#SSSI Awards 2014 (Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction)

At the 2014 Conference in San Francisco the Society presented

The Charles Horton Cooley Award for Recent Book or Article

The Herbert Blumer Graduate Student Paper Award

The Mentor Excellence Award

Moreover, the SSSI 2014 Annual Meetings Distinguished Lecture was delivered by Phillip Vannini (Royal Roads University). 


The SSSI Awards site is here.

If any SSSI Members have photograph taken at the banquet or during the conference that can be publicised through the blog please send them over to dirk.vom_lehn@kcl.ac.uk

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Save the Date: SSSI 2015 Public Hotel, Chicago – August 21 to 23, 2015 (Chicago, IL)

The place and date for the 2015 SSSI Annual Meeting has been announced.

Public Hotel, Chicago – August 21 to 23, 2015 (Chicago, IL)

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Couch-Stone Symposium 2015 (University of South Florida) – Call for Papers

Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction


St. Petersburg, Florida, Hampton Inn & Suites

March 13 & 14 (Friday & Saturday)

Tools of the Trade:

Advancing Qualitative Inquiry and Analysis

Call for Papers

The current broad popularity of qualitative work in academic departments around the world has produced new challenges and opportunities for symbolic interactionists as well as others working within interpretive traditions. This conference aims to explore how innovations and new collaborations in qualitative methods of research and analysis might further advance the quality and relevance of our work, both inside and outside sociology, inside and outside academia.

For this conference we welcome submissions that focus on data collection, data analysis, and theorizing within interpretive sociology in general and symbolic interaction in particular. We are especially interested in works that problematize and challenge boundaries, such as those between micro and macro approaches, qualitative and quantitative methods, theory and method, research and application, and other constructed binary oppositions.

Invited topics include (but are not limited to):

ethnography — qualitative interviews & oral history — spatial and mobile methods — social media, archival & found data — feminist, queer & critical methods — sensuous methods (including visual) — ethnomethodology & conversation analysis — historical & cross-cultural/indigenous methods — applied & participatory methods — mixed & interdisciplinary methods — alternative methods & forms of writing — grounded theory, narrative analysis, analytic induction & other forms of analysis

Submission Deadline:

November 15, 2014

Extended abstracts of proposed conference papers (400-600 words, Microsoft Word or PDF document) must be emailed to Maggie Cobb at usfcouchstone@gmail.com. On a cover page, include paper title, name and rank (faculty or student) of all authors with affiliations, and contact information. Notifications of acceptance will be given by December 1, 2014.

Due to limited space, submission is restricted to one paper (single or co-authored) per participant. Less developed work will be grouped in roundtable sessions. In addition to plenary, paper, and roundtable sessions, we will offer a series of methods workshops by established scholars, as well as a number of social events.

Conference participation is free for current SSSI members. To become a SSSI member, go to: https://sites.google.com/site/sssinteraction/home/membership-journal. All other participants must pay a $50 registration fee (banquet only: $25). Donations by senior members are welcome and will be applied toward student travel stipends.

Information about hotel accommodations, student travel stipends, conference program and so on is forthcoming on the conference website: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/couch_stone/. For any questions, contact Maggie Cobb at usfcouchstone@gmail.com.

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Outgoing SSSI President’s Message published on Website

As the SSSI 2014 Conference in San Francisco is on its way, it is time again for the new President – this year it’s Maggie Kusenbach (University of South Florida) – to take over the Society from the outgoing President – Lori Holyfield (University of Arkansas). Lori Holyfield as Outgoing President has just submitted her Report which has been published on our website and can be downloaded here.

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SSSI 2014 – San Francisco – Program

Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction

Annual meeting, Aug. 15-17, 2014

Hotel Nikko, San Francisco, CA

Program Summary



Download Here

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Post by Ken Kolb ‘Using SI to measure “intellectual curiosity”’

Using SI to measure “intellectual curiosity”

-Ken Kolb, Furman University

When was the last time you looked at your school’s promotional materials?  You know, the endless stream of pamphlets, calendars, and application packets?  Odds are, they mention the words “intellectual curiosity.”  Why?  Well, because that is what we – as college professors – supposedly teach our students.  Wait, “teach” is too simple a word for the public relations folks.  Let’s try again.  Okay, in our classrooms, we “instill,” or “infuse” our students with a deep seated “intellectual curiosity” that drives them to become “lifelong learners” with an insatiable desire for more knowledge.  Sound better? Well, if that is what your school is selling to your students (and their parents), how will you know if you are delivering on your promise?  What is “intellectual curiosity” after all?  If a student has it, how will you know?  If a particular feature of our curriculum is designed to produce more of “it,” what evidence will indicate that you have achieved your goal?

The concept of “curiosity” has been studied for ages.  Dewey wrote about it in his 1910 book, How We Think.  Nowadays, the concept is entrenched within the domain of psychologists.  They have developed countless quantitative survey instruments to determine whether—and to what degree—people are curious.  However, there is one shortcoming in their logic (from a symbolic interactionist perspective); almost all of these studies treat curiosity as a state or trait that presumably leads to future action—without ever actually measuring said action.  Our paper, “Intellectual Curiosity in Action: A Framework to Assess First-Year Seminars in a Liberal Arts Setting,” takes the opposite approach.  First, we measure the behaviors students are engaging in, and then we dig deep into the school’s promotional materials to infer the meaning of those behaviors from the perspective of the designers of our curriculum.

Take reading, for example.  Our university (and presumably yours) sees reading as a good thing.  We want students to complete their reading assignments.  However, after analyzing our school’s promotional materials, we found that our institution wants more than that.  We advertise to prospective students and their parents that our curriculum (specifically our first-year seminars) will lead students to become intrinsically motivated readers; that taking our classes will makes students want to read more, on their own, for their own benefit.  You know, get them to enjoy reading for reading’s sake.  Thus, what kinds of reading do you think would best indicate a students’ “intellectual curiosity”?  Well, we argue that intellectually curious students seek out extra reading, on their own, above and beyond the required amount.

In the end, our method to measure intellectual curiosity was pretty simple.  We interviewed students at the beginning and end of their first-year seminar, and asked them to describe recent times that their seminar had led them to engage in intrinsically motivated extra-curricular activities.  We then ranked these behaviors according to what they meant to the designers of the first-year seminar program (as indicated by the materials administrators used to promote the seminar as means to “cultivate” intellectual curiosity within our students).  By comparing students pre and post test responses in their interviews, we developed a means to measure a tricky (but important) concept that most people take for granted.

Love it or hate it, assessment is here to stay.  We can either defer to the psychologists, or offer our own approach.  Symbolic interactionists are good at analyzing subtle, nuanced, and complex phenomena.  Measuring the outcomes of classroom experiences is something we can—and should—do.


For more, see:

Kolb, Kenneth H., Kyle C. Longest, and Jenna C. Barnett. “Intellectual Curiosity in Action: A Framework to Assess First-Year Seminars in Liberal Arts Settings.” The Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 25(2): 131-156  (log-in required)

If you have difficulties accessing the article please contact the author at ken.kolb@furman.edu



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Updated Constitution of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction

The updated constitution of SSSI has been published on the Society’s website. You can download it here:

SSSI Constitution

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