Why never to write a paper for a conference theme

Jan-Hendrik and I recently wrote a paper to align with a conference theme and a proposed papers session — what a mistake. Thankfully, we also submitted a sort of “back-up” paper should the first fall on hard times.

The conference is always rather large so perhaps we should have known better than to fall prey to the theme and/or take the theme seriously. Still, when we got the call for papers and read the theme, it is hard to ignore (at least in a way) because it has an feeling of legitimacy, it feels (when you’re actually taking it seriously) as if it just might be meaningful, and if it is, then you just might land a better session spot if you bend your work to the theme.

Again, we were wrong, falling prey to the (awkward) siren song of conference calls.

So, themes: this is a fairly straight forward empirical question — under what circumstances do themes shape conferences?

The answer to a question like this we probabaly all have a “good hunch” but I’d be curious to see data.

This entry was posted in STS, Uncategorized and tagged , by Nicholas. Bookmark the permalink.

About Nicholas

Associate Professor of Sociology, Environmental Studies, and Science and Technology Studies at Penn State, Nicholas mainly writes about understanding the scientific study of states and, thus, it is namely about state theory. Given his training in sociology and STS, he takes a decidedly STS-oriented approach to state theory and issues of governance.

One thought on “Why never to write a paper for a conference theme

  1. I’m relieved. You can tell I’m nervous about 4S, and I have now thoroughly outed myself as an outsider to 4S (in more than one way, it appears).@the substantial issue here: really hard to have an opinion about the systematic empirical regularities and effects of putting up and making operational conference themes. The "funny" stuff is obviously in the micro-politicking of themes, sections, associations, and within-association, within-section coalitions, and the strange patterns thus produced.


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