Back from a lovely weekend in San Diego, where I was a participant in their 4th annual Culture Conference: Crisis, Emergency, Global Processes. Aside from being a sort of former Northwestern love-fest (Amy Binder and David Pellow are from there, Ann was visiting there when I met her), it was a good mix of synthetic thinking about emergency and humanitarianism (Calhoun), genocide and institutional processes (Hironaka), market crisis (me), social movements and environmental justice responses (Pellow), and a kicker about how some solutions become viable while others fall off the table (Swidler).
The department itself, and its environs, I would highly recommend. The department hits kind of the sweet spot of being central/high-productivity enough that people are within the main circles of sociology without being too caught up in the ‘never-ending quest for becoming elite’ as to sacrifice comity for status. Being dependent on the state of California kind of stinks, per budgets and other craziness; but I think people underestimate how frickin’ wonderful that SD weather is.
I plan to post some thoughts on my own presentation, with maybe some slides, soon. In the meantime, Ann Swidler and her colleagues make a lot of sense.