platforms will allow us, also in the future, to meet more often, thus increasing the democratic processes we already have in ESA.
The Research Networks, the National Associations, the Local Organizing Committee, and the members of the Executive Committee, in mutual collaboration, and with the support of the ESA Office, they are doing multiple and creative efforts in these adverse circumstances. Alongside, all these efforts and productive energy make us predict a greatly diverse, intellectually challenging, and enjoyable ESA Conference, that for sure will be different from previous ones, and unique in its kind.
Moving to other sides of the association’s life, the Finance Committee has worked a great deal for improving the transparency of ESA accounts, while planning different strategies for possible scenarios that will guarantee the sustainability of ESA administration and activities. The Communications Committee has developed a series of innovations to expand the diversity of member’s contributions in our magazine The European Sociologist, reaching out to colleagues at different career stages and from different latitudes within Europe. In fact, all the members of the Executive Committee are dedicating efforts and energies to make the organization of ESA more open, participative, democratic, and transparent.
From External Relations we have continued our support and participation within the European Alliance of Social Sciences and Humanities. Amid the debate on the budget for the next Framework Programme Horizon Europe, we supported EASSH’s position paper for a key investment in Research, Innovation and Education, as well as greater equity across clusters. On December 10th 2020, the European Parliament approved a budget for Horizon Europe with historical results for social sciences and humanities: the amount for Cluster 2 (Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society) increases from €1 billion to €1,9 billion for the period 2021-2027, and the ERC increases its funding for SSH to 24% of the total amount. Achieving this important commitment on the part of the EC demonstrates, on the one hand, how important the role of associations is, especially when we collaborate among ourselves, and on the other hand, the potential social impact that SSH research have for moving our societies ahead.
The Publications Committee has strengthened contact and collaboration with the Editors of our two journals European Societies and European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology, in order to establish an annual publication strategy and to support their editorial needs. The Editors have been doing an amazing job in improving quality, performance, and readership. As a consequence, the European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology has moved to Q1 Scopus in 2019; the European Societies has increased total cites every year and maintained its excellent position in the JCR Web of Science. Congratulations to all! Among their latest contributions, European Societies launched a call for a “fast-track special issue” on the consequences of the coronavirus crisis on the lives of people in Europe and around the world. The response has been so successful and the editorial team so dedicated, that in few months 58 articles have been published online first, and two of them are already among the most read articles ever in the Journal. With all these wonderful outcomes, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Michalis Lianos for his work as Editor in Chief of European Societies. After over five years of dedicated involvement, he has helped to make the journal quality grow and become a true referent for sociological publishing in Europe.
I would also like to thank the work of Dagmar Danko as Editor of the ESA magazine The European Sociologist, together with David Inglis, as Chair of the Editorial Board and co-editor of this special issue on “Pandemic (Im)possibilities”.
And finally, my most especial gratitude is to all of you, to all the ESA members and colleagues who have selflessly worked to make all these achievements possible during such challenging 2020; sincere thanks to all of you, who I also know that are ready to make the best of this 2021, full of hope and exciting sociological adventures to come.
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