July 5-7th 2023
Symbolic interactionism has a longstanding history of engaging with issues of social justice and equality. Whether that be from initial attempts to research social issues and division from ‘real world research’, and the activities engaged in by Jane Addams and other women of the Chicago School in particular, research on social movements and social change, through to contemporary research and theory that deals directly with various forms of discrimination and exclusion – symbolic interactionism has a strong potential to engage with, document, and support efforts at affecting social change and realising social justice based aims. Through gaining “intimate familiarity” (in Kathy Charmaz’s words) and developing theory that is sensitive to the local conditions of inequality and division, social processes rather than obdurate social structures are revealed. In this way, such analyses can reveal where the cracks in unevenly organised and experienced societies might be found.
Questions of the potential of symbolic interactionism to meaningfully engage with issues of social justice seem to turn on how far we have come down the road travelled so far. It might be argued that, given a relative paucity of discernible victories, we might need to take stock and consider a change of direction. Tavory and Fine, for example, have written of the possibility of a revisited and revised interactionist imagination which draws from cultural studies to better understand the (re)production of social inequalities. Other scholars have proposed a dialogue, if not incorporation, with more structural analyses of power. Others still continue to highlight the strengths of an ‘unapologetic’ interactionism; a revitalised and confident practice which already contains the tools for a contribution to social justice aims. Whatever the disagreements might be about the route taken to get there, what seems to be clear is an increased recognition that a contribution to furthering social justice is both a possible and preferred destination for symbolic interactionist studies.
The conference theme invites participants to discuss research relating to both symbolic interactionism of social justice and symbolic interactionism for social justice in whatever form that may take. The conference is an opportunity to generate productive dialogue relating to potential directions of travel for an interactionism that fully engages with challenges and contexts for achieving social justice in contemporary society.
We welcome thematic sessions and individual papers that either tackle a particular aspect of social justice from different perspectives or cases, or those that draw from a range of different research to consider how interactionism might contribute to realising social justice in a particular case. Overall, we intend the conference to be a consideration of how symbolic interactionism might offer hope in an inequitable world.
We look forward to welcoming you to Cardiff!
The conference committee welcomes submissions of organised panel sessions and individual papers on topics including, but not limited to:
- Social movements, their organisation and potential
- New forms of discrimination and division
- Overcoming difference and distance
- Race, racism, and interaction order
- Rights and relations of sex, gender, and sexuality
- Urban conflict and urban conviviality
- Disabled bodies and the interaction order
- New developments in symbolic interactionist theory
- Health, illness, and medicine
- Mental health in local and global worlds
- Pregnancy, family, and reproductive justice
- Intimacy, emotion, and care work
- Work, capitalism, and labour relations
- New forms of inclusion, exclusion, and discrimination in digital societies
- Climate action, environmental inequalities, and planetary justice
We welcome any submissions related to symbolic interactionism, including those that do not directly fit the conference theme but still cultivate fresh ideas and thinking. We also ask that organisers give due consideration to the diversity of experience and background and include a range of contributors in their panels.
Proposals should contain:
- Title of session/paper
- Name, affiliation, and job title/position of all contributors
- Contact information for session organiser/presenter (name, institution, and email)
- Abstract (500 words maximum for session overview. Titles and very brief outlines of individual contributions where possible)
- Keywords (5 maximum)
Please submit panel proposals by Friday 16th December 2022 to: EUSSSI23@cardiff.ac.uk
EU SSSI 2023 Conference committee:
Dr Robin James Smith
Dr Gareth Thomas
Kirsty Stuart Jepsen
Dr Jonathan Ablitt
Dr Joe Williams
Prof William Housley