(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—it’s one of the many benefits that come from being president. This year’s theme, selected by SSSP President Corey Dolgon, is Revolutionary Sociology: Truth, Healing, Reparations and Restructuring.

→    Will the SSSP host an annual meeting in 2021?

As we prepare for our 71st Annual Meeting in Chicago, August 6-8, 2021, we want to assure members that we will also continue to monitor recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health care experts. Our primary concern is members’ health and safety and, by extension, their families’ and friends’. We are preparing for an in-person meeting, but are adding a virtual component, with a limited number of virtual-only sessions, for those who cannot attend the in-person meeting. If health and safety concerns or other factors force us to cancel or make other changes to the annual meeting, we will provide members with adequate notice as quickly as possible. Be safe and if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

→   What are all of the “divisions” within SSSP? 

Within SSSP, there are twenty-three subgroups organized around specific topics, interests, or subdisciplines—known as Divisions. For those interested in issues of race and ethnicity, consider joining the Racial and Ethnic Minorities division. If you are interested in environmental issues, you may be at home as a member of the Environment and Technology division. Are you a budding theorist (or any kind of theorist for that matter!)? If so, check out the Social Problems Theory division. Divisions provide an excellent 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 they 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 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 registered for the meeting is invited. There are three plenary sessions: Opening Plenary, SSSP Business Meeting, and Presidential Address. In Chicago, the Opening Plenary and the SSSP Business Meeting will be held on the first day and the Presidential Address is held on the second day. 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 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. Roundtable sessions will not have audio-visual equipment.

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/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.

→    What is the difference between the in-person annual meeting and the virtual annual meeting?

In 2020 the Board of Directors approved the addition of up to 60 virtual sessions to our usual in-person annual meeting. The virtual component was created so that those unable to attend the in-person meeting could have an opportunity to take part in the SSSP Annual Meeting.

→ What audio-visual services will be available?

LCD projectors and screens will be available for all traditional in-person sessions. In-person Roundtable and Critical Dialogue sessions will not have audio-visual equipment. For all traditional in-person sessions, presenters and/or session organizers must bring their own laptop (and the connection cord if you have an Apple computer or HDMI connection cord). Powered speakers for audio will not be available for any in-person sessions. Internet access will be available in all meeting spaces in the conference hotel. SSSP will not provide equipment (laptop, headsets, etc.) for virtual sessions.

→ 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-three divisions – for example, Crime and Juvenile Delinquency; Disability; Drinking and Drugs; Gender; 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 extended abstract or paper online. The Call for Papers is posted in the fall before the annual meeting. The deadline for submissions is January 15. 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 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.

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 descriptions below:

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 Chair 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.

→ What are the deadline dates for the 2021 SSSP Annual Meeting?

All in-person and virtual session participants (except individuals from community, labor, and comparable organizations working on social problems or social justice issues who have been invited to serve on a panel or to make a presentation) must be current members of the Society (you may join upon acceptance of your presentation) and must register (paying the guest registration fee is not acceptable for program participants) for the annual meeting by June 1, 2021. Persons failing to register by June 1 will have their presentations 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 16-18. Online in-person registration will close at 11:59p.m (Eastern Time) on Sunday, July 18. Those who miss this deadline can register on-site at the Swissôtel Chicago. On-site registration will be open at the following times:

Thursday, August 5     2:00pm – 6:00pm
Friday, August 6  8:00am – 6:00pm
Saturday, August 7  7:00am – 6:00pm
Sunday, August 8  8:00am – 5:00pm 

The deadline for online virtual registration will be announced at a later date.

→ Which participants are eligible for an exemption from paying the registration fees?

All exemption requests must be submitted by May 15. Please note that foreign scholar exemption requests will only be granted for those attending the in-person conference, not those attending the virtual conference.

Exemptions from paying registration fees will be considered for:

  • Non-students who are unemployed and/or receiving monthly financial assistance to meet living expenses may request a waiver of registration fees to participate on the program;
  • Individuals from community, labor, and comparable organizations working on social problems or social justice issues who have been invited to serve on a panel or to make a presentation;
  • Non-U.S. and non-Canadian scholars residing in economically disadvantaged countries who without these funds would be unable to attend the meeting;
  • Co-authors of papers who will not be attending the meeting. One of the co-authors must be a paid registrant. Both co-authors must pay if both expect to attend the meeting; or
  • Persons excused by direct request of the Program Co-Chairs
→ Does SSSP have a refund policy?

Registration fees will be refunded to persons who notify the Administrative Office that they will not attend the annual meeting prior to July 15, 2021. Once the final program is printed and participant packets have been prepared, processing costs have already occurred. Unfortunately, under no circumstances will SSSP issue refunds for no-shows.

→ I am an international traveler, participating in the in-person annual meeting. How do I apply for a Letter of Invitation?

Please review the USA.gov page for detailed information about traveling to the United States, including required documentation for entry. If you need a letter of invitation, please complete this form and a letter will be emailed and mailed to you. Note, you must be a current member and participating in the in-person annual meeting to receive a letter. Processing time may take up to 5 business days.

→ Does SSSP offer a meeting mentor program?

Yes! The Meeting Mentor Program is designed to facilitate interaction between new members or graduate students and meeting veterans at the annual meeting. If you are interested in serving as a mentor or being matched with a mentor, please complete the online application (https://www.sssp1.org/index.cfm/m/312/Mentoring_Program/). The application deadline is June 30.

→ Does SSSP offer roommate matching services?

Yes! When registering, you will have the option to participate in our roommate matching service. Roommate requests must be submitted by June 30. The Administrative Office will send you a list with contact information for those who are interested in sharing a room no later than July 1.

→ Does SSSP offer childcare services for the in-person meeting?

The SSSP does not provide childcare services; however, we offer a childcare matching service. You must make your request to participate in the childcare matching service by June 30. The Administrative Office will send you a list with contact information for those who are bringing children no later than July 1. That way you can coordinate childcare/outings/etc., if desired.

→ Does SSSP provide accessibility services?

The SSSP strives to make our annual meeting as accessible as possible. Registrants with disabilities may request accessibility services such as sign language interpreters, sighted guides, and other communication avenues to facilitate their full participation when they register for the annual meeting. If you need accessible accommodations or other services, please alert us to your needs no later than June 30. Every reasonable effort will be made to assist attendees however, SSSP may not be able to provide all services or equipment due to availability and budget and time constraints. The Accessibility Committee Chair will contact you about service arrangements.