2020 Call for Papers

Religion and Spirituality in a Frightening World


October 23-25, 2020 | Westin Convention Center, Pittsburgh

We are living in frightening times. The World Health Organization reports that rates of anxiety and depression continue to rise as people around the globe are bombarded by a wide range of circumstances that may evoke fear. What roles might religion—variously defined—and spirituality play in causing and ameliorating anxieties in today’s world?

Social scientists across disciplines who study religion and spirituality are remarkably well situated to add essential layers to our understanding of frightening social forces. For example, we cannot fully understand the rise of authoritarian nationalism, or efforts to resist it, without interrogating religion’s power as a social identity. We also need to understand when and how religion might bolster resistance to change. Many of today’s deepest divisions between and among humans are essentially different reactions to change. How does religion fuel—and try to bridge—divisions in attitudes about changing social norms, migration, new means of communication, and climate change? And how might religion contribute to perpetuating and challenging social and economic inequalities?

Meanwhile, religion itself is changing in myriad ways. How do forces such as declining rates of religious participation, state suppression of religion, and the increasing relevance of the internet to religious and spiritual practice affect religion’s capacity to help people and societies to cope? How well do 21st-century religions and spiritualities work to support mental health, provide meaning in everyday life, build communities rooted in social trust, and promote prosocial behavior and civic engagement?

Submissions Open: February 1, 2020

Submissions Close: March 31, 2020

Decision Notification: April 30, 2020

Please submit proposals for individual papers, full panels, author-meets-critics sessions, and roundtables via the online portal at www.sssreligion.org, choosing the SSSR option on the submission form.

Please direct all inquiries to the SSSR 2019 Program Chairs Job Chen (Department of Psychology, Clemson University) and Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme (Department of Sociology and Legal Studies, University of Waterloo) at program@sssreligion.org.