IVSA Conference 2021


IVSA 2021 Annual Conference

Virtual conference from 5-8 July 2021
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Our virtual conference begins Monday July 5th at 9:00 am EDT!

If you have registered, you may now log in using the email address you registered with to access the conference information, including the links to join the virtual sessions. 

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Keeping with the same theme, “Visualizing Social Changes: Seen and Unseen,” our 2021 virtual conference will feature a mixture of asynchronous and synchronous content. The asynchronous content will consist of pre-recorded presentations from the authors/creators of the accepted papers. This content will be made available on the conference website in mid-June. Each paper (including yours!) will have a corresponding 8 to 10-minute (max.) videorecorded presentation (more details on this below). Upon submission to IVSA, videorecorded presentations will be grouped into themes by the conference committee. These videos will be curated and presented on the conference website in the weeks leading up to the live component of the conference. This will allow conference-goers to watch, learn, and prepare for lively real-time interaction during the synchronous engagement in July. Even in advance of the synchronous component, conference attendees will be able to engage with presenters via feedback forms that appear alongside the video presentations.

The synchronous (“live”) portion of the conference is scheduled for 5-8 July. This segment will feature a number of exciting engagements, including “how-to” workshops on visual methods, tutorials on visual analysis techniques, practical panels (e.g., how to get published in Visual Studies, how to navigate the job market as an early career visual scholar, etc.), a forum for the discussion of ethics in visual research, virtual poster sessions, online digital image exhibits, a panel on visual pedagogy and teaching practices, happy hours and other opportunities for informal socializing, and a series of Discussion Forums in which attendees will be able to interact with the creators/authors of selected paper presentations. The final event in the live segment of the conference will be our Annual General Meeting (AGM), a 90-minute gathering of IVSA members and leadership to discuss the current state of the organization and its plans for the future. All synchronous events will be recorded for later viewing by anyone who couldn’t attend the live session.


Visualizing Social Changes:
Seen and Unseen

A combination of visual sociology and social change provides a broad and welcoming theme. Visual sociologists have developed a specialty in visually chronicling and examining significant social changes, such as visual studies of deinidustrialization and rural decline and ethnic transitions in local neighbourhoods. While many social changes are physically, materially or socially visible and seen, others remain invisible and unseen, like changes in people’s values and beliefs, for example people becoming more liberal and progressive or more illiberal and populist. Of course, even values and beliefs can be manifest, for example, symbolically in slogans and posters, socially in protests and marches, and organizationally in social movements, civil society groups and political parties. The theme of the conference is meant to encompass the variety of ways to visualize social change, seen and unseen, while also posing a response to the challenge of social changes that have emerged in societies in recent times.



A key feature of our upcoming online conference will be a series of live interactive poster sessions designed to showcase our emerging visual and creative work. The purpose of a poster exhibition is to convey to a wide audience a research project’s significance to scholars in the field and its potential significance to the general public.

Read full call for posters

Presenter information

We are in the process of contacting all authors whose papers had been accepted for the Dublin conference with how to confirm their inclusion in the virtual conference. Details on the video submission process will be provided within the next month. In the meantime, we invite you  to watch the “How To” videos produced by the team that devised Distribute 2020, to have ideas on how to present your paper. The joint recently held virtual conference of the Society for Cultural Anthropology and Society for Visual Anthropology. They’re excellent resources for thinking about how best to use the medium of digital video for knowledge creation and transmission.

One final note regarding conference registration: All paper presenters must be active members of the IVSA (i.e., membership dues paid in full at least through 15 July 2021) and also must register for the conference. Our registration fees have changed for this year only:

Online conference fees

2021 Conference fees

The 2021 organizing committee has established this year’s registration fees on a three-tiered structure designed to maximize and diversify conference participation. Here is the schedule of fees for this year’s event:

Tier 1 $130 USD (members with institutional support or sufficient means
Tier 2 $50 USD (members without institutional support)
Tier 3 Free (members that are unemployed, students, retired, or experiencing precarious financial circumstances)

Register for conference

We are very excited to be developing an innovative, exciting, and highly memorable virtual conference for IVSA members. As much as we all would love to be convening for an in-person conference, we’re eager to seize this moment as an opportunity to create an experience that is uniquely positioned to (a) capitalize on virtuality and (b) allow our conference proceedings to be more diverse and far-reaching than ever before. We hope you share our enthusiasm!

Peace and Love,

Greg Scott, IVSA President

Register for conference

If you have any questions about the conference or registration please contact the conference team.

Email Conference Team


    Sometimes one picture is equal to 30 pages of discourse, just as there are things images are completely incapable of communicating.

    William S. Burroughs


    For any picture, ask yourself what question or questions it might be answering. Since the picture could answer many, questions, we can decide what question we are interested in.

    Howard Becker

  • Watching a documentary with people hacking their way through some polar wasteland is merely a visual. Actually trying to deal with cold that can literally kill you is quite a different thing.

    Henry Rollins


    The task for sociology is to come to the help of the individual. We have to be in service of freedom. It is something we have lost sight of.

    Zygmunt Bauman


    Every photograph promises more than it delivers and delivers more than it intended.

    Steve Harp


    If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, it’s sociology.

    James Reston


    The function of sociology, as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden.

    Pierre Bourdieu

  • We never really know what’s around the corner when we’re filming – what turn a story will take, what a character will do or say to surprise us, how the events in the world will impact our story.

    Barbara Kopple


    Reality changes; in order to represent it, modes of representation must change.

    Bertolt Brecht

  • So it is my firm belief, that if you want nowadays, to have a clear and distinct communication of your concepts, you have to use synthetic images, no longer words.

    Vilém Flusser

  • Before I became a film major, I was very heavily into social science, I had done a lot of sociology, anthropology, and I was playing in what I call social psychology, which is sort of an offshoot of anthropology/sociology – looking at a culture as a living organism, why it does what it does.

    George Lucas

  • If you want to tell the untold stories, if you want to give voice to the voiceless, you’ve got to find a language. Which goes for film as well as prose, for documentary as well as autobiography. Use the wrong language, and you’re dumb and blind.

    Salman Rushdie


    There are dignified stupidities, and there are heroic stupidities, and there is such a thing as stupid stupidities, and that would be a stupid stupidity not to have a camera on board.

    Werner Herzog

  • Photographers learn to interpret photographs in that technical way because they want to understand and use that ‘language’ themselves (just as musicians learn a more technical musical language than the layman needs). Social scientists who want to work with visual materials will have to learn to approach them in this more studious and time-consuming way

    Howard Becker


    One advantage of photography is that it’s visual and can transcend language.

    Lisa Kristine

  • You try your hardest to give people their space, but at moments you know you’re capturing their image in ways they may or may not be okay with. It’s that rocking back and forth between respect and betrayal that I feel like is at the heart of the film.

    Kirsten Johnson

  • Give us adequate images. We lack adequate images. Our civilization does not have adequate images. And I think a civilization is doomed or is going to die out like dinosaurs if it doesn’t develop an adequate language for adequate images.

    Werner Herzog


    Visual culture is now the study of how to understand change in a world too enormous to see but vital to imagine.

    Nicholas Mirzoeff

  • I believe that we face incredible obstacles in our attempts to see the world. Everything in our nature tries to deny the world around us; to refabricate it in our own image; to reinvent it for our own benefit. And so, it becomes something of a challenge, a task, to recover (or at least attempt to recover) the real world despite all the impediments to that end.

    Errol Morris


Martin Barron

RT @NORCNews: Do you know a student studying social science? Encourage them to apply for @ssrc_org’s Rachel Tanur Prize for #VisualSociolog…

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