International Panel on Social Progress

[Programme closed]
Rethinking Society for the 21st Century

The crisis of social-democracy in recent decades seems, in the rich countries, to have generated a decline of hope for a just society. In developing countries, the trend is now to mimic the developed countries, rather than inventing a new model, and, in spite of reduced poverty in several countries, social hardships reminiscent of the early phase of Western capitalism are widespread.

Yet neither the collapse of utopian illusions nor booming capitalism in developing countries should mean the end of the quest for justice.

Can we hope for a better society?

Social scientists have never been so well equipped to provide an answer, thanks to the development of all the relevant disciplines since WWII.

Chaired by Amartya Sen, Nobel prize for economics, IPSP aims to deliver a report addressed to all social actors, movements, organizations, politicians and decision-makers, in order to provide them with the best expertise on questions that bear on social change.

When I was a child, we had a positive vision of the future, today we look at it through the glasses of climate change and terrorist threats.

What can we expect? How can we create an attractive society? Our ambition is to provide tools to think about the evolution of institutions, to project ourselves into the future with a vision of hope.

Marc Fleurbaey, initiateur du projet IPSP

The preparation of the report will go through five stages:

  1. In the first stage, the building up of the various committees ends up with the selection of authors.

  2. The second stage is the writing of the first draft of the report, each chapter being collectively written by a team of about ten authors, led by one or two coordinating authors. Additional contributions by external authors can be requested for special points which are not directly in the field of competence of the chapter authors. Authors can in particular contribute to other chapters than their own.

  3. The third stage is the collection of comments on the first draft. A media campaign and the activation of various networks will attract comments from scholars, civil society, activists, politicians, administrations, international organizations.

  4. The comments will be processed and taken into account in the fourth stage, the preparation of the final draft of the report. The collection of comments is an essential part of the writing process, in order to better connect the report to the stakeholders’ concerns and to make the report a synthesis not just of academic knowledge but also of a broader societal knowledge about social problems and ongoing efforts toward a better society. Comments will be widely collected via a forum on which chapters will be posted.

  5. The fifth stage will be the drafting of the Synthesis Report, a general audience book written by a small team of members of the panel with the aim of conveying the main messages for actors and policy-makers.



The issues covered by the Panel are wide ranging, and include:

  • Democracy and Citizenship
  • Poverty, Inequality and Well-Being
  • Global Risks, Resources
  • Markets, Finance and Corporations
  • Private and Public Governance
  • The Future of Work
  • Violence, Peace and Security
  • Global Health
  • Religions and Secularisms
  • Gender-Family-Reproduction-Sexuality
  • Urban Issues, Urban-Rural Relations
  • Education, Communication and Media

Four cross-cutting themes will be weaved through the report: (i) technology and innovation, (ii) globalization, (iii) social movements, (iv) identity/community. These themes function as transversal perspectives that, in the contemporary context, bear upon all twelve identified issues and hence should frame our approach to challenges and opportunities in those different areas of social life.

For each of these topics, the report will examine the following three questions:

  1. What is the current situation and what are the historical and prospective trends?
  2. What direction of change can be inspired by the search for social justice?
  3. What are the drivers and barriers for such a change?


The report

The report is now online and available on the IPSP website



Round table

Social Sciences on Social Progress’ Service

Round Table | Monday, January 4th
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Published at 28 July 2016