2018 ASA Section Program

I want to thank everyone who suggested topics for our section’s ASA program. I received more great proposals than I could use, so I will be sending all those suggestions on to the organizers of the 2018 Sociology of Development section conference at the University of Illinois, in case they can make good use of them. After consulting with Council, here are the three member suggestions I chose:

1. Frontiers of Feminist Development

Organizers: Jennifer Keahey and Kristy Kelly

This panel invites papers analyzing emerging topics and issues in development theory and practice by drawing on feminist, intersectional, post-colonial, and/or indigenous perspectives. Potential topics may include (but are not limited to): socio-environmental impacts of extractive industry, megaprojects, GMOs, and/or climate change; alternative models of social, economic and environmental sustainability, innovations in community organizing, knowledge-production, and resistance; and, integration and translation of human rights paradigms in local contexts. Critical questions of interest include: What are the frontiers of feminist development theory, research and practice? How can the practices of local, national, and global development institutions be improved by integrating insights from feminist, post-colonial, and/or indigenous theories? 

2. States, Parties, and Movements in the Global South: Rethinking the “State” in Development

Organizer:  Gowri Vijayakumar

Traditional theories of the state have tended to conceptualize it as a unitary entity, separate from political parties and social movements.  Development sociologists focusing on the global South have increasingly offered broader understandings of states, their role in development, their relation to political parties, and their engagement with civil society, including populist movements on the right and left, labor movements, feminist and LGBTQ movements, and movements of ethnic and racial minorities.  This panel invites papers that offer innovative approaches to states and state programs, global development institutions, political parties, and social movements in the global South.  Papers drawing on research from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, or offering comparative approaches, are particularly welcome.

3. Cities and Development

Organizer: Patrick Heller

Since the mid-20th century, poor countries have undergone accelerated processes of urbanization, and the majority of the world’s population now lives in cities. Varied theoretical approaches from the sociology of development, from modernization to dependency, have emphasized “over-urbanization” and “urbanization without industrialization”, while recent scholarship has turned to questions about  the effects of neoliberal restructuring. The degree to which newer urban contexts are defined by the politics of a “reserve army of the unemployed”, clientelism and populism, has been subject to considerable debate, as has the relationship between governing institutions and social inequalities in such contexts. This panel invites contributions that address how and why cities are increasingly central for rethinking the politics of development and state-building.

Thanks to those who proposed these sessions, and to those who agreed to organize them. In case none of the topics listed above are a good fit for your work, please keep in mind that, in addition to the roundtables (which will be organized by Benjamin Bradlow), another place you might want to submit is the general sociology of development paper session. Keep an eye out for the ASA 2018 call for papers, which will have more information about the submission process.


 Please let me know if you have questions or concerns about any of the above.

 As always, thanks for your contributions to our section community!


Jennifer Bair

Associate Professor & Associate Chair

Department of Sociology

University of Virginia

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