Congress of the Swiss Sociological Association (SSA)
Social Justice in times of uncertainty
June 28—30, 2021 | GENEVA
University of Geneva | UNIGE
Geneva School of Social Work, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland — Geneva | HETS-Genève, HES-SO
With the participation of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID)
The idea for this congress emerged as an extension to the Geneva Sociology Platform, which aims to foster exchanges between sociologists working in the city. Over the past three years, sociologists from different institutions working in Geneva have met on an annual basis in a forum to discuss common research themes and interests. Building on the momentum of this platform, two main institutions have come together to organize the next Congress of the Swiss Sociological Association in Geneva: the University of Geneva and the Haute Ecole de Travail Social de Genève (HETS GE/HES-SO). We are also delighted to have colleagues form the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies on our scientific committee in Geneva.
As Geneva was also the birthplace of the first sociology department in Switzerland, and given the experience of the University of Geneva in organizing past events, we have been glad to host this new edition in the wider institutional setting of the City and Canton of Geneva.
Milena Chimienti, HETS GE/HES-SO; Marlyne Sahakian, UNIGE
Letter from Milena Chimienti and Marlyne Sahakian, congress co-chairs
Welcome to the 2021 Congress of the Swiss Sociological Association. We started planning this event in a context that seems so different from what we are all experiencing today, and of course we had to adapt the format accordingly. Despite the impossibility to meet in person, we have maintained this important encounter for our community by taking the decision to host the event entirely online.
In times of uncertainty, social justice is a central issue – and a key theme in this year’s Congress. The health pandemic that erupted in 2020 revealed and accelerated inequalities, both locally and internationally, making ever more salient the issues of exacerbated poverty, environmental degradation, and populism in all its forms, propelled by measures that sought to close off borders, promote physical distancing (to not say social), apotheosize so-called ‘scientific’ or ‘medical’ knowledge, sometimes at the detriment of social sciences, and to stigmatize or indeed criminalize un-desirable behaviors. We are convinced that sociological analysis is critical in these times of uncertainty, not only towards understanding dynamics, uncovering inequalities and in-justices, but also for demonstrating how a more just form of social change can be supported in the future.
The great number of proposals received from around the world is a testament to the importance of hosting this congress, despite the virtual format: we have received 300 abstracts for paper presentations, 20 semi-plenary proposals, including film screenings, a round-table and book presentations, representing a total of 500 contributors. More than in previous years, the Congress boasts an international roster: we count contributors from 30 different countries, and are very pleased to welcome four keynote speakers that represent different continents, from the United States, to Europe and India. The diverse contributions to this Congress demonstrate the different ways in which injustice manifests itself (in relation to health, economic means, mobility, exclusion, among others), unraveling the problematic invisibility or inaudibility of certain forms of injustice. They highlight the complex causes of inequalities at the intersection of different power relationships, but also normative dimensions which either promote or hinder inequalities.
This Congress is also unique in another respect: for the first time, the Swiss Sociological Association is organizing its conference as a collaboration between different institutions in one same city, Geneva. The main organizers are the University of Geneva and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, School of Social Work (HETS/HES-SO) in Geneva, represented by the Co-Chairs, and with the participation of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID). By situating sociology beyond its institutional boarders, we aim to foster exchanges between sociologists affiliated with different higher education institutions, and thus support collaborations between sociologists and reinforce the importance of this disciplinary field.
We would like to thank the hardworking staff of the local organizing committee, members of the Geneva scientific committee (UNIGE, HETS/HES-SO, IHEID), the University of Geneva and the HETS/HES-SO Geneva for providing the necessary logistical support, as well as the board members of the Swiss Sociological Association. Finally, we are very grateful for the support of our sponsors, listed at the end of this program booklet.
We are very much looking forward to welcoming you to what promises to be a very inspiring and engaging Congress.
Milena Chimienti and Marlyne Sahakian
Geneva scientific committee members
Aditya Bharadwaj, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Anthropology and Sociology of Development
Jean-Michel Bonvin, University of Geneva, department of Sociology
Milena Chimienti, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, School of Social Work Geneva (HES-SO)
Murielle Darmon, CNRS dans le Centre européen de sociologie et de science politique (CNRS-EHESS-Paris I)
Julien Debonneville, University of Geneva, Gender Studies,
Arnaud Frauenfelder, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, School of Social Work Geneva (HES-SO)
Valerie Hugentobler, University of Applied Sciences and Arts, School of Social work Lausanne
Marylène Lieber, University of Geneva, Gender Studies,
Graziella Moraes Silva, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Anthropology and Sociology of Development
Marlyne Sahakian, University of Geneva, department of Sociology
Jean-Michel Bonvin, University of Geneva
Milena Chimienti, HETS-GE/HES-SO
Irène Courtin, University of Geneva
Arnaud Frauenfelder, HETS-GE/HES-SO
Géraldine Moynat, University of Geneva
Adriana Ramos, HETS-GE/HES-SO
Marlyne Sahakian, University of Geneva
Swiss Sociological Association (SSA) Board members
Chair: Rainer Diaz-Bone, University of Luzern
Patrik Aspers, University of St-Gallen
Milena Chimienti, University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Western Switzerland, School of Social Work Geneva (HES-SO)
Achim Edelmann, University of Bern
Regula Julia Leemann, University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Northwestern Switzerland, School of Education
Oliver Nachtwey, University of Basel
Jörg Rössel, University of Zurich
Marlyne Sahakian, University of Geneva
Leen Vandecasteele, University of Lausanne
Check out the SSA’s webiste
Letter from the president of the Swiss Sociological Association
ear Participants at the congress “Social Justice in Times of Uncertainty” of the Swiss Sociological Association (SSA)
(28th – 30th June 2021),
When the congress organizers started their planning for the congress in 2019, they could not know about the upcoming COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on societies worldwide. The congress title entails the notion of uncertainty, and meanwhile we experienced new forms of uncertainty caused by the pandemic. It was not prophetic to devote the congress to the link between social inequalities and uncertainty. This link has already been of relevance in sociological analysis before the pandemic in times of climate change, refugee crises, political populism, and other so called “big issues”. But after the experience of the lastmonths, it became evident that the congress topic has gained in relevance, because the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to reinforce the dynamics and mechanisms of the social.
All over the world, higher education is hampered by digital teaching and digital examining – because of the pandemic. And we lost some of the intensity of scientific exchange, when discussions started to be proceeded by tools such as Zoom, Skype, Teams and others. Bigger meetings in person and informal exchange between conference sessions, as well as the visiting of congress sites (and beautiful cities – such as Geneva), are not possible these days. But we learned that digital communication tools for video conferences facilitate the (although virtual) meeting of scholars from different world regions, because they reduce the need to travel. And in fact, the upcoming sociology congress in Geneva will gather contributors and participants from more different countries than former congresses of the Swiss Sociological Association.
As president, I am grateful to the committee in Geneva, which organized the congress and managed to switch to the digital mode during the organization. What has to be highlighted is the fact, that for the first time the congress is jointly organized by sociologists from two different kinds of institutions: from the University of Geneva and from the University of applied sciences for social work of Geneva (Haute Ecole de Travail Social de Genève). The program of the congress, the list of keynote speakers and of other contributors are proof that the collaboration is a successful one.
Even in times of uncertainty, I am sure that the congress will be an important and inspiring event.
Rainer Diaz-Bone, president of the Swiss Sociological Association