Social Sciences in the 21st Century

Social Sciences in Asia: Past, Present and Future

14-16 June 2023 – Seoul, Korea

Social science researchers and knowledge have had a profound impact in the Asia over the past century, from helping achieve relatively stable economic growth to supporting the establishment of stable liberal democracies across the region. The 77 years since the end of WWII has seen profound structural changes including the fall of Marxism, the decline of state-centric political systems, the emergence of neoliberal paradigms, and the progress of globalization. These processes have been accompanied by a change in social science methodologies and theoretical frameworks, including:

  • an increased focus on empirical and statistical methods;
  • the emergence of new theoretical models including behaviouralism, structural functionalism, neo-institutionalism, regime theory and rational choice models; and
  • a renewed focus on individual human actors and the relationship between structures and actors in determining social outcomes.

At the same time, this global shift in social science has been problematic for Asian scholars, for the following reasons:

  1. The American centrality in the fields of social science could be seen to have been excessively amplified, with a tendency of statistical and synchronic analysis to generalize regional and national characteristics, and English language editorial policies promoting the hierarchical division of study.
  2. Pro-science and pro-policy stances of academia encouraged the trend of academic industrialization, which prioritizes the production of knowledge as products rather than the discovery of truth and the suggestion of value-added alternatives by scholars.
  3. Actor-based research showed possible limitations with respect to topics emerging in the 21st century such as the formation of the new Cold War structure, the social impact of Industry 4.0, and the change in the demographic structures. These social phenomena manifest differently in Asian countries located in Rim Land where geopolitical conflict between continents and maritime powers is inevitable and limit the independence of individual actors.

Looking forward
In the 21st century, the world is facing fundamental structural changes in politics, economy, and society. It is impossible to ignore the calls for social scientific alternatives to address these changes. Globalization is coming to an end, and confrontations between regions, countries, and civilizations are showing signs of intensifying. Accordingly, the Association of Asian Social Science Research Councils intends to examine the past and present paths of social science in Asia, identify major problems to be faced, and begin an attempt to search for academic alternatives. Furthermore, the AASSREC intends to derive variables that cannot be well understood from the perspectives of politicians and bureaucrats, and to suggest appropriate directions for policy enactment. This will break the vicious cycle of designing and disposing of policies according to the whims of politicians and establish sustainable policies regardless of regime changes so that Asian countries can overcome the crisis of the new Cold War and extend the period of peace. We hope to create a setting in which the academic and intellectual authority that has been maintained under Confucian traditions will create an opportunity to contribute to the development of Korea and the Asian region as a whole.

General Theme

The general theme of the conference is “The Past, Present and Future of Social Sciences in Asia”.  Under this theme, we have listed a variety of ‘Topic Areas’. These suggestions should be considered as illustrative indications of possible paper topics.

Topic Areas

a. The Past
• The review of academic development of Social Sciences in East Asia, ASEAN, Indo-Pacific and Oceania
• Social sciences and social and economic development
• Theoretical evolution of Asian Social Sciences
• The legacies of the Cold War and Globalization to Asian Social Sciences

b. The Present
• The role of social sciences in government policy making
• The identity of Asian Social Sciences vis-à-vis American and European Social Sciences
• Social Sciences and peace and security in preventing the New Cold War
• Social Sciences and their contribution to democratization
• Social Sciences and civic education

c. The Future
• New issues of Asian Social Sciences
• Academic consilience of social sciences
• The 4th industrial revolution and social sciences
• The risk of New Cold War and Peace in Asia and Indo-Pacific
• Social, political and economic development
• Social sciences and Human Resource Development

Conference Format

The 25th AASSREC Biennial General Conference will be hosted by the Korean Social Science Research Council (KOSSREC) and the National Research Council for Economics, Humanities and Social Sciences (NRC) in Korea. The conference will be held at Yonsei University from 14-16 June 2023. Also, AASSREC will mark its 50th anniversary in 2023. Thus, KOSSREC would like to provide members with an opportunity to look back on Asian social sciences so far, discuss what role social sciences are currently playing in policymaking in each country, and what direction Asian social sciences should take in the future. KOSSREC would like to divide the 25th AASSREC Biennial General Conference into four sessions.

Session 1 will focus on the ‘Past’, sessions 2 and 3 will focus on the ‘Present’, and session 4 will address the ‘Future’. KOSSREC would like to assign five senior scholars to the ‘Past’ session, 10 scholars to the ‘Present’ session and four scholars to the ‘Future’ session (ideally junior scholars). For the ‘Past’ session, KOSSREC would like to include 5 senior scholars from countries in East Asia, ASEAN, the Indo-Pacific, and Oceania. We therefore kindly ask members in these regions to nominate a senior speaker for this session.

We encourage each AASSREC member to nominate more than one speaker which will give conference organizers the flexibility to select the best and most appropriate speakers for each session. At least one speaker from each AASSREC member organization will be selected to participate.

KOSSREC would also like to invite five moderators to chair the panel sessions and moderate the Q&A discussion after each panel session.  AASSREC members are invited to nominate a representative from their organization who would be willing to moderate one of the panel sessions.  Expressions of interest should be sent to Dr Eun Kyoung Rhee, KOSSREC Deputy Secretary General (

Submission of Papers

The AASSREC Executive Council and conference organizers encourage all members to seek from among your associations or networks, suitable experts to present a paper addressing the conference theme and to engage with AASSREC members at the 25th Biennial General Conference. In order to provide time for debate and audience engagement, presenters will be asked to make their oral presentations a concise summary of their argument (approx. 20-25 minutes). We kindly ask each member to provide the following to Dr Eun Kyoung Rhee, KOSSREC Deputy Secretary General ( by 5 February 2023:

  • the name and email address of your nominated paper presenter/s
  • a short biography of the paper presenter
  • the topic of the presentation
  • a draft abstract of the paper (abstracts should not exceed 300 words).

This information will allow the conference organizers to begin sorting papers. A final copy of the full papers are to be received by 5 May 2023. The conference papers will be published in the AASSREC program and distributed to attending delegates, if speakers agree. Presenters are welcome to publish their papers elsewhere of course.

Conference Schedule

5 December 2022: Call for Papers
5 February 2023: Deadline for Abstract Submission
5 April 2023: Notification of paper or abstract acceptance
14 April 2023: Conference Registration Open
5 May 2023: Deadline for Full Paper Submission
14-16 June 2023: Conference