Vietnam Academy Of Social Sciences
Name: Institute of Sociology
Phone: (844) 972 7970
Fax: (844) 978 4631
Address: 9th Floor, No 1, Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Giới thiệu Viện Xã hội học

The Institute of Sociology (IOS) was officially founded in 9 September 1983. Its precursor is the Department of Sociology, which was formed in 1977. The Institute has its own legal status, stamp, and bank account according to the legal regulations. It runs with the funding provided from the State budget. The Institute is a research institution under the administration of Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences. The basic functions and tasks undertaken by the Institute of Sociology include: (1) to do research on theoretical and practical issues involved with social management and development in Vietnam, in order to provide scientific grounds for the Communist Party as well as the State strategy-planning and policy-making; (2) to combine research with training of sociological specialists as well as human resource development in sociology of the whole country; (3) to provide consultancy and public service relating to socio-economic issues that are appropriate with the Institute’s functions; and, (4) to strengthen international cooperation and integration in sociological research and training.  The headquarter of the Institute is located at the building, of which address is 01 Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi.

For the past 30 years, major achievements gained by the Institute of Sociology can be enumerated as contributions in 10 areas below:

1. Social structure, social stratification, and orientation of value

In the first years of Doi moi, the Institute of Sociology started to carry out research works on social structure, aiming at getting further understanding of social stratification in Vietnam. The works provided not only theoretical grounds on the phenomenon of social stratification, but also practical data to be used for the Party and State policies in Doi moi. The research findings showed clearly characteristics of the transition from the centrally planned economy to the socialist-oriented market economy and demonstrated that social stratification (widening gap between rich and poor) had been already viewed as a natural tendency in market economy for all societies; it is the very consequence of the State regulation in performing real social justice.

The research works also affirmed the popularity that social stratification took place in all areas (urban, rural, regions, territories), all time of development, and all social sectors.

2. Population change and population policy

In the mid-1980s, the Institute initiated research projects on population in provinces of the Red River Delta, Northern Central Vietnam, and Central Highlands. The research findings showed the importance and the essential role of demographic sociology as a basic research discipline. Researchers of the Institute took part in designing the first population propaganda strategy in Vietnam, contributing a part towards making it become a key policy for population programs in the 1990s.

Together with research activities, the Institute also strengthened demographic training and teaching activities for researchers both inside and outside the Institute within the framework of the projects funded by the UN Population Fund. Moreover, scientific opinions and policy recommendations drawn from migration research programs of the Institute were highly appreciated and used widely as references in different ministries and sectors.

3. Urban sociological issues

Research works done by the Institute researchers demonstrate that urbanization in Vietnam has already resulted in a new pattern of development, although the level of urbanization still remains low. Following are basic characteristics of the pattern: the family size is smaller; marriage is less popularized; the average age at first marriage is higher; kinship ties are looser; the rate of birth is lower, especially for the group of young people; lifestyle is increasingly dependent on public service; living quality of urban households is improved; the polarization of living conditions is higher; and, educational attainment as well as professional qualification are higher, especially for high levels. Attached with these changes is the emergence of new demands among urban people such as higher demands for housing, transportation, living, and education. This contributes a part towards the theoretical factual foundations for urban management in some cities, aiming at meeting diversified demands of urban people.

Another aspect of urban research is urban poverty. The Institute’s research works show that it is necessary to have appropriate policies, such as labor and employment policy, urban planning policy, public service development policy for areas of poor population, micro-credit policy, and especially the policy to encourage people’s participation in improvement of living conditions, in order to make the most of people’s efforts in poverty reduction.

In the framework of the research project VIE/95/050, the Institute provided research findings that illustrated great potential of urban communities in urban planning and their contribution of labor and funding towards infrastructure building as well as urban management and development in local areas. This helps urban management authorities at different levels find out measures to promote community participation in urban management.

In the period after Doi moi, housing research carried out by the Institute step-by-step approached international research tendencies, owing to international research cooperation. Some research projects, such as "Housing for the poor in the urban" (1994) and "Capacity enhancement for urban development research and teaching 1998 - 2000", not only helped the Institute researchers to enhance their research capacity in order to reach the international standard and create new research directions, but also provided materials and disseminated sociological knowledge to those, who worked in urban management, architectural designing, urban planning, and students as well. This actually made a significant contribution towards improvement of urban management capacity at different levels.

4. Rural sociological issues

Findings of the sociological research works on rural issues show 3 tendencies for labor-occupation structural transition in rural areas of the Red River Delta, including: the tendency to diversify employment-occupations; i.e. people do any jobs they can find in order to generate an income for their family; the tendency to combine different jobs together, creating a group of uninterrupted jobs that can support each other; and, the tendency to specialize employment-occupations; i.e. they are specialized in a specific occupation that requires higher qualification and skills, but also provides a bigger income. The origin of the three above-mentioned tendencies is that rural people still reserve persistently the idea that attaches much importance to agriculture.

At the moment, the Institute of Sociology is carrying out the State-level research project titled Agriculture, Farmer and Rural (2012 - 2014) in the framework of the Central Highlands Program III. The project aims at studying the reality of agriculture, farmers and rural development in Central Highlands, in order to provide interpretations on why development in this region hasn’t been sustainable.

The widening gap between rich and poor and stratification of living standards in rural areas are the second topic of research at the Institute. According to those research works, the gap between rich and poor is also widening in both rural and urban areas, due to the transition to market economy.

Development of rural villages, communes, areas, and regions is the third topic of research at the Institute. Findings of those research works show that rural society is a mixture, in which community coherence and social solidarity are highly appreciated. The nature of the present rural development is to move from traditional mixed society, where agriculture and rural features are viewed most important, to modern mixed society, where industry and urbanization are viewed more important as they help to enhance human capacity and improve people’s living quality. The research works have also demonstrated that marketalization, urbanization, industrialization, modernization, and international integration are objectively indispensable.

    5. Political system and grassroots democracy

The first research work done by the Institute of Sociology on this field is involved with the event in Thai Binh Province. For the past few years, the Institute has expanded its research on this field, aiming at meeting the need to recognize the implementation of democratic regulations at the grassroots level. The Institute has carried out some surveys that focus on the political system at the rural grassroots level (via local people’s opinions and comments), grassroots democracy, election of the People’s council in villages/communes, contradictions and solutions to the contradictions in communities in Vietnam.

The above-mentioned research works have really made a contribution towards realizing how local political systems are running in reality and showing how complicated democratization is at the grassroots levels. Findings of the research works reveal that the gaps of economic conditions and social status tend to be increasingly wider, which may lead to the gap of political awareness among people. They also illustrate changing opinions about the virtue of officials in the grassroots political system. In addition to moral values, it is therefore necessary to encourage the system of functional values, which is considered as dynamics of development in the context of building the Rule of law in our country at present.

The Institute of Sociology has made recommendations about strengthening capacity of social institutions at the grassroots levels. The recommendations emphasize on the need to institutionalize activities of local political systems; it is necessary, for example, to promulgate official ordinances on grassroots political systems. Party organizations at the grassroots level should be provided with higher capacity and empowered with greater power so that they can make decisions about issues involved with election, especially personnel structure. These research works have partly provided scientific grounds for the 5th National Meeting of the 9th Party Congress.

6. Cultural sociological issues

For many years, research works that have been conducted by the Institute on cultural issues from the perspective of sociology mainly focus on several following areas:

1) Research on cultural values and rehabilitation of traditional values, aiming at identifying clearly tendencies and formation mechanism of social movements in the time of Doi moi.

2) Basic research that aims at building the basis for religious sociology in Vietnam.

3) Research on local people’s participation in cultural creation, dissemination and allocation.

  1. Family sociological issues

Sociological research on Vietnam family focuses on family changes, dimensions of the changes, and their consequences for individuals and society, under the impact of social factors such as value orientation, population fluctuation, technology in the process of industrialization and modernization. These issues are viewed from the aspects of structure-functions, contradictions, and gender.

Analyses of changes in the family structure show differences in family characteristics between urban and rural areas. These differences are not only influenced by demographic factors such as the rate of birth and the average life-span, but they are also caused by other social factors such as the living pattern, living conditions, land and housing conditions, especially after the household land-use contract policy was implemented.

Impacts caused by migration, changes in value orientation and consequences of population fluctuation have also led to diversification of family patterns. Migration resulted in changes in gender roles within family. Particularly, it is the factor for adjustment of the family functions. Due to migration, we can see a greater number of single-parent families or those families, in which children do not live with their parents, but they live with grandparents in home villages.

Major findings of the sociological research works on family that have been done by the Institute for the past years show changes in some aspects involved with family formation, family relationships, and groups of relatives. Changes in family functions and structure have caused positive impacts on personal development and social stability. Adaptation with social conditions, however, varies from family to family. Gender stereotypes and economic difficulties still remain as factors for domestic violence and gender inequality at present. 

8. Health and healthcare issues

From the perspective of sociology, many research works conducted by the Institute have demonstrated that changes in the areas of childcare, protection and nutrition as well as women healthcare in communities are the most progressive.

Besides, some policy recommendations were made to set up healthcare – population propaganda strategies at present. The basic solution is that healthcare and fertility health propaganda activities should be included in a comprehensive development program. In addition to disseminating the information through television channels, which are now broadcast all over the country, it is necessary to do it via activities of the mobile media as well as informal channels such as via family members, relatives, or those, who have high prestige in community. The recommendations affirmed the soundness of provision of broadcasting programs in ethnic language in order to disseminate healthcare and fertility health messages. The programs should be designed appropriately with actual living conditions of ethnic minorities and their cultural features. It is also essential to have participation of ethnic people in the programs. A lot of recommendations have been used by the State institutions to build population and healthcare strategies for the first years of the 21st century.

9. Social policy and social work issues

In 1992, the Institute already proved the importance of the social policy theory for a nation and made a recommendation that Vietnam’s transition to the socialist-oriented market economy inevitably required a prompt re-building of social policy theories. The research findings of the Institute introduced to readers typical models of social policy in the world and suggested that Vietnam’s model of social policy should originate from the country real practice and it was also necessary to refer to the world typical models.

Researchers at the Institute made efforts to make the concept of social welfare become a key theoretical category to be used for realization of practical social policy and social work (1999). In the 1990s, the Institute strengthened its research on this field. There was a long-term research program, owing to which the Institute became the leading research institution involved with issues of the elderly in Vietnam. Many recommendations made in this research program were proved in practice several years later. In the 1990s, the Institute of Sociology actually made a significant contribution towards development of social work knowledge. The Institute emphasized the need to modernize and professionalize social policy and social work research, training and realization.

10. Social impact and policy assessment research

For the past 20 years, the Institute of Sociology has actively taken part in doing research relating directly to the State policy-making and policy-assessment. Apart from the initial research work on social aspects of the housing in “the State-level Focal Scientific – Technical Advance Program No.26/01 for the period 1980 - 1985”, there are research projects in the Central Highlands Socio-economic Development Program in the 1980s as well as other social assessment research projects for Son La Hydroelectric Plant in 1998-1999.

Undertaking the task of providing independent consultancy for the resettlement social impacts in the Rural Transportation Project (the 1st and the 2nd phase) funded by the World Bank in 1999, the Institute pointed out positive impacts of the project on socio-economic development and living conditions of local people. Furthermore, the teams of supervisors from the Institute showed shortcomings and inadequacies involved with the removal of space and compensation; untimely and inappropriate provision of information for local people; lack of discussion with local people in selection of the way to do the removal of space; etc…

Through these supervisory activities, the Institute of Sociology has proved its role as a professional research institution, which is closely attached with the country socio-economic development practice, but it is not a merely academic research institution.

Work done by the Institute has also contributed a part toward helping technical officials as well as trading businesses to heighten their awareness of the importance of social factors in the country sustainable development.