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Description of presentations at the workshop event



Learn more about the presenters

Workshop Brief

October 17-19, 2018
Michelle L. Dion, Tina Fetner, and Melanie Heath
McMaster University in Hamilton, ON 

This was the first workshop of its kind to bring together diverse actors and perspectives to discuss the theoretical connections between attitudes, social policies and other legal institutions related to sex and sexuality, lesbian and gay relationships, singlehood, and diversities of sexual expression.

Welfare policy regimes, including pensions, health care, family allowances, and social assistance, are understood to both reflect and shape a society’s gender roles, family formation, childbearing, women’s labour force participation, and other related social behaviours. We also know that social values influence the policy structures created and maintained by states, which then in turn influence social behaviours and attitudes. Likewise, research within the sociology of sexualities argues that policy regimes influence sexual behaviour and social attitudes, and of course that social acceptance of certain forms of sexual behaviour is responsible for changing policies as well.

However, research on welfare state policies and on sexual diversity do not usually intersect. Theoretical treatments of gender and welfare states largely ignore policies that govern sex and sexuality, lesbian and gay relationships, singlehood, and diversities of sexual expression. This is surprising given that LGBT+ activism is a defining social movement of the 21st century, and public debates about same-sex marriage and adoption as well as transgender rights dominate national headlines around the world.

This workshop provided a venue for emergent and leading scholars in the study of gender, sexuality, and welfare states to exchange knowledge across disciplines and subfields about the ways in which welfare state policies, sexuality, public opinion, and practices intersect.

Download the Conference Program here


This workshop was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Workshop Objectives

The primary objectives of this workshop are knowledge transfer, exchange, and brokering with the goal of both networking and laying a foundation for co-production of knowledge in the future. Toward these objectives, this event will:

  • bring together potential collaborators who research sexuality and welfare regimes in several countries, to exchange leading edge research at the nexus of sexual diversity, policy, and/or public opinion;
  • provide opportunities for emerging and established scholars working in these subfields in sociology and political science to build new interdisciplinary networks and potential collaborations, leading to additional research presentations and publications in international venues;
  • disseminate our team’s and other workshop participants’ research in this area beyond segmented, disciplinary networks to both those in cognate disciplines and practitioners in the public and non-profit sector, who will be invited to attend in person or virtually using web conferencing tools;
  • help our research team refine our theoretical and empirical understanding of the nexus between policy, public opinion, and social behaviours around sexuality and family and identify appropriate additional country comparisons for future research; and
  • and develop research relationships with political scientists and sociologists in these areas for future research.


Submissions and Deadlines

This international, interdisciplinary research workshop will be hosted at McMaster University on October 17-19, 2018. The agenda will begin with dinner on October 17, include a full-day of research presentations on October 18, and conclude mid-afternoon on October 19. The organizers have space and travel funding for a small number of additional research presentations.

Researchers interested in presenting their research at the workshop should send their current CV and a short abstract of their paper to no later than August 1, 2018. Participants will be expected to circulate their completed paper by mid-September. Travel support will be provided, and priority will be placed on paper presentations by advanced PhD candidates and untenured researchers.

Papers and Presentation Guidelines

To maximize feedback and the exchange of insights, we are planning to follow “Korpi’s Rules”, which are used by the International Sociological Association’s RC 19 for their meetings:

  • Korpi’s Rules require that papers are circulated electronically and read in advance
  • Papers are briefly presented and commented on by a discussant (10 minutes)
  • Paper authors follow with a response to the discussant’s comments (5 minutes

Because papers are available in advance, discussants should present and highlight key findings and contributions of the paper, and then provide the author(s) feedback, including suggestions but also highlighting theoretical and empirical connections to other work in the field. 

We will have a slide projector available, and discussants are welcome to prepare slides for the presentation of their assigned paper.