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Call for Abstracts

Eastern Sociological Society Mini-Conference on Comparative Cultural Sociology

dal 23-08-2012 al 24-03-2013
, August 23, 2012

Call for Abstracts


Eastern Sociological Society Mini-Conference on Comparative Cultural Sociology

Boston, MA

March 24, 2013


Sponsored by the Harvard Culture and Social Analysis Workshop


Submission Deadline: September 15, 2012


We invite submissions of abstracts for a mini-conference on comparative cultural sociology, to be held in Boston on March 24, 2013, during the annual meeting of Eastern Sociological Society. This mini-conference aims to bring together scholars working at the frontier of comparative cultural research, in an effort to discuss some of the theoretical and methodological challenges facing the field. Papers by faculty and graduate students are welcome. We will consider abstracts on a wide range of topics, but are especially interested in submissions that address the following themes:


Identifying cultural groups. Much early research on culture assumed that the boundaries of cultural groups are homologous with sociodemographic categories (e.g., ethnicity, race, class, gender) or institutional units (e.g., cities, nation-states, civilizations). While this perspective has been successfully challenged, comparison in the absence of discrete cultural units is not possible. Addressing the problem of group boundedness in comparative research requires theoretical and methodological solutions; hence, we welcome papers that rely on both innovative and theoretically motivated empirical strategies.


Culture in context. Based on the insight that meaning is dependent on context—and therefore often unstable—some scholars have sought to treat situations rather than cultural groups as primary units of comparison. Though theoretically promising, this approach poses challenges for empirical generalization. Submissions that take the contextuality of meaning seriously while striving to make claims about the broader patterning of cultural phenomena will be given special attention.


Comparison and causality. One of the purposes of comparison is to isolate causal relationships; at the same time, causality has become a topic of growing interest among cultural sociologists. We welcome papers that leverage comparative methods to demonstrate the causal power of cultural phenomena in a variety of social domains.


Cultural change. Many comparative studies treat their units of analysis synchronically; yet, the degree to which cultural phenomena are stable is an empirical question.  Papers that explicitly investigate cultural change (and/or cultural stability) by simultaneously comparing across units and over time are of particular interest to us, as are papers that consider dynamic social processes where meaning-making is central (e.g., commensuration, evaluation, standardization, identification, etc.).


Cultural repertoires. The concept of cultural repertoires has been particularly generative for comparative cultural sociology. How can we move toward greater specificity and complexity in its use? How can we better conceptualize the intersection between repertoires and unfolding social practices?


To submit an abstract, please visit https://cmt.research.microsoft.com/CCS2013. Authors will be notified of the status of their submissions by October 31, 2012; full drafts of accepted papers will be due by March 1, 2013. Participants will be responsible for covering their own expenses, including ESS registration fees. Any questions concerning the conference should be directed to cultureworkshop@fas.harvard.edu. For more information on the ESS Annual Meeting, see http://www.essnet.org/annualmeeting_call.aspx.


We look forward to a stimulating discussion!




Bart Bonikowski and Michèle Lamont, Faculty Sponsors

Stefan Beljean and Curtis Chan, Student Coordinators

Department of Sociology

Harvard University

Keywords: culture, boundaries, comparative sociology