Chair & Professor; Director of the Center for Vietnamese Philosophy, Culture, and Society
I have been interested in how education works to both reinforce inequalities and provide opportunities since my transition from a public high school in a small town to an Ivy League university. Most of my research focuses on how social background and race shape educational experiences. For example, my dissertation concerned variation in how Asian American students negotiate the transition from high school to college. My recent work has focused on whether social background and occupational expectations account for rising college expectations over time, and how social background relates to application behaviors and choice of college majors.
In related projects, I’m also looking at how race affects the elementary and secondary schools families choose for their children, and the implications that these choices may have for racial residential segregation. In the years to come, I’ll be beginning research on higher education in Southeast Asia. I’m interested in how increasing privatization and internationalization of universities in these countries affects access to postsecondary education and the fields of study available.
Associate Professor of Teaching Instruction
Associate Professor of Teaching Instruction
I am interested in the social and economic incorporation of immigrants in the United States and other nations receiving large immigrant populations. More specifically, my research has primarily concentrated on assessing and interpreting the integration of the U.S. Mexican-Origin population using social-demographic methods and data.
I am currently engaged in three lines of research. The first is concerned with understanding how various processes operating in immigrant destinations across the United States–including migrant social networks and ethnic communities, labor markets, and immigrant enforcement policies–have shaped patterns of Mexican immigration over the past two decades.
A second project focuses on the legal and citizenship status of immigrants in the U.S., and aims both to improve methods used to measure and estimate the various legal statuses of immigrants in large-scale surveys, as well as to understand how legal status is associated with the integration of contemporary immigrants and their children into the social and economic fabric of the nation.
Finally, a third avenue of research is concerned with understanding inter-generational patterns of incorporation among members of the U.S. Mexican-origin population. The primary objective of this work is to assess empirically the extent to which the economic mobility of today’s Mexican-American population, especially with respect to educational attainment, is shaped by the distinctive social and historical contexts out of which the Mexican-origin population has grown.
Associate Professor & Undergraduate Chair
I am currently working on a qualitative project about identity construction among Muslim Americans. The project actually has two major components that I am bringing together in a book length manuscript. One component analyzes newspaper stories about Muslim Americans.
The objective here is to capture how media representations have constructed and assigned meaning to Muslim American identity. This work looks at media discourses around assimilation, religious minority identity, and hijab (i.e., the scarves worn by Muslim women) both before and after 9/11. It speaks specifically to external constructions of the collective identity Muslim American.
The second component of my research is based on qualitative interviewing, focus groups, and ethnographic observations with first and second generation immigrant Muslim Americans (a small number of focus groups were conducted with second generation African American Muslims [i.e., raised by Muslim converts], also). This data specifically addresses how Muslim Americans understand and negotiate their collective identities: religious, ethnic, race, and nationality.
This part of the project focuses on internal identity construction or how Muslim Americans assign meanings to their identities. I am bringing both sides of this research together as a book that analyzes Muslim American identity construction as a social product that is created in the media and among Muslims themselves. I hope that my work will add to our understanding of the processes that construct and assignment meanings to collective identities, and how those meanings are negotiated. Moreover, I hope that it will shed light on how race, ethnic and, in this case, religious inequalities are negotiated.
A demographer interested in demographic history, I study the mortality transition– particularly the rapid decline in death rates that began in the late nineteenth century and continued in the early twentieth in US cities. I have used Philadelphia as a case study in most of my research and relied on the availability of a unique data set collected as part of a large project on the social history of Philadelphia.
My current research is for a paper entitled, “The Bureaucratization of Death,” in which I use Philadelphia data to trace the changes in disease concepts, in medical technology, and in the medical profession and the effect these changes have on our understanding of the sources of the mortality decline.
In two recent papers, I have looked at the infant mortality rate and the rate of death from diphtheria in Philadelphia to examine the role of medicine in the decline of mortality. The designation of the Klebs-Loeffler bacillus as the cause of diphtheria in the early 1890s and the subsequent development of the antitoxin treatment in the years immediately following were at the time and continue to be viewed as triumphs of scientific medicine and its reductionist view of disease causality. Infant mortality, on the other hand, has had a different history. Historically, public health workers, physicians, and reformers have used the infant mortality rate as an indicator of the goodness of a society - its general welfare, the justness of its political system, the efficacy of its public works, the benevolence of its powerful; a high rate of death among the very young was an index of a community’s shame.
These views of the infant mortality rate as reflecting general characteristics of a society were widely displayed in the second half of the nineteenth century even as most disease entities, including diphtheria, were becoming more narrowly defined and ordinarily linked not to the nature of society or individual predisposition but to specific pathological organisms. These contrasting case studies shed light on the limited role of medical technology and the multicausal nature of the mortality decline.
Associate Professor of Teaching Instruction
From the development of height and weight tables that established the notion of ideal body weight to the role of plus-size models in challenging thin privilege, my research interests connect studies of gender and sexuality, sociology of the body, medical sociology, and sociologies of work and the professions. My book, Fashioning Fat: Inside Plus-Size Modeling (New York University Press, 2015), examines the standards of work and image production in the plus-sized model industry. Fashioning Fat takes us through a model’s day-to-day activities, first at open calls at modeling agencies and then through fashion shows and photo shoots. I show that the mission of many of these models is to challenge our standards of beauty that privilege the thin body; they show us that fat can be sexy. Many plus-size models do often succeed in overcoming years of self-loathing and shame over their bodies, yet, as I show, these women are not the ones in charge of beauty’s construction or dissemination.
At the corporate level, the fashion industry perpetuates their objectification. Plus-size models must conform to an image created by fashion’s tastemakers, as their bodies must fit within narrowly defined parameters of size and shape–an experience not too different from that of straight-sized models. Ultimately, plus-size models find that they are still molding their bodies to fit an image instead of molding an image of beauty to fit their bodies. The book is available for purchase here and here. To learn more about this research, read my interview in New York Magazine’s The Cut or my op-ed in The Washington Post. I also contribute to blogs, such as Sociological Images, From the Square, and Hello Giggles, critiquing anything from Barbie and her successors to Tide’s depiction of the second shift and plus-size models.
Professor & Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Faculty Affairs
I am an economic sociologist and I tend to be interested in complex social and political issues that have a central economic component. So, for example, my first book was on the political bargaining in major Chapter 11 strategic bankruptcies. Then, I studied the political battles occurring in many US cities over the use of public tax money to build professional sports stadiums.
Currently, I am completing a book on how people in particular professions that have money as a central feature of their jobs (like hedge fund traders, fund raisers, debt counselors, poker players and religious clergy) learn to think about money within their professional training and day-to-day work lives.
I studied sociology because I believe in the power of ideas to improve the world in which we live. My main academic interest is in the study of politics: how political regimes are established, why they change, how governments rule, and how social actors shape the political process. Sociology has given me the analytical tools and insight to study these issues and the skills to participate in the solutions of social problems.
My region of expertise is Latin America and I have written extensively on politics and society in the Dominican Republic. My most recent academic articles are the product of collaborative research based on political culture surveys.
The article, “Performance Still Matters,” helps to clarify the factors shaping trust in government institutions in an emerging democracy like the Dominican Republic. We show that trust in government institutions is shaped primarily by perceptions of government performance, including citizens’ evaluation of public services, the economic environment, and perceptions of insecurity and corruption. The results indicate that low trust in government is rooted primarily in those perceptions, rather than in low civic engagement, general attitudes about democracy or early socialization under authoritarianism. We found that middle-class groups are significantly less trusting of government institutions than the poor or the wealthy, and that the older generations that experienced authoritarianism in their youth are considerably more trusting of democratic institutions than the younger generations. The results also indicate that low trust per se is not the major challenge for governance, since high levels of skepticism in government institutions may be driven more by perceptions of poor government performance than by a sweeping rejection of democratic institutions.
Beyond my academic work, I write Op Ed articles for two major newspapers in the Dominican Republic. This allows me to translate my academic research to the general public, including politicians, policy-makers and students.
Assistant Professor of Teaching Instruction
I usually describe myself as half a sociologist and half an applied statistician, although for most of my career the sociologist predominated with a broad interest in social stratification and inequality. This duality dates back to my undergraduate days at Oberlin College where I was a double major in sociology and math but took more hours in sociology than I could count towards my degree. My substantive research primarily focuses on economic structure and labor market inequality, especially with respect to race-ethnicity and gender.
For example, I study how job segregation and devaluation processes create and reproduce race and gender inequalities in job rewards. But I have also dabbled over the years in other realms of race-ethnic inequality, including research on wealth, home equity, residential segregation, traffic stops and treatment by police, and most recently on media portrayals of crime. In terms of my interests in applied statistics and quantitative methodology, my research has usually been explicitly tied to particular substantive questions such as how to estimate “tolerable” segregation, the use of cluster analysis to define economic segments, or the use of multiplicity sampling of workers to create a representative sample of work organizations. But some–like my recent work on detecting and correcting for heteroskedasticity or my current work on interpreting interaction effects in generalized linear models–is motivated by more abstract statistical issues.
Associate Professor and Graduate Chair; Affiliated Faculty in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies
I study art and popular culture with a focus on issues of policy, regulation, and identity.
My first book, Legislating Creativity (Routledge 2010) explored arts controversies related to government funding for the arts and the NEA. My new book, Pop Culture Freaks (Westview 2014) examines the influence of identity (race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, and nationality) on the labor force, content, and audience for the culture industries, focusing especially on film and television.
I am active on Twitter (@PopCultureFreak) and I blog at popculturefreaks.tumblr.com.
My main interests are in the sociology of education and quantitative methods. I am currently looking at what matters more for academic outcomes: avoiding really impoverished schools or attending really affluent ones. I also teach graduate statistical courses in the Department of Psychology, with a particular focus on multilevel models.
Associate Professor & Director of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Program
I am interested in poverty and social policy, gender and work, and the relationship between the two. In recent work, I am concerned with how women’s social interactions guide their economic outcomes. This question is central to my 2013 book, Ain’t No Trust: How Bosses, Boyfriends, and Bureaucrats Fail Low-Income Mothers and Why It Matters (University of California Press).
The book provides a qualitative comparison of low-income mothers’ experiences with welfare and low-wage work before and after welfare reform and investigates women’s social interactions with caseworkers, employers, child care providers, romantic partners, and networks of family and friends. I argue that these social interactions produce distrust creating barriers to the very actions reform hoped to promote. Policies that do not address the structural factors that shape these interactions and produce distrust – particularly the fact that low-income mothers’ interests are often at odds with their interaction partners – will be limited in their ability to truly improve the lives of low-income women and their children.
To learn more about this research, watch my appearance on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry show; or read my essay in Boston Review; or read coverage of the book in Pacific Standard; or see the NBC News interview on the book; or listen to a podcast about the book put out by the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; or to an interview with WHYY’s Radio Times hosted by Marty Moss-Coane.
In other work, I have studied how informal social interactions between co-workers reinforce formal institutional barriers to sex integration in job titles in a manufacturing plant. I have also investigated the causal links between adolescent motherhood and children’s subsequent outcomes and the relationship between mothers’ and fathers’ occupational traits and children’s occupational aspirations.
Associate Professor of Teaching Instruction
Associate Professor of Teaching Instruction
I am currently teaching mid sized classes to undergraduate students at Temple University. In my teaching, I strive to provide my students with engaging lectures and multimedia presentations as well substantial opportunities for classroom discussion. In addition to pursuing pedagogical goals specific to Sociology (i.e., enhancing students’ sociological imaginations, and passion for sociological discovery), I endeavor to enhance my students’ writing and critical thinking skills. At Temple, I have taught Social Statistics, Introduction to Sociology, Inequality, and Gender in America. Prior to teaching at Temple, I taught a wide variety of undergraduate courses, including Urban Sociology, Research Methods, Statistics, Sociology of Education, and Crime and Delinquency. I also taught graduate courses in the Sociology of Education to students at Columbia University’s Teachers College. I was originally trained primarily in the Sociology of Education and the Sociology of Work and Organizations, but my research interests have drifted onto the terrains of Urban Sociology, Social Class, Art, and Culture. My broad concern is with the effects of class and culture on artistic and intellectual space. I am striving to understand the changing nature of artistic and intellectual life in postindustrial urban neighborhoods as well as within academic institutions on various levels of the academic hierarchy.
My current research project is grounded in controversies surrounding the work of Richard Florida. Florida’s ‘big morph” thesis asserts that today’s prototypical urban artist is no longer an alienated bohemian who hates the bourgeois (yuppie) establishment. Contemporary artists, he suggests, work with yuppies and other neighborhood residents in “creative class” communities constituted by a cultural morph of bourgeois and bohemian culture. Florida’s work has been criticized, in part, because his data has been restricted to the macro level. Richard Lloyd, for example, has asserted that had Florida explored artist neighborhoods on the ground, he would have discovered that they are not necessarily constituted by creative class harmony. Lloyd’s own research on Wicker Park Chicago uncovered a community that he described as constituting a new version of bohemia. For the past three years, I have been exploring issues pertaining to Florida’s big-morph thesis by collecting data on contemporary Pittsburgh artists and the communities that they live in. I conducted fieldwork in two Pittsburgh neighborhoods with a relatively large artist population (i.e., South Side and Lawrenceville), and conducted two artist surveys (the first was a pilot project) in cooperation with Lawrenceville’s annual Art All Night art festival. I am currently using my collected data to write three journal articles and a book proposal.
Donna Marie Peters
Associate Professor of Teaching Instruction
Associate Professor of Teaching Instruction
My research interests are the socioeconomic outcomes of immigrants, ethnic enclaves, and the physical and mental health of immigrants. My work focuses on how race and nativity interact to affect the experiences of immigrants in the United States.
I investigated the economic outcomes of foreign-born blacks in my past research in order to evaluate how black immigrants may be redefining what it means to be black in the United States. Using U.S. census data, this work explored the hourly wages, homeownership and house value, and locational attainment of black immigrants.
In the analysis of wages I found that, unlike previous research, black immigrants actually earn significantly lower wages than U.S.-born blacks. I have also investigated the housing market outcomes of black African and non-Hispanic Caribbean immigrants to ascertain the implications of black immigrant homeownership on racial stratification and immigrant incorporation research. In this work I found that black immigrants have higher home values than their U.S.-born counterparts indicating that they are able to gain access to neighborhoods that U.S.-born blacks are not. This finding was confirmed in my research on the locational attainment of black immigrants in the United States. I found that foreign-born blacks are less racially and socioeconomically segregated than U.S.-born blacks.
My current research continues to focus on black immigrants, but I have now expanded my work to investigate the effect of structural barriers on black immigrant socioeconomic outcomes. In order to get a better idea of how these barriers work, I am currently conducting cross-national research comparing socioeconomic outcomes of black immigrants. Specifically, I am comparing the educational attainment of second-generation black immigrants in the United States and Canada. The differences between the two countries in terms of race relations and immigration laws make them ideally suited for research on the role of structural barriers in black immigrant socioeconomic advancement and assimilation patterns.
My central research topic is the social construction of identities. I try to understand both theoretically and empirically how people construct their identifications in order to understand who they are. My theoretical work tries to decipher the complex relationship between narrative identities and social discourses. My empirical work has two different geographical locales: Argentina and the U.S.-Mexico border. In the case of Argentina my work has dealt with the relationship between music and identity, and I have studied how different musical genres have helped different kinds of people to construct valued social identities: how tango helped European immigrants to acculturate in xenophobic early twentieth century Buenos Aires; how folk music did the same with immigrant mestizos from the countryside in the 1950s; how rock nacional was used by young people to resist a dictatorship that killed thousands of youngsters between 1976-1983; and currently how cumbia villera is used to negotiate gender relations among the more disfranchised inhabitants of Buenos Aires.
On the U.S.-Mexico border my research deals with how people construct their ethnic, racial, national, regional, gender, class and religious identifications in a complex environment where two different countries and cultures meet. I develop my teaching around these research interests, therefore I usually teach courses on identity theory, race and ethnicity, sociology of music, music in Latin America, and qualitative methods, with special emphasis on photo-elicitation, the main method I used in my research on the U.S.-Mexico border.
My research focuses on policy-relevant issues related to social stratification over the life course and among neighborhoods and communities. My research has examined progress toward racial residential integration in the post-Civil Rights era. It has looked at changes in the spatial isolation of jobless men since the 1970s. It has assessed the roles cohort replacement and intra-cohort change processes in the sharp decline in black male employment. I have sought to understand how the timing, sequencing, and duration of poverty during childhood influence outcomes in early adulthood, and how families’ previous economic experiences condition the effects of negative life events on their children. I have investigated why poverty became less concentrated in the 1990s, and whether the children of single mothers benefit academically from their mother’s marriage.
My current research projects focus on developing a life course approach for understanding neighborhood attainment and on investigating the potential link between family income volatility during childhood and social, emotional, behavioral outcomes later in life. I am particularly interested in how social, economic, and cultural changes over the last fifty years have affected people’s opportunities, behavior, and attitudes.
Broadly, my research interests are at the intersections of sociology of sexuality, gender, science, technology, and the body. I am especially interested in how sexuality and gender become constituted as objects through scientific controversies and practices, and understanding the significance of sexuality and gender in the context of technoscientific professions and work. My research brings together sexuality and gender studies, science and technology studies, sociology of social movements, and sociology of work and organizations. In addition to being an Assistant Professor in Sociology, I am also affiliated with the Temple Women’s Studies program.
I am currently working on a book manuscript, tentatively titled “Drawing the Straight Line: Sexual Reorientation and the Scientific Fringe,” which examines debates over sexual reorientation therapies and ex-gay ministries from the 1950s to the present in the United States and abroad. As reorientation has moved from the center to the margins of science over these decades, social movement and professional struggles over sexual orientation change efforts have produced particular notions of what it means to be “straight” or “gay” within science, as well as techniques the measurement of “sexual orientation.” Looking at the ex-gay movement as a transnational phenomenon, I also trace how sexual reorientation and knowledge of “sexual orientation” have shaped the politics of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda.
As a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Science in Human Culture Program and Sociology Department at Northwestern University from 2010-2012, I had the opportunity to travel to Kampala, Uganda to study the controversy over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and the roles of religion, science, race, and national identity in this issue more closely.
Other work of mine includes research on the history and impact of statistics about gay teen suicide and the ways these numbers shape our vision of the possibilities for gay youth. I am also co-author of a paper on the experiences of LGB engineering students, discussed in a 2010 article in Science Careers. Currently, I am working on another team project on the social history of the “phallometric test,” a test which uses a “penile plethysmograph” device to measure sexual desire in men through genital arousal testing with erotic imagery. I am also working with a colleague on a study of the workplace experiences of LGBT professional scientists and engineers in the United States.
My research and teaching interests include medical sociology, race and ethnicity, cultural sociology, and public sociology. I’m also affiliated faculty in the American Studies Program at Temple.
As a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at Harvard University, I examined the racial and spatial heterogeneity of suicide rates in the American West, with a particular emphasis on Las Vegas, the city with the highest metropolitan suicide rate in the U.S.
In addition to my work on suicide, I’ve researched multiple aspects of white identity, particularly the stigmatyping of poor rural whites. I’m also a long-time participant observer of the Burning Man Festival, an arts festival in northern Nevada.
My work has been profiled in The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Business Week, and The Wall Street Journal, among dozens of other national and international publications, and I have been interviewed on numerous radio shows, including NPR’s All Things Considered and Freakonomics Radio.
My published books and edited anthologies include Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness (Duke); White Trash: Race and Class in America (Routledge); Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life (NYU Press); and The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness (Duke).
In Fall 2012, I was a nonfiction fellow at The MacDowell Colony. I currently serve as an elected member of the Chair’s Council of the Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities of the American Sociological Association and a 2015 nominee for chair-elect of the Section on Cultural Sociology. I’m also a member of the ASA’s Task Force on Social Media where I chair the subcommittee on Promoting Research through Social Media. At Temple, I serve as president of the Rho Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honor society. In 2014, I was awarded the College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Teacher Award.
Assistant Professor, Affiliated Faculty in Global Studies
Lu Zhang is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology. Her research and teaching concentrate on globalization, labor and labor movements, development, and the political economy of China and East Asia. She is interested in the dynamism of global capitalism and the ways in which its transformations are reshaping the nature and landscape of work and employment, producing divergent forms of oppression and resistance, and recurrently creating its own crises at global, national, local, and shop-floor levels. She received a B.A. in Sociology from Fudan University (China), a M.A. in Sociology from University of Warwick (UK) and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the Johns Hopkins University (US) in 2010. She joined Temple in 2011 following a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Indiana University at the Research Center for Chinese Politics & Business. Her first book, Inside China’s Automobile Factories: The Politics of Labor and Worker Resistance (Cambridge University Press, 2015), explores the current conditions, subjectivity, and collective actions of autoworkers in the world’s largest and fastestgrowing automobile manufacturing nation.
My research interests cut across a number of subfields in social studies, including Internet & Human Interaction, Self-Concept & Mental Health, and Methodology & Metatheory. I like the field of sociology a lot because it is an open area that allows for the free stretch of our imagination into different domains of social inquiry. Roaming in the wonderland of sociology, we enjoy the freedom of traveling virtually anywhere our curiosity takes us to, undeterred by any signs that read “Foreign Territory.”