2018: Diversity and Globalization

At the 25th IAPSS General Assembly, an advisory vote was held over the IAPSS Annual Theme 2018. The majority of voting members chose the proposal ‘Diversity and Globalization’, one that includes the ideas of several members of the IAPSS Board and the IAPSS Academic Department. The IAPSS Executive Committee has endorsed this proposal at its meeting on 1 June 2017.

We live in a diverse and increasingly globalized world. Its complexities have become evident not least during several major political changes in the last few years. For example, after the breakdown of the bipolar world and the short period of predominance of the United States in international relations, the world order has become much more fluid and dynamic. Several unstable regions and relationships between states and other international actors initiate questions on the transformation of the so-called Westphalian model. New conflicts appear to be on the rise, including in wholly new environment, such as the cyberspace, while in Europe but also in other regions throughout the world debates are ongoing on deeper integration versus differentiation or even breakdown of existing integration mechanisms.

Similarly, interactions between many peoples of differing values and interests are ever more pertinent at a time when international migration and new means of communication are often abused to create new dividing lines among individuals and the overlapping societies they belong to. Both progress understood as more inclusion, freedom and equality and conflict viewed through the lens of xenophobia, hatred and disintegration can emerge as a result of these interactions.

The discussions on both how to accommodate and institutionalize diversity as a major advantage of progress as well as on how to address political changes that can often create instability at various levels have been ongoing and no single answer seems to have been provided. Attempts to answer such questions might adopt different levels of analysis, ranging from the ‘global order’ and the world of principles through international and domestic institutions, specific regions and countries, up to the individual. For social science disciplines, the rapid changes also pose a challenge of understanding and explaining them with the help of available theories and methodologies. Both theory testing and theory development with refined established or novel methodologies is needed to better understand how institutions and societies can advance towards being more inclusive and better off in a diverse and globalized world.