From the first SSSP annual meeting I attended, it was clear that I found a welcoming and vibrant
intellectual environment where I could learn, grow, and share a commitment to social justice
with other like-minded scholars and activists.
--Raymond J. Michalowski, Northern Arizona 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 colleagues 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 and 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 grassroots social justice organizations and local Native American organizations doing social justice work on behalf of Native Americans
  • Reconnect with old friends 
Program Themes

The president selects the theme of the meeting. Recent themes have included: 

2021Revolutionary Sociology: Truth, Healing, Reparations and Restructuring
2020Bringing the Hope Back In: Sociological Imagination and Dreaming Transformation
2019Illuminating the SOCIAL in Social Problems 
2018Abolitionist Approaches to Social Problems
2017Narratives in the World of Social Problems: Power, Resistance, Transformation
2016Globalizing Social Problems
2015Removing the Mask, Lifting the Veil: Race, Class, and Gender in the 21st Century
2014Fifty Years Later: From a War on Poverty to a War on the Poor
2013Re-imaging Social Problems: Moving Beyond Social Constructionism
2012The Art of Activism
2011Service Sociology
2010Social Justice Work

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 three plenary sessions: Opening Plenary, the SSSP Business Meeting, and the Presidential Address. Typically, the SSSP Business Meeting is held on the second day and the Presidential Address immediately follows. Because these 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, they lead the sessions themselves. Special sessions typically include events with high-profile sociologists, author meets critics events, networking events, teaching workshops, 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 presider and/or discussant.  Discussion proceeds simultaneously at all tables. At each table the discussant leader(s) will introduce the topic and facilitate discussion among all 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.  Roundtable sessions will not have audio-visual equipment.

Traditional/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 interesting connections between papers with a broadly similar theme.  This provides the opportunity for both presenters and the audience to make new and deeper connections between their own unique insights and presented ideas.  The presider/discussant (same person serves in both roles) has an important role of moderating and facilitating the dialogue, while being sure that presentation times are followed.  Critical Dialogue sessions will not have audio-visual equipment.

Panel Sessions - Moderators will facilitate a 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. After about an hour, 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.

Roles within Sessions

1) The role of the facilitator/moderator/presider is to keep the session moving forward. That means maintaining time limits of speakers, facilitating audience participation, and wrapping up the session in time so the next session can start promptly. Prior to the conference, contact all of your presenters to make sure they provide material to discussants whenever one is listed. To encourage broad participation during the open discussion period, presiders should be careful not to let an audience member excessively monopolize the time by essentially making their own ad hoc presentation.

2) Paper presenters and panelists should adhere to the time frames stipulated for the different types of sessions (as outlined below) and be respectful of the time of your other presenters. Since there is never enough time to fully develop an argument, the audience will be most engaged by a presentation that highlights the question you are addressing and offers your main insights into the issue. The question and answer period that follows will permit greater elaboration if questions are addressed to you.

3) Discussants should remember that their tasks are both to reflect on the papers or summaries you should have received prior to the session, and to lead the subsequent discussion by raising interesting points or asking questions gleaned from the presentations. It would be a good idea for each discussant to contact your presenters to make sure you receive some written material prior to the conference, so you have more time to prepare your remarks.

Submitting a Paper Proposal
  • A paper may be submitted to an in-person session OR a virtual session and may not be moved after submission. Moreover, virtual session submissions will be limited to individuals unable to attend the in-person meeting. If attending the in-person meeting, the only choice is to submit to in-person sessions. In short, an individual may not submit papers, simultaneously, to the in-person and virtual sessions. The one exception is in the case of co-authored papers. For co-authored submissions, the rules will follow the presenter. The non-presenting co-author may choose to submit either to in-person sessions or a virtual session (according to the appropriate meeting guidelines).
  • You may either present in an in-person session OR a virtual session. You may not present in both an in-person session and a virtual session. Once you choose either an in-person session or a virtual session, you may submit papers to any session listed in the Call for Papers.
  • An author presenting at in-person session(s) may appear in the program as a sole author twice (one sole-authored paper and one critical dialogue paper). An author presenting in an in-person session may also appear as a co-author twice, for a total of four in-person session papers. An author presenting in an in-person session is not permitted to present in a virtual session, although the author may be listed as a non-presenting co-author in a virtual session.
  • An author presenting in a virtual session, may appear in the virtual program once as a presenter (one co-authored paper, or one sole-authored paper, or one sole-authored critical dialogue paper).  A presenting author in a virtual session may not appear on the in-person program as a presenter although the author may appear on the in-person program as a non-presenting co-author not attending the in-person sessions. A presenting author in a virtual session may also appear on the virtual program as a non-presenting co-author.
  • Session organizers and presiders can participate in both in-person and virtual sessions. However, participants giving virtual presentations (paper authors, critics, panelists and discussants) are limited to virtual sessions only. The intent is to limit virtual presentations to those participants that cannot attend the in-person meeting.
  • For either in-person sessions or virtual sessions, 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.
  • For in-person sessions, if you cannot find two suitable sessions, the Program Committee may be able to place your presentation in the annual program. Virtual submitters are required to select a 1st choice session and a 2nd choice session; virtual papers not otherwise placed in sessions will be forwarded to the virtual paper repository.

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 January 15 submission deadline.
  • Submissions are completed online through the Society’s website.
  • The submission deadline is January 15.
  • All program participants will be notified by the Administrative Office of their program partcipation by April 15.
  • Presenters must be a current member and register for the conference by June 1.
Attending the Annual Meeting - In-person or Virtually

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

  • You will be required to be a current member 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 30.
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 colleagues and 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. A free option for in-person or virtual sessions is Google Slides which includes a closed captioning tool.