The 61st Annual Conference of the
Pennsylvania Sociological Society
Seton Hill University
1 Seton Hill Drive, Greensburg, Pa.
September 30 to October 1, 2011
“Together in Peace: Social Change Through Community Dialogue”
Courtyard by Marriott Greensburg
700 Power Line Drive
Greensburg, PA 15601
Ask about conference rates.
AGENDAFriday, September 30
Registration 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Second Floor Administration Dinner 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Greensburg Room Seton Hill Ghost Tour and Tales
William Black, Seton Hill University Archivist
8:30 p.m. First Floor Administration Reception Desk
Saturday, October 1
Registration 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Second Floor Administration Continental Breakfast 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Morning Sessions 9:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.
and 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
See program for details. Lunch
Amir Marvasti, Keynote Speaker
Noon to 1:30 p.m. Greensburg Room Afternoon Sessions 1:45 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
and 3:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
See program for details. Business Meeting 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
Lunch and Keynote Talk with Amir Marvasti
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Seton Hill University, Greensburg Room
Amir Marvasti is associate professor of sociology at Penn State Altoona. His areas of specialization include deviance, social psychology, race and ethnicity, and qualitative methods. After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 1999, Amir was employed as an assistant professor at Bethune-Cookman College (a historically black college in Daytona Beach). He then moved to Penn State Altoona in 2002 to join his future wife and collaborator, Karyn McKinney.
This presentation considers how qualitative research can be used to build a broad notion of community founded on the commonality of human experience. Borrowing from work of W.I. Thomas on social disorganization and personality development in early 20th century, I argue that the yearning for belonging and community is a central and perennial concern for sociology; and that this wish can best be fulfilled by encouraging diverse groups to focus on the commonality of their human experiences. Using qualitative interviews, field observations, and personal experience, I show how two seemingly distinct groups (i.e. the homeless and Middle Eastern Americans) share similar experiences regarding: 1) self-other relations in the context of egregious stereotypes; 2) awareness of mortality and time; 3) desire for belonging (i.e., having a home); and 4) the wish for new experiences. In essence, I argue that qualitative research can be used to encourage people to locate their selves in the experiences of others (i.e., identify with others). I conclude by suggesting that it is possible, if not necessary, to move beyond simplistic approaches that pit one group against another or simply encourage dominant groups to have “empathy for the less fortunate.” Instead, we need to recognize, in the words of a homeless white man, that “we’re all in this together,” that we are united by our common woes, anxieties, and desires. Qualitative research with its emphasis on lived experience is particularly useful in showing how certain universal themes transcend social divisions and unify people from diverse backgrounds.
Check back for more details as they become available.