SSSP brings scholars, policy makers, and activists together to bring about social change to achieve social justice.
--JoAnn Miller, President, 2009-2010, SSSP, Purdue University

SSSP Annual Meetings provide an excellent opportunity for exploring vast and diverse topics in social problems providing you with a wealth of information as you return to the universities and private sector and continue the mission of creating social justice through your research and activism.  You will create stronger connections with your colleauges while exchanging ideas throughout the conference in formal and informal settings. Each year we welcome attendees from all over the world, including students, professors, activists and private sector professionals. Join us in making a difference.

Every year the SSSP meets in the same city and at the same time as many other professional sociological societies, including the American Sociological Association.  This is done in order to make it easier, including more cost effective, for members to participate in other meetings if they wish. Important business of the Society is conducted at this time, but the meeting also provides opportunities to:

  • Give participants the opportunity to share their research
  • Foster collegial relationships
  • Mentor new scholars
  • Recognize important contributions by members
  • Provide selected members, but especially graduate students, with financial awards for their research
  • Honor and provide financial support to local social justice service agencies
  • Reconnect with old friends 
Program Themes

The president selects the theme of the meeting. Recent themes have included Illuminating the Social in Social Problems (2019), Abolitionist Approaches to Social Problems (2018), Narratives in the World of Social Problems: Power, Resistance, Transformation (2017),  Globalizing Social Problems (2016),  Removing the Mask, Lifting the Veil: Race, Class, and Gender in the 21st Century (2015), Fifty Years Later: From a War on Poverty to a War on the Poor (2014) Re-imaging Social Problems: Moving Beyond Social Constructionism (2013), The Art of Activism (2012), Service Sociology (2011), Social Justice Work (2010), Race, Ethnicity and The Continuing Problem of the Color Line (2009), and Crossing Borders: Activist Scholarship, Globalization, and Social Justice (2008).

Types of Sessions and Meetings

Plenary Sessions - Essentially, "plenary" just means everyone.  Thus, the plenary sessions are sessions to which everyone attending the meeting is invited.  There are two plenary sessions: the SSSP Business Meeting and the Presidential Address.  Typically, the SSSP Business Meeting is held on the second day and the Presidential Address immediatley follows. Because these two sessions are considered so important to the membership and the structure of the organization, no other sessions are scheduled concurrent with these sessions.

Thematic Sessions -Topics covered in the thematic sessions reflect the theme of the annual meeting.

Special Sessions - Topics for the special sessions are typically generated by members of the Program Committee (this is the committee that helps the president organize the program for the annual meeting). Sometimes the Program Committee members organize the sessions but arrange for others to be the discussants; other times, the Program Committee members lead the sessions themselves. Special sessions typically include events with high-profile sociologists, meet-the-author events, teaching workshops, spotlight on the Thomas C. Hood Social Action Award winner, a film exhibit, and panels on particularly timely topics.

Roundtable Sessions - Roundtable sessions are usually comprised of several tables, each with a different theme. Each roundtable consists of four to five paper presentations and may have an established scholar serving as discussant.  Discussion proceeds simultaneously at all tables. At each table the discussant leader(s) will introduce the topic and facilitate discussion among all the participants.  These are informal opportunities to present and discuss works in progress, and are somewhat self-organized.  Authors in turn should start out detailing their projects or papers for about 10-15 minutes, after which participants around the table (authors and others) are invited to offer suggestions, reflect on content, and provide constructive feedback.

Regular Sessions - These sessions consist of presentations of four to five research papers that relate to the theme of the session and time for feedback and discussion. Presenters should take up to 15 minutes to discuss their contribution, followed by discussant comments in some instances.  Afterwards, the presider will open the floor for discussion and questions from the audience.

Critical Dialogue Sessions - This format includes short (5 minute) presentations by up to 8 authors followed by facilitated dialogue that critically explores connections among the papers.  The audience will have an opportunity to participate in the dialogue as well.  Emphasis is placed on exploring noteworthy connections between papers with a broadly similar theme.  The hope is that both presenters and the audience will have an opportunity to make new and deeper connections from their own unique insights and presented ideas.  The presider has an important role of moderating and facilitating the dialogue, while being sure that presentation times are followed.

Panel Sessions - Moderators will facilitate a more free flowing interaction or dialogue among the panel members as they explore and expound upon the panel’s themes.  Panelists should not see this as a platform to dominate the discussion, and after about an hour or so the moderator should invite participation from the audience as the conversation continues.

Committee Meetings - While Divisional Business Meetings and Receptions are open to all members, committee meetings are only open to members of that particular committee unless stated otherwise in the program or by invitation by the committee.

Submitting a Paper Proposal
  • You are free to submit papers to any session listed in the Call for Papers and attend any session
  • A participant may appear in the program as a sole author twice (one sole-authored paper and one critical dialogue paper) unless he or she is a student paper competition winner  
  • Look through the Call for Papers sessions and choose a 1st choice session for the closest fit for your paper/extended abstract and then a 2nd choice session for the next closest fit for your paper/extended abstract 
  • If you cannot find two suitable sessions, the Program Committee may be able to place your presentation in the annual program.  

You should also study the Annual Meeting program announcements to see where you might submit a paper or initiate a session of your own.

  • Typically, session proposals are submitted in the fall preceding the Call for papers deadline
  •  Presenters must register for the conference by June 1st.
  •  Submissions are completed online through the Society’s website
  •  The deadline for submissions is January 31st.
Attending the Annual Meeting

If you will be presenting a paper at the annual meeting,

  • You will be required to be a member of the association and register for the meeting
  • Generally, pre-registration opens in the early spring and extends through mid-July before the annual meeting, which is typically held in August each year 
  • Information on the meeting, the hotel, and other information can be found on our website 
  • Payments are generally made online by credit card or forms can be printed from the website and submitted with a check 
  • Travelers from outside the United States who are required to obtain a visa before entering the United States should plan accordingly and begin making arrangements well in advance
  • All program participants must send a copy of their paper to the session presider and/or discussant by June 30th.
Presenting a Paper at the Annual Meeting

While presenting an academic paper can evoke anxiety in even the most seasoned scholar, you will find SSSP to be a very hospitable environment while at the same time a place to obtain indispensable feedback from experts in the field. SSSP encourages presenters to prepare their presentations for a heterogeneous audience that could include those who are visually or hearing impaired as well as individuals whose primary language is not English.