27-29 June 2019
The New School - New York City, USA
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2019 – New York

Fathomless Futures: Algorithmic and Imagined

Conference Theme Overview

We all live our lives forward, facing uncertain futures, yet social scientists feel most comfortable explaining the social world through causes rooted in the past or through the constraints and resources lodged in the present. Such explanations omit an important step: both historic and structural forces are refracted through the set of expectations people have about futures they imagine. Those forces are activated by the anticipation of what lies ahead.

We live in a time of rapidly growing predictive technologies, and spectacular prediction failures. Powerful algorithms are predicting and guiding our actions from economic forecasts, stock trading models, consumer research, hiring decisions, welfare administration, risk management, electoral mobilization, and political choices to the most mundane tasks of everyday life, like borrowing money, choosing books and movies, typing messages, filtering spam, and driving cars. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data are refashioning work, markets, governmentality, sociability, identity, and morality in unexpected ways and are redrawing the boundaries of what counts as valuable skills, knowledge, and culture. Their societal effects vary: they democratize access to information, but threaten privacy, help us with everyday chores, yet turn our personal data into a tradeable commodity. Improved efficiencies of prediction may bring great benefits in areas like healthcare and public safety, while trapping many in vicious cycles of accumulating disadvantages.

Just as predictive technologies proliferate, the world is becoming increasingly unpredictable. Our age is one of economic and political volatility that has presented ordinary people and experts alike with a series of great surprises, a heightened sense of uncertainty, and anxiety. With globalization both charging forward and in retreat, democracies in crisis, inequalities growing, institutions fraying, and large populations fleeing poverty and violence, exacerbated by our increasingly unstable natural environment, the future seems exceptionally inscrutable.

As no significant utopian political or economic alternatives are on offer, history appears to resemble a driverless car that is oblivious to our intended destination. The absence of a desirable and credible future in the public imagination makes inequality and injustice even harder to accept, fostering desperate resistance, resignation, or false nostalgia for golden pasts that never existed.

While this conference will feature papers all across topics of traditional concern for socio-economics, we especially welcome submissions addressing these changes in politics, the economy, and society at large. How can we understand the direction in which we are headed? What are the various ways to regulate these processes? How are these changes influencing inequalities, democracy, labor, communities, and the international balance of power? How should we think of time in social life? What role does imagination play in the economy? Will the mechanization of human cognition lead to a mindless social universe? How are identities being reconfigured? What has happened to human expectations, hopes, and predictions? How can we (re)gain control over our collective futures?

Established in 1989, SASE owes its remarkable success to the determination to provide a platform for creative research addressing important social problems. Throughout its three decades, SASE has encouraged and hosted rigorous work of any methodological or theoretical bent from around the world based on the principle that innovative research emerges from paying attention to wider context and connecting knowledge developed in different fields. SASE is committed to diverse membership and lively intellectual debates and encourages panels that include or are likely to include a diverse group of participants. This conference will also be an occasion to celebrate SASE’s 30th anniversary. 

Calls for paper proposals and session proposals will open on 6 November 2018 and close on 14 January 2019 28 January 2019

President: Akos Rona-Tas (aronatas@ucsd.edu)

Program Committee: Akos Rona-Tas (chair), Jenny Andersson, Jens Beckert, Virag Molnar, and Jackie O’Reilly

Mini-Conference Themes

Each mini-conference will consist of 3 to 6 panels, which will be featured as a separate stream in the program. Each panel will have a discussant, meaning that selected participants must submit a completed paper in advance, by 6 May 2019. Submissions for panels will be open to all scholars on the basis of an extended abstract. If a paper proposal cannot be accommodated within a mini-conference, organizers will forward it to the most appropriate research network as a regular submission.

Algorithmic Prediction vs. Shared Uncertainty: Social Consequences of Individualized Forecast
detailed info
Alberto Cevolini
Elena Esposito
Building the Present at the Expense of the Future? Market Liberalization and the Future of Democracy
detailed info
Margherita Bussi
Claire Dupuy
Virginie Van Ingelgom
Luis Vila-Henninger
Digitalization, Geographies of Production and Varieties of Digitized Capitalism
detailed info
Florian Butollo
Martin Krzywdzinski
Chun Yang
Digitalizing and Fragmenting Labor: What Changes for (In)Equality and Diversity?
detailed info
Rossella Bozzon
Annalisa Murgia
Agnieszka Piasna
Economic Futures in the Public Sphere
detailed info
Amitava Krishna Dutt
Simone Polillo
Lyn Spillman
Economic Volatility of Our Age, in Theory and Evidence
detailed info
Nicolas Duvoux
Jonathan Morduch
Evaluating Futures, Evaluating Future-makers
detailed info
Luciana D’Adderio
Katy Mason
Neil Pollock
Fathomless Ecologies: The Utopia of Green Finance, the Dystopia of a Financialized Planet, and the Re-imagination of the Socio-Economic Sphere
detailed info
Ian Thomson
Hendrik Vollmer
Ken Weir
Finance after the Financial Crisis
detailed info
Charlie Eaton
Neil Fligstein
Adam Goldstein
Jacob Habinek
Futures and Visions of Global Orders
detailed info
Jenny Andersson
Vincent Cardon
Melissa Fisher
Olivier Pilmis
Global Value Chains Analysis: Past, Present, and the Future
detailed info
Matthew Alford
Valentina De Marchi
Gale Raj-Reichert
Makers' Worlds: Beyond All the Borders
detailed info
Anne-Sophie Béliard
Pierre LeQueau
Olivier Zerbib
Out of Sync: Disordered Temporalities and Temporal Conflicts in Contemporary Capitalism
detailed info
Mateusz Halawa
Marcin Serafin
Lisa Suckert
Possible Worlds: Practice, Ethics, Hope, and Distress
detailed info
Gary Herrigel Gary Herrigel
Adriana Mica
Ann Mische
Socio-Economic and Political Transformations in Ibero-America: Where Are We Heading?
detailed info
Pedro Cezar Dutra Fonseca
Ricardo Dathein
André Moreira Cunha
Julimar da Silva Bichara
Socio-Economics Revisited: Economic Sociology Meets Heterodox Economics
detailed info
Alexander Ebner
The Future of Algorithmic Inequalities and Organizational Dynamics
detailed info
Gina Neff
Laura Sartori
Veblen Seen Anew: Power, Social Class, and the New Economy
detailed info
Teresa Ghilarducci
William Milberg
Alondra Nelson
Work and the Feeling of the Future
detailed info
Ariel Ducey
Karen Gregory
Elizabeth Wissinger


Research networks provide a stable spine of research at the SASE conference. Submissions to the SASE conference must be made through one of the research networks (or through a mini-conference). 

Click here for descriptions of each of SASE’s research networks and links to bios and contact information for SASE’s network organizers..


Looking to stay just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the conference? Check out a selection of hotel options below.



Distance from Campus

Walker Hotel

52 West 13th Street

0.2 miles/Greenwich Village

W New York – Union Square

201 Park Avenue South

0.6 miles/Union Square

Chelsea Inn

46 West 17th Street

0.8 miles/Chelsea

Hotel 17

225 East 17th Street

0.8 miles/Union Square

Gramercy Park Hotel

2 Lexington Avenue

1 mile/Gramercy

Maritime Hotel

363 West 16th Street

1 mile/Chelsea

Mercer Hotel

147 Mercer Street

1 mile/SoHo

American Dream Hostel

168 East 24th Street

1.1 miles/Gramercy

Comfort Inn

18 West 25th Street

1.1 miles/Gramercy

Hampton Inn – New York

108 West 24th Street

1.1 miles/Gramercy

Chelsea Center Hostel

313 West 29th Street

1.4 miles/Chelsea

The Evelyn

7 East 27th Street

1.2 miles/Gramercy

Off SoHo Suites

11 Rivington Street

1.4 miles/Nolita

Hampton Inn Manhattan

54 Watts Street

1.5 miles/Tribeca

SoHo Grand Hotel

310 West Broadway

1.7 miles/Tribeca

Affinia Shelburne

303 Lexington Avenue

1.8 miles/Murray Hill

Homewood Suites by Hilton

312 West 37th Street

1.8 miles/Garment District

Marriott Marquis

1535 Broadway

2.1 miles/Midtown

Millennium Hilton

55 Church Street

2.2 miles/Financial District

Hampton Inn

320 Pearl Street

2.3 miles/South Seaport

Waldorf Astoria, Waldorf Towers

100 East 50th Street

2.3 miles/Midtown East

The Out Hotel

510 West 42nd Street

2.4 miles/Garment District

Gild Hall

15 Gold Street

2.4 miles/Financial District

Ritz-Carlton NY, Central Park

50 Central Park South

2.5 miles/Midtown

YOTEL New York

570 10th Avenue

2.6 miles/Midtown West

JW Marriott Essex House New York

160 Central Park South

2.6 miles/Midtown

New York Marriott Downtown

85 West Street

2.6 miles/Battery Park

St. Regis New York

2 East 55th Street

2.7 miles/Midtown East

Wall St. Inn

9 South William Street

2.8 miles/Financial District

Renaissance Hotel 57

130 East 57th Street

2.7 miles/Midtown East

Q&A Hotel

70 Pine Street

2.7 miles/Wall Street

Ritz-Carlton NY, Battery Park

2 West Street

3 miles/Battery Park

The Plaza

768 Fifth Avenue

3.5 miles/Upper East Side

Freehand Hotels

23 Lexington Avenue

Flatiron District

Special Event - Social Sciences for the Real World

A wave of rampant anti-intellectualism has surged around the globe; from the US to Hungary, from the UK to Russia via Turkey. The “fake news” and “people have had enough of experts!” ideas constitute a genuine threat to scientific knowledge and reasoned argumentation – and therefore democracy and freedom.

The social sciences are particularly under attack for both political reasons (level-headed, fact-based argumentation is not in the interest of those politicians whose success depends on emotions such as hate and fear) and pecuniary ones (the output of social sciences research appears more difficult to commodify than the output of STEM subjects). Yet, social scientists and their work play a key role in what constitutes the modern societies in which we live. Democracy, constitutions, human rights, and capitalism were the result of complex processes of co-evolution of intellectual ideas and empirical realities. Intellectual ideas and theories have played a crucial role in shaping the world we live in and in defining what we take for granted realities. Their role in maintaining civilized and free societies is vastly underestimated. This is a dangerous development that we should fight back against.

This challenge will be taken up at the 2019 annual SASE meeting through two exceptional panels grouped under the heading “Social Sciences for the Real World”, to take place shortly after the main conference program ends.

In the topical panels, we seek to help nurture the vital conversation between social scientists and members of the public in order to foster mutual understanding.

Two hot topics of immense interest to citizens and academics alike will be tackled at this event:

Session 1: The Digitalization and Automatization of Work and Its Implications for Working People (2-3pm); Speakers TBC

Session 2: The Rise of Populism and Authoritarianism and Its Impact on Freedom (3:30-4:30pm, to be followed by light refreshments); Speakers TBC

Each session will bring together a panel of academics and interested members of the public to engage in a constructive debate about these crucial issues, and about how social scientists and people in the “real world” perceive them. The sessions will use innovative dialogue techniques to provide an opportunity to discuss what we can jointly contribute to solve these problems.

The sessions will be held consecutively on the afternoon of Saturday, 29 June 2019 (2-3pm and 3:30-4:30pm respectively) at the New School in New York City.

We hope you can stay in the city on Saturday afternoon to help make a difference in the world. Please sign up using the form on this page if you are interested in attending one or both sessions.

For questions please contact the organizers:

Imran Chowdhury, Pace University, NYC, ichowdhury@pace.edu

Isabelle Ferreras, FNRS/University of Louvain, isabelle.ferreras@uclouvain.be

Gerhard Schnyder, Loughborough University London, G.Schnyder@lboro.ac.uk

Anna K. Skarpelis, Harvard University, askarpelis@fas.harvard.edu