Pacific Sociological Association’s 91st Annual Meetings/Conference
Thursday, March 26 to Sunday, March 29, 2020

in Eugene, Oregon, at the Graduate Hotel (formerly Hilton)

THEME:    Democracy in a Divided Society

President: Dennis J. Downey, CSU Channel Islands
Vice President: Ellen Reese, UC Riverside
Program Chair: Elizabeth Sowers, CSU Channel Islands

Submissions to present at the conference are open until October 15, 2019.

The 91st annual meeting of the Pacific Sociological Association will take place at the mid-point of the 2020 presidential primary season. It is difficult to imagine the fears and anxieties and hopes that we might be feeling at that time – but, needless to say, it will be a rich time for sociological insight, analysis, and imagination. The theme for our meeting will be: “Democracy in a Divided Society.” Sociologists have long addressed the cultural foundations and institutional frameworks for democracy, from Tocqueville to more recent debates about (declining) social capital and civic engagement. It is clear that social institutions of all sorts are feeling the strains that come with deep social divisions which are often characterized as polarization: economic divisions, partisan/political divisions, cultural and religious divisions, racial and gender divisions, geographic/spatial (including urban-rural) divisions, divisions across national borders and carceral walls (which increasingly resemble one another), and many others. Sociologists study those dynamics, their causes and their consequences. I would like to focus our collective attention on deepening our understanding of current social and political divisions and their historic roots, and finding ways for our discipline to help build bridges across divides as well as to strengthen democratic institutions and practices in divided contexts.

Our meeting will take place in beautiful and vibrant Eugene, Oregon (home to the University of Oregon). The city and region offer a wide range of amenities and activities, as we will be highlighting in subsequent communications. Those who are familiar with Eugene will welcome the opportunity to return; those who are not familiar are in for a wonderful treat. Oregon is also a fortuitous place to meet, given our conference theme, as it encompasses many of our contemporary social divisions and has been the site of some of the most contentious battles associated with those divisions. Oregon has a reputation as a liberal state, led by cities along the Willamette Valley in the west which runs from Portland to Eugene. Eastern Oregon, on the other hand, is primarily rural and conservative – and was the site of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff in 2016 which remains a rallying symbol for conservative anti-government activists. Additionally, Portland has recently witnessed some of the most dramatic clashes nationally between white nationalists and antifa counter-protesters. As a whole, then, Oregon represents a rich laboratory for considering current socio-political divisions and conflicts and how we might most productively respond to them.

I am working with our Program Chair, Elizabeth Sowers (CSU Channel Islands) and our Vice-President, Ellen Reese (UC Riverside), and talking with many other colleagues, to organize a compelling conference program which will include a variety of special and thematic sessions. We are also working with colleagues in Eugene to identify and highlight some exciting opportunities to get to know the area.  We hope that you are starting to look ahead to Eugene in 2020. We’re very excited about it, and hope to inspire the same in all of you.   
—PSA 2020 President Dennis J. Downey

Curious about Eugene, Oregon? Lots of information here:

 Future PSA conferences confirmed:

2021: San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, CA 
Thursday, March 18 to Sunday March 21, 2021


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