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Sociologists to explore economic inequality at annual meeting in San Francisco, Aug. 16-19

More than 5,000 sociologists will convene in San Francisco this August to explore ideas and scientific research relating to economic inequality and many other topics, as part of the American Sociological Association's 109th Annual Meeting. This year's theme, "Hard Times: The Impact of Economic Inequality on Families and Individuals," draws attention to the many ways in which inequality reverberates throughout American society and the world.

The conference will feature nearly 600 sessions and more than 3,600 studies covering such subjects as family, education, sex, health, religion, work, same-sex marriage, immigration, bullying, race, social media, crime, relationships, gender, technology, socioeconomics, children, disability, political participation, neighborhood life, substance abuse, climate change, and an abundance of others. Given the diverse range of topics that will be covered, ASA's Annual Meeting will provide a wealth of information for journalists assigned to nearly any beat.

WHAT: The American Sociological Association's 109th Annual Meeting: "Hard Times: The Impact of Economic Inequality on Families and Individuals"

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 16, through Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014 (Opening Plenary Session is Friday, Aug. 15, from 7 to 9 PM)

WHERE: Hilton San Francisco Union Square (333 O'Farrell St., San Francisco, CA, 94102) and Parc 55 Wyndham Hotel (55 Cyril Magnin St., San Francisco, CA 94102)

REGISTRATION: Complimentary media registration is now open. Download the press policy and registration form online at The early registration deadline is Friday, Aug. 1.

PROGRAM: Visit for the meeting's searchable preliminary program.


  • Border Legacy

    Saturday, Aug. 16, 8:30 10:10 AM (Hilton, Plaza A) This panel will explore the legacy and status of the U.S.-Mexican border. Currently, access between the U.S. and Mexico is limited by the growing militarization and homeland security enforcement to stop human and drug smuggling. At the same time, however, the border area continues to show signs of cultural and commercial exchanges and the maintenance of transnational families.

  • Same-Sex Marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court: One Year Later

    Saturday, Aug. 16, 10:30 AM 12:10 PM (Hilton, Continental Parlor 7) This session will draw together reflections on the social, political, legal, and cultural status of same-sex marriage one year after the U.S. Supreme Court decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act (United States v. Windsor) and California's Proposition 8 (Hollingsworth v. Perry). Panelists will address the significance and impact of the decisions from several vantage points: transformations in legal and social definitions of marriage and family, the role of social science in law and social change, and the evolution of social movements for and against LGBT rights.

  • Inequality and New Media: Young People, Technology, and Social Divides

    Saturday, Aug. 16, 2:30 4:10 PM (Hilton, Continental Parlor 7) Technology is often heralded as the great equalizer, bearing the ability to solve social ills by making information and communication available to people regardless of class, age, or racial/ethnic background. However, digital technologies can also reflect and indeed replicate inequality along a variety of lines. Paradoxically, in some cases, attempts to address digital inequality can contribute to the remaking of historical inequalities. This session will address how and when digital media perpetuates inequalities as well as how and when it disrupts these processes. More specifically, panelists will present papers exploring how young people interact with new media in ways that reflect, challenge, and reproduce class, race, gender, and geographic inequality.

  • Children's Work and Children's Play During Hard Times

    Sunday, Aug. 17, 8:30 10:10 AM (Hilton, Continental Parlor 3) This panel will feature sociologists doing cutting edge research on the ways the changing economy both domestically and internationally impacts children's daily lives. More specifically, panelists' research explores how immigrant children fare across different host countries, with varying economic conditions; children's experiences of deprivation and violence in the shantytowns of Argentina; and parental support for young adult children as they transition into the new economy in the United States. Overall, this session will place children's experiences at the center stage of the discussion of how families negotiate hard times.

  • Hard Times in a Regional Perspective: The Crises of 2008 and Their Aftermath

    Sunday, Aug. 17, 10:30 AM 12:10 PM (Hilton, Continental Parlor 1) The economic crises of 2008 the wave of home foreclosures, massive bank bailouts on Wall Street, and the distress of the domestic automobile industry had global causes and consequences while also being profoundly embedded in distinct regions within the United States. This panel will examine the 2008 economic crises and their aftermath from a geographic perspective, highlighting distinctions between cities and suburbs, the Sun Belt and the Rust Belt, and the coastal global cities of New York and Los Angeles.

  • Environmental Climate Change and Social Inequality

    Monday, Aug. 18, 8:30 10:10 AM (Hilton, Plaza A) Climate change threatens all regions of the globe. Yet, existing social inequalities are likely to influence the types of social responses as well as the effects climate change will have on various populations. This panel will explore climate change and: economically prosperous consumers, the global south, the exacerbation of poverty and inequality in rural America, and the varying responses of state and local governments within the United States.

  • Researching Obama: Race, Health Care, Democracy, Culture

    Monday, Aug. 18, 10:30 AM 12:10 PM (Hilton, Continental Parlor 1) Since his successful run for the presidency in 2008 and subsequent reelection in 2012, Barack Obama's meteoric rise to the nation's highest office has been marked by successes, failures, and near-constant discussion and analysis. Importantly, his campaigns, administration, and presidency have also given rise to a range of sociological research examining the consequences, implications, and significance of his status as the first black president, the initiatives he has sought to champion, and the policy decisions he has advocated in his role. Tackling topics as diverse as health care reform, democratic processes, racial politics, and the role of gender, panelists will present their important empirical and theoretical studies of this historic administration.

  • Religion and Hard Times

    Monday, Aug. 18, 4:30 6:10 PM (Hilton, Continental Parlor 1) In economic recession, does religion motivate support for greater public and private assistance to the poor and higher taxes on the wealthy or does it bolster the belief that unbridled capitalism will lift people out of poverty? Some Evangelical organizations, such as Sojourners, support greater government aid to the poor, while the Tea Party, often with the support of religious traditionalists, seeks reductions in social spending. Polls during the recession indicate that the religiously orthodox are more likely than modernists to still believe in the American Dream, while other research finds that the orthodox are more supportive than modernists of state aid to the poor. Panelists will explore these paradoxes and their implications for the post-recession period, in addition to discussing the perspective of poor women on religion.

  • Hard Times and High Hopes for U.S. Higher Education

    Monday, Aug. 18, 4:30 6:10 PM (Hilton, Plaza B) United States higher education is undergoing profound change. How Americans fund, govern, assess, and experience college all are in flux, creating a sense of crisis for many in the academy but also great experimentation in business models, instructional delivery, and educational research. Some go so far as to promise that the best higher education is yet to come. This session will assemble seasoned scholars, education innovators, and institutional leaders to discuss the fate and future of U.S. higher education today.

  • Hard Times, Gender, and Families

    Tuesday, Aug. 19, 10:30 AM 12:10 PM (Hilton, Plaza B) The Great Recession altered the gender dynamics within families in ways we are only beginning to understand. Some trends were accelerated, while others may have been slowed or even reversed. This subject is vexing for researchers because it involves adjudicating between the effects of underlying conditions, long-term trends, and short-term shocks. In the past several years, we have seen new research on how labor market conditions affect family violence, the gender division of labor, and fertility decisions. As of yet, however, we have no overarching theory of how this recession or short-term economic shocks in general has helped shape gender within families. In this session, a panel of researchers will address this issue.

  • Return Migration During Hard Times Tuesday, Aug. 19, 12:30 2:10 PM (Hilton, Continental Parlor 7) When countries experience "hard times," immigrants face new challenges to their integration into a host country. Legal policy may seek to push immigrants out and back to their countries of origin by defining them as undesirable. In the United States, for example, deportations have risen dramatically since 2001. For each of the past four years, the U.S. has deported close to 400,000 people. Social policies may also aim to encourage immigrants to return voluntarily to their countries of origin. Since 9/11, anti-immigrant sentiment has dramatically impacted the lives of immigrants throughout the world. This session will explore the meaning of return migration in various Latin American contexts in the contemporary era.

  • Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Childhood Obesity

    Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2:30 4:10 PM (Hilton, Continental Parlor 7) In the United States, the prevalence of overweight and obese children has quadrupled during the past 25 years. The increase in the prevalence of obesity has led to its classification as one of the most pressing public health problems of this century. Obesity has been linked to a number of serious health conditions and some have predicted that it may even lead to decreased life expectancies for current and future generations of Americans. For children, socioeconomic disadvantage is thought to raise the risk of obesity through various mechanisms in the children's homes, neighborhoods, and schools. But researchers are just beginning to understand the causes and consequences of obesity for children. Panelists will discuss some of their new research and interpretations of this issue.


  • Contact: Daniel Fowler
    American Sociological Association

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