American Sociological Association

Sociologists to Explore the Topic of Sexuality at Annual Meeting in Chicago

More than 5,500 sociologists will convene in Chicago this August to explore ideas and scientific research relating to sexuality and many other topics, as part of the American Sociological Association's 110th Annual Meeting. This year's theme, "Sexualities in the Social World," shows the importance of research by sociologists in illuminating how social norms and social inequalities affect what sexual behavior is acceptable and who partners with whom. 

The conference will feature approximately 600 sessions and more than 4,100 studies covering such subjects as children, health, family, immigration, consumerism, food, gender, education, technology, sex, politics, disability, development, substance abuse, environment, religion, culture, same-sex marriage, bullying, work, race, relationships, criminal justice, and an abundance of others. Given the diverse range of topics that will be covered, ASA's Annual Meeting will provide a wealth of information for journalists assigned to nearly any beat.

WHAT: The American Sociological Association's 110th Annual Meeting: "Sexualities in the Social World"

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 22, through Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015 (Opening Plenary Session is Friday, Aug. 21, from 7 to 9 pm)

WHERE: Hilton Chicago (720 South Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60605) and Hilton Palmer House (17 East Monroe St., Chicago, IL 60603)

REGISTRATION: Complimentary media registration is now open. Download the press policy and registration form online at The early registration deadline is Friday, Aug. 7.

PROGRAM: A searchable preliminary program is available at The preliminary program is also available in PDF form at   


Abortion in America: A Discussion with the Only Doctor Providing Abortions in Mississippi and Three Sociologists
Friday, Aug. 21, 7:00 – 9:00 pm  (Hilton Chicago, International Ballroom North, 2nd Floor)
After a brief introduction to relevant trends by demographer Phil Morgan, the featured speaker will be Dr. Willie Parker, the only doctor providing abortions in Mississippi. He will discuss the struggles entailed in doing this work, and what he has learned about the lives of the women that seek abortions. Then, Zakiya Luna will discuss the reproductive justice movement and Sarah K. Cowan will highlight how abortions are discussed — or kept secret — in social networks, and how this can affect political opinion.

The Military and Sexuality
Saturday, Aug. 22, 8:30 – 10:10 am (Hilton Chicago, Waldorf Room, 3rd Floor)  
Some issues at the intersection of the military and sexuality have been longstanding, such as infidelity among deployed troops and their spouses. Others are in the current news almost daily, such as sexual assault (particularly at the service academies) and the integration of women in combat units. There is an emerging literature on the impact of the recent lifting of the ban on gays serving openly, but there remain unresolved issues, such as the adaptation of the military to same-sex families.

Sexuality in the Workplace
Saturday, Aug. 22, 10:30 am  – 12:10 pm (Hilton Chicago, Williford Room C, 3rd Floor)
The workplace is a key site for the reproduction of sexual identities and sexual inequalities. Through routine social interactions, managers as well as workers police the boundaries of acceptable sexual expression. This panel will bring together scholars studying sexuality in a number of employment settings to explore: how sexual identities and sexual inequalities are created in various work organizations; how gender, race, and class inflect the sexual norms of workplaces; and how increasing legal protections for LGBT people is transforming work organizations.

Is Social Mobility Declining?
Saturday, Aug. 22, 10:30 am – 12:10 pm  (Hilton Chicago, Wabash Room, 3rd Floor)  
There are growing concerns that social mobility may be declining as economic inequality increases and as deindustrialization and the Great Recession hollow out the middle class by reducing demand for skilled manufacturing jobs. As the number of skilled middle-class jobs decline, opportunities for upward mobility for those from low social origins may decline as well. Have these and other developments indeed led to a decline in social mobility? Or are the fears trumped up? A panel of distinguished sociologists and economists present the latest evidence.

The Politics of Same-Sex Marriage: Public Opinion and the Courts
Saturday, Aug. 22, 12:30 – 2:10 pm  (Hilton Chicago, International Ballroom North, 2nd Floor)  
For better or worse, same-sex marriage has dominated discussions of gay rights in recent years. Public opinion has shifted in a direction favorable to marriage equality, significant social movement resources have focused on preventing or attaining the right of same-sex couples to marry, and an avalanche of court decisions have come down. Panelists will consider public opinion shifts, which social groups favor and oppose same-sex marriage, how social movements have mobilized for and against same sex marriage, and the import of recent court decisions.

Modern Romance: Dating, Mating, and Marriage
Saturday, Aug. 22, 8:00 – 9:30 pm (Hilton Chicago, International Ballroom North, 2nd Floor)
When American sociologists initially studied modern romance about a century ago, they discovered that most people were fiercely parochial. Americans generally dated and mated within their hometowns, and in big cities they often married someone who lived within a few blocks. This session, featuring comedian and actor Aziz Ansari and NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg who co-authored the new book Modern Romance, explores the transformation of modern romance over the past century, paying particular attention to recent changes related to the Internet, globalization, the rising status of women, the acceptance of non-conventional sexual relationships, and the search for a soulmate. The panelists will assess how singles manage the expanded options available to them today.

No Sex, Just a Baby: Birth Without Sex
Sunday, Aug. 23, 8:30 – 10:10 am (Hilton Chicago, Continental Ballroom C, Lobby Level)
Advances in medications and medical techniques in the 20th century have made human reproduction without sex a routinized and widely accepted practice. This session will address issues such as reluctance to admit the need for medical help to conceive a child, the impact of infertility treatment on men's and women's sexuality and sexual relationships, religious views on procreation without sex, and attitudes toward sexuality as the underlying link between views on contraception, abortion, and assisted reproductive technologies.

Introducing Climate Change and Society: Sociological Perspectives (Oxford University Press, 2015) - Report of the ASA Task Force on Sociology and Global Climate Change
Sunday, Aug. 23, 10:30 am – 12:10 pm (Hilton Chicago, Conference Room 4B, 4th Floor)
In 2010, the ASA Council established a Task Force on Sociology and Global Climate Change, and charged it with applying sociological analyses to the issue of climate change. After careful deliberations, the Task Force decided to publish an edited volume with chapters focusing on key aspects of climate change for which sociological theory and research provide useful insights.

Guns: Sociological Approaches to an American Problem
Sunday, Aug. 23, 2:30 – 4:10 pm (Hilton Chicago, Williford Room B, 3rd Floor)
With more guns circulating in private hands than in any other industrialized country, guns are a critical feature of American life. The purpose of this session is to bring together some leading scholars to examine various ways that guns shape the American experience, and by extension, the different ways that people experience guns. Each of the presenters examines a different aspect of how guns shape American life — from their place in familial relations, to how class and race inform gun politics, to the circulation of guns in the underground economy, to the experiences of shooting victims.

Race and Policing Post-Ferguson
Monday, Aug. 24, 8:30 – 10:10 am (Hilton Chicago, Marquette Room, 3rd Floor)
This session grapples with the issues of race and policing in the post-Ferguson era. How can we understand the individual and organizational processes that lead to fatal encounters between the police and civilians, and how can we explain the disproportionate policing of young black men? How do young men and women of color experience policing in their communities, and how do these interactions shape their outlook and sense of opportunity?

Sexuality and Religion
Monday, Aug. 24, 2:30 – 4:10 pm (Hilton Chicago, Continental Ballroom C, Lobby Level)
This panel will explore some of the diverse ways that religious traditions understand, shape, and attempt to monitor sexuality. Melissa Wilde examines the ways in which early divisions in the American religious field that seemed connected to sex and gender (e.g., birth control) were really about race and class. Bernadette Barton will discuss the ways in which conservative attitudes slow the progress of gay rights. Roger Friedland and Janet Afary will discuss Islam, gender, and intimacy.

Internet Dating
Monday, Aug. 24, 8:00 – 9:30 pm (Hilton Chicago, International Ballroom North, 2nd Floor)
Using internet dating sites to find partners is now completely mainstream. Panelists will consider the sociology of how this system works. Two panelists will use their access to data from internet dating sites revealing what groups are on the sites and who contacts and responds to whom. One panelist will show how race affects who is contacted or responded to among those seeking same-sex or other-sex partners. Another panelist will use new methods to uncover what people are looking for in partners, and how market constraints shape people's search and contact strategies. Another panelist will report on a survey ascertaining which groups are more likely to have used the internet to find partners, and will put internet dating into a broader historical perspective focusing on macrosocial trends affecting mate choice and family formation.

Sexual Violence
Tuesday, Aug. 25, 10:30 am – 12:10 pm (Hilton Chicago, Continental Ballroom B, Lobby Level)
"Stop using sex as a weapon," 80s rocker Pat Benatar famously sang. But for many, sexuality and violence are deeply entangled. Recent research explores how interpersonal violence is used to constitute sexual relationships, not only between women and men, but also among different minority and LGBT communities. In this session, leading scholars in the field will present some of the most empirically grounded and analytically sensitive research on sexual assault, interpersonal violence, and sexuality.

How Race Affects Finding Partners for Sex, Romance, or Marriage
Tuesday, Aug. 25, 12:30 – 2:10 pm (Hilton Chicago, Continental Ballroom A, Lobby Level)
Whom we form intimate partnerships with — for sex, romance, or marriage — is affected by race. Four panelists use diverse styles of analysis to illuminate partnering processes. Reuben Thomas considers how race and gender intersect to affect the settings where U.S. heterosexual partners meet and who introduces them. Florencia Torche considers whether black people in the U.S. and other countries "need" more education to marry white people. Héctor Carrillo uses ethnographically-based analysis to illuminate the racialized stereotypes, objectification, and cross-cultural affinities at play in gay partnerships between white American men and Mexican or Mexican-American men near the U.S./Mexican border. Grace Kao uses survey data showing the marginalization of Asian males in youth and young adult dating markets.

CONTACT: Daniel Fowler, ASA Media Relations Manager,, (202) 527-7885


About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association (, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.

News Item Types: 

Get Involved


ASA needs you to serve the discipline

Join a Section

Explore ASA's community of specialists in the discipline

Join ASA

Join or renew your membership