American Sociological Association

Sociologists to Take In-Depth Look at Chicago During ASA Annual Meeting

At the American Sociological Association's 110th Annual Meeting, Chicago will be the subject of several regional spotlight sessions in which leading sociologists will present research on and discuss topics related to the city, including public education, social inequality, criminal justice, migration, and gentrification.

The conference will take place from Saturday, Aug. 22, through Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015 (Opening Plenary Session is Friday, Aug. 21, from 7 to 9 pm) at the Hilton Chicago (720 South Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60605) and the Hilton Palmer House (17 East Monroe St., Chicago, IL 60603).

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Social Inequality, Racial Isolation, and the Windy City
Saturday, Aug. 22, 10:30 am – 12:10 pm  (Hilton Chicago, Marquette Room, 3rd Floor)
How are we to think about the social inequality and racial isolation that has refined the topography of Chicago in the last 30-40 years? What can empirical research tell us about these dynamics and how can theory organize these empirical findings? This session explores these questions through multiple perspectives. While patterns of social inequality and racial isolation are taking place in other cities, panelists will discuss their work and ideas on how the Chicago experience teaches us broader lessons about social inequality relating to continuity and change.

City on the Remake? Gentrification and Urban Change in Chicago
Sunday, Aug. 23, 10:30 am – 12:10 pm (Hilton Chicago, Astoria Room, 3rd Floor)  
Is Chicago remaking itself? What are the key trends? What questions need to be addressed? This session examines urban change and gentrification in Chicago from a variety of angles — public housing redevelopment, the pace of gentrification, race and residential selection, cultural change, and the great crime decline. Panelists will present their research and ideas on the topic and will provoke a discussion on the implications for Chicago and cities more broadly.

Public Education in Chicago in the Neoliberal Era
Sunday, Aug. 23, 12:30 – 2:10 pm (Hilton Chicago, Williford Room B, 3rd Floor)
These are turbulent times for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system, the third-largest in the nation. In 2012, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) went on an eight-day strike over wages, merit pay, job security, teacher assessment, class size, and accountability issues. This was the first strike in 25 years and occurred under the new leadership of Karen Lewis. Lewis' reputation as a fierce critic of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's education policies led to the formation of a mayoral exploratory committee in the Fall of 2014. Before falling ill, she was widely viewed as having a very good chance of successfully challenging Emanuel in the 2015 mayoral election. The 2015 election and Lewis' exploratory committee came on the heels of unprecedented school closures in Chicago. In May 2013, with Emanuel's support, the CPS board voted to close 49 elementary schools, mostly in impoverished neighborhoods in Chicago's South and West Sides, a move fiercely opposed by many parents and community activists. This panel brings together the Vice President of the CTU, a former top executive of CPS, and the leading scholar on educational policy issues in Chicago to discuss the future of public education in Chicago and implications for education nationally.

Policing De-Industrial Chicago: Racial Violence and the Struggle for Police Accountability
Monday, Aug. 24, 10:30 am – 12:10 pm (Hilton Chicago, PDR 2, 3rd Floor)
Like most big cities, crime is lower now in Chicago than it has been in decades. But violent crime is still endemic to    impoverished neighborhoods, as are issues of trust and concerns about lack of police accountability. Chicago also struggles with the legacy of the damage done by notorious police commander Jon Burge and his subordinates, who used torture to elicit confessions from over 100 African-American men in the 70s and 80s. This session brings together historians and social scientists who have done path breaking work on police-community relations in Chicago. They will discuss their work and implications for policing and race relations more broadly.

Latinos in the Midwest: Incorporation, Mobilizations, and Persisting Challenges
Monday, Aug. 24, 2:30 – 4:10 pm (Hilton Chicago, PDR 2, 3rd Floor)
Given historical patterns of settlement, the social science literature on Latino/a migration and incorporation has tended to focus on large urban centers. In the context of the Midwest, specifically, much scholarship on Latino/a experiences has focused on the city of Chicago. Yet, we know that Latinos/Latinas have long been present in many other communities across the region. Furthermore, the Midwest is a broadly constituted and contested space, a site of ongoing and new migrations from established areas of Latino/a settlement in other parts of the country, and from Latin America and the Caribbean. Chicago and a host of other Midwestern cities of various sizes continue to be configured and reconfigured by the Latino/a presence. Additionally, for the past three decades, growing numbers of Latinos/Latinas have settled in a variety of suburban and rural communities across the region. This paper session features work on the dynamic landscapes constituted by Latinos/Latinas in the Midwest.

Urban Culture and Public Life in Chicago
Monday, Aug. 24, 4:30 – 6:10 pm (Hilton Chicago, PDR 2, 3rd Floor)
Chicago has long served as a central site for the sociological study of urban culture and public life. In this session, we will discuss how race relations unfold in Chicago's public spaces; neighborhood gentrification and the ecological landscape of the LGBT community; and the city's vibrant scenes of urban entertainment, nightlife, and cultural consumption. In doing so, we will emphasize Chicago's distinctiveness as well as its persistent ability to highlight larger social forces operating in American metropolitan life more generally.

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.

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