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Call for Sessions & Papers: Association for the Sociology of Religion, August 2021

82nd Annual Meeting of the Association for the Sociology of Religion

Call for Sessions and Papers

Theme: “Communicating Religion’s Relevance”

Location: A specially designed virtual conference platform (see note 1 below)
Dates: 3 days between August 7 – August 10 (see note 2 below)
Program Chair: Brian Starks, Kennesaw State University (

Although scholars of religion are keenly aware of the relevance of religion in today’s world, too many social elites and academics diminish religion’s importance. Even scholars who know better sometimes fail to explain how religion permeates nearly every aspect of contemporary life. As sociologists of religion, we understand religion’s relevance to individuals and its consequences in the social, cultural, political, and economic spheres. This year’s conference invites scholars to reflect on religion’s continuing – and in some areas increasing – relevance to society.

We invite session and paper proposals on several key topics:

  • · What can sociologists of religion do to communicate religion’s relevance to their (our) fellow academics and to the broader public?
  • · Are there ways that various sectors of our society have misunderstood, or failed to fully understand, religion? How can sociologists of religion speak to this problem?
  • · How do social and political elites, as well as ordinary citizens, employ religion when communicating about, or working to address, issues of local, national, or international concern?
  • · How do social actors, including social movement leaders, draw upon religion and religious narratives to frame social problems and/or appeal to human cognition, emotion, and morality?
  • · What are religion’s unique features that distinguish it from other social phenomenon and help explain its distinct capacity to influence human and social life?
  • · How, and under what circumstances, does religion contribute to new forms of identity, community, meaning, expression, moral conviction, and social control? How do we, as sociologists of religion, communicate religion’s relevance in these facets of our lives, to others?

Paper and session proposals may speak to these themes, or they may engage with any topic relevant to the sociology of religion. We especially encourage proposals that pursue and stimulate new avenues of research and/or innovative theoretical and/or methodological approaches. Specialty sessions are also welcome, including book salons, teaching and professional development, and discussions that focus on a particular question of interest.

We are very excited about our upcoming conference and the opportunities it will provide for intellectual interchange. Indeed, if people are interested in developing and structuring sessions in an especially creative manner, we are open to different (but feasible) approaches. Please email Program Chair Brian Starks to discuss any ideas you have and how we might accommodate them.


  • Session proposals: March 31, 2021
  • Paper abstract submissions: April 30, 2021
  • All submissions should be made through the ASR website at

ASR Membership is required for organizing a session, presenting a paper, serving as a panelist, or holding another role in the program. All are expected to register for the meeting by July 1, 2021. For questions, contact Brian Starks (, James Cavendish (, or Rachel Kraus (

Note 1: Because of the pandemic, our meeting this year will be a virtual conference. We have been working hard to design a stimulating experience that allows the intellectual interchange, the networking, and the chance to catch up with old and new friends that make our in-person conferences so enjoyable.

I am happy to report that we will be using a major platform with previous experience running other academic conferences. This platform organizes all sessions into a single attractive, easy-to-access online hall. The platform will also host our major plenary sessions and allow publishers to hold virtual book exhibits. To this, we are excited to be incorporating a virtual café that will remain open throughout the conference. This will allow private conversations and will let people meet and network easily with other participants during the conference at any time.

Our goal is to have each session include not only a traditional facilitator, but also a technological convener who could help individual participants with any technology related issues or questions. This will allow facilitators to focus on time-keeping and substantive conversation, as they usually do. Towards that end, if there are grad students or others interested in earning a little extra money by serving as technological conveners for several sessions, please email me at

Note 2: We do not yet know our exact dates, as we are still waiting for the ASA to confirm the date of the Religion Section’s session. We want to avoid overlapping with them, so people can participate in both conferences. We simply ask you to keep August 7-10 open in your schedules. We will let you know exact dates as soon as we can.