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BSA Annual Conference 2023: Sociological Voices in Public Discourse

12-14 April 2023
University of Manchester, UK

Keynote Speakers

  • Gurminder K Bhambra (BSA President), University of Sussex
  • Finn Mackay, UWE, Bristol
  • Ali Meghji, University of Cambridge

About the Event

The BSA Annual Conference returns in 2023 and it's our first in-person conference since 2019! The theme of the conference is: Sociological Voices in Public Discourse and it will take place from 12-14 April at the University of Manchester.

It’s no exaggeration to suggest that the contemporary world is going through a series of crises. The Covid-19 pandemic (and its aftermath), climate crisis, cost of living crisis, and housing crisis combine with the war in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere, millions of displaced people, growing inequalities and pushbacks on democratic rights and equal rights.

In this context, Sociology has an important role to play. This conference seeks to emphasise the importance of, and challenges to, sociological voices and ideas informing some of the vital socio-political debates of our time. This conference underscores the importance of academic debate and dissent informed by a critical and justice-orientated sociological lens. Sociology is, and should be, a discipline that is rooted in a desire to critique the social world around us and to utilise robust methods to explore and understand the roots of these crises.

With many public crises, and many ways of publicising our voices, this conference links to the public sociology and public approaches of past plenary speakers like Michael Burawoy and Patricia Hill Collins. The plenary talks will also focus on sociology’s intellectual and reparatory scope.

How we use our voice in public is fraught with issues, from both inside and outside the academy. Does our research fit an ephemeral impact or knowledge exchange agenda? Speaking out on social justice is often met with resistance from a well-oiled conservative 'anti-woke' backlash in the mainstream media and on social media.

And the focus is not just on the academics and their voice, but the role of Sociology to access and elevate those voices that have been historically marginalised and hidden. From racism, sexism, homophobia and ableism, Sociology has the methods and theories to interrogate the crises, include all voices, and then present that to a wider audience.

After the pandemic and its aftermath, this will be the BSA’s first face-to-face conference in four years. This should be a celebration of the discipline of Sociology, it’s multivocality, diversity and criticality.

Our aim is to collectively think about the role of our discipline - how we can draw out people’s voices and engage our voice with the public. We will explore the role of Sociology in engaging with the public and which give voice to those who are marginalised and suppressed during this time of multiple crises. We hope that meeting in-person will create the collective effervescence that builds solidarity within our discipline.