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2011 Annual Meeting Theme Statement

Social conflict is constantly in the headlines, in the breaking news, but also under the surface of social life. Wherever there is change, struggle, or domination, there is conflict. Social conflict involves many dimensions, including not only economic and power struggles, movement dynamics, and violence, but also forms of inequality and domination latent with conflict, and practices which resolve conflict or which divert attention from it. Sociology is the only social science that takes conflict as a major topic, and the only field that throughout its existence has been crucially centered on class, race, and ethnicity. New fields focused on race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality are also concerned with conflict, but the intellectual driving force in most of these fields is a sociological perspective. There is a reason why sociologists were heavily involved in the rebellious movements of the 1960s and 70s—sociologists are experts at understanding both power and group mobilization. This has continued to be sociology’s special strength.

For the 2011 ASA meeting, the Program Committee invites you to deepen our analysis of such topics as:

  • Economic class inequality, its causes and dynamics including capitalism, labor, property, health care, and their comparative and international dimensions;
  • Revolution, state breakdown, war, paramilitaries, terrorism and counter-terrorism, as well as non-violent forms of conflict;
  • Social movements and their role in conflicts of all kinds; including movement-countermovement dynamics, policing movements and their activities, and generational legacies of movement mobilizations;
  • Ethnic and racial conflicts, especially in examining comparisons and underlying commonalities across time and space; religious conflicts at multiple scales; conflicts over  environmental changes and uses;
  • Sexual politics, sexuality movements, sex workers; gender conflicts, including the gender component in violence where women are frequently targeted, such as serial and mass killings, rapes, domestic terrorism;
  • Violence in its many forms: sexual violence; prison violence and torture; police violence; crowd violence; masculinity and violence; violent crime;
  • Gangs and criminal organizations, including international ones;
  • Children in conflicts; bullying; conflict and violence in schools and classrooms;
  • New technologies of surveillance and social control; conflict in cyberspace;
  • Political and organizational conflict; scandals;
  • Conflict between institutional arenas, such as work/family conflict;
  • Micro-interactional conflict;
  • Theories of conflict per se including revisiting the sociological classics;
  • Conflict within sociology; intellectual and ideological conflict; conflict in culture and the culture industries
  • How conflicts of different kinds and levels are resolved or at least come to an end.

Randall Collins, University of Pennsylvania
ASA President and 2011 Program Chair