The Society for the
Study of Social Problems

68th Annual Meeting
August 10-12, 2018
Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel

Philadelphia, PA

Luis A. Fernandez

Luis A. Fernandez
Northern Arizona University
SSSP President (2017-2018)

Abolitionist Approaches to Social Problems

Be faithful, be vigilant, be untiring in your efforts to break every yoke, and let the oppressed go free.” –William Lloyd Garrison

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” –Frederick Douglass

Fight for the right to live, love, and work wherever you please.” –The Repeal Coalition of Arizona (an immigrant rights group)

In the 18th and 19th centuries, abolitionists developed strong movements demanding the end of slavery.  In the United States, individuals like Gerrit Smith, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, the Grimke sisters, and John Brown called for the immediate end to the enslavement of their fellow humans, and were unrelenting in their actions to reach their goals.  These were zealots, individuals who were unapologetic about their demands.  For instance, in 1855, abolitionists issued a call for an inaugural convention of Radical Abolitionists. It stated,

"We want [people] at this crisis who cannot be frightened from the advocacy of our 'radical' doctrines, because of their unpopularity . . . Let us not, then, grow weary, but believing that 'whatever is RIGHT, IS PRACTICAL,' go forth with renewed determination to conquer, though we die in the conflict." (In The Black Hearts of Men, John Stauffer, p. 12)

As we face modern social problems, we can find inspiration in the Abolitionist Movement.  As we see Latino, Black, and Indigenous youth killed and imprisoned at disproportionate rates, we need strategies to stop racial subjugation.  As we witness the call for larger walls at our borders, we need new thoughts of liberation.  As we confront patriarchy and economic inequality, we require stronger practices.  To that end, the theme for the 2018 SSSP Annual Meeting is Abolitionist Approaches to Social Problems

The SSSP has a long history of experimentation, inviting critique of ideas and concepts as it pushes towards a continual reimagining of social justice.  In the current incarnation, we invite participants to help us develop ways to abolish social problems entirely, to think through what is required to eliminate systems of subjugation, and to document the current struggles that are already leading the way in these efforts.  This will require not just a rethinking of how to confront social problems, but also a rediscovering of buried histories, of hidden struggles, and of ideas that are submerged below the surface.  It is time, once again, to remember that what is right is practical and to be unafraid of principles that are unpopular.

To this end, the program committee will be inviting speakers, organizing thematic sessions, and assembling panels of scholars-activist who are confronting capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, and other forms of subjugation.  We also invite you to submit proposals that match the theme.

It is our hope that this year’s theme provides us with an opportunity to have an earnest discussion on the possibilities of developing and implementing strategies that eradicate subjugation.  We invite you to engage in our efforts.  We hope to see you in Philadelphia, a city steeped in an abolitionist tradition. 

Luis A. Fernandez, SSSP President
Northern Arizona University

2018 Program Committee

     A. Javier Treviño, Chair, Wheaton College

     Michelle A. Harris, University at Albany, SUNY
     Meghan G. McDowell, Winston Salem State University
    Ana Muñiz, University of California, Irvine