Noreen M. Sugrue
The Latino Policy Forum and
The Council of International Neonatal Nurses
The Sociological Reimagination: From Moments to Momentum
In 2001, Robert Perrucci articulated a vision of SSSP and its membership whereby both become consequential actors in public discussions and policy debates. Two decades later, the work and activism of SSSP and its members is needed more than ever.
Our entry into a post-pandemic world provides us with an opportunity to recalibrate our priorities as scholars, policy analysts, teachers, and activists. We are being given an opportunity to embrace this period, with a clear sense of needed pathways toward change. Addressing and redressing today’s problems requires the full and central participation of SSSP members. SSSP scholars, be they in the academy, government, or the private sector, are uniquely qualified to play a formative role in defining, designing, and implementing the policies required for a new beginning, a new hope, and a new and fairer social order.
In his widely acclaimed book Capitalism in the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty contends that in order to address one of this century’s greatest threats - growing inequality – more than economists are required at the “solutions table”. This expanded solutions table is necessary if policy solutions to inequities, inequalities, and injustices are to be based on a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the social world in all its dimensions. And who better to provide such descriptions and prescriptive policy actions than sociologists, especially those of us in SSSP?
However, we also must recognize that as sociologists we will not be spontaneously invited to the solutions table. In order to secure a seat at that table, we must deploy our research findings along salient avenues of public discussion and debate. We are called to translate our research findings into concrete prescriptions for change, and thereby infuse the public process with the results of our research. But sitting at the solutions table is one thing; we also must ensure that we have a suitable microphone in order to amplify our voice. Our unique voice can illuminate the issues and problems, as well as provide solutions aimed at both rectifying problems and guiding the reimagination of how a more equitable social order can be achieved. We seek our seat and our microphone not for our own careers but rather for the sake of the country and the world.
In many ways, the 2022 meeting is a new beginning. COVID recently has dominated the social landscape, but we now hope to enter a post-pandemic world. It is a world in which a virus exacerbated and exposed the issues and problems that we all know need to be fixed. It is a world in which some communities are far more broken than before the pandemic, and where the endemic inequities and injustices have been laid bare for all to see.
Recently, we have experienced moments that vividly illustrated the inequities and injustices we know all too well. The examples also are all too familiar: COVID, gun violence, attacks on the rights of women and LGBTQIA persons, anti-Semitism, structural racism, inhumane treatment of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, as well as inequitable access to health care, poverty, the killings of George Floyd, Adam Toledo, and countless other Blacks and Latinos at the hands of law enforcement, and climate change, in addition to the ever growing inter- and intra- country inequities.
Our experiences with these moments and our entry into the post-pandemic world provide us with an opportunity to recalibrate our priorities as scholars, policy analysts, teachers, and activists. As we enter this period, there is a clear sense that this is the time for change. There is a willingness on the part of many, particularly younger people, to realign our priorities and social structures, re-prioritize how we spend resources, re-define what it means to identify a society as just, re-distribute goods and services with a commitment to equity, and re-evaluate our programs and policies through an intersectional lens.
I invite each of you to join us in Los Angeles – the city of angels – in order to further a dialogue aimed at social change and action rooted in data and theory. The 2022 meeting also provides opportunities to define, energize, and commit to concrete social actions and policy work.
It is the time to turn the multiple moments on our social landscape into momentum – momentum for social justice, momentum for change, momentum for SSSP scholars to move from analysis to action, and momentum to make SSSP not simply the Society for the Study of Social Problems, but also into a society that designs solutions.
Noreen M. Sugrue, SSSP President
The Latino Policy Forum and The Council of International Neonatal Nurses
2022 Program Committee
Jackie Krasas, Chair, Lehigh University
Heather M. Dalmage, Roosevelt University
Artkwork created by Veronica I. Giraldo-Puente