Bienvenue à Montréal!

Narratives in the World of Social Problems: Power, Resistance, Transformation

The Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) will host its 67th Annual Meeting in Montreal, Quebec Canada, August 11-13, 2017 at the Montreal Bonaventure Hotel.

Image: IEEE Young Professionals

While globalization, mass migration, and the wide-spread availability of information disseminated through the internet has made our world more connected than ever, it has also exposed and in some cases deepened the significant fragmentations in social, political, economic, and moral viewpoints that exist in our world. In response to such differences, there appears to be a growing acceptance of populist rhetoric focusing on exclusion and isolation. These reactionary approaches often ignore the pain and misery of those who experience the consequences of social problems both within their country and around the world. With such a backdrop, it is both critical and timely that this SSSP annual meeting focus on “Narratives in the World of Social Problems: Power, Resistance, Transformation”. The conference will feature panels, workshops, and thematic sessions that will examine and advocate for those who are suffering the consequences of social problems and consider solutions to alleviate their misery. A major theme running throughout the conference will be to explore ways in which we can advance transformative narratives by resisting the largely status quo narratives presented by those in privileged positions of power. Transformative narratives, as SSSP President Donileen R. Loseke writes, have the capacity to create meaning, motivation, and stimulate social action in a way that can challenge narratives advanced by the privileged by appealing to both “minds and hearts”.

For more information about SSSP and how to register, visit: http://www.sssp1.org/2017_Annual_Meeting_Registration.

Montreal is an ideal location to hold an SSSP conference focusing on Power, Resistance, and Transformation. The province of Quebec, where the city of Montreal is located, has a long history of resistance of its own from the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiet_Revolution) to the largely successful 2012 student protests against increases to university tuition (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Quebec_student_protests). The Quiet Revolution itself ushered in progressive values that are still present today including a minimum wage of $11.20 per hour, rent control, universal health care, affordable daycare ($7.55 per day), nearly a year of paid maternity leave, and among the most affordable universities in North America. The labor movement is also very strong with nearly 40% of workers belonging to a union.

The metropolitan area of Montreal has a population of just over 4 million. Montreal is an extremely diverse city with 32% of the population being non-white. In fact, nearly 25% of the population was born outside of Canada. Over the last 2 years the city has welcomed over 5,000 Syrian refugees and this February it declared itself a sanctuary city for refugee and illegal migrants. While profoundly diverse, Montreal is primarily a French speaking city. In fact, it is the second largest French speaking city in the world after Paris. Roughly 57% of the Montreal residents speak French at home and about the same amount speak both English and French. The French culture permeates Montreal from the language heard on the street to its many fantastic French restaurants to its beautiful architecture.

I strongly encourage conference attendees to take some time to explore all that the city has to offer. Those with a limited amount of time may want to explore the Old Port which is the historic district within the city (see the walking tour guide for the major attractions and sites in this area). The Old Port has the charm of historic architecture and dining (see the restaurant guide for a list of great places to eat on any budget!) as well as numerous cultural activities and entertainment (see http://www.oldportofmontreal.com/map for a list of activities).

For those who have a little more free time and would like to take advantage of more of the city while they are here, there are a number of major events taking place during the week of the conference that are just a short subway ride away from the conference hotel including the Rogers Cup (Professional Tennis), Italian Week (a celebration of the Italian community - http://italianweek.ca/en/ ), Under Pressure (International Graffiti Festival - http://underpressure.ca/), and a number of events will take place from August 11-20 to celebrate Montreal Pride (a Celebration of Canada’s LGBTQ community - http://www.fiertemontrealpride.com/en/canada-pride-montreal-2017/ ). Finally, for those who rent a car while in town, you may want to catch a world renowned hot air balloon festival less than 1 hour away from Montreal (https://www.ballooncanada.com/).

How to Navigate the City

Airport to the Conference Hotel

  • Taxi $40
  • Uber $23- $32
  • City Bus #747. $10 Pick-up is curb-side outside of arrival section of the Airport. For schedule and drop-off locations see: http://www.stm.info/en.

Getting around the City

  • The Metro (or the subway) is the easiest and most affordable way to navigate the city. There is a metro one block from the hotel (Station Bonaventure) that gives you access to the rest of the city. A single ride on the metro will cost $3.25 but I suggest (especially for those coming for 3 or more days) to purchase a three-day pass that will give you unlimited use of all buses and the subway for $18 (tickets purchased in the metro station). If you want to find an entrance to a metro look for this sign:

  • For those of you renting a car while in the city, I strongly recommend bringing a GPS system.  All of the street signs are in French and the roads in the city can even be difficult to navigate for those who live here. 
  • Taking the bus is also easy and affordable.  Schedules, routes and fares can be found at http://www.stm.info/en.
Traveling to Canada

For tips on traveling to Canada and the travel documentation required (hint, you need a passport!) see: http://www.sssp1.org/index.cfm/m/690/Traveling_Tips_to_Canada/

If you have questions about the city, do not hesitate to contact me (Dr. Jason Carmichael, Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee – jason.carmichael@mcgill.ca). We look forward to seeing you all in Montreal!