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Thematic Sessions

The 2004 Program Committee took a new approach to the development of Thematic Sessions. Rather than limit exploration of the meeting theme to the usual 16 invited panels (one per time slot), the umbrella was expanded to encompass the allocation for the standard invited Special Session component. As a result of this bold reorganization, all the invited panel sessions in each timeslot will be related in some manner to investigating the meeting theme. This plethora of theme-related sessions is listed below in four categories which embrace important aspects of “Public Sociologies.”

Making a Difference

One aim of public sociology is to stimulate wide discussion about social policy and its effects. Here sociology enters public debate with its evaluation of policies, such as those designed to reduce economic inequality, environmental pollution, racial and gender discrimination, disease, crime, drug abuse, and so on. Public sociology makes a difference, however, not only by evaluating policy but also by proposing alternative policies in such areas as family, immigration, and education. Finally, public sociology expands the social imagination with more radical alternatives such as basic incomes grants, and experiments in participatory democracy.

  • 25 Years After Love Canal: The Environmental Health and Justice Movements
  • America’s Incarceration Experiment: Its Costs and Consequences
  • Culture, Politics and the Production of Disease: African Cases and Controversies
  • Deepening Democracy through Faith-Based Citizen Activism: Strengths, Critiques, Alternatives
  • Envisioning Real Utopias
  • Human Rights as Public Sociology (co-sponsored with International Human Rights Funders Group)
  • Is Parental Leave Good or Bad for Gender Equality?
  • Public Sociology in Practice: Internationalizing American Sociology through Community Action Research
  • Sociologizing School Policy: The Public Sociology of Education
  • Stratification Theory and Its Contribution to a Public Understanding of Inequality
  • The End of Welfare as We Knew It: What Now?
  • Transnational Environmental Struggles and Our Role as Political Actors
  • Uneven Development and Inequality: What Difference Have Public Policies Made?
  • Unfinished Business: Fifty Years after Brown v. Board of Education
  • Which Box Should Be Checked and Why Does It Matter?: The Consequences of Racial Classification in the United States and Brazil

Public versus Private

The current valorization of the private and privatization, and the vogue of efficiency and effectiveness, suck the very lifeblood out of public and policy sociology. What are the effects of stripping the state of its public face in such areas as welfare, insurance, health care, industry, and, last but not least, what are the effects of the corporatization of the university? Does privatization also diminish civil society and weaken public arenas for opinion formation, social movements, democratic participation? Defenseless against new forms of public control what happens to private individuals – their bodies and their souls, their identities and their families? What are the implications of the privatization of the public for racial classification, popular culture, and the prosecution of war?

  • American Communities and the Public Good
  • Black Popular Culture
  • Body Politics: Where the Public and the Private Meet
  • Collaborating on a Public Issue: The Case of Family Leave
  • Conscience: Sociological Reconstruction and Deconstruction
  • Institutional Identities and the Public Realm
  • Life Courses in the Globalization Process: Six Years of International Comparative Research
  • Medicalized Masculinities: History and Culture
  • Privatization of the State
  • Public vs. Private Solutions to Work-Family Issues
  • Regulating the Corporation?
  • Religious Discourse in Liberal Societies: Thriving, Dying, or Transforming?
  • The Corpse in Contemporary Culture: Identifying, Recoding, and Transacting the Dead Body in the 21st Century
  • University, Inc.: The Corporatization of Academic Life
  • What’s the Problem? Is Privatization the Answer?

Sociology and Its Publics

What are sociology’s publics? Are there indeed any publics left for sociology — apart from students our first and most important public? Is sociology too “left” to promote debate and discussion beyond the academy? Can we, do we, should we create our own publics when, for example, we conduct intensive research, for example, on social movements? Should we constitute ourselves as a public and with what consequences for the profession? What is the sociology of reaching publics? What role does the media play in linking sociology to its publics? What are the disciplinary antecedents and consequences of engaging publics? Is public sociology necessary for a vital discipline, or, alternatively, does it spell the demise of the discipline? What are the dilemmas for public sociology in such controversial areas as reproductive rights, ethics of science, family policy, sexuality, and affirmative action? What do our founding fathers have to say about the public role of sociology – do they have any relevance for today?

  • Activist-Intellectuals in the Media Spotlight: Is the Whole World Watching?
  • Are We on the Same Page?: Bridging Media Research, Activism, and Practice
  • Being a Public Intellectual: Bringing Research to the People
  • Community Organizing in the Era of Globalization: Why? How? For Whom?
  • GLBT Sociologies and Public Issues
  • How Journalists Bring Social Science to the Public
  • Producing Public Ethnographies: On The Politics and Ethics of Field Inquiry
  • Public Sociologists in Pursuit of the Ph.D.
  • Public Sociology and Disciplinary Sociology
  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • Science and Politics: Classical Theories and Contemporary Dilemmas
  • Successful Failures: Contested Opportunity Policies in Higher Education
  • The Media and the Making of a War Culture
  • The Place of Values in Public Sociology: The Case of Family Policy
  • “To Take or Not to Take a Stand”: Can Sociology Thrive without Addressing Public Controversies?

Crossing Borders

As the traffic of people and things across national borders, some legal some illegal, becomes ever heavier, public sociology can no longer confine itself to national publics. Various panels investigate the effects of crossing borders on global publics, specifically the constitution of transnational identities (religious, citizenship, gender), transnational organizations (NGOs, multi-lateral agencies, corporations), transnational communities or diasporas, transnational social movements (labor, feminism). What are the consequences of violent incursions across borders (terrorism, colonialism, genocide)?

  • America in a New Age of Global Conflict
  • Border Crossing and Human Rights (in North America)
  • Can Transnational Labor Mobilization Change Globalization?
  • Diasporas and Identities: The Global Jew in a Postmodern Age
  • Globalization and Resistance: Past and Present
  • Globalization of Love
  • Public Religiosity and Transnational Space: A Question of Relevance
  • Reconfiguring Citizenship in Europe, and Beyond
  • The Clash of Civilizations: How Deep? How Enduring? How Real?
  • The Role of NGOs in Social Movements: U.S. and European Contrasts
  • The Shifting Transnational Boundaries of Carework: Caring Labor in International Conflict
  • Transnational Women’s Movement
  • What Do Sociologists Have to Say about Terrorism?
  • What Do We Know about Migrant Smuggling and Human Trafficking?
  • Who Defines the Reality of Feminized Migration in Asia?

Ford Initiative in Public Sociology

The term public sociology was invented in the United States to criticize and counter mounting professionalization. In many countries of today the term public sociology is not necessary because sociology is presumed to be public. Where sociology is so public, however, it is also often vulnerable to political pressures and even banning. In virtually all countries the boundaries between public and professional sociologies are more fluid and permeable than in the United States. These seven panels bring representatives from different regions of the world to discuss the distinctive configuration of national public sociologies and the issues they take up.

  • Production of Sociological Knowledge, Public Engagement and the Quest for Peace and Justice in Palestine/Israel
  • Public Intellectuals and Critical Events: The Case of India
  • Public Sociology in East Asia
  • Public Sociology in Post-Communist Societies
  • Public Sociology in South Africa
  • Public Sociology in the United States
  • Public Space and Sociology in Latin America Today

Activities of Other Groups

The wide-ranging interests of ASA members generate meetings of special interest groups during each year’s Annual Meeting. Space is assigned as available to these groups to hold their meetings and/or sessions in evening time slots when no program sessions or other ASA activities are scheduled. Please refer to the online Searchable Program for details on activities of other groups. Some groups will also have membership information and publications on display in the ASA registration area at the Hilton San Francisco.

Alpha Kappa Delta
American Journal of Sociology Editorial Board
Caucus on Gender and Sexuality in International Contexts
Christian Sociological Society
Commission on Applied and Clinical Sociology
Community Based Research Organizing Meeting
Consumer, Commodities, and Consumption Special Interest Group (Daniel Cook)
Critical Filipino and Filipina Sociologists Collective (CFFSC)
Critical Sociology Editorial Board
Disability Research Network
India Network panel on Sociological and Demographic Currents in South Asia    (K. Vaninadha Rao)
ISA Research Committee on Disasters
Japan Sociologists Network
Korean Sociologists network
Memorial Gathering for Ruth Simms Hamilton
National Council of State Sociological Associations
North American Chinese Sociologists Association
“Public Sociology in Contested Areas” (Carole Joffe)
Sociological Imagination Group
Sociological Inquiry Editorial Board
Sociological Practice Association and Society for Applied Sociology Joint    Meeting
Sociological Research Association
Sociologists for Women in Society
Sociologists Without Borders
Sociologists’ AIDS Network
Sociologists’ Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus