Upcoming Section Conferences

Usually, we look forward to connecting with the Sociology of Development community at our section conference. However, we will not be holding a section conference in 2020. We are disappointed that we are unable to host high-quality development research and provide a venue for rigorous intellectual engagement at the 2020 conference like we have since the inception of the Sociology of Development section. But, we look forward to hosting another section conference in the future.

Below we provide a listing of our past section conferences with links to the conference sites that provide information about the papers, presenters, and, in some cases, links to presentations. We hope to see you at the next conference!

2019: Development in Dialogue: Engaging Practitioners and Other Disciplines, Notre Dame  https://devcon19.weebly.com/

The conference will explore points of connection as well as tension between sociologists of development, scholars of other disciplines, and development practitioners. In the public eye, the development field has been largely dominated by economists, policy analysts, donors, and practitioners. Recently, however, there has been a surge in research that that uses the unique tools of sociology to understand the problems and dilemmas of development. This conference will generate  deeper dialogue between sociological research and other perspectives in the field of development. We will consider opportunities for (and barriers to) broader communication and exchange across disciplines, and address the challenges involved in connecting the insights of systematic sociological research with the experiences of practitioners.

We are seeking thought-provoking presentations and engaging conversations on numerous topics, spanning a wide range of perspectives, approaches, scales, regions, and disciplines. The University of Notre Dame is pleased to provide development scholars with an outstanding venue in which to exchange ideas and engage in dialogue that bridges disciplinary and practice boundaries.  We will draw on numerous units and centers of expertise at Notre Dame in the areas of development, democracy, peacebuilding, health, education, religion, environment, engineering and other fields, while engaging the insights of sociologists and other disciplinary scholars from around the world.

2018: Obstacles of Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign https://socdev2018.sociology.illinois.edu/?fbclid=IwAR07QsklOCZDHr64MNYEGjrZ6WpMmV3wtr6jHmxS8HjG1Y216S7RQhjkx_c

Development investments and interventions should ultimately lead to self-sustaining solutions that are supported by local governments, institutions, and stakeholders. There are many obstacles to such development efforts, however, that occur at multiple scales and extend over varying periods of time. Local actors, national inequalities, and regional policies may impede change, just as longstanding elements in the international economic system could also serve as significant obstacles to development.

The purpose of the Seventh Annual Sociology of Development Conference is to identify and explore some of the many obstacles to development present in the world today. We are seeking thought-provoking presentations and engaging conversations on numerous topics from a wide range of perspectives, approaches, scales, and disciplines. The University of Illinois is pleased to provide development scholars with an outstanding venue to exchange ideas and to explore the essential features of development’s underlying challenges.

2017: Disparities in Development: Global, Regional and Local: Wayne State University http://socofdevelopment.weebly.com/

Processes of development generate a broad range of disparities across populations, cities, economies and geographies at the global, regional and local levels.  A central theme of this conference will be to identify and explore these disparities, with an emphasis on labor, health, race, gender, urban life, and the economy. Explorations of other areas of disparity along with other topics in the sociology of development are welcome.

Disparities take on many forms, from environmental degradation to the increasingly precarious nature of work, from growing hunger in both more advanced and developing regions to a growing crisis of an adequate supply of fresh water. The consequences of uneven development are manifest in the dislocation of people seeking a better life by moving from countryside to cities, from the poor countries of the global south to wealthier countries of the global north.  Migration puts pressure on limited resources while neoliberal policies shred the social safety net.  Diseases once on the verge of eradication are beginning to return, increasing numbers of children live in poverty, and nationalism and xenophobia create barriers to migrants in search of a better life. 

This is the first annual sociology of development conference to be held in the Midwest.  The city of Detroit and surrounding communities are microcosms of many development issues traditionally explored within the global north-global south framework.  Flint has become emblematic of what happens when extracting revenues dominates local political actions resulting in lead poisoning of a vulnerable population.  Dearborn contains a large Muslim community and still draws immigrants looking to flee the ravages of war and poverty.  Detroit represents both the potential of a strong industrial economy and the consequences of capital flight.  This conference seeks to provide scholars with a venue to exchange ideas and to explore the nature of these disparities from a wide range of perspectives, disciplines, and geographies. Practitioners outside the academy are encouraged to participate.

2016: Development in Question, Cornell University https://www.questioningdevelopment2016.com/

This is a time of critical re-thinking about the nature and meaning of Development. Contemporary challenges such as climate change, global food crises, growing populations, widespread environmental degradation, geo-political instability and concerns over energy management have heightened uncertainty around – and contestation over – the future. In October 2015, the United Nations unveiled the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of ambitious, much-discussed goals that follow on the heels of the prior Millennium Development Goals (2005–2015). According to the website, the SDGs “converge with the post 2015 development agenda.” This raises the question: what is the post-2015 development agenda, who is included and how are the boundaries constructed? 

Notwithstanding the billions of dollars, thousands of consultants and considerable institutional infrastructure, development work raises as many questions as it answers. Thinking of development as a policy, a set of objectives, groups of people, or a national and international set of goals, raises old and new questions of inequality, social change, colonialism, war, rights, environmental degradation, distribution, and more. To address the questions of what is development, what or who is to be developed and why, Cornell University is hosting a conference on “Development in Question” to be held 6-8 October 2016 on the Cornell campus in Ithaca, New York. The conference features a series of keynote plenaries with leading academics and activists from around the world, and more than 150 paper presentations that think critically and creatively about contradictions, challenges and opportunities within the concept and practice of development. 

2015: Transformative Possibilities in the Global South, Brown University https://watson.brown.edu/events/2015/conference-transformative-possibilities-global-south

The Department of Sociology and the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University are proud to host the 4th annual conference of the Sociology of Development section of the American Sociological Association.  

The theme of the conference – Transformative Possibilities in the Global South – is an invitation to explore the forces — politics, movements, state structures, policies and institutions — that might drive more inclusive, sustainable, and genuinely democratic trajectories of development in the Global South.  

Over 250 scholars will present the latest research and thinking on the sociology of development in 60 different panels.

2013: The Future of Development, University of Utah https://soc.utah.edu/graduate/development-conference.php

The Department of Sociology at the University of Utah, with assistance from the Department of Sociology at Brigham Young University, will host the 3rd annual conference of the Sociology of Development section of the American Sociological Association, October 24-25, 2013, at the Officers Club on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City, Utah. The conference theme will be “The Future of Development,” focusing on current research that provides foundation and direction for promising lines of future scientific inquiry on Development, with an emphasis on works that crosscut social, economic, political, and ecological spheres.

2012: Development in Crisis, University of Virginia https://www.routledge.com/Development-in-Crisis-Threats-to-human-well-being-in-the-Global-South/Blumberg-Cohn/p/book/9781138778368 (Conference Book Edited by Rae Lesser Blumberg and Samuel Cohn, with Description Below)

Development in Crisis: Threats to human well-being in the Global South and Global North, is a provocative, engaging and interesting collection of real-world case studies in development and globalization focusing on under-emphasized threats to growth and human welfare worldwide. Created by two of America’s top development sociologists, it targets undergraduates, graduates, academics and development professionals. Crises such as falling state capacity, declining technological innovation, increasing class inequality and persisting gender inequality are considered, along with their economic and social consequences.

2011: Rethinking Development, Cornell University (inaugural conference!) http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za/files/Cornell%20program.pdf

The Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University, in conjunction with the Development Sociology section-in-formation of the American Sociological Association, is organizing a conference on “Rethinking Development” to be held 10 – 12 November 2011 at the ILR Conference Center on the Cornell campus in Ithaca, NY.

This is a challenging time to be working on issues of economic, social, political and cultural well-being or improvement – what has been popularly called “Development” for more than a century. After the crises of the 1980s, when Human Development Indicators across the globe stagnated or declined, and the long neo-liberal 1990s, which were dominated by a narrow set of policy tools, the most recent decade has witnessed a flowering of ideas that are re-shaping the debates and possibilities of and for Development. Encouraged by the rise of new social movements as well as local and multi-national initiatives for tackling poverty and injustice, academics, activists, politicians and practitioners are increasingly creating and working in a diversity of transnational arenas to challenge established ways of thinking about socio-economic change and international relations. And new ideas are desperately needed in the face of seemingly insurmountable contemporary challenges. Global climate change, historic levels of international and intra-national inequality, rising levels of absolute poverty, global food vulnerabilities, traditional energy shortages and associated ecological degradations, global economic stagnation, and political instability, social injustice and mal-distributions of various sorts – all of these demand re-thinking Development and imagining bold new articulations of state, society, market and nature in the future.

With this in mind, the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University invites papers that critically re-think Development policies and programs as well as the framework as a whole. Contributions that engage in original ways both empirically and theoretically with key ideas, practices and categories of Development at different or multiple scales will be privileged.