Considering our meeting location in Portland, Oregon, the “City of Bridges,” we intended our theme to be inclusive, to build connections, and to stimulate new perspectives on how individuals and groups engage with traditional and emerging social issues. How do people approach major social issues that affect themselves and others? Some engage in grassroots action; others are indifferent. Some are content to exercise their right to vote every few years; others actively pursue political and policy agendas, or try to directly influence those in power. Some privately seethe with indignation while others protest on the streets.
Many psychologists and social researchers work to promote equality, justice, freedom and diversity. Part of this mission involves changing people's opinions -- moving them past acceptance and toward action. Arguably, as our social worlds become more globalized, it becomes necessary to recognize differences of opinion, preference, culture, and practice in public life. These realities form the fertile territory for investigation by social researchers who want to understand how individuals and society are connected, and how people influence each another. This is SPSSI territory!
The 2014 Biennial Convention explored themes of social action and change: how and why do action and change arise, what are the challenges of indifference and resistance and strategies for overcoming them, what new opportunities has research revealed, and how can we progress by raising new questions for research and new directions for policy?