MobileKids at the IV ISA Forum of Sociology


Two years after their wonderful experience at the XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology held in Toronto, Canada, on July 15-21, 2018, MobileKids’ team members have been selected to organize two sessions and one panel at the IV ISA Forum of Sociology to be held in Porte Alegre, Brazil, on July 14-18, 2020.

Bérengère Nobels and Laura Merla (UCLouvain) will lead a session with Jana Mikats (University Graz, Austria) on the Changing idea of the Family and the Shifting notion of Home. Laura Merla will also be leading a session with Barbara Barbosa Neves (University of Melbourne) and Jo Lindsay (Monash University) on Innovative and Creative Methods to Study Family Life. Finally, Sarah Murru will organize a panel together with Emily Springer (University of Minnesota), Adriana Suarez-Delucchi (University of Bristol), May-Linda Magnussen (University of Agder), and Ann Christin Eklund Nilsen (University of Agder) on young scholar’s experiences dealing with concepts inherent to Institutional Ethnography and similar issues that emerge when trying to teach Institutional Ethnography.

To learn more about these, read below the 3 sessions/panel’s descriptions:


1/ From the Changing Idea of “the Family” to a Shifting Notion of Home? Spatiotemporal, Material and Affective Aspects of Contemporary Family Life (RC06 Family Research and RC43 Housing and Built Environment), organized by Jana Mikats (University Graz, Austria), Bérengère Nobels (UCLouvain) and Laura Merla (UCLouvain).

In family research current issues relating to mobility, multi-locality and fluidity in family life (e.g. migration, divorced families, blurred work-life boundaries, etc.) have brought up an increased interest in space and the notion of home – topics that have been marginalized for a long time.

The concepts of family and home have been strongly linked by the idea of the nuclear family (Hareven, 1991). However, the understanding of the family as a stable unit limited to a single house has been insufficient for capturing contemporary lives. Correspondingly, scholarly work introduced more complex definitions and multidimensional approaches to family life as well as to home and housing, notwithstanding the incorporation of the two realms still falls short and one has to ask whether the meaning of home has transformed along with the fading idea of ‘the family’ (James, 2013).

In this session, we wish to examine practices of doing family and home in various contexts, with focus on the temporal, spatial, material and affective aspects of everyday life. Our aim is to bring together different perspectives on “home” from mono-local to multi-local phenomena. We welcome papers that examine the shifting boundaries of home and family life and, more specifically, between private and public spheres, family, work and leisure or material and virtual spaces. The session seeks to capture family members’ (adults and/or children) “ways of living” (Schmitz, 2012), through the articulation between life spaces, mobility, sense of place and/or social relations as well as the emerging practical, legal and political constraints.

2/ Innovative and Creative Methods to Study Family Life (RC06 Family Research), organized by Barbara Barbosa Neves (University of Melbourne), Laura Merla (UCLouvain) and Jo Lindsay (Monash University)

Creative and innovative methods, such as arts-based research and new digital methods, have been used by sociologists to address increasingly complex and multifaceted questions about social life (Kara, 2015). For example, studying transnational families, digital technologies and family dynamics, or family and consumption practices, requires approaches that push the methodological boundaries. Additionally, current attempts to give voice to children, older adults, and vulnerable groups, as well as to decolonize methodology have also engaged more openly with creative and innovative approaches – from working creatively with existing methods to developing new techniques and instruments (see Smith, 2013). This session will showcase methodological and empirical work that provides an informed and critical examination of the topic. In particular, we invite contributions that address both opportunities and challenges of creative and innovative methods. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Arts-based research (e.g., performance arts)
    • Digital methods (e.g., netnography, online survey research, VR)
    • Usability and accessibility testing (e.g., Think Aloud, multi-methods)
    • Participatory research (e.g., co-design)
    • Creative storytelling
    • Photo-elicitation
    • Socio-spatial methods (e.g., socio-spatial network games, emotion maps)
    • Crystallization methodology
    • Gamification
    • Mixed methods
    • Creative approaches to existing methods
    • New research instruments
    • Ethical approaches (e.g., micro-ethics/ethics-in-practice)
    • Epistemology, ontology, & axiology.


Institutional Ethnography (TG06), organized by Sarah Murru (UCLouvain), Emily Springer (University of Minnesota), Adriana Suarez-Delucchi (University of Bristol), May-Linda Magnussen (University of Agder), and Ann Christin Eklund Nilsen (University of Agder).

Just what is institutional ethnography? How can young scholars understand its premise, promise, and potential for changing the conditions of our lives? And how can we, as scholars well-acquainted with IE, successfully introduce students to IE? This panel invites participation from IE scholars to debate and consider the foundations of institutional ethnography as a method for inquiry and how to invite students and junior scholars to take up that legacy. The goal of this panel is to bring what happens as murmurs, quiet unshared confusions and shy questions to the limelight to help build up the practice of IE.

For scholars interested in IE, understanding it as a conceptual framework for inquiry can be daunting. This often takes place during socialization into sociology as a social science, which emphasizes positivist understandings of the social world, and the presentation of qualitative research as intended to « build theory. »

Turning the panel organizers’ individual experiences of lacking IE support into a collective concern, we organize this panel to clarify these topics for our community and others interested to join. Collectively, trans-generationally and grounded in our own experiences, we will organize a discussion with participants from different parts of the world around the following questions: How can young scholars pause the impulse for theory-based thinking? How can we avoid using concepts such as “justice”, “racism” or « resistance » without explaining how they actually work? How can IE contribute to our disciplines and universities without compromising its foundations as a method for inquiry and a sociology in itself?