Oakland 2016 Special Events

Promotional Information for The Sociology Stars Speaker Series for the 87th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Sociological Association
March 30 to April 2, 2016, Oakland

Prepared by Linda J. Henderson, Chair, PSA Membership Committee

Come and see a Star! We are delighted to kick-off the 87th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Sociological Association on Wednesday evening, March 30, 2016, with “The Sociology Stars Speaker Series” (SSSS). The purpose of this annual event is to give all conference participants the opportunity to see some of our biggest sociology stars in action and learn about the work they are doing.

Cecilia Ridgeway

We are so pleased and proud that our “Star” speaker this year will be Dr. Cecilia L. Ridgeway. Cecilia is currently the Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences at Stanford University. She is a past president of both the PSA (1998-1999) and the American Sociological Association (2012-2013). She is renowned for her insights on how interpersonal processes contribute to systems of stratification and inequality. Her critically acclaimed book Framed by Gender: How Gender Inequality Persists in the Modern World is one example of this work.

Throughout her exemplary academic career, Cecilia has given many guest lectures at universities and conferences across the United States and Canada. For her SSSS talk, Cecilia will share some of her current research on interpersonal status hierarchies in a presentation entitled “Is Deference the Price of Seeming “Reasonable”? Being Lower Status in High Status Professions and Workplaces.”

It will be an event not to be missed!

You can hear Cecilia speak on Wednesday, March 30, at 5:15 pm.  Be sure to attend the Welcome Reception afterwards, to enjoy snacks and meet other PSA folks!


Presidential Plenaries

Presidential Plenary: The Distribution of Customary Behaviour in a Population: the Total Consumption Model and Alcohol Policy—Robin Room, Latrobe University                                                                            Thursday Mar 31 | 3:30 PM-5:00 PM |

In the 1950s, when the level of alcohol consumption in France was at its highest,  a French demographer, Sully Ledermann, developed a description of the distribution of amount of drinking in a population as a “lognormal curve”. Since the model proposed that the proportion of heavy drinkers in a population was closely related to the population`s overall consumption, it was an unwelcome theory to those with a market interest in alcohol and more generally in an era dominated by the alcoholism model, which defined alcohol problems in terms of “alcoholics”, afflicted with a mysterious “X factor”, and thus as a  distinct population separate from “normal drinkers”. As elaborated by the Norwegian sociologist Ole-Jørgen Skog, the “total consumption model” (TCM) became the heart of a “new public health” approach to alcohol policymaking, and in some places (e.g., Sweden) an official orthodoxy. Applied also to other habitual social behaviours such as drugs and gambling, the model has proved fairly robust, but is subject to periodic attacks, often supported by market interests.  The presentation considers the cultural politics of the TCM (including its attractions for sociologists seeking to minimize labelling of deviance), and its limited effects in a neoliberal era in restraining deregulation of markets for habitual and potentially harmful commodities.  Discrepancies which have emerged between descriptive findings and the model are also considered, pointing the way toward new elaborations of the model and its limits as a policy tool.
Comments by: Bob Saltz, Prevention Research Center; Thomas Greenfield and Won Kim Cook, Alcohol Research Group

Presidential Plenary: Sociology as a Vocation—Michael Burawoy, UC Berkeley
Friday Apr 1 | 1:45 PM-3:15 PM |

How should we understand sociology as a vocation today?  What does it mean to live for sociology as opposed to live off sociology?  This talk embarks from Weber`s notion of vocation, and his application of the idea to science and politics. Weber`s vision of sociology as a vocation, though never spelled out, reflects a moment of departure for the discipline. After World War Two came its moment of arrival, a messianic sociology both in its liberal and radical versions. We can take Edward Shils` The Calling of Sociology and C Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination to be the expressions of this moment. The main part of the paper will be devoted to sociology today – a dual moment of engagement and retreat – and the dilemmas it faces as the university is buffeted by the inter-connected processes of commodification and rationalization of knowledge production and dissemination. How can sociology be a vocation in the light of these instrumentalizing pressures?
Comments by: Jonathan Turner, UC Riverside; Blackhawk Hancock, DePaul University; Catherine Bolzendahl, UC Irvine

The Presidential Address and Awards will be Friday, April 1, 5:15-6:45, followed by a Presidential Reception and Friday Night Dance, open to all.