The ISA established year was 1949 in Madrid City, Spain under the auspices of UNESCO. The goal of the ISA is to represent sociologists everywhere, regardless of their school of thought, scientific approaches or ideological opinion, and to advance sociological knowledge throughout the world. Its members come from 126 countries. The International Sociological Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to scientific purposes in the field of sociology and social sciences. It is an international sociological body, gathering both individuals and national sociological organizations. The ISA was founded in 1949 under UNESCO and it has about 4,500 individual and 45 collective members, from 167 countries. Its purpose is to "represent sociologists everywhere, regardless of their school of thought, scientific approaches or ideological opinion" and its objective is to "advance sociological knowledge throughout the world". Along with the Institute International de Sociologies, it is seen as a world leading international sociological organization. International Sociological Association is a member of the International Social Science Council with the status of the Non-Governmental Organization in formal associate relations with UNESCO and special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
The ISA's international conference is held every 4 years, the last of which, the XVIIIth World Congress of Sociology was held in Yokohama, Japan, in July 2014. This society also organizes a number of smaller conferences, and publishes 2 peer reviewed academic journals: Current Sociology and International Sociology.
The first president of ISA was Louis Wirth. The current president (2014-2018) is Margaret Abraham, from USA. The history of ISA can be traced to the 1948 initiative of UNESCO's Social Science Department. The initiative was part of a larger plan aiming together to reform the social sciences worldwide, by improving the ties between scholars worldwide "to promote research in fields crucial to establishments of a peaceful world order". , Sociological associations existed only in Belgium, Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States, up to the year 1949. About 24 more countries having sociologist represented in a different type of an institution.