by Clarence M. Batan, University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines, and Research Editor of RC34 (Sociology of Youth)
Last October 19-20, sociologists, practitioners, and students from the Philippines and other neighboring countries gathered for the 2012 National Conference of the Philippine Sociological Society (PSS) at the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), Quezon City. Almost 100 participants from various universities and some private and non-governmental organizations in the Philippines and abroad engaged in an exchange of ideas on the theme Sociology and Interdisciplinarity: A Foregone Conclusion?
Founded in 1952, the PSS is a professional organization that has survived six historical decades with the active involvement of local and foreign social scientists. This conference became an occasion to examine the disciplinary status of sociology. Dr. Filomeno V. Aguilar, PSS President, aptly summarized the core debate in his opening address: “Some contend that sociology should assert its core as an academic discipline and retain its professional boundaries; yet others argue that the complexities of our everyday lives, permeated by local and global forces, cannot be fully grasped unless we draw from the perspectives and analytical tools of other disciplines.” His summary established the ground for two days of intense discussion, debate, and discourse.
Michael Burawoy, President of the International Sociological Association (ISA),delivered the keynote address under the title Interdisciplinarity: The Promise and Danger. Surprising the conference participants with his “out of the podium” technique, Dr. Burawoy offered preliminary ideas on how to critically think about interdisciplinarity for sociology. His ideas generated discussion points flowing through three plenary and four parallel sessions involving 35 paper presentations.
Similar highlights of the conference were the plenary for book authors, Dr. Erik Akpedonu and Dr. Czarina Saloma-Akpedonu, and Dr. Filomeno V. Aguilar; the session on the narratives of historical sociologists and social historians; the student colloquium; a forum with the well-known and respected sociologist, Fr. John J. Caroll, SJ, who discussed his life as a “priest/sociologist” as an oxymoron; and the launching of the 60th issue of the Philippine Sociological Review under the editorial leadership of Dr. Filomin Guetierrez-Candaliza and Dr. Maria Andrea M. Soco. Book exhibits, sumptuous food and creative programs were also organized under the leadership of Dr. Emma E. Porio, Chair of the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology of ADMU, and Leslie A. Lopez, PSS Board Secretary.
This year’s PSS conference not only provided an occasion for Filipino sociologists to meet new and old colleagues but also asserted sociology’s role in creating more meaningful, more relevant, and more pragmatic relations with other sciences, both social and natural. With global problems giving rise to new modes of conflict, confrontation, and transformation, engagement with fellow sociologists worldwide around issues rooted in Philippine social realities became the agenda for a sociology from the Global South. It was energetically advanced by a new breed of young Filipino sociologists who introduced multi- and inter-disciplinary perspectives motivated by aspirations for an active and engaged global citizenship.