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Sociologists to explore social movements at annual meeting in Seattle, Aug. 20-23

July 12, 2016

More than 4,500 sociologists will convene in Seattle this August to explore ideas and scientific research relating to social movements and many other topics, as part of the American Sociological Association's 111th Annual Meeting. This year's theme, "Rethinking Social Movements: Can Changing the Conversation Change the World?," shows the importance of research by sociologists in exploring under what conditions social movements have the power to achieve lasting social change.

The conference will feature approximately 600 sessions and more than 3,200 studies covering such subjects as health, education, immigration, family, politics, children, race, religion, work, sex, criminal justice, disability, environment, relationships, gender, culture, drugs/alcohol, technology, disasters, 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 111th Annual Meeting: "Rethinking Social Movements: Can Changing the Conversation Change the World?"

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 20, through Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016 (Opening Plenary Session is Friday, Aug. 19, from 7 to 9 p.m.)

WHERE: Washington State Convention Center (800 Convention Place, Seattle, WA 98101) and the Sheraton Seattle Hotel (1400 6th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101)

REGISTRATION: Complimentary media registration is now open. Download the press policy and registration form online at The early registration deadline is Friday, Aug. 5.

PROGRAM: A searchable preliminary program and the preliminary program in PDF form are available at


  • Right-Wing Movements and Inequality: Looking to the Future
    Saturday, Aug. 20, 8:30 - 10:10 a.m.

    A wave of progressive social movement activism beginning in the 1960s helped to reduce various types of social inequalities. In recent decades, we have observed increases in conservative or right-wing activism, with many right-wing movements borrowing organizational forms and tactics previously employed by progressive counterparts. While social scientists were somewhat late in turning their attention to right-wing movements, that has begun to change. Our knowledge of conservative activism has grown substantially in recent years. In this session, scholars who have expertise pertaining to different types of right-wing movements will draw upon their past research to project into the future. While the wave of progressive activism has contributed to social equality in areas such as civil rights, LGBT rights, and gender equality, is there reason to expect that in the years ahead right-wing movements will experience success in rolling back gains that progressive movements have achieved, and exacerbating ongoing inequalities and injustices? Presentations by leading scholars will be followed by an open discussion of the future of right-wing activism.

  • Climate Change and Social Movements
    Saturday, Aug. 20, 10:30 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Climate change has emerged as a key social issue in recent years, and has helped spur the growth of social movements around the world focused on environmental issues. Sociologists have been increasingly engaged with these issues as well. This session will feature a group of leading sociologists who have written extensively on climate change and the social disparities with which it is intertwined, as well as the growth of environmental activism in the United States and worldwide.

  • Digital Natives and Online Politics
    Saturday, Aug. 20, 10:30 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Are youth less engaged than older generations were at their age, is digital media allowing youth to be politically engaged in new ways and at impressive levels, or is reality somewhere between the Putnam-induced pessimism and a digital utopia? This panel will investigate these issues by examining shifts in youth engagement overall; shifts from more traditional formats of engagement, such as voting, to more engaged formats, such as protest participation and/or volunteering; and the risks and advantages of these changes.

  • Wealth, Inequality, and the Future of American Politics
    Saturday, Aug. 20, 10:30 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Panelists will discuss the influence of individual and corporate wealth in American politics. Specifically, they will examine (1) how inequality of wealth and income shapes politics and public policy, especially in terms of campaign contributions and lobbying, and (2) the struggle to reform this, such as various efforts to change campaign finance laws, challenge Citizens United, grassroots movements, etc. Although money has always been a major factor in acquiring political influence in the U.S., the influence of money has reached an unprecedented level. In 2014, following the Citizens United and McCutcheon Supreme Court decisions, we saw the most expensive midterm elections in U.S. history. The panelists will offer unique perspectives on the role of money in American politics and discuss whether/how this could change and how the dominance of wealth in political decision-making could be challenged.

  • Protesting Racism
    Saturday, Aug. 20, 12:30 - 2:10 p.m.

    The Black Lives Matter movement swept the United States in the past few years, raising public awareness of police brutality and racism to unprecedented levels. Panelists, who include prominent leaders of this new social movement, will discuss the dynamics of the movement, as well as the issues that led to its emergence and growth.

  • One Year After Obergefell v. Hodges: The Case of Marriage Equality
    Sunday, Aug. 21, 8:30 - 10:10 a.m.

    More than a year has passed since the 2015 landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges in which the Supreme Court ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. To what extent were social movements, public opinion, and the academy responsible for these remarkable changes in legal rights for same-sex couples? To what extent do these legal changes reshape the agenda of LGBT social movements and scholarship on LGBT issues, family, the law, and social change? A panel of leading sociologists of sexualities, family, the law, and social movements weighs in on these questions.

  • The Broken Spring: The Arab Uprisings and Their Aftermaths
    Sunday, Aug. 21, 8:30 - 10:10 a.m.

    The "Arab Spring" uprisings of 2010-2011 produced a moment of nearly unanimous jubilation in the Middle East and among observers worldwide. Among the celebrants was the field of social movement studies, which was initially puzzled by the sudden success of these largely peaceful mass movements, but eager to delve into new avenues of analysis that the uprisings launched into view, including the uses of social media, the role of symbolic spaces, and the specter of food insecurity. Several years later, optimism for the region has almost entirely disappeared, but these and other puzzles remain. This session will examine the implications of the "Arab Spring" uprisings and their tumultuous aftermaths for the study of social movements around the world.

  • Attacks on Higher Education
    Sunday, Aug. 21, 10:30 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    America's public colleges and universities are currently facing threats and challenges that are unprecedented in their scope and magnitude. While some of these reflect a genuine need to adapt to a changing environment, others stem from concerted efforts by interested parties to fundamentally alter higher education. In this session, leading sociologists of higher education will survey the contemporary situation and offer their thoughts on how the public college and university sector might successfully navigate the challenges that lay before it.

  • The Obama Presidency
    Sunday, Aug. 21, 2:30 - 4:10 p.m.

    The election of Barack Obama as the first African American president of the United States was a historic moment. His election raised the expectations for bold social policy aimed at reducing inequalities and improving the situations for the most disadvantaged Americans. The Obama presidency has also motivated an abundance of academic research and political and social commentary. This session will explore how the country has changed (or not) over the eight years of the Obama presidency. Panelists will consider the impact and potential legacy of the Obama presidency on immigration; race, class, and gender inequality; international politics and relations; labor and employment; health care; criminal justice; and political participation and organizing. They will also highlight how sociological knowledge can and should inform policymaking and organizing into the next election.

  • Movements Matter: Connecting the Local and Global in Addressing Violence Against Women
    Monday, Aug. 22, 8:30 - 10:10 a.m.

    This session will focus on movements to address violence against women. Panelists will explore topics such as mobilization to combat violence against women, initiatives in specific countries to deal with violence against women (including sexual violence in conflict zones), and the role of the United Nations in expanding the meanings and accounting of violence against women.

  • Social Movements and the 2016 Presidential Election
    Monday, Aug. 22, 2:30 - 4:10 p.m.

    Recent scholarship on political parties has pointed to the crucial role that movements and groups play in the composition and ideological direction of the parties. This panel will examine this research in light of the 2016 presidential election. In addition to discussing the role that various social movement actors played in the nomination process and ideological positioning in each party, panelists will also examine what impact the election results might have on various social movements.

  • The Politics of Paid Family Leave in the 21st Century U.S.
    Tuesday, Aug. 23, 10:30 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    In the 21st Century, three states have passed legislation creating paid family leave programs, and political momentum in support of such programs is growing in other states, as well as at the federal level. Panelists, including leading experts and policymakers, will discuss the nature and impact of the new programs, the political dynamics that led to their creation, as well as the prospects for their extension to additional states and to the nation in the coming years.

  • Transgender Identities, Institutions, and Social Change
    Tuesday, Aug. 23, 12:30 - 2:10 p.m.

    Can social movements change more than just conversations? How much pragmatic, institutional change results from significant shifts in identity categories and individual self-understandings? Panelists will discuss the impact of transgender identities and communities on a range of social institutions, including law and the state, psychoanalysis, biomedicine, and psychiatry.

  • The Immigrant Rights Movement, Ten Years After the 2006 Marches
    Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2:30 - 4:10 p.m.

    In Spring 2006, millions of protestors took to the streets in cities and towns across the United States to demand immigrant rights. This session will examine the movement today, assessing the trajectories of different streams of the movement, including youth activism and the alliance with organized labor. It will also take up the vexed question of how the movement has shaped the behavior of policymakers over the past decade.

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.

American Sociological Association

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