NA Reports – Swedish Sociological Association (SSF)
Katarina Jacobsson, SSF President
President in 2019: Katarina Jacobsson
The Swedish Sociological Association held its first business meeting almost 60 years ago, in 1962. At that time, sociology had only been offered as an academic discipline for about ten years at a few universities in Sweden. Today, the association includes thirteen university sociology departments/institutions, where the great majority of sociologists within Swedish academia are employed. In addition, more than 150 individuals are members of the association.
A peer-reviewed journal
Only a couple of years after its establishment, in 1964, the Swedish Sociological Association launched a new journal, Sociologisk forskning [Sociological Research]. The association is still running this journal. It is peer reviewed, open access, and issued quarterly. The journal is included in ISI Web of Science, and it is financially supported by the National Research Council. Apart from articles in Swedish, the editors recently opened up for articles in English. Submissions in Norwegian and Danish are also welcome. The journal has a special focus on Swedish and Nordic social developments. It also has a comprehensive review section, including Swedish and international books. The journal features annual special issues for thematically relevant research areas, or particularly pertinent topics, such as the Swedish election or other urgent matters. In response to the U.S. President Donald Trump’s statements about the decay and degeneration of the Swedish society, a special issue named “Look at what’s happening in Sweden” was published in English. The editorial staff urged Swedish sociologists to portray contemporary Swedish society on the basis of empirical research to clarify, nuance or contradict “alternative” facts aimed at gaining cheap political support. More than twenty articles on topics such as crime, segregation, political and social movements, education, migrants, etc. were gathered in a well-received issue, not least amongst our American colleagues. The “Trump” issue of the journal can be downloaded here.
Biannual conferences are important events for gathering and engaging Swedish sociologists in academic discussions. Every second year the association organises a three-day national conference together with varying local organisers. The 2018 conference was held at Lund University on the theme Sociology in a polarised world, and was attended by 268 participants. For the first time, the conference was bilingual – sessions were held in both Swedish and English, which attracted several international participants. There were 23 working groups, and more than 60 paper sessions. The participants also enjoyed speeches from the invited keynote speakers Michèle Lamont, Harvard University, USA, and Elena Zdravomyslova, European University at St. Petersburg, Russia. The next national conference will take place in Stockholm 2020.
High school sociology
The establishment of high school sociology in Sweden is an important task for the association. Sociology has become a popular (compulsory and optional) subject in Swedish high schools [sw: gymnasium], and is offered at more than a third of all high schools in Sweden. The association strives to further strengthen sociology at high school level, for example, by establishing contacts with high school teachers through invitations to seminars. Another area for attention is the development of the new pedagogic university curriculums for high school sociology teachers. The association commissioned a report on Swedish high school sociology (by Johan Fagerberg, 2018), which is consulted in our future work of making sociology stronger, and in our contacts with the National Agency for Education.
Awards and international commitment
In 1994, The Torgny T. Segerstedt Prize was established, and is awarded once a year to articles in Sociologisk forskning, for making particularly valuable contributions to the development of the sociological discipline. The association is also responsible for awarding a prize for the best doctoral thesis each year.
The Swedish Sociological Association is a member of Nordic Sociological Association (NSA), European Sociological Association (ESA), and International Sociological Association (ISA). We aim to have at least one board member on site at each international gathering, representing our association, and bringing home ideas from our friends in other national associations.
The present board just finished a two day meeting where we set up the goals for our work the coming two years. We are particularly devoted to encouraging new forms for a vital sociological debate, strengthening high school sociology, and to extend our membership outside of academia. We are ready!