Blog Archives

2016 Conference


5th Annual Public Sociology Conference

Sponsored by the Public Sociology Association

April 9, 2016

 Founders Hall, GMU Arlington Campus

Structures of Violence: Engaging the Public Imagination

PSA Conference Program 2016

General Schedule 2016


Travel Information

Crossing multiple spheres of life, the public imagination creates new possibilities for action. A public imagination against structures of violence recognizes that violence exists in multiple forms and is not experienced universally.

This year we seek papers that confront structures of violence in an effort to engage the public imagination. In the spirit of public sociology, we encourage submissions from outside of academia and from related disciplines that speak to the conference theme (e.g., Guantanamo, Newtown, Ferguson, Paris – 11/13/2015, Intimate Partner Violence, Racial Discrimination, Elder neglect, and etc.).

Public sociology is an approach to the study of social problems and structures that transcends the boundaries of academia to engage the public in discourse, political and institutional change, and social empowerment. Public sociologists, in collaboration with activists and policymakers, often turn their lens towards a broad range of public concerns that are rooted in social injustices and inequalities.


Directions to GMU Arlington Campus

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PhD candidate Jason A. Smith co-edits journal special section


International Journal of Communication
Publishes Special Section

Communication in Action: Bridging Research and Policy

What can communication scholarship offer policy?

Applied communication and policy work has a rich history in the field. However, scholarship and policy often run along different paths. In 2004, a group of department chairs and deans from communication studies programs around the country formed the Consortium on Media Policy Studies (COMPASS) for the purpose of building bridges between the academy and policy. Each summer, a group of PhD students are chosen as fellows and placed in Washington DC government and non-governmental organizations for a chance to work with policy practitioners. The placement affords fellows the opportunity to apply communication scholarship in policy settings and advance their own topical interests of study.

In this Special Section titled Communication in Action: Bridging Research and Policy, the importance that communication scholarship has on ongoing policy issues regarding media studies is demonstrated. Guest-edited by Jason A. Smith, Mark Lloyd, and Victor Pickard, this Special Section features 10 original commentaries that highlight recommendations, analyses, and insights made toward policy issues that are relevant to those both in academia and policy. This collection of work highlights the critical need for communication scholars to think beyond the purely academic space that their work applies to, and to find in-roads toward subjects that can speak to other audiences.

Authors for this special section include:

Douglas Allen, University of Pennsylvania

Cat Duffy, University of Southern California

Katherine Elder, University of Southern California

Michelle C. Forelle, University of Southern California

Brandon Golob, University of Southern California

Nicole Hentrich, University of Michigan

James Losey, Stockholm University, Sweden

Nathalie Maréchal, University of Southern California

Aalok Mehta, University of Southern California

Angeline Sangalang, University of Southern California


We invite you to read these papers that published October 15, 2015 at

Larry Gross

Arlene Luck
Managing Editor

Adjunct Dignity Day — A Successful Event

Members of MCAL at Adjunct Dignity Day

Last week on February 25, Sociology undergraduate and graduate students filled the audience, as well as the leadership, of Mason’s Adjunct Dignity Day.

From the three guest speakers, we learned that Mason adjunct base pay is about $2,500, as opposed to the national average, about $2,700, and as opposed to pay at other universities in the DC area. We also learned many other fascinating findings from the “Indispensable but Invisible” report, written by three sociology PhD students — Marisa Allison, Randy Lynn, and Vicki Hoverman.

Among the numerous findings of the “Indispensable but Invisible” report are several troubling statistics showing that:

  • One quarter (25 percent) of Mason’s contingent faculty were given one week or less to prepare their courses.
  • Over half of Mason’s contingent faculty report not having access to a private space to meet with their students.
  • Nearly a quarter of non-tenure track faculty at Mason report a household income under $30,000
  • Mason’s base pay for part-time faculty is severely insufficient starting at only $2,511 per three credit hour course.
  • On average, contingent faculty at GMU report spending between 16 and 25 unpaid hours preparing for a course before the semester begins with no guarantee that they will be employed.

Provost Wu asked the sociology PhD students to present their work to him and the deans, and he has decided to initiate some changes at Mason (see “Our Meeting with the Provost and Deans“). Someone suggested that this was their first success, and everyone immediately agreed that this is just the beginning. The undergraduates were particularly thoughtful and heartfelt in their support of their beloved adjunct professors.

Mason’s adjuncts have asked for support from the broader Mason community. The Mason Coalition of Academic Labor (MCAL) has written a petition, asking the Provost to make reforms based on the “Indispensable but Invisible” report. The reforms are:

  1. Restructure the Part-Time Faculty Appointment Process to include a timetable by which all faculty appointments must be made so faculty have adequate time to prepare their courses.
  2. Give all faculty members access to a private space to meet with students as guaranteed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  3. Pay part-time faculty members a fee for course preparation and set up a reimbursement process for any personal funds spent on classroom materials and trainings they attend.
  4. Pay a 20 percent cancellation fee for faculty who have prepared for courses that are cancelled less than 3 weeks before classes begin.

The Coalition has a petition that can be filled out by anyone associated with George Mason University, including parents, students, faculty, and staff members:


Our event took place during National Adjunct Walkout Day and was also featured in the media as part of this larger movement. Check out the stories in the links below: