SSSI 2017 Individual Sessions

SSSI 2017 Montreal




Submit abstracts to Beth Montemurro, SSSI Vice-President, at . 

Please put “SSSI Paper Submission” in the subject line. The deadline for abstract submissions is  March 15th, 2017. 


1.    Autobiographical Storytelling: Content, Process, and Purpose

2.    The Canadian Contributions to Symbolic Interaction

3.    Contested Ground: Deviance Designations, Stigma Contests, and the Problem on Conflict in Everyday Life

4.    Forgotten, Neglected, and Misrepresented Social Theorists

5.    Explaining the Rise of Trump

6.    Identity Work as a Story

7.    Interactionist Perspectives on Deviance and Crime

8.    Pop Culture: People, Places, and Things

9.    Interactionist Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity

10.  Jack Douglas' methodological masterpiece legacy

11.  Messages and Meaning in Mass Media

12.  “Nature,” Self, and Social Change

13.  Negotiating Risk

14.  New Theoretical Directions

15.  Place and Identity

16.  Pragmatic Interactionism

17.  Pragmatism in the 21st Century: The Living Legacy of the Pragmatic Perspective

18.  Race and Interactionist Theory

19.  Science, Technology, and Medicine Studies

20.  Situational Analysis and Symbolic Interaction

21.  Sport, Recreation, and Leisure

22.  Symbolic Interaction, Inequality, and the Body

23.  Teaching Symbolic Interactionism: Strategies for Incorporating SI into the Classroom

24.  Gender, Sexualities, and Symbolic Interaction

25.  Symbolic Interaction and the Nonhuman Animal


Session Topic


Place and Identity

This session invites papers that investigate relationships between place and identity from a symbolic interactionist, or more generally, interpretive perspective. Papers should focus on how places (at micro, meso or macro scales) come to be invested with meaning and linked to individual, collective or cultural identities. Suggested topics may include, for example, experiences of place in the shifting context of globalization, questions of belonging raised through mobility and migration, human relationships with “nature” in the age of climate change, issues of home in dwellings and neighborhoods, and so on. Papers on regions and countries outside of North America are very welcome.


Forgotten, Neglected, and Misrepresented Social Theorists

This session examines social theorists whose ideas have been forgotten, lost, or misrepresented. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, W.E.B DuBois, Jane Addams, and many others were once marginalized or outside the sociological canon, and many others have been poorly understood due to translation errors, trends in intellectual fashion, etc. Among the critiques lobbied against symbolic interaction is that due to the oral tradition a sociological amnesia exists.  This session recalls undeservedly neglected work that still merits attention in the field of pragmatist philosophy and symbolic interaction, but will also consider work from outside the field which potentially adds to the perspective.


Contested Ground: Deviance Designations, Stigma Contests, and the Problem on Conflict in Everyday Life

This session welcomes papers within the extended tradition of the study of stigma and social control.  Papers that address the emergent, negotiated and perspectival nature of deviance and moral claims-making in any setting are particularly encouraged. This session welcomes papers working within more conventional symbolic interactionist approaches to deviance as well as those working from more radical interactionist perspectives.


Interactionist Perspectives on Deviance and Crime



Papers applying interactionist perspectives to studies of any type of deviance and/or crime, including applications of labeling, differential association, and social control theories or any perspective that emphasizes the meaning-making process in the commission of, definition of, or response to deviance and/or crime.


Messages and Meaning in Mass Media

Papers applying interactionist perspectives to studies of mass media, including studies exploring the construction and framing of media messages, media representation of social groups or issues, and/or effects of media messages.


Identity Work as a Story

We live in a storytelling society. Stories from the news, friends, social media, work, and more proliferate at a dizzying pace. Whether it is eating lunch with a friend, opening up an email, turning on the television, or writing up your research, society is structured around storytelling. The contexts and mediums from which stories emerge shape the way narratives and identities come into play. How we interact with the storyteller or audience, and the ways in which characters are constructed to meet the needs of the moment are central to meaning-making. Narrative, broadly imagined as stories, storytellers, and the various contexts from which they emerge are part and parcel of self-construction. The self, from James (1892) to Cooley (1902) to Mead (1934) to Goffman (1954) and beyond, plays an intricate role in the construction of both identity and the stories we tell. That is, stories, storytelling, and its contexts are all part of identity work.


Negotiating Risk


Papers presented here might include topics such as identity and risk, risk society and meaning making in the context of fear, risk perception, the changing symbolic nature of risk, or the effects of individual perception of risk on broader social institutions.


Autobiographical Storytelling: Content, Process, and Purpose

This session seeks papers on the topic of autobiographical work, including the content, process, and purpose of autobiographical storytelling. This topic contributes to the overall conference theme as autobiographical accounts may reflect on the past, engage with the present, and imagine the future. Autobiographical storytelling may utilize diverse platforms as sources of data including, but not limited to conversations, letters, diaries, memoirs, photograph albums, scrapbooks, and newer sources such as social media status updates and blogs. Finally, autobiographical narratives may be a strategic means of affecting wider conversations on various social issues.


New Theoretical Directions

Papers are sought that push the theoretical envelop of different versions of interactionists theory-- including social constructionism, radical interactionism, ethnomethodology, existential interactionism and dramaturgical interactionism.


Pop Culture: People, Places, and Things

From the overwhelming influence of celebrity to the places where we tell jokes or drink beer to the things we talk about with strangers, the practices, sites, and objects of popular culture are so ubiquitous that they are hard to ignore in our everyday lives. Consequently, they are even harder to ignore in our studies of contemporary social life. Popular culture is no longer a fringe subject or area of inquiry. Symbolic interactionists have been at the forefront of uncovering the myriad ways that popular culture, in its various guises, is produced, received, and used as a resource for individual and collective identity construction and meaning-making. This session seeks presentations that continue this venerable tradition while adding empirical, methodological, and theoretical nuance, rigor, and flair.

Symbolic Interaction, Inequality, and the Body

This session will focus on how the body and appearance are related to experiences of inequality, as well as systems of advantage/disadvantage. Submissions concentrating on topics such as embodiment, bodily stigma and stigma management, research on “body work,” investigations of race/class/gender/sexuality are welcome.


Sport, Recreation, and Leisure

"Individuals across the globe engage in various forms of sport, recreation, and leisure in the course of their everyday lives.  While such pursuits run the gamut from general interest to elite level participation, there is clearly nothing playful about these forms of play.  Rather, sport, recreation, and leisure pursuits serve an important yet heretofore under-examined role in the (re)shaping of individuals’ selves and the ways that they make sense of the world in which they live.  As SSSI considers its first 40 years of existence and considers its future, ascertaining the role of sport, recreation, and leisure in the lives of the individuals who engage in such pursuits has tremendous value for interactionists the world over.”


“Nature,” Self, and Social Change

This session invites papers that use a symbolic interactionist perspective to explore the shifting boundaries of what we call “nature” in relationship to self, identity, and social change.  Papers will focus on how nature comes to be experienced and imbued with social meaning in a rapidly changing global environment (broadly defined) and a variety of social change contexts. Suggested topics may include, for example, perceptions of nature and self in relationship to environmental and environmental justice social movements, globalization, climate change, highly digitalized “smart” environments, urban and rural sustainable design, efforts to set up dialogical relationships between humans and non-human nature, changing foodscapes, travel, and new “glocal” identities. Papers on regions and countries outside of North America are welcomed, as are a range of theoretical and methodological approaches.


Pragmatic Interactionism

This session seeks papers that: highlight the analysis of human social life as a practical accomplishment; ground their theoretical development in pragmatist philosophy (Mead, Dewey, and others); or use pragmatist insights to further the analysis of human social life.


Race and Interactionist Theory

How have interactionists been in/attentive to issues of race, racial identity formation, racial politics, and contemporary inequalities? Papers are invited that investigate the complex relationship between racial identifications, classifications, and inequalities in relationship to interactionist theory and theorizing. Ethnographic, interview, and other approaches are especially welcome. In addition, papers that engage beyond the micro-level, or engage institutional and meta-power perspectives on race and interactionist theory are encouraged to submit.


Science, Technology, and Medicine Studies

Symbolic interactionists have contributed nuanced and theoretically rich work to the study of medicine and science. This session invites papers that extend that legacy and engage interactionist theory in ethnographic and other studies of scientific, technological, and medical practices. What distinctive lessons can be drawn from interactionist work in these domains, and how have interactionist insights been taken up, or ignored, by practitioners, policy makers, and public audiences? Papers should either apply interactionist methods and theories to empirical work, or demonstrate how interactionist theorizing reframes one or more existing lines of work in science, technology, and medicine studies.


Situational Analysis and Symbolic Interaction

Recent work by Adele Clarke, Carrie Friese, and Rachel Washburn, among others, has sought to move grounded theory around the postmodern turn. This session invites papers that use Situational Analysis (SA) and reflect on their practice with this theory/methods package. Papers that offer critiques of SA and push its boundaries in new directions are especially welcome. 


Explaining the Rise of Trump

SI perspectives on the rise of Trump, Trumpism, and the resurgence of White Nationalism.

Interactionist Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity

This session revives the interest in race that originated with the Chicago School. Papers might examine the social construction of race and ethnicity in various situations and settings, apply interactionist theories of race and ethnic relations to contemporary issues, such as immigration, or bring interactionist tools to the study of intersectionality.  


Teaching Symbolic Interactionism: Strategies for Incorporating SI into the Classroom

As a core theoretical orientation within the discipline, symbolic interactionist perspectives should be widely incorporated throughout the sociology curriculum. From social psychology to sociology of deviance to sociology of families and beyond, symbolic interactionist concepts and approaches can help students understand the complex social world. But how, specifically, does symbolic interactionism inform teaching? We welcome paper proposals that address the use of symbolic interactionism, broadly construed, in teaching sociology. Presentations might focus on teaching symbolic interactionist theory, on classroom exercises, or on strategies for teaching specific subjects (e.g., family, inequality, work and organizations, etc.) from a symbolic interactionist perspective.


Jack Douglas' methodological masterpiece legacy

The topic of the panel would be Jack Douglas' methodological masterpiece legacy: its spread in sociological community, the motives why it has not been recognized as a great classic, the importance of a rediscovery of it. 


The Canadian Contributions to Symbolic Interaction

This session will provide a historical look at the contributions of Canadian scholars to the development of symbolic interaction in North America and highlight the work of contemporary Canadian symbolic interactionists. Although the scholarly community of Symbolic Interactionists in Canada is comparatively small, notable interactionists in Canada have made significant contributions to theorizing over the past thirty-five years and SI continues to have a strong presence in the landscape of Canadian sociology. Having developed alongside critical Marxist sociology and in the shadow of John Porter’s Vertical Mosaic, Symbolic Interactionism in Canada has taken on a decidedly pragmatist bent. Indeed, SI has become mainstream in the sociology of deviance in Canada and has found its way into the work of scholars positioned in cognate disciplines such as criminology. We envision this session as bringing together pioneers in Canadian SI with early career symbolic interactionists to discuss their perspectives on our shared intellectual heritage and the future of SI in Canada.

Pragmatism in the 21st Century: The Living Legacy of the Pragmatic Perspective

  There is renewed global interest today in the ideas of the pragmatists across a range of disciplines. From conceptions of the self, public life, culture, semiotics, meaning and interpretation, and interaction as a communicative process, pragmatism is an outlook that has been a vital source for symbolic interactionism since its beginnings, and continues to provide insights useful for contemporary thought and research. Such contemporary concerns as social media and identity, democracy and screen experience, embodiment and communication, ethnography as dialogue, and mirror neurons and neuroscience show topics that can be illuminated by the pragmatist perspective. This session will explore ways in which the legacy of pragmatism can address questions of contemporary concern.


Gender, Sexualities, and Symbolic Interaction

This session welcomes any interactionist work in the area of sexualities or gender.


Symbolic Interaction and the Nonhuman Animal

The session would encompass papers that discuss meaning making and identity formation in the context of human-to-nonhuman animal interaction, thus pushing the boundaries of both traditional and structural SI.  


Papers presented here might include the effect that nonhuman animals have on human perception of interaction, meaning making, or even identity processes occurring in relation to these entities.  They may also include topics such as interspecies intersubjectivity, the relationship between researcher (human) and researched (animal), or human-animal relationships within institutional spheres, among other things.