Inequalities

This area brings together scholars who focus on race and ethnicity; poverty, class, and stratification; gender and sex; and sexuality and LGBTQ studies. Our research uses an array of methods, ranging from secondary analysis of large nationally representative data sets to in-depth interviews and ethnographies of small groups, to explore the social construction of race, gender, and sexuality, the ways in which these structure the broader social world, and the causes and consequences of social inequalities in the U.S. and abroad. Many of us employ an intersectional perspective in our work. Faculty in this area work to answer exciting and important societal questions, such as: What are the causes and consequences of growing economic inequalities in the U.S.? What explains patterns of racial/ethnic and gender inequality in the U.S. and globally? How do various social institutions and public policies mitigate or exacerbate inequalities? What processes shape ethnic group formation, mobilization, and mobility? How does stigma affect health and wellness among sexual minority groups? 

Race and Ethnicity (Ackerman, Green, Kurien, Lutz, Ma, Monnat, Paris, Purser, Winder)

The sociological study of race and ethnicity investigates race, race relations, racism, ethnicity and ethnic formations, and immigration. Race and ethnicity scholars investigate historical and contemporary racial formation, the everyday consequences of race and racism, and the impact of social policy, programs, and projects on racialized subjects. Research questions by researchers in this area have included: How are racial boundaries created, maintained, and challenged? What are the impacts of stigma on racial identity formation? Our faculty employ a range of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods to address these questions.  Currently, faculty research on race and ethnicity examines mobility of international students in the US education system, race/class/gender and sexuality in the English-speaking Caribbean, the historical trajectory of debates over “illegal” immigration, race-ethnicity and sexuality and sexual health, the role of race and religion in shaping group formation and mobilization among contemporary ethnic groups, racially-disparate effects of public policy, and racial-ethnic inequalities in education, income, employment, health, and other forms of well-being. 

Poverty, Class, and Stratification (Ackerman, Harrington-Meyer, London, Monnat, Paris, Purser, Ma, Schewe)

Faculty in this area are concerned with the distribution of income, wealth, social capital, and opportunities in the U.S. and globally.  We explore the impact of poverty, stratification, education, immigration and changing immigration policies on the everyday lives of people. Research in this specialty area includes work on low wage-labor and the reproduction and lived experience of urban and rural poverty in the United States, the differential impacts of the Great Recession on county-level unemployment rates, and the consequences of social disadvantage at the intersections of place, public policy, and health, including safety net use and outcomes, disability, opioid misuse, and premature mortality. 

Gender and Sex (Green, Harrington-Meyer, Orr, Ma, Shahrokni, Winder)

The faculty in this area provide students with foundational knowledge of sex and gender, and are committed to promoting critical perspectives that contribute to possibilities for transformation and change through scholarship and activism that engage with local, national, and international communities.  We explore the culturally and historically specific production of gender as a social category and highlight the complex ways in which gender intersects with other axes of inequality such as race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, age, and religion. In our research projects, we focus not only on how gender structures our identities, interactions and institutions, but also how our lives, as gendered beings, are shaped differently by broader structural forces such as globalization, state-building processes, legal and educational systems, urban development, etc. Our faculty examine a variety of different subjects, including issues pertaining to body and embodiment, different types of masculinities, wage gap, family and the care work, and unequal access to urban public spaces. These works cover multiple national settings, including the United States, China, the Caribbean, Iran and the Middle East.

Sexuality and LGBTQ Studies (London, Orr, Winder)

Scholars working in sexuality and LGBTQ Studies seek to address the role of sexuality and sexual minority status in the contemporary social world. Faculty draw on interdisciplinary and intersectional approaches to the study of queer, transgender, and LGB relations, both historical and contemporary. Current work in the field range from the classic debate of nature versus nurture in the development of queer identities, understanding changing priorities in the gay rights movement, trans rights and access to healthcare, to the intersections of race, class, and gender on sexual identities. Our faculty consider questions such as: How have biomedical interventions in HIV changed attitudes and sexual practice among Black gay men? Is same-sex sexuality associated with shorter or longer marital duration? How does sexual racism affect the proliferation of HIV among affected populations? Most recent publications have examined sexual health and wellness, sexual stigma, transmission and social prevention of sexually transmitted infections (e.g HIV), and sexual identity development.