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Abstract Submissions

The Conference has been delayed by one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will be held entirely online. Some authors may have submitted an abstract for a paper or special session for the conference that was cancelled in 2020. We recognise that the research and/or the debates relating to the papers and special event proposals may have progressed since last year or may now need to account for COVID-19 and lockdown conditions. We encourage all authors who submitted abstracts for the 2020 conference to re-submit for the 2021 conference. This will give authors the opportunity to amend or update the abstract if they wish. If you need to retrieve your 2020 submission, please follow the guidance below:

  • To find your WES2020 abstract please log in to your MyBSA Area> Abstract Submission Details, locate your abstract and either ‘View’ or ‘Download as PDF’ to be able to copy and paste or make any changes.

We welcome abstract submissions in three separate categories:

Conference papers: Abstracts should be up to 500 words. While we particularly encourage papers reporting research findings, we also welcome abstracts related to sociological theory, social policy, ‘work in progress’ or those testing out new and exciting ideas. Further guidance can be found at the end of this call for papers. For ‘On the Front Line’ papers, please indicate that this is the format of the paper, and if the worker would like to apply to receive BSA support to attend the online conference.[i]

Special Events: Abstracts of up to 500 words. These may offer theoretical, empirical, methodological or policy-related contributions. Each session will last for 1.5 hours. We anticipate that most Special Events will involve three speakers, with or without a discussant.  Other more creative formats, which can be facilitated online, are welcome. Further guidance can be found at the end of this call for papers.

Conference Doctoral Stream: PhD students may submit abstracts of up to 250 words in length. Each may focus on any aspect of their research. For those in the final stage of their studies who are writing up research findings, the abstract may be presented in the same format as main conference abstracts, with a clear contribution/message set out, brief references to relevant debates in the literature, and research findings. For others, remember that this stream aims to be inclusive. Your abstracts can cover any aspect of the PhD process including research design, fieldwork, negotiating access, research ethics, managing your supervisor or any other topic. In either case, you will find it useful to have feedback. The participants chosen for this stream will make a presentation.

Abstracts may nominate one of the dedicated conference streams (see below) or be included in the Open Stream.

The abstract submission deadline is Friday, 23 April 2021

Conference Streams

  1. Global political economy and the regulatory role of the state
  2. Migrant work, employment and racialised identities
  3. Insecurity, precarity and peripheralisation
  4. Social movements, unions, voice and activism
  5. Technology, AI, Big Data, algorithms and new forms of work 
  6. Dignity at work, decent work and job quality 
  7. Professions, occupations, skills, careers and self-employment    
  8. Inequalities and their intersections  
  9. Gender, work and social reproduction   
  10. Bodies and work - emotions, aesthetics, health and bodily functions at work   
  11. Methodology and methods - especially welcome are approaches involving sound, music, images, film, performance
  12. COVID-19 effects on work, employment and power
  13. COVID-19 lockdowns in comparative context
  14. The threat of future crises and the world of work
  15. Conference Doctoral Stream (for registered PhD students only)
  16. Open Stream

Key Dates

  • Abstract Submission Deadline: Friday, 23 April 2021
  • Abstract Decisions to be sent out: w/c 17 May 2021
  • Presenter Booking Deadline: Friday, 2 July 2021
  • Early bird registration closes: Friday, 30 July 2021

Contact Us

Academic queries to the conference committee should be sent to the email address below.

Enquiries to the BSA Events Team.

The Conference Committee comprising seven academic and two staff of the British Sociological Association share responsibility for decisions in regard to the Conference.  


We know that mentoring and building networks are an important part of the WES conference, and now that the 2021 conference will be held online, we want to take this opportunity to extend the availability of mentoring activities for BSA members. Details about the mentoring scheme, including how to volunteer as a mentor and/ or request to be a mentee, will be available when registering for the conference.


Conference papers

Abstracts should be up to 500 words long, not including references. In these the contribution made by the paper should be clearly set out, with brief references to relevant debates in the literature, methodology where appropriate and research findings. It is expected that conference papers will not have been accepted for publication elsewhere. For ‘On the Front Line’ papers, please indicate that this is the format of the paper, and if the worker would like to apply to receive BSA support to attend the conference.

Special Events

Proposals are invited for Special Event sessions at WES 2021. We anticipate between 2-5 Special Event sessions, which will each get a dedicated slot in the conference timetable. Special Events provide an opportunity to discuss a specific topic related to the overall conference theme. You could offer a debate, a theoretical overview, an empirical roundtable, or a methodological or policy-related contribution based on innovative voices. Each such session will last for 1.5 hours and could have three or more people involved. More creative formats are welcome. Organising a Special Event will be the responsibility of that Special Event’s organisers, and we expect all the contributors to commit to registering for the conference. The Special Event proposal should be reasonably detailed as we anticipate a highly competitive selection process. The proposals will be subject to review by the conference organising team. Proposals should be structured as follows:

  • Special Event title
  • The Special Event’s organisers (with affiliations and contact details)
  • Brief abstract or description of session (up to 500 words)
  • Details of participants (with affiliations and contact details) stating whether they have been invited or are confirmed
  • Paper titles and brief abstracts for all papers/contributions to be presented in the session (250 words per paper)

Regarding the possibility of Special Events, send initial expressions of interest and any request for further guidance, particularly about the online format, to the Special Events lead on the Conference Committee, Dr. Knut Laaser.

Writing an Abstract for the Conference Doctoral Stream

This programme is for registered PhD students and will include a number of paper sessions and workshops led by members of the journal’s editorial team.  Your abstract should meet normal guidelines of BSA, which might include co-authors, placing you as the lead author.  As usual an abstract should have the full details of where, when and why the research took place.  It should place the research in its theoretical and scholarly location, and state the key findings.  Better abstracts will be able to hint at not only what was found, but what the theoretical implications are.  The best papers may critique or progress previous research, but it is hard in 250 words to achieve all that.  Therefore a flavour of the basics and the findings of your research is needed. Students at an earlier stage in their PhD may not have original findings.  We can take that into account.  In your case, we would expect to see where, when and why the research took place, what methods and research design are proposed, and a review of existing literature. 

The Conference Committee 2021

  • Shoba Arun, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Denise Currie, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Knut Laaser, Stirling University
  • Yao-Tai Li, Hong Kong Baptist University
  • Wendy Olsen, University of Manchester
  • Katharina Sarter, University of South Wales 
  • Tessa Wright, Queen Mary University London
  • Sandria Charalambous, Events Officer, The British Sociological Association
  • Kerry Collins, Company Secretary, British Sociological Association

[i] Thanks to the BSA, a limited number of ‘On the Front Line’ worker co-presenters will be day guests of the BSA and therefore will not have to pay a conference fee.

Contact Information

BSA Events Team
Email: events@britsoc.org.uk
Tel: 0191 383 0839

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