Inequality to be the major focus of next World Social Science Report

Paris, January 2015 — International Social Science Council has announced that global inequality is going to be the major focus of its next World Social Science Report to be published in 2016.

From Thomas Piketty to Occupy Wall Street to the Arab Spring, this era has been framed by growing social unrest and reflection on income inequality and social inequities. Recent times have seen the rise in inequality, and the social sciences have been at the forefront of providing commentary and research on the social implications and global changes in such disparities.

A meeting of the ISSC’s General Assembly in 2013 set the stage for the direction for the Council. The ISSC strives to put the social sciences at the forefront of global challenges, and the 2013 meeting of the General Assembly decided that the global challenge to be addressed in the coming years should be Inequalities and Justice.

Inequality can mean many things. The World Social Science Forum this year in Durban — the first to be held in Africa — focuses on “Transforming Global Relations for a Just World”, while the 2016 report on “Inequalities and Social Justice” will focus on the critical contemporary issues.

“It is critical, at this unequalled moment in time that the social sciences strive to reflect and contribute solutions to the global challenges we face” says Alberto Martinelli, ISSC President and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the World Social Science Report 2016. “Inequalities and social justice are paramount if we are to solve other such pervasive issues. Inequality is structural, it involves everyone; and it affects both democracy and sustainable development.”

The Council is putting together global leading social scientists, along with other experts, and relevant actors to analyse the multidimensional aspects of inequalities, highlight how inequalities are understood and addressed in different parts of the world, and unpack complexities and intricacies in the development and reinforcement of inequalities.

The goal is to lay forward the role of the social sciences in developing new instruments of analysis and innovate solutions in tackling the problem – setting the research agenda, and more generally, the agenda for future policy and action.

The newly appointed Scientific Advisory Committee represents some of the top social scientists currently working in this field, met this month in Paris. They will serve to highlight new concepts and innovations, critical knowledge gaps, as well as major methodological innovations which have been developed over the past 30 years by social scientists.

With each Report the ISSC seeks to showcase the unique contributions that social scientists do and must make to address some of the most pressing challenges posed by changing global realities. The report supports the pursuit of the Council’s overall strategic objective, which is to increase the production and use of social science knowledge on global priority problems.

As a flagship activity, the Report draws centrally on the outcomes of other ISSC activities, most notably the World Social Science Forums, the World Social Science Fellows Programme, and the recently launched Transformations to Sustainability programme.

Previous reports in the series have focused on Knowledge Divides — how social science knowledge is produced, disseminated and used in different parts of the world, and Changing Global Environments — an urgent call to action to the international social science community to collaborate more effectively with each other, with other fields of science, and with the users of research to deliver solutions-oriented knowledge on today’s most pressing environmental problems.

About the ISSC

The ISSC is an independent non-government organisation established in 1952. It is the primary body representing the social, economic and behavioural sciences at an international level. Its mission is to increase the production and use of social science knowledge for the well-being of societies throughout the world.