Call for Session Proposals – Annual Conference SSSI 2016 (Seattle)

Environment, Body, and Other Complex Systems in Symbolic Interactionism

August 19-21, 2016

Seattle, Washington

Conference Theme 

The complexities of social life have been interactionism’s playground since the very earliest expressions of the perspective. Mead’s understanding and treatment of complex social systems, and the historical manner in which pragmatist scholars explored the complexities of large social and institutional forces have promoted the growth and development of symbolic interactionism in dynamic and robust ways. The theme for the 2016 Annual Meetings “Environment, Body, and Other Complex Systems in Symbolic Interactionism” is envisioned as one way contemporary symbolic interactionists can explore the dynamic and robust nature of our contemporary perspective relative to complex social and natural systems.

With respect to the environment and environments, the theme focuses our attention on the uniquely flexible manner in which the symbolic interactionist perspective can be used to explore human action and interactions within, as well as with respect to manipulations of, the natural world. However, not to be overlooked is the use of conceptual language within interactionism that invokes the complexities of larger systems, such as organizational environments. Other complex, systemic concerns might include climate change, disaster, war, migrations, droughts, natural resources and resource management, and issues associated with public versus private lands. Regardless of the specific application, it is the Meadian/pragmatist/interactionist analysis and exposition of the topical concern that is being sought.

Our physical bodies, also complex systems and part of the natural world, are also subject to treatment within the interactionist perspective. Even though Mead had a firm conceptual grasp on the nature of embodiment over a century ago, his treatments of embodied phenomenon do not invoke the same imagery or conceptual treatment as do environments and seemingly larger social systems. However in the contemporary social and behavioral sciences, we are still unlocking the complexities of neurocognition, the senses, gestures and gesticulations, habits, and activity and mind in space and time. Yet, all these contemporary concerns are reflected in the interactionist perspective and require our continued attention and analysis.

Together, the conference theme unites these seemingly distinct areas of inquiry through the reminder that even in the most mundane of settings, the symbolic interactionist perspective is a valuable resource in unpacking the complexity of symbols, meanings, intentions, actions, interactions, practices, and processes that are the building blocks of social life.

Distinguished Lecturer: Joseph A. Kotarba

We are very pleased indeed to announce that Dr. Joseph Kotarba will be the SSSI Distinguished Lecturer at the 2016 Annual Conference. Dr. Kotarba is Professor of Sociology at Texas State University in San Marcos. The author of nine books and over 100 articles and essays, Joe has consolidated his broad interests in everyday life into a focus on culture. However, his first love remains the sociology of popular music, and it is that love which culminated in his book Baby Boomer Rock ‘n’ Roll Fans in 2013 for which he received the Charles Horton Cooley Award for Best Book from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. While his first love is music, Dr. Kotarba’s second love is the culture of medicine and he is presently writing a book on the evolving self-identity of the contemporary scientist in light of the movement towards translational, team science.   In addition to the Cooley Award as previously noted, Dr. Kotarba served as President of the SSSI in 1998, he received the SSSI’s George Herbert Mead Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2009, and the Society’s Mentor’s Excellence Award in 2010.

The W Seattle Hotel

The W Seattle Hotel on the edge of the financial district in downtown Seattle is a contemporary, slightly edgy, luxury hotel property that reflects the vibrant technology and music culture of Seattle and is a fitting setting for our annual conference. The hotel is located at 1112 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA, 98101 and is easily accessible by public transportation from Sea-Tac Airport. The facilities being used by the American Sociological Association (ASA) and Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) are within walking distance. Conference attendees can find more about the hotel on their website at Room rates and reservation information remains forthcoming.

Call for Sessions and Session Organizers

The conference organizers hope to have a number of sessions that highlight our conference theme as well as promote related topics at our annual meeting and at this time invite scholars to submit proposals for paper sessions, plenary session, author meets critic opportunities, or other opportunities that will help bring this conference theme to life.

Submit session proposals to Patrick McGinty, SSSI Vice-President, via email at:

Please include in the subject line, “SSSI Session Proposal”. The deadline for session proposals is October 30, 2015.

Based on the session proposals received, a call for paper submissions and proposals will be forthcoming in early 2016.


Please contact SSSI President, Dr. Dennis Waskul (, or SSSI Vice-President, Dr. Patrick McGinty (

SSSI Website:

About Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction - Blog

The Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI) is an international professional organization of scholars interested in the study of a wide range of social issues with an emphasis on identity, everyday practice, and language.
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1 Response to Call for Session Proposals – Annual Conference SSSI 2016 (Seattle)

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