EnCompassing Culture(s)

Welcome to the conference

This conference is part of the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the Faculty of Social Sciences

Organising committee 

  • Anna-Mari Almila (University of the Arts London, Coordinator of RN7)
  • David Inglis (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki, Board member of RN7)
  • Simon Stewart (University of Portsmouth, Co-coordinator of RN7) 
Call for papers

The ESA Research Network Sociology of Culture (RN7) announces its 8th midterm conference, which will take place on 10th–12th March 2021 at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

The European Sociological Association’s Research Network on the Sociology of Culture provides a global network for scholars working on sociological studies of culture and cultural reflections upon sociology. It aims to develop sociological understandings of phenomena such as meaning, symbolism, cultural structures and practices. 

Conference Theme

The critique of culturally and politically dividing the world into essentialising entities such as ‘East’, ‘West’, ‘Orient’ and ‘Occident’ is now well established. Yet all sorts of seemingly objectively geographical, but in reality socio-culturally constructed, divisions survive or thrive: the global South versus the global North; southern Europe versus northern Europe; Eastern Europe versus Western Europe; so-called Eastern countries versus Western countries; eastern versus western districts of cities, regions and countries; and so on.

Such categories carry various and fundamentally unequal connotations and associations. They are constituted by, and in turn serve to constitute, wider structural inequalities and social divisions around the world. In this conference we ask whether it is possible for sociologists of culture, cultural sociologists and practitioners of cognate disciplines to go beyond these categories, whether we should attempt to do so, and how we might do so if we try.

How do sociological studies of culture currently analyse issues of symbolic and other geographies, and how might they develop new approaches to such matters in the future? How do both “real” and “imaginary” geographies and socio-cultural-geographical constructions currently inform the practice of sociology, especially but not only those branches of sociology concerned with cultural matters? And how do these factors inform and shape, for good or for ill, how culture and cultures are conceived of and practically researched? What are the “geographical politics” of sociological analyses of culture, both around Europe and around the world? How might current power imbalances and inequalities in cultural sociological practice be identified and challenged, and how might they be overcome in both shorter and longer terms?

Is it possible to understand the history of cultural constructions of geography (or geographies) in a manner that would help us to move incrementally forward, or do we need radical breaks and ruptures with those histories instead? Which theories, methodologies and methods might help or hinder us to think in fresh ways about, and beyond, geographical division, be those cultural, social, economic, political, or a mixture of some or all of these? Which sorts of empirical and conceptual foci should be involved in this regard? How might a stress on socio-culturally constructed, imagined and contested geographies be thought about in existing sociological ways, and how might they prompt and create innovative forms of analysis? Can we move away from using conceptual and methodological compasses which already point in certain prescribed directions, towards using tools which allow envisaging the world in fresh, less divisive and more encompassing ways? If so, how might these ways of thinking and researching enable us to contribute to meaningful social change?

The conference explores these and related questions at local, national, transnational, regional and global levels.

We welcome contributions on the following areas:

  • Borders and boundaries – new and old
  • Hierarchies, divisions and contestations thereof
  • Communities, spaces, places
  • Urbanity and rurality
  • Memories, narratives, translations
  • Appropriation and appreciation
  • Taste and tasting
  • Bodies, subjectivities, identities
  • History, change and continuities
  • Deviance, protest and resistance
  • Cultural production
  • Cultural consumption
  • Cultural and human geographies
  • Cosmopolitanism(s)
  • Media and mediatization
  • Mediation and intermediaries
  • Mapping locations and cultural phenomena
  • Representations of locations, people, cultures
  • Geographies and social regimes – genders, sexualities, classes, ethnicities, religions, disabilities
  • Movements and flows – voluntary and forced – humans, goods, ideas
  • Gentrification of cities and other locations
  • Social, cultural and sociological theory
  • Cultural sociology (general)

Notes for authors

We welcome both abstract and panel proposals. Each author cannot submit more than two abstracts (as first author). Please submit your abstracts and panel proposals in word or pdf format by Saturday 15th August 2020 to ESAHelsinki2020@gmail.com


Please submit abstracts of around, but no more than, 300 words to the conference email. Please include in the submission the name(s) of the author(s), institutional affiliation, and email address(es).

Panel proposals

Please submit a short outline of the panel session (no more than 150 words) and 3-4 abstracts according to the instructions above.