Sociologists to Explore Real Utopias at Annual Meeting in Denver, August 17-20

Released: 10-Jul-2012 9:15 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: American Sociological Association (ASA)
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American Sociological Association Annual Meeting Press Registration Now Open

Newswise — More than 5,000 sociologists will convene in Denver, Colorado, this August to explore ideas and scientific research relating to sociology and real utopias, as part of the American Sociological Association’s 107th Annual Meeting. The idea of real utopias embraces an existing tension between dreams and practice, and challenges sociologists to ground utopian ideals in the real potentials of humanity.

The conference will feature nearly 600 sessions and over 3,200 studies covering such timely topics as health and health care, the 2012 presidential election, the “Occupy” movement, the recession, same-sex marriage, education, bullying, war, religion, immigration, sex, race, relationships, crime, families, politics, technology, poverty, the workplace, and many 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 107th Annual Meeting: “Real Utopias: Emancipatory Projects, Institutional Designs, Possible Futures”

WHEN: Friday, Aug. 17, through Monday, Aug. 20, 2012 (Opening Plenary Session is Thursday, Aug. 16 from 7 to 9 PM)

WHERE: Colorado Convention Center (1555 California Street, Denver, CO 80202) & Hyatt Regency (650 15th Street, Denver, CO 80202)

REGISTRATION: Complimentary media registration is now open. Download the press policy and registration form online at http://bit.ly/MtlDnY. The early registration deadline is Monday, Aug. 6.

PROGRAM: Visit http://convention2.allacademic.com/one/asa/asa12/ for the meeting’s searchable preliminary program. PDFs of the preliminary daily program schedules can be found here: http://www.asanet.org/AM2012/programschedule.cfm.

SESSION HIGHLIGHTS:

Creating Workplace Gender Equality
Friday, Aug. 17, 2:30 – 4:10 PM (Colorado Convention Center, Room 207, Street Level)
Three decades of scholarship on gender and work is mostly backwards looking, focusing mainly on how the gender system creates workplace disparities. This session will look forward and answer the question—where do we think the gender revolution is taking us as it applies to the workplace? During the session, distinguished gender scholars will share their visions of how the gender revolution is to move us towards a workplace free of gender bias.

Global Warming and the Prospects for Real Utopias
Friday, Aug. 17, 2:30 – 4:10 PM (Colorado Convention Center, Room 301, Street Level)
The massively disruptive consequences of global climate change challenge the very idea of real utopias. This ongoing and accelerating environmental disruption will render many utopian projects obsolete, and may threaten the very viability of global institutions and practices. Yet, we still cling to naïve notions of sustainability or other utopian visions. The existing efforts to address global climate change utilizing the established political and economic institutions have failed, and the proposed solutions are incommensurate to the scale of the problem. This session will explore the issue of global climate change, and what, if anything, remains of utopian projects in light of our environmental situation.

Real Utopian Visions of Health Care
Friday, Aug. 17, 4:30 – 6:10 PM (Colorado Convention Center, Room 207, Street Level)
Medical care should be about helping patients and their families. But, in today’s dysfunctional health care system, such notions of “patient-centered care” are often only given lip service. The important question seems to be: is the patient at the center of well-coordinated teamwork or is the patient collateral damage of the health care version of a civil war? This panel will consider this question and explore the construction of real utopias in health care.

Is Marriage Part of a Utopian Future?
Saturday, Aug. 18, 8:30 – 10:10 AM (Colorado Convention Center, Room 205, Street Level)
The debate over who should be married has been lively with many stakeholders having directly opposing passionate views. Panelists will share their diverse utopian visions of the changing nature of marriage and the extent to which marriage is the right “tent” for equitable and committed relationships and families in the Utopian future.

Building a Better K-12 Education System
Saturday, Aug. 18, 2:30 – 4:10 PM (Colorado Convention Center, Room 205, Street Level)
In the last decade, unprecedented changes have been made in American education policy. According to their supporters, recent education reforms have the potential to reduce disparities in educational opportunities and outcomes by improving the quality of the lowest performing schools, which poor and minority students are most likely to attend. Others contend that these reforms will reproduce and exacerbate inequalities, or will have no effect at all. Building on sociologists’ longstanding interest in how schools structure children’s life chances, panelists will explore the impact of education policies on students, teachers, and schools, and how these policies affect disparities in educational opportunities and outcomes among social groups.

Assessing the Impact of Social Networking and Mobile Internet Access
Sunday, Aug. 19, 2:30 – 4:10 PM (Colorado Convention Center, Room 302, Street Level)
This panel will examine the convergences of three developments: 1) social networking technology, 2) internet access, and, 3) mobile accessibility. This session will draw on survey, interview, and ethnographic research to explore the potential positive and negative consequences of what University of Toronto’s Barry Wellman refers to as, “The Triple Revolution.” Panelists will show how communities are flourishing as networks, will link online and offline connectivity and civic involvement, and will demonstrate the need and usefulness of new relational methods.

Contemporary LGBT Sexualities and Social Justice
Monday, Aug. 20, 10:30 AM – 12:10 PM (Colorado Convention Center, Room 304, Street Level)
Over the past decade, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) sexuality has often been at the center of political debates about social policy, including the recognition and status of same-sex couples, and the well-being of children of lesbian or gay parents. This session will examine the tensions between the dream of a particular sense of equality across sexual identity categories, the limitations of existing federal policies, and societal/religious traditions that perpetuate cultural norms. The panelists will investigate and critique the normative dimensions of sexuality and the law, identify the struggles in the creation of alternative social understandings of kinship, and challenge the parameters around which racialized and other types of frameworks structure what is considered normative. They will share their prospects for social transformation in society, as well as their suggestions for a comprehensive reconfiguration of ideologies directing the national LGBT movement.

Obstacles to Utopia: Race, Gender, Class, and Election 2012
Monday, Aug. 20, 10:30 AM – 12:10 PM (Hyatt Regency, Centennial H)
Barack Obama, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney: It’s been an exciting campaign cycle already. This participatory session offers an opportunity to reflect on the politics of race, class, and gender in the 2012 presidential campaign. Panelists will share their professional and scholarly insights and facilitate a robust Q and A session.

Islamic Utopias
Monday, Aug. 20, 12:30 – 2:10 PM (Colorado Convention Center, Room 302, Street Level)
Islamic utopias are often caricatured as a return to the 7th century, and Islamic movements sometimes encourage this image as a sign of their religious purity. However, social scientists have challenged this characterization for a generation, focusing on modern elements of Islamic utopian thought such as the embrace of technology, the egalitarian vision of social justice, and the emphasis on mass education. This panel will explore debates among Islamic movements on this subject, and the record of utopianism in the politics of Muslim-majority countries. Themes of the session will include Islamic utopian visions regarding: veiling, transnational solidarity, governance, and ecology.

CONTACT: Daniel Fowler, ASA Media Relations and Public Affairs Officer, pubinfo@asanet.org, (202) 527-7885

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