Dissertation Title: “It ‘Just Happened’ One Night: Gender Norms and Consent to Unwanted Sexual Activity on College Hookups.”
Dissertation Chair: Laura Carpenter
Research Interests:Gender & Sexuality; Violence Against Women; Media & Social Problems; Collective Behavior; Family Violence; Intimate Relationships in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood
Dissertation Abstract:Popular media often portray college hookups (i.e., casual sexual encounters with no expectation or guarantee of commitment) as harmful to young women and beneficial to young men. Research indicates that hookups tend to be positive experiences for both young women and men, but young women are more likely to report negative hookup experiences (i.e., unwanted sexual activity, lower sexual pleasure than men, negative feelings following a hookup). Rather than being a direct product of contemporary hookup culture, these gender-divergent outcomes may be related to dominant gender norms that can place young men in a privileged position over young women (e.g., sexual double standards and mores that prioritize male sexual desire/pleasure over female desire/pleasure). In this dissertation I present findings from three empirical investigations that use data from the Online College Social Life Survey to examine relationships between gender norms and negative outcomes of college hookups. In the first study I explore relationships between sexual subjectivity (i.e., self-entitlement to pleasure and pursuit of sexual activity) and unwanted sexual activity on college hookups and, as a comparison, dates. In the second study I examine relationships between endorsement of sexual double standards and negative experiences on hookups (i.e., unwanted sexual activity and feelings of regret following a hookup). In the third study I Investigate relationships between unwanted sexual activity, sexual pleasure, and college students’ post-hookup interest in their hookup partners (i.e., interest in a relationship or subsequent hookup). Collectively, findings indicate that (1) hookups can, in some cases, be harmful to young men and (2) negative hookup outcomes may not be inherent to hookup culture itself, as they are associated with gender norms that privilege young men over young women. These findings have implications for outreach efforts targeting adolescents and college students and may inform debates about transforming “sex education,” which focuses on physical health, into “sexuality education,” which includes attention to social aspects of sexuality (e.g., power).
Dissertation Title: Difference or Disorder?: Medical Authority, Intersex Advocacy, and the Politics of Consensus
Dissertation Chair: Laura Carpenter
Research Interests: Medicine, Health, and Illness; Sex and Gender; Health-Social Movements; Qualitative Methods
This dissertation examines the ways in which professional and lay knowledge shape the diagnosis and treatment of intersexuality—reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not correspond to what is typically considered male and female. Although the conditions associated with intersexuality are not typically life threatening, they are almost always treated with surgery and/or hormones in order to modify the body to an assigned sex. In my dissertation, I investigate the changes to the diagnosis and treatment of intersexuality as a result of multiple and often competing forces, including the rise of evidence based medicine (EBM), technological advancements, and the visibility and power of health based advocacy groups. Drawing on 42 semi-structured interviews with medical professionals and intersex individuals and advocates; participant observation at “gender team” meetings at a large, tertiary medical center; published recommendations (e.g., practice-based guidelines, clinical handbooks and texts), and news coverage between 1993 and 2013, I demonstrate how current standards of care not only complicate understandings about what intersex is but how intersex should be treated.
Dissertation Title: The Market Inscribed Landscape: Industry and City Causes of Food Deserts
Dissertation Chair: Richard Lloyd
Research Interests: Crime, Law and Deviance; Economic Sociology; Food Deserts/Food Environment; Historical Methods; Quantitative Methods; Social Problems; Theory; Urban Sociology.
My dissertation contributes to the urban sociology and ‘food desert’ literatures by showing that the ‘neighborhood effects’ of concentrated poverty (popularized by Robert Sampson and William J. Wilson) and concentrated %black (e.g. Massey and Denton) depend on city and industry dynamics. I do this by investigating how city and industry factors affect the relationship between demographics and supermarket placement (and thus the correlates of the ‘neighborhood effect’ of living in an area with limited access to fresh produce).
I first look at how industry dynamics affect the relationship between economic neighborhood characteristics and the number of supermarkets in a zip code. Using self-collected historical data in nine urban areas I find that the relationship between the number of supermarkets in a zip code and the economics of a zip code changed over time: whereas in 1970 the relationship between poverty and supermarkets was positive, from 1970 to 1990 this relationship gradually became negative. Conducting a content analysis of grocery trade journals I hypothesize that a change from an ‘everyday shopping’ to a ‘one stop shopping’ institutional logic from 1970 to 1990 explains this change in the relationship between the poverty of a zip code and supermarket placement.
Finally, I look at how the relationship between neighborhood characteristics (especially %black) and the number of supermarkets depends on city dynamics. I argue that racial threat theory explains the negative relationship between a higher proportion of African Americans in a zip code and a lower number of supermarkets in the zip code. I extend both the understanding of the correlates of food deserts and racial threat theory by arguing that (racial) majority perceptions of the threat of (racial) minorities leads to the ‘hoarding’ of neighborhood resources such as supermarkets by the (racial) majority. Using a ‘geocoded’ 2010 census and zip code business patterns dataset I conduct a negative binomial HLM showing that the city level racial composition (non-linearly) predicts the variation in the zip code level association between %black and the number of supermarkets.
Dissertation Title: Saving the Sacred Sea: Baikal Environmentalism from the Soviet Union to Globalized Modernity
Dissertation Chair: Richard Lloyd
Research Interests: Political Economy; Social Movements; Global/Transnational Sociology; Environmental Sociology; Collective Memory; Theory
This dissertation explores the ways in which problems are constructed and solutions made plausible by activists and the public they seek to engage in two contrasted contexts: contemporary global capitalist modernity and behind the Iron Curtain of the single-party state-planned political economy of the U.S.S.R. To ground my investigation, I focus upon environmental activism in Irkutsk, Russia – a city on the shores of Lake Baikal, which is the deepest, oldest, most voluminous body of freshwater on the planet. The lake’s uniqueness draws environmentalist involvement locally, nationally and internationally. To address my research question, I conducted ten months of ethnographic field research amongst environmental organizations in Irkutsk. I also collected archival materials on local environmental activism from the last decade of the Soviet Union and during the period of post-Soviet transition. Preliminary findings show two countervailing forces influencing civil society under conditions of globalization. The first involves creative inspiration, as locals encounter new fodder for thought in the global public sphere. But there are also powerful stakeholders who seek to constrain and channel the activist gaze. Corporations use the “carrot” of philanthropy to steer activists’ efforts toward non-threatening projects, and the state exerts the “stick” of law to shore up its own power sources against insurgent civil society. Both of these tactics are reminiscent of Community Party politics in confronting environmentalism in the USSR. These findings point to a more complex analysis of power under condition of global modernity, both for contentious civil society and for its elite opponents.
Dissertation Title: Varieties of Activism: Pathways of Participation among LGBT Religious Activists
Dissertation Chair: Larry Isaac
Research Interests: Social Movements, Political Sociology, Gender and Sexuality, Race and Ethnicity, Religion, Culture, Environment
Although the LGBT movement has made rapid gains in the United States, support for LGBT rights remains low among many religious groups, and LGBT individuals actively face discrimination in conservative faith communities. Despite this context of repression, students are launching movements for LGBT inclusion at a growing number of faith-based colleges and universities across the United States. In this dissertation, I explore the unique pathways along which students join and commit to LGBT groups at Christian colleges and universities, as well as the diverse ways in which students are impacted by their participation in these groups. Specifically, I address the following three questions: (1) why do individuals join LGBT groups at Christian colleges and universities?; (2) why do individuals commit to these LGBT groups?; and (3) how does participation in these LGBT groups affect individuals?
I show that students follow multiple pathways to LGBT groups at Christian colleges and universities: students with “activist identities” generally have well-formed political beliefs supported by years of involvement in social movements, while students with particularly salient “religious identities” or identities based on sexual identity or gender identity often hold beliefs that contradict involvement in LGBT groups and generally have no history of social movement activism. I argue that students’ commitment to these LGBT groups is in turn contingent on a correspondence between their personal identities and the organizational identity: students with salient “activist identities” are drawn to LGBT groups involved in direct action campaigns; students with salient “religious identities” are drawn to LGBT groups focused on education and awareness-raising; and students with salient identities based on sexual identity or gender identity are drawn to LGBT groups that provide opportunities for social activities and support. Finally, I show that different types of LGBT groups produce different types of activists: veterans of LGBT groups involved in direct action go on to participate in other social movement groups; alumni of LGBT groups engaged in education become change agents in humanistic careers; and graduates of LGBT groups that provide social support focus on applying their groups’ values on an interpersonal level.
I base these conclusions on in-depth interviews with 65 participants in LGBT groups at four Christian colleges and universities. I supplement these data through observations at these Christian colleges and universities; content analyses of relevant movement documents; and analyses of a unique database of LGBT groups and non-discrimination policies across Christian colleges and universities in the United States. As I argue, these findings hold important implications for the empirical literature on LGBT-inclusive schools and the broader theoretical literature on social movement participation.
Dissertation Title: Everything but the Funnel Cake: Art and the University of Puerto Rico Student Occupation of 2010
Dissertation Chair: Richard Lloyd
Research Interests: Sociology of Culture; Social Movements; Political Sociology; New Media
My dissertation, Everything but the Funnel Cake: Art and the University of Puerto Rico Student Occupation of 2010, explores the use of art and culture in protest. In the summer of 2010, students occupied the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) for 62 days, protesting the austerity measures of newly elected governor Luis Fortuno. The occupation was striking for its use of artistic and cultural performance; subsequently, it is remembered as the “Creative Strike” due to this overwhelming aesthetic dimension. Drawing upon two years of ethnographic data, including both on-site and virtual observations, 31 in-depth interviews, and movement documentation, my research is situated at the nexus of sociology of culture and social movements.
The use of artistic intervention in protest is not novel; however, contexts specific to the 21st century, including new media, pave the way for an emerging tactical consensus in response to neoliberalism and austerity measures. The UPR protest resembles past actions like the 1999 Battle of Seattle and anticipated coming interventions such as Occupy Wall Street. These actions are notable for the heterogeneity of the participants and a stated commitment to non-hierarchical organization. This dissertation illuminates the elevated role of art as a means to manage this movement pluralism, showing how aesthetics are deployed to both unify and differentiate movement participants. In doing so, it illuminates both longstanding protest challenges and 21st century configurations.
My approach contrasts with existing literature that emphasizes the role of art in creating a single collective identity, in that my data shows that artistic expression allows participants to perform multiple activist identities. In turn, while too much diversity of identity within a movement can lead to infighting among activist groups, artistic and cultural interventions act to ease the tensions among groups. It combines major theoretical perspectives from social movements, the sociology of culture, and political sociology, filling in subdisciplinary gaps in the engagement with movement tactics, “user created” culture and identity formation, and the challenge of political pluralism.
Dissertation Title: Outsiders Within: Cochlear Implants, Oralism, and the Deaf Community
Dissertation Chair: Shaul Kelner
Research Interests: Culture; Body & Embodiment; Identity; Social Change
Broadly speaking my work is on social classifications. I seek to understand how classifications are made, and what happens when established classifications are challenged when the society they are constructed within changes. In my dissertation research I investigate the classification of “Deafness” as it has been disrupted by advancements in medical technologies and corresponding educational ideologies. I draw upon data collected from a multiyear ethnography at Gallaudet University—the only liberal arts college in the world specifically designed for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students—to understand how the increasing diversity of the student body aids in the redefinition of what it means to be Deaf in America. I focus on the experiences of individuals I call “outsiders within,” those who possess some but not all characteristics of the old guard Deaf community (e.g., hearing loss and/or fluency in American Sign Language) while simultaneously embodying aspects that are antithetical to established Deaf identities (e.g., oral communication and/or Cochlear Implants). Through an investigation of these outsiders within I expand sociological understanding of how classifications are used to create communities, which actors are central to these communities, and how communities adapt to social change. More information about the project can be found on my research blog, http://silentethnography.blogspot.com.
Dissertation Title: Off Center: Art Careers in Peripheral Places
Dissertation Chair: Dan Cornfield
Research Interests: Urbanization and Community; Art and Culture; Stratification; Theory; Race and Ethnicity; Work and Occupations; Public Policy
How do contemporary cultural producers navigate career opportunities and constraints in places where resources for career mobility are lacking? Most studies of visual art worlds take place in their urban centers – New York City and Los Angeles in the U.S. – where robust concentrations of galleries, museums, collectors, critics, and other artists are already known to generate the social and institutional rewards that propel artistic careers. 21st century trends have shifted the geography of cultural production, however, so by the year 2010, most (80%) professional visual artists in the U.S. live in cities other than New York and Los Angeles.
I examine contemporary artistic production using a multi-city, comparative ethnographic study of artists in two theoretically interesting urban contexts: Portland, Oregon and Nashville, Tennessee. Portland and Nashville are similar in size, but differ greatly in their artist populations and population-trends, thus allowing an analysis of both general and context-dependent career patterns. Further, this study takes an artist-centered approach, drawing from two years of participant-observation and 76 in-depth interviews to analyze the structures of the field from the lived experiences of artists themselves. I analyzed artists’ career strategies in domains of exhibiting, networking, and work, their understandings of their cities and scenes, and their definitions of success.
This study extends a Bourdieuian field perspective to contemporary conditions, arguing that artistic careers are dually embedded in local scenes and a global field. I complicate existing center/periphery models of cultural production by inductively deriving a typology of cities as dynamic positions, relative to each other. Cities vary by the institutional and social resources that sustain artistic careers, but also by the place-based symbolic credits that legitimate them. Off-center artists’ careers are also uniquely translocal. Because off-center cities cannot sustain many careers alone, most artists have to struggle to accumulate recognition both within and beyond the city in which they live. One way they can do so is by working to draw attention to their city as a legitimate site of artistic production, recognizable to outside observers and gatekeepers. As such, places are symbolic resources, and they are moving targets in this global, reputational field.