Last revision: 2006.07.10
Our fundamental mission is to accumulate and expand sociological knowledge, by studying the organizing principles, operational processes and historical change of society. We hold that the formation, operation and development of any society are both historically and locally specific as well as regionally and globally general. Hence, we emphasize both Taiwan Studies and the study of neighboring societies and Chinese societies at large. Moreover, we seek to advance comparative studies among different regions or societies that explore their inextricable interrelationships. The continual advancement of sociological knowledge demands commitment to dialogue and cooperation among sociologists and sociology organizations. The IOS aims to facilitate the systemization of important research areas, lead in the development of new research orientations, and strengthen cooperation and interaction among members of the sociology community. To fulfill this mission, we have oriented our activities towards the following six research areas and objectives.
1. Taiwan and Indigenous Research: Defining the Identity of Taiwanese Sociology
Local scholars may hold certain advantages over foreign ones, in that they have a different focus on and better means of access to local social lives, history, culture, political and economic problems, and public consciousness. The IOS encourages research that is focused on or oriented towards local complexities, and aims to define the unique identity of Taiwanese sociology, building on current strengths and stimulating greater breadth and depth in local research. However, the definition of local particularity is a process that involves engaging in dialogue with mainstream sociological theories, which have developed in European or American social contexts.
2. Research on Neighboring Societies: the Interactions and Comparisons between Taiwan and Neighboring Regions
Taiwan is part of the larger regions of East Asia and Southeast Asia. Historical legacies and contemporary developments have inextricably entwined Taiwan with its neighbors and overseas Chinese throughout the world. The sociological study of our neighboring societies and comparative perspectives increase our knowledge, not only of others but also of ourselves and our place in the larger region through its formation.
3. Cross-National Research
Cross-national and comparative research is an important way to establish general sociological knowledge. It helps local sociologists break the confines of their own areas or national identities. It also helps local sociologists and their works to reach a wider audience and deal with issues of international concern.
4. Systematizing Existing Research
In the research fields of a) social institutions, b) social inequality, and c) social processes, a thorough systematization is still needed to get an overall understanding. Research on social institutions has tended to focus on specific aspects of specific institutions. General knowledge of social institutions or the interrelations among different institutions is still lacking. Furthermore, institutions are central in bringing about rapid social change. Therefore, changes of specific institutions and their dialectical relations should be our focus for future research.
As for research on social inequality, the institute wants to strengthen and systematize our current knowledge of both Taiwanese society and Chinese societies elsewhere. We need to examine the phenomenon of inequality, as well as the theoretical concerns it involves. We should also be concerned with the relations between different kinds of inequality. In addition to continuing the study of social inequality in Taiwan, it is important to study inequality in all Chinese societies to explore the essential factors involved in social inequality as well as their sociological significance.
Finally, in our research on social processes, we should look into social change in general, and into social change caused by social movements and institutional change. We have already initiated studies on social movements, ethnic relations and labor processes. We have a long-term commitment to research in these areas.
5. Developing New Research Agenda
Openness is a sine qua non for creative academic research. Our policy of being open to new areas of research requires flexible organizational structure and directional planning. This institute provides essential resources to allow us to advance into new and important areas, and will recruit creative sociology talent, especially researchers with strengths in areas the Institute has not yet explored. New paradigms in the social sciences and humanities always emerge.
The institute will continue to encourage research guided by new research agendas. As we expand into the future, we will keep our prospects and the development of the discipline under close consideration in an effort to avoid fixation on certain interests and approaches.
6. Strengthening the Profession of Sociology and the Community of Sociologists
The sociological community in Taiwan has been growing since the 1980s. This growth has been uneven, however. As a rule, academic communities require effective organization and linkages to develop and excel. With this in mind, the IOS will work with other organizations and institutions in Taiwan, in order to achieve closer cooperation through constructive dialogue and extensive discussion. In recent years, members of the Institute have composed the majority of the board members of the Taiwanese Sociological Association. We are also active in advising many graduate students enrolled in major universities. The IOS is thus well-placed to contribute to the development both of the discipline of sociology and of the community as a whole, now and in the future.