Each year, ASA’s President-elect chooses a theme on which to focus some of the programming for the ASA Annual Meeting—a tradition that ensures our meetings reflect the rich diversity of perspectives and subject matter in our discipline. 2022 ASA President-elect Cecilia Menjívar has chosen the theme Bureaucracies of Displacement. Her conception of the theme is below.
Bureaucracies of Displacement
The COVID-19 pandemic, as it is the case with crises in general, has exposed and amplified multiple inequalities and assaults on vulnerable populations. The pandemic, along with the economic and political crises today, has brought to light inequities in access to a wide range of benefits, resources, and rights that we as sociologists must grapple with. The theme for the 2022 ASA Annual Meeting, Bureaucracies of Displacement, will offer the opportunity to assess sociologically the depth of the issues we are facing today and their long-term effects.
As we do so, the 2022 ASA Program Committee invites sociologists to consider the role of the state in creating and amplifying the inequalities and inequities that a crisis makes so visible, and to provide a lens to examine long-term effects. Through laws and policies, and in multiple ways, the state—with its attendant institutions and everyday bureaucratic practices—actively pushes out certain groups, marginalizing, excluding, and containing them, and involving in these processes a wide array of non-state actors.
Therefore, Displacement refers to a lens through which to examine social, legal, economic, political, physical, geographic, intellectual, and similar dislocations and exclusions. Bureaucracies centers state actions (past and present) that produce and reproduce exclusions, expulsions, and marginalizations, as well as state inactions (such as disavowal, deregulation, neglect, and abandonment). This angle permits a focus on the manifestations of state power in everyday life, including but not limited to, immigration/detention/enforcement, undermining of reproductive rights, workplace regulations and the encroachment of workers’ rights, school policies that disproportionately disadvantage certain groups, urban/city policies and housing policies, red-lining, policing and the criminal justice system, health care system policies, policies that devastate the environment, expulsions from lands and physical spaces, and the erosion of Indigenous rights and lands.
Thus, the program committee envisions Bureaucracies of Displacement as a capacious theme that can involve many sub-fields of the discipline as it also opens the opportunity to attend to how groups and organizations respond to and resist state actions and inactions. This approach also has a critical policy-related component. This lens can generate concrete evaluations of existing structures that displace and marginalize certain groups, but also those structures that may integrate, and to invite thinking about tangible avenues for reform and social change.