Questions that you may have about the SSSP Annual Meeting…. but are too embarrassed to ask
(Original piece written by Deborah Thorne, 2007 Program Committee)
→ Who chooses the “theme” of the SSSP Annual Meeting?
The SSSP president selects the theme of the annual meeting—that’s one of the benefits of being president! This year’s theme is Abolitionist Approaches to Social Problems, selected by SSSP President Luis A. Fernandez.
→ What are all of the “divisions” within SSSP?
Within the SSSP, there are twenty-two subgroups organized around specific topics, interests, or subdisciplines—these are called Divisions. For example, for those interested in issues of race and ethnicity, there is the Racial and Ethnic Minorities division. If you are interested in environmental issues, you might want to join the Environment and Technology division. Are you a budding theorist (or any kind of theorist for that matter!)? If so, you might want to check out the Social Problems Theory division. These divisions provide a great opportunity to meet others who share your academic interests. Many of the sessions for the annual meeting are generated through the divisions, and the divisional meetings occur during the annual meeting.
→ The program lists many different types of sessions: regular, plenary, thematic, special, roundtable, critical dialogue, and panel. What do all of these mean?
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.
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.
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 immediately 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, they lead the sessions themselves. Special sessions typically include events with high-profile sociologists, meet-the-author events, teaching workshops, a 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.
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. 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 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.
→ The program lists an entire page of “committee” and “divisional” meetings. Which ones can I attend? All of them or are some just for the committee members?
Committee meetings are only open to members of that particular committee unless stated otherwise in the program or by invitation by the committee. However, divisional meetings are open to anyone who is interested. There are divisional meetings associated with all twenty-two divisions – for example, Crime and Juvenile Delinquency; Disability; Drinking and Drugs; Law and Society; Poverty, Class and Inequality; Sport, Leisure, and the Body; and Teaching Social Problems (to name just a few). If you want to get involved in a division(s), these are great meetings to attend!
→ How do I organize or participate in sessions at the annual meeting?
At the annual meeting, members can present their research and serve as organizer, presider, and discussant in sessions. To present your research at the meeting, respond to the Call for Papers by submitting an abstract or paper online. The Call for Papers is posted in the fall before the annual meeting. The deadline for submissions is January 31. The session organizers and the Program Committee work collaboratively to place submissions in appropriate sessions.
Although presenting an academic paper can invoke anxiety in even the most seasoned scholar, you will find the SSSP Annual Meeting to be a very hospitable environment and an excellent opportunity to obtain feedback from colleagues and experts in the field.
In addition to presenting papers, you have the opportunity to serve in other roles in annual meeting sessions. Consider serving as an organizer, presider, or discussant. See below for descriptions:
Organizer: If you wish to organize a session for the following year’s annual meeting, the brainstorming process usually begins in divisional meetings during the annual meeting. If you cannot attend the divisional meetings, you may also submit your session theme to a Division’s Chair in the weeks prior to the annual meeting. Organizers are encouraged to present themes that are broad enough to invite participation yet specific enough to provide the foundation for a meaningful conversation to occur in the session. After the Call for Papers submission deadline has passed, you will also be involved with selecting papers for your session.
Presider: Presiders ensure that sessions run smoothly. Presiders make sure that session participants stay within their allotted time. Sessions last 1 hour and 40 minutes, unless noted otherwise. Presiders should alert the session participants to how long they will have to present their papers and make sure they provide materials to discussants (if applicable) prior to the annual meeting. Presiders should remember to leave time for questions and answers at the end of the session. We recommend that presiders bring index cards to sessions that indicate how much longer the session participant has left within their allotted time (i.e. cards that read 5 minutes, 2 minutes, and 0 (zero). 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.
Discussant: Discussants should remember that their tasks are both to reflect on the papers or summaries they 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 their presenters to make sure they receive some written material prior to the conference, so they have more time to prepare their remarks.
→ Does SSSP have a refund policy?
Registration fees will be refunded to persons who notify us prior to July 15. Once the final program is printed and participant packets have been prepared, the cost of processing the participant has occurred. Unfortunately, under no circumstances will SSSP issue refunds for no-shows.
→ What are the deadline dates for the 2018 SSSP Annual Meeting?
All program participants (member and non-member) must register by June 1 or their contribution(s) will be deleted from the final program.
Preregistration ends on July 15. Members and non-members may continue to register at the on-site registration rate from July 16-22. Online registration will close at midnight (EDT) on Sunday, July 22. Those who miss this deadline can register on-site at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel. On-site registration will be open at the following times:
Thursday, August 9: 2:00pm – 6:00pm
Friday, August 10: 8:00am – 6:00pm
Saturday, August 11: 7:00am – 6:00pm
Sunday, August 12: 8:00am – 5:00pm