Although he started to work in the trenches as a journalist, Jacobo Muñoz Comet soon became more interested in finding out what are the ins and outs that move the society in portraying them through the paper. Newly-phd in Sociology, the young man is part of the department of Sociology II of the Universidad National of Education at Distance (UNED) and will participate in the International Congress of Sociology which will be held next July in Yokohama (Japan). Muñoz Comet has been one of the honorees at the Sixth Global Contest of Young Sociologists, which opens the door to this prestigious event, along with experts from the world’s elite.
Interview to Jacobo Muñoz Comet
What weight has this congress in the field of Sociology?
It is the most important at the global level. Is held once every four years and it brings together the 55 research committees of the International Sociological Association (ISA, for its acronym in English). Its main attraction is that during a week to meet sociologists from around the world and with interests disparate. It is, therefore, an occasion very good to know what is being done in Sociology at the global level and in what direction it goes.
The theme this year is “facing an unequal world”. How do you do Sociology?
Since Sociology can be tackled scientifically different social phenomena, among them, the inequality. The social sciences have methods and techniques that allow us to study the social reality, to understand better what is happening, identify the causes and to establish, at times, their effects. For example, in the recent international project GINI discusses in detail the evolution of social inequality in different western countries during the last decades and in different dimensions, such as economic inequality, education, or health.
And what has been the most important conclusion of this study?
Among many other findings, the authors found empirically that there has been an increase of income inequality between 1980 and 2010 in all countries, although the evolution of each one of them responds to different guidelines. The results obtained in investigations such as this are of tremendous interest for those who have a real capacity and influence to ensure that the societies to be less unequal.
In this sense, your award-winning work by the ISA examines why there are inequalities in terms of unemployment in Spain among immigrant population and Spanish, isn’t it?
I try to explain why immigrants with a temporary contract have since 2008 a greater risk of losing the employment that the spaniards with the same type of contract, a situation that was not the case before the economic crisis. The main explanation for that encounter connects with the type of job that is associated with the temporary nature of the majority of the immigrants: sectors of activity whose temporality is closely linked to the contracts for work (construction) and seasonality (agriculture).
What temporality does not affect all alike?
It is clear that those holding a temporary contract have a higher risk of losing their job, regardless of nationality. But, while in some cases these contracts can serve as a kind of bridge to more stable employment, others end up trapped in a temporality almost chronic (recurring throughout the work life), a situation much more frequent among the immigrants than among spaniards. The results question, therefore, is a debate manichaean about the nature of temporary contracts.
The award of the prize is to attend this congress. How you will participate in a conference or working group?
In the RC31 (Sociology of Migration), I will present the results of a research that I have conducted together with Maria Miyar, partner of Sociology II (UNED). In her study, on the one hand, the influence of the current crisis on the probability of immigrants living in Spain to leave our country, and on the other, if the profile of the immigrants changes as a function of the economic situation is expansive or recessive. I will also participate in the RC28 (Social Stratification) with an article related to the work that I was awarded.
In the conference will address the current challenges of Sociology. What are they?
I find it is essential that the time and money that is dedicated to the research to have utility, that is to say, serve really to something. And to do this I see two key challenges. In the first place, that the studies are rigorous and move away from the normative. If we understand Sociology as a science, ideology should be left out. This does not imply that one cannot have a personal opinion on different topics, or feel politically more or less similar to a political party. But as a sociologist, one should only seek to position itself empirically. And second, that the knowledge generated by the research reaches beyond the small academic circle. And I am not referring only to the top officials who decide on how and what to spend the resources available to the State, but also to a wider public.
How can leaving the investigation of that academic circle and reaching the general public?
In this sense I think that there are some interesting initiatives that help to that the latter is happening slowly. I am referring to blogs with greater coverage as Nothing is free or Stones paper, in which various researchers address more informative on current topics and of great importance from the results obtained in their studies.
The award of the ISA, in addition to Young Researchers of the Sociology of the Community of Madrid that you got in 2012. What is the secret to your success?
Secret none, the end is a mix of several things. On the one hand, I have the advantage of treating a topic of quite today. The immigration in Spain, the unemployment and all the economic crisis are issues that are very present and of concern for the society as a whole. In addition, I use data very poor of the economically Active Population Survey (EPA) to study the phenomenon. The analysis that I can do with the files longitudinal of the EPA offer valuable information and less accessible until now. And at the end, as with everything, effort, patience and a little luck. One never knows why sometimes your contribution is valued positively, and the other, confident that it is just as good and relevant, and they rejected it. This last has happened to me with other jobs, what happens is that when it has happened to me entrevistáis [laughs].
Source: www.divulgauned.es (28/04/2014)
For more information:
Laura Chaparro – Unit of Scientific Culture (UCC+i/FECYT)
OTRI-UNED; 91 398 9682