American Sociological Association

Regional Spotlight

ASA will host the 111th Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, August 20-23, 2016. The Washington State Convention Center and Sheraton Seattle Hotel will serve as the headquarter properties for the meeting. We encourage attendees to arrive earlier or stay later and enjoy Seattle!

Seattle is the 20th largest city in the US and is part of the 15th largest metropolitan statistical area (Seattle-Bellevue-Tacoma). Up in the Northwest corner of the U.S., Seattle has historically been a gateway to the Pacific Rim. Seattle was officially incorporated by the Oregon Territorial Legislature in 1869 with a population of just over 2000 residents. Its first major growth occurred in the 1890's where it grew to over 200,000 by 1910 when it sponsored the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (on the current grounds of the University of Washington) and boasted in 1914 to having the tallest building west of the Mississippi, the 42-floor Smith Tower.  

Seattle now is an international high-tech, innovative, and rapidly growing urban center. Greater Seattle is home to Microsoft, Starbucks, Costco, Nordstrom, Amazon, and Boeing. Nestled between Puget Sound and Lake Washington and bounded by the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, Seattle offers great natural beauty. Its 37 inches of rain and 58 fully clear days per year keeps this urban space green. Seattle is home to great food and a vibrant local food movement, boasts a great number of small distilleries and breweries, and has one of the largest and oldest open farmers market in the United States. Seattle has also been the seat of great music from classics to jazz to being a consistent place for new music (think the Ventures, Hendrix, Cobain, and Macklemore).

So come to Seattle to enjoy the Northwest corner of the country, to observe a city coping with issues of rapid growth, to find one of the most diverse zip codes in the United States, to support a $15 dollar minimum wage, to see legal marijuana stores on street corners, and to discover light rail rapid transit. All and all Seattle's a great spot for a sociological adventure.

The local arrangements committee, chaired by Jerald R. Herting (University of Washington) and Jennifer McKinney (Seattle Pacific University) have put together a few Footnotes articles and a number of panels and events that capture some key regional history and issues and gives an overall flavor of how Seattle and the region are changing and fitting (or not) into the general patterns and movements across the United States.

Regional Spotlight Offerings

View the current roster of Regional Spotlight Sessions and Tours for details on the fascinating topics covered this year. View the online preliminary program schedule (which includes Regional Spotlight Sessions).

Regional Spotlight Sessions

  • Homeless in Seattle: Responding to a State of Emergency
  • Immigration and Refugee Dynamics in the Northwest
  • Marijuana—Legalization and Commercialization
  • Poverty and Wealth Inequality in the Pacific Northwest
  • Sustainability and the Urban Environment:  Making Green Cities
  • Sustainable, Just and Inclusive: Seattle's Urban Food Systems
  • The Changing City: Housing, Residential Mobility, and Neighborhood Stratification in Seattle
  • Wages and Labor in Seattle: $15 Per Hour Movement

Regional Spotlight Tours

Tour 01. Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Tour 

  • Date: Saturday, August 20; 10:30am-12:30pm (Fee: $10.00)
  • Tour Departure Area: Hall A, Washington State Convention Center
  • Description: The tour is from the Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Project.  It is a 90 minute walking tour of Pioneer Square that focuses on important and ordinary sites that lesbians, gays and other sexual minorities claimed through the early to mid-20th Century.  It contextualizes their lives and struggles in the social, political, and economic geographies of the cities, as well as broader social movements for sexual liberation of the era.

Tour 02. Seattle Labor History Tour (co-sponsored with Society for the Study of Social Problems) 

  • Date: Sunday, August 21; 8:30am-1:30pm  (Fee: $40.00)
  • Tour Departure Area: Hall A, Washington State Convention Center
  • Description: Join Andrew Hedden of the University of Washington's Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies for a city-wide bus tour of Seattle's storied labor history. From the 1919 Seattle General Strike to the 1999 WTO protests and beyond, from the IWW to Filipino American unionism, come learn about the radicals and regular working men and women who have built the city and fought for social justice. 

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