Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1997


Unité de Liaison Internationale en Sciences Sociales (ULISS)

ULISS (Unité de Liaison Internationale en Sciences Sociales) is an International Link Office in the GRASS, Groupe de recherche et d'Analyse du Social et des Sociabilités, one of the Research Centres which is part of the IRESCO (Institut d'Etudes et de Recherches sur les Sociétés Contemporaines), in Paris. The GRASS is a CNRS research unit associated with the University of Paris VIII.

ULISS aims at institutionalising co-operation, collaboration and exchange between European research centres and academic bodies. This institutional linkage will be made with organisations and bodies having an uncontested reputation in the field of expertise of the GRASS: Youth, Family policy, Social Exclusion and Social Policy.

On these grounds the main objective of the ULISS programme is to initiate and sustain within GRASS, the presence of foreign researchers or students, who will take part on an individual or institutional basis, in the research programme and academic seminars developed by the research centre host. It aims at introducing a durable international presence within a French CNRS research team, in order to promote the daily interaction of researchers, teachers and students with various backgrounds and then to invite colleagues, to take into account the European dimension in their own work.

The main target of ULISS is to provide a platform where French researchers and foreign guests will learn to work together, get the measure of their differences, not only linguistic, theoretical or methodological but also in terms of professional culture. Such is. Beyond international symposiums and seminars, a daily collaboration, on the basis of scientific research and scientific activities which involve researchers from various backgrounds and cultures is undoubtedly the more secure and the more efficient means to develop sustainable cooperation.

To invite foreign researchers to stay in GRASS, to provide some training or to take part in the formation of Young researchers are for us the main means to spin a web and to build up a network of individual and institutional partnership.

Details of Implementation

The ULISS project (Unité de Liaison Internationales en Sciences Sociales) is a platform allowing GRASS to invite foreign researchers, teachers and PhD students to stay with the research team and take part in research activities.

Geographical and Cultural Area:

This programme will focus on Europe - including Eastern Europe. This implies comparative research between European individual countries as well as investigations into the Europeanisation process.

However, this project cannot be confined to this single geographic area, for two reasons:

The globalisation process is on the move, at the economic level, obviously, but also at the cultural level. The European countries may be regarded as a world region in interaction and interconnection with what is called the 'world system'.

Therefore, when Europe is our main focus and our main field of interest, it would be a mistake to deprive ourselves of any opportunity to set up a comparison and/or collaboration with other world regions.

Secondly, in such a project, one should avoid reproducing the mistakes of ethnocentrism at the European level. A great deal of European phenomena can be understood only from an external perspective; numerous processes become clear only through the 'change of scenery' which was wished by Georges Balandier as a necessary and fruitful tool of investigation.

Therefore, Europe is at the heart of this project. But collaboration is going to be sought and contacts to be established with other continents or regions, for example the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, the University of Seoul in Korea and University of Mauritius.


Sociological research on the process of European Construction, convergence/divergence of lifestyles, family systems, systems of education, welfare and social protection, values and orientations, etc are greatly in deficit, compared with research in economy, law and political science.

Globalisation as well as Europeanisation cannot be understood only from an economic or political perspective. The processes are dependant on social and cultural factors which have to be looked into in order to obtain a complete understanding of the present changes in Western societies.

The ULISS project is therefore, resolutely interdisciplinary. But, it will be limited to a few disciplines whose perspectives can be mixed into a common project without too many difficulties. These are sociology, anthropology, ethnology, social policy sciences, contemporary history and socio- economy.

Institutionnal Network

Already six institutions have been contacted over Europe and are now part of the project:

Operating ULISS

As already mentioned, the ULISS project aims at ensuring, on the daily basis, a permanent contact between European researchers who share the same interests and are working in the same field of research. ULISS will provide an office and working facilities in order to ensure these contacts and encourage effective collaboration. When the main objective is to learn to work together and overcome cultural, theoretical and professional differences with a mutual respect, the best route to achieve this objective is to develop collaborative undertaking or at least to work and be involved in common empirical investigations.

The following topics are, therefore, given to indicate some collaborative research already undertaken or in project:

Youth And Europe

  1. Convergence and divergence of the patterns of transition towards adulthood.
  2. Youth Socialisation to Europe
  3. European Youth Identity

Family Policy

  1. Social reproduction and mode of filiation
  2. New family patterns
  3. Circulation of children

Social Exclusion, Social Policy

  1. Labor markets and exclusion
  2. Security and the welfare state
  3. Poverty

Groupe de Recherche et d'Analyse du Social et de la Sociabilité
59-61 rue Pouchet
75849 Paris cedex 17
tel 33 -0- 1 40 25 12 16
fax 33 -0- 1 40 25 12 12

Jean Charles Lagree

Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1997