The Theory Cluster Call for Papers Opens November 18th – Here’s a sneak peak

Congress 2017 will be an exciting place for social theory. The cluster has organized 12 panels across a variety of themes, with many featuring collaboration with other clusters.

Calls for Papers will open through the CSA Website on November 18th.

In the mean time, here are the panel titles with the abstracts, organizers, and their affiliation:

Feminist Theory: Space, Place, and Becoming-with
Co-Organized with The Feminist Sociology Cluster
By Robyn Lee, (UofA), Ann Denis (UofO), and Linda Christiansen Ruffman (St. Mary’s)

This session seeks proposals for papers on Feminist Theory. The 2017 Congress theme, ‘From Far and Wide’, explores Canadian identity, its history, and its future. How do we theorize this history through a feminist lens while recognizing its complicities with a settler-colonialist project? This session will explore issues of space, place, and ‘becoming-with’ (Haraway, 2008) through a feminist lens. What possibilities exist for becoming-with others? Recognizing that the spaces and places we find ourselves inhabiting are never pure, but are always shaped by histories of colonization and environmental pollution, we nevertheless move forward into uncertain futures marked by climate change. We are particularly interested in papers from Indigenous, decolonizing, and anti-racist perspectives. What is the role of feminist theory in the context of the settler-colonialist state? How can we theorize kinships and solidarities that are inevitably fractious and contentious, which are grounded in the spaces and places we find ourselves inhabiting?We will explore issues surrounding environmental degradation, entanglements with multiple species and ecosystems, as well as possibilities for grounding feminist theory in space and place, recognizing situated knowledges, and drawing on materialist insights into the importance of objects and matter.

Erich Fromm Today: Contemporary Applications of Erich Fromm’s Work to Theory and Practice
By Carmen Grillo (York), Aliya Amarshi (York), and Dean Ray (York)

Despite Erich Fromm’s time as a ‘forgotten intellectual’, there has recently been a resurgence of interest in his work across multiple disciplines. From a handbook, to a new biography, to theoretical works on Fromm’s humanism, the prolific sociologist and psychoanalyst has returned from the margins. Erich Fromm makes a compelling case for the connection between the psychological, the social, and the moral, a connection that finds increasing resonance not only across the social sciences, but in everyday life. This session offers a platform for scholars to engage with Fromm’s resurgence, and to present their theoretical, empirical and clinical applications of Fromm’s ideas. How can Erich Fromm’s work help us to understand social, moral, epistemological, clinical, and environmental problems today? Which avenues (theoretical, empirical and political) does a return to Fromm open, and which does it foreclose?

Decolonizing Sociology: Indigeneity in Theory and Practice
Co-Organized with The Indigenous Studies Cluster
By: Dean Ray (York)

Indigenous theories have become one of the most exciting and innovative areas of social critique and utopian imagination. However, Indigenous epistemologies, ontologies, and world views continue to be omitted in sociological work in favor of theories much indebted to the founding fathers–Durkheim, Marx, and Weber–and their respective lineages of thinking, which often cast the Indian as an idle savage outside of the boundaries of history, society, or rationality. Works challenging this consensus have appeared in other disciplines: anthropology (Audra Simpsons Mohawk Interruptus) and political science (Glen Coulthards Red Skin White Masks). Each of these attempts to grapple with the complex history of violence wrought by their respective social scientific enterprise and yet puts European theory in conversation with Indigenous knowledge. Still, no treatise has emerged in which sociological theory wrestles with its past. This panel, jointly organized by the Indigenous-Settler Relations and Decolonization Research Cluster and the Social Theory Research Cluster, invites papers which respond to the following questions: (How) Can we decolonize social theory? How has the native played a role in classical and contemporary theory? In which ways are sociological theories implicated in ongoing process of seizure, dispossession, and genocide of Indigenous Peoples (in both Canada and Globally)? What boundaries does settler colonialism impose on the sociological imaginations?

Value-Neutral and Value-Oriented Epistemologies of the Social: A Conversation Across Difference
By Christopher Powell (Ryerson)

One of the deepest divides in contemporary sociology is that between those who believe the true sociological research can and should be value-neutral, dispassionate, objective, and those who believe the opposite, that sociology cannot or should not stand apart from struggles for social justice, equality, or other values. Rarely do members of these two broad tendencies directly engage one another, even to critique each other’s positions, let alone to engage in constructive dialogue. This panel aims to produce a friendly, curious, open conversation across deep epistemological difference. Members are invited to discuss: what motivates us to take the approaches that we do? what is it the other side’s position that makes us uncomfortable? what are the practical stakes of this issue? And is it possible, as unlikely as it might seem, for “value-neutral” and “value-oriented” sociological projects to benefit each other, or at least to understand each other, communicate with each other, and inhabit the same institutional spaces amicably? In lieu of a standard paper abstract, those interested in being part of this panel are invited to submit a brief statement indicating how you would characterize your own work and/or sensibilities in terms of being value-neutral or value-orientated, and what interests you about this topic.

Symposium for Early Career Theorists (SECT)
By Kelly Gorkoff (Winnipeg)

The Social Theory Research Cluster invites paper proposals for its third Symposium for Early Career Theorists. SECT is a special one-day group of sessions that spotlights the work of emerging social theorists at a relatively early stage in their careers (PhD Candidates who are ABD status and those who are no more than five years beyond completion of their doctorate).Social theory is an open and dynamic field, and so in that spirit we seek papers that reflect upon, expand, and/or critique theoretical perspectives and traditions within the social sciences, and which may also draw on any number of methodological resources or inter/trans/multi-disciplinary positions. The Social Theory Research Cluster aspires to make SECT a flagship for social theory in Canada, and aims to renew and consolidate the place of theorizing in the Canadian sociological imagination. This requires a supportive and diverse network of early career scholars. We want to expand theoretical dialogue and ensure that scholars and topics traditionally not well represented in social theory are included in this symposium and Canadian social theory more broadly. We welcome extended abstract submissions of 600-800 words. Please include 3-4 keywords and a short bio (2-3 sentences). All proposals will be given serious attention, with session themes and topics reflecting the scope of submissions. Complete papers must be submitted one month in advance of the symposium and senior scholars will act as discussants.

Power and Proximity
By Mervyn Horgan (Guelph)

2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Erving Goffmans most incisive collection of essays, Interaction Ritual. Though overshadowed by the more readily accessible and sound-bite friendly Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Interaction Ritual has become a quiet and unassuming classic. At first glance it appears to be a serious (and witty) analysis of face-to-face interaction, but on closer reading the book yields formidable insights into areas that have become central concerns of social scientific inquiry across a range of substantive topics, including the social life of emotions, psychiatric authority, risk in everyday life, and the connection between capitalism and character, to name but a few. Most pointedly, by taking the physical proximity of individuals in everyday life as a starting point, each essay advances our understanding of how power is enacted and subverted in everyday life. Presenters in this session are invited to treat any of the essays in Interaction Ritual as resources to think about everyday enactments and of power amongst copresent actors. Applications and critiques of Goffman are equally welcome.

The Importance of Teaching Theory
By Christopher Powell (Ryerson) and Saara Liinamaa (Acadia)

A departmental vote to remove third-year theory as a core course; faculty reluctance to support a theory hire needed for the theory curriculum; a Decanal request for more information on how theory courses contribute to the university’s commitment to applied learning. Situations like these, it appears, are becoming more common. Reports from departments across Canada suggest that the value of theory is under question, particularly when austerity agendas reign. This session invites papers that stress the vibrancy of theory as a core course in sociology. We are interested in papers that reflect on the dilemmas of teaching theory from a range of perspectives, from papers that share strategies for teaching specific theorists or ideas to papers that theorize teaching theory. The common thread for this session is the value all participants place on theoretical learning within higher education.

The Sociology of Morality and the Morality of Sociology
By Robert Nonomara (UWO)

Human morality is a growing field of inquiry in both the natural and social sciences, as well as a topic of public interest.  Researching ‘the moral’ presents unique challenges for sociologists, however, who are always already embedded in the social worlds they study, and whose undertakings may entail not only the analysis and description of social facts but also the (intentional or unintentional) promulgation of certain normative-ethical values, ideals, principles, and perspectives to its audiences.  Classical and contemporary sociologies of morality have sought to address these challenges in various ways, developing a range of epistemological and conceptual frameworks to gain insight into the nature of our bonds with others, as well as how we ought to formulate forms of social ethics. This session invites papers concerned with the relationship between the social and the moral, and/or the ways in which the social sciences approach this relationship.

Humanistic Sociology: The Aesthetic Futures of Sociological Inquiry
By Ondine Park (MacEwan), Bonar Buffam (UBC), and Heidi Nickis (UofA)
Co-Organized with The Sociology of Culture Cluster and Visual Sociologies and Methodologies

These sessions are envisioned as a catalyst for new conversations about the (aesthetic) futures of sociology. Insofar as the scientific undercurrents of sociology have taken precedence in different disciplinary and public forums, these sessions are meant to create a space for engaging more humanistic forms of inquiry and explanation in sociological theory and research. In this vein we invite contributions that explore the complex intersections of sociological research, aesthetics, and critical theory, including (but not limited to) work that explores the methodological virtues of thick, thin or literary interpretation; the art(s) of sociology and the sociology of art; the historical iterations and foundations of this more humanistic sociology; new aesthetic principles of methodological validity that are attuned to the politics of style and knowledge production (e.g. modesty, awkwardness, the sublime, delirium); the different forms of evidence and evidentiary value that can guide and sustain sociological research, and more.

Theorizing Culture and Collective Representation
By Mervyn Horgan (Guelph) and Peter Mallory (SFX)
Co-Organized with the Sociology of Culture Cluster and The Durkheim Cluster

Two advances in cultural sociology have opened rich new space for theoretical debate about the meaning and significance of culture. On one hand, sociologists have largely abandoned the vague and sweeping concepts of culture from the twentieth century. Culture is now understood in a more analytically precise sense as the symbolic forms, meanings, and social imaginaries through which people interpret and act in the world. On the other hand, and alongside this new analytical precision, culture is now recognized as possessing some degree of analytical independence. Sociologists no longer see culture as the soft, subjective stuff of social life that can only be explained in relation to more objective structures of power. The symbolic forms of social life are now recognized as themselves potentially creative, structuring powers that shape social life. Papers in these sessions engage with culture as both an analytic category and a structuring force in everyday life.

Social theory and emancipation in the 21st century
By Jim Conley (Trent)

From Marx’s distinction between political and human emancipation, through the Frankfurt School’s “emancipatory intent”, Fraser’s socialist feminism, and Boltanski’s sociology of emancipation, critical social theories have often appealed to some notion of emancipation as a crucial component of social criticism. This session seeks papers that critically examine the strengths and weaknesses of the notion of emancipation in social theory.  Presenters will be asked to commit to submitting complete papers by the deadline, to be circulated to other members of the panel.

Mad Studies in Pedagogical Practice
By Jijian Voronka (Rutgers)

This session brings together scholars who are all actively teaching the emergent field of mad studies in Canadian universities. Complementing critical sociological approaches to mental health, mad studies, in a similar vein to fat, queer, and disability studies, works against notions of madness as deficit. Rather, mad studies makes room for ‘rethinking’ dominant sociological approaches to mental health by addressing how interlocking systems of oppression affect mad people. Further, by conjoining longstanding academic, activist, and advocacy work seeking to redress social inequities, mad studies explores issues as diverse as mad resistance, activism, art, identity, politics, pride, and desire. Together, this session explores what mad studies is, what it contributes to critical theory, and why it matters to sociological thought, curriculum, and pedagogical practice. By drawing on the innovative ways in which mad studies is currently being taught, this session invites conversation on how mad studies can be incorporated into existing curriculum which approaches social justice issues through intersectional frames.

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