Manchester hosted Europe’s largest event for sociologists in the summer of 2019, as the city welcomed the 14th European Sociological Association (ESA) conference.

Over 3,000 sociologists flocked to Manchester 20-23 August for four days of events, debates and presentations over 50 research areas including globalisation, nationalism and Brexit.

Prof Gary Pollock, Professor of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University, acted as chair of the local organising committee and gave the opening address to the conference. The ESA conference featured over 700 sessions at both Manchester Metropolitan and the University of Manchester, as well as the opening ceremony and plenaries at Manchester’s atmospheric Bridgewater Hall.

The Theme of the 2019 conference was ‘Europe and Beyond: Boundaries, Barriers and Belonging’ and considered contemporary issues, including the effects of globalisation, nationalism, populism, migration and Brexit.

Professor Pollock said: “We are really pleased to welcome the European Sociological Association conference to Manchester, where we are lucky to have three great universities, each with a strong sociological presence.

“Not all cities have the capacity to run such a large conference, but Manchester does because of the way all its stakeholders work together. We used the Bridgewater Hall for our large plenary sessions and the Business School at Manchester Metropolitan and University Place at Manchester University for the smaller sessions.  Manchester is a compact city, so all of these buildings are relatively close to one another which worked very well.

“This year’s conference connects with societal problems on a variety of levels. On the one hand Europe as a political landscape experiencing fundamental debates to do with democracy, political legitimacy, institutional trust and the value of science. On the other, the direct experiences of people who routinely and acutely suffer inequalities as a result of both structural limitations and cultural practices.”

Welcoming delegates to the ESA conference, Manchester Met Vice-Chancellor Professor Malcolm Press said: “Sociologists have an important role in helping to shape public discussion and debate, and provide insight into the profound shifts and changes that are taking place both within Europe as well as on other continents.

“Our sociologists play an active role in public debate, gathering and analysing data, providing evidence to shape policy, and working directly with the most vulnerable communities in our society to strengthen understanding of the challenges they face, and the underlying causes of those challenges.”