American Sociological Association

Sociology and Social Justice

American Sociological Association Annual Meeting in New York

Contact: Naomi Paiss, Communications Director, at (202) 247-9859, npaiss@asanet.org, or (202) 440-0875 (cell); Johanna Olexy, Senior Communications Associate, at (202) 247-9873, communications@asanet.org, or (202) 251-6251 (cell). The press office onsite is at the New York Hilton Midtown, Concourse H.

Washington, DC—On August 10-13, thousands of sociologists from around the nation and the world will meet in New York at the association’s 114th Annual Meeting. At a time when issues ranging from the U.S. census to the racial wealth gap dominate public discourse, more than 600 sessions involving 4,600 presenters and 3,000 research papers will deepen understanding of the interrelationship of societal structures and policy issues, as well as their impact on ordinary people and communities.

This year’s theme, Engaging Social Justice for a Better World, follows in the activist tradition of W.E.B. Du Bois, Jane Addams, and other prominent sociologists in exploring sociology that challenges social injustice and sustains scholar activism. As a discipline that concerns itself with power relations in society, and at a time when empirical research is being challenged and undercut for political purposes in the public sphere, ASA President Mary Romero chose the meeting theme to bring marginalized voices into the decisions about what questions are asked and what issues are studied in sociology.

“Sociologists possess the analytical tools and empirical data necessary to support communities fighting against injustices in many realms,” Dr. Romero wrote. “Sociologists who partner with community groups, human rights organizations, civil rights lawyers, and other social justice advocates can make significant contributions to promote scholarship that can facilitate progressive social change.”

All ASA sessions except ASA and section business meetings are open to credentialed journalists and freelancers with assignment letters or clips from credentialed outlets. Complimentary media registration is open; download the press policy and registration online (www.asanet.org/PressPolicy). Search the online program for keywords to find sessions of interest. All sessions will be held at the New York Hilton Midtown or the adjoining Sheraton New York Times Square.

Session highlights, focused on both national and local New York issues, include:

The 2020 Census
Saturday, August 10, 10:30 a.m.-12:10 p.m., New York Hilton, Second Floor, Nassau West

By the time the ASA Annual Meeting in New York begins, the massive enterprise of launching the 2020 U.S. Census will finally be underway. The preparedness, focus, and purpose of this enterprise have been subject to often intense debate among sociologists, even playing a role in the creation of a new ASA task force on federal data. This session will delve into this discussion by considering the past, present, and future of the U.S. Census through the lens of sociological research. The “past” part of this presidential session will cover the historical value of the U.S. Census for research on key sociological issues. The “present” part of this presidential session will cover the challenges facing the upcoming the U.S. Census, including the measurement of race/ethnicity, the use of new data collection technologies, and procedures for including hard-to-reach populations. The “future” part of this presidential session will cover potential future directions for the U.S. Census and what sociologists want and need from future editions.

Designing for Social Justice? The Politics of Technology
Saturday, August 10, 10:30 a.m.-12:10 p.m., Sheraton New York, Lower Level, Gramercy

From “data for good” movements using metrics to support evidenced-based policy to proposed solutions to global “energy poverty,” technologies have come to sit at the center of attempts to reduce inequality and democratize technoscience. The conceit that technological design may embody a range of both deliberate and unintended social assumptions is central to many of these efforts. This panel session will highlight scholarship on efforts to “design for social justice”--be it through the creation of alternative, liberatory technologies, or via the reverse-engineering or hacking of black boxes for more equitable ends. Papers will explore what engineering and design practices tell us about the interplay between the intent, use, and outcome of technological systems; about the durability of technological affordances; and about the relationship between technoscience and politics.

Criminal Justice and Social Justice
Saturday, August 10, 4:30-6:10 p.m., New York Hilton, Second Floor, Clinton

Issues of social justice and criminal justice processes are deeply connected in U.S. society. Agents of the criminal justice system have long played a role in the enforcement of hierarchical boundaries like race and class. In the contemporary U.S., mass incarceration and militaristic police surveillance have resulted in a criminal justice system that is deeply raced, classed, and gendered and that operates to reproduce social inequalities. This panel interrogates the processes of the criminal justice system and the implications of the current system for projects of social justice.

DuBoisian Sociology and Social Justice
Saturday, August 10, 6:30 to 8:00pm, New York Hilton, Third Floor, Grand Ballroom

W.E.B. Du Bois was at the forefront of framing sociological research using a social justice lens in developing research questions aimed at challenging oppressive social institutions. Combining rigorous scientific methodology with politically engaged scholarship, he shaped a significant branch of sociology that has largely been ignored in mainstream sociology. Panelists will discuss his lasting contributions to sociology and highlight the importance of pursuing social justice.

Masculinity and Sexuality
Sunday, August 11, 2:30-4:10 p.m., Sheraton New York, Second Floor, Metropolitan Ballroom East

Renewed attention has been focused on contemporary masculinity in the current climate of intense focus on sexual-harassment and social misconduct concerning gender relations. That attention has opened questions and inquiries in sociology and related disciplines about toxic masculinity and the social misconduct of men. The papers in this session explore contemporary masculinity with the context of this current preoccupation. These presentations address questions such as how new and relevant notions of healthy masculinity might emerge, how might toxic masculinity be unpacked and confronted in scholarship, and how might these efforts affect broader social change aside from increased legal intervention.

Social Justice Lawyering and Sociology
Monday, August 12, 12:30-2:10 p.m., New York Hilton, Third Floor, Grand Ballroom

In fall 2017 Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts suggested that empirical research presented in a case concerning politically partisan gerrymandering was “sociological gobbledygook.” Chief Justice Roberts’ comments raised a critical concern for lawyers and sociologists alike interested in the pursuit of social justice. In an era in which political leaders obscure empirical realities concerning inequality and oppression through rhetorical claims of “fake news” and rigid denial of empirical factual evidence, the need to examine the connection between lawyering and social science research is exceedingly important. Lawyers and sociologists interested in creating social justice and a more equitable United States and world must actively engage in the project of connecting law, political activism, and rigorous empirical research. This panel brings together lawyers and sociologists engaged in the project of tactical uses of social science research, empirical evidence, and activist legal work both inside and outside courtrooms.

Populism: Left and Right
Monday, August 12, 2:30-4:10 p.m., New York Hilton, Second Floor, Nassau East

Sociology has traditionally shied away from investigations of populism. Whether over concern for the fluidity of the concept or the methodological problems related to comparison, variation, and confounding variables, sociology (even in subfields such as social movements, political sociological, and race and ethnicity) has struggled with the concept. However, recent resurgences of populism in Latin America, the Middle East, and from the left and right in the run-up to 2016 presidential election, sociology is now called upon to address the theoretical, empirical, and methodological dilemmas related to populism without distilling these issues to matters of political ideologies or organizations. Without such intervention, sociology is at risk to be woefully wrong—or possibly worse—deemed irrelevant when it comes to understanding the social causes and consequences of populism in the new millennium.

Author Meets Critics: The Other Side of Assimilation: How Immigrants Are Changing American Life by Tomas R. Jimenez
Tuesday, August 13, 8:30-10:10 p.m., New York Hilton, Second Floor, Clinton

This theoretically innovative, empirically rigorous, and substantively important book deals with the complex linkages among immigration, assimilation, intergroup contact and race relations with clarity, complexity, compassion, and coherence. The book’s premise is rooted in the observation made by numerous scholars that United States has changed because of the presence of a large immigrant population. In 2016, one in four Americans were immigrants or the children of immigrants. Although four decades of scholarship on immigrant integration has examined how immigrants and their children are becoming Americans by adjusting to new racial, ethnic, economic, and political contexts, there has been virtually no research that seeks to address the other side of that equation: how American society has also changed as a result of immigration. As Jiménez notes, the observation that immigrants are changing so much begs the question: what do those changes mean for individuals whose families have been in United States for multiple generations? Jiménez calls these individuals--those who are born in the U.S. to U.S.-born parents--“established individuals.” The book proceeds to examine the experiences of a diverse spectrum of established individuals who live in three Silicon Valley cities that have been reshaped by immigration: East Palo Alto, Cupertino, and San Jose.

FOR LOCAL JOURNALISTS COVERING NEW YORK:

Several Meeting sessions will cover national issues in the New York context, including:

A People's Guide to New York City: Highlighting Histories of Resilience, Activism, and Social Change
Saturday, August 10, 10:30 a.m.-12:10 p.m., New York Hilton, Concourse, Concourse B

This session examines sites of oppression, resistance, struggle and transformation in New York City. Utilizing work featured in A People's Guide to New York City (forthcoming), presenters provide a socio-historical and topographical overview of selected sites throughout the five boroughs that reflect the daily lives of New York residents. Typical tours and guidebooks of New York highlight places like Wall Street, Ground Zero, and the Statue of Liberty, or include sections on movies, art, shopping and style ¬ [not sure what this is supposed to be; weird symbol] opting to focus on glitz and glamor, and ignore issues such as poverty, gentrification, discrimination, and environmental degradation. Despite the city's constant reinvention, the past is rarely entirely expunged from its streets and neighborhoods. Traces of its long history remain in the socio¬physical landscape of the city, and what is new tends to layer the old rather than outright replace it. The sites featured in this session highlight stories of activism, resilience, and fights for social justice that are integral to understanding the diverse communities within New York.

Organizing and Retrenchment in the Academy
Saturday, August 10, 2:30-4:10 p.m., New York Hilton, Concourse, Concourse B

As the corporatization of the University has intensified over the past two decades, academic workers have been more active than ever. A record number of unions have been organized by faculty, graduate students, adjuncts, and staff at both private and public institutions. The response from Universities has often been swift and brutal as they try to maintain and maximize their flexibility. Academic workers, on the other hand, have been fighting to improve eroding wages, precarity, crumbling infrastructure, and the overall worsening of working conditions in the academy. This panel looks at the recent unionization and contract campaigns of academic workers in New York City.

Educational Successes and Challenges in Diverse Urban Districts: Lessons from New York City
Sunday, August 11, 8:30-10:10 a.m., New York Hilton, Concourse, Concourse B

Public education in New York City faces a number of opportunities and challenges in delivering equitable, high-quality K-12 schooling. Like many American cities, New York is residentially segregated and economically unequal, which produces tremendous variation in the assets and struggles students bring to their school buildings each day. As the largest school district in the United States, New York City is viewed as a leader in education practice and policy, embedded in an urban context that has long been a focus of sociological research on inequality and place. This session brings together experts on education in New York City from academia, journalism, and public policy with the aim of drawing generalizable, empirical and theoretical conclusions about urban education in the United States.

NYC Public Schools and the School to Prison Pipeline
Monday, August 12, 10:30 a.m.-12:10 p.m., New York Hilton, Concourse, Concourse B

In recent years, more attention has been paid to the increasing emphasis on disciplinary measures and policing in public schools across the country. The school-to-prison-pipeline is an intricate system of zero tolerance policies, harsh punitive measures and active police presence in schools, resulting in students being pushed out of the classroom and towards the criminal justice system. Students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately affected by these polices, and most likely to be removed from the classroom, suspended, or have the police called on them for in-school infractions. In the spirit of scholar activism, the panel will discuss the current realities of the school-prison pipeline based on recent empirical research in NYC public schools and focus on what restorative justice strategies are most effective in dismantling it.

The (Rent) Burden of Living in NYC: Housing Programs and Evictions
Monday, August 12, 2:30-4:10 p.m., New York Hilton, Concourse, Concourse B

Recent scholarship has drawn attention to the prevalence of evictions and their consequences for low-income households, particularly families and children. This panel focuses on eviction in New York City, with its unique housing stock and institutional and legal contexts.

Two out of three New Yorkers rent their home, roughly the inverse of the rest of the country (though homeownership rates are declining). Half of these renters benefit from tenant rights and price controls through rent regulation. New York also contains a large and diverse subsidized housing stock, retaining our public housing stock while also issuing vouchers, funding local rental assistance programs, and investing billions in affordable housing. Nevertheless, more than half of New York City renters are rent burdened, paying more than a third of income toward housing; one half are severely burdened or paying more than half of their income toward rent. The city has been in a legally-defined housing emergency for decades; demand continues to outpace housing production even as supply has increased.

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About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association (www.asanet.org), 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.

Papers presented at the ASA Annual Meeting are typically working papers that have not yet been published in peer‐reviewed journals.

 

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