Jody Ahlm (ABD)

Dissertation Title:

Mediated Sexualities: Grindr, Tinder and the "Dating Apocalypse"

Dissertation Description: 
I use the case of smartphone dating applications known colloquially as “hookup apps” to analyze how technology mediates sexual identities, practices, bodies and affects. I compare Grindr, marketed for men seeking men, and the primarily heterosexual app Tinder, which is also popular with lesbian, bisexual and queer women and transgender app users. Users of these apps now number in the tens of millions and have received increasing attention in mainstream discourse. Contrary to much popular and academic discourse, I argue that these apps are not making people overly rational, shallow and superficial, nor wildly promiscuous. I argue that social norms around dating and sex are changing, but the reasons for this have far more to do with changing forms of intimacy in late capitalism than with the mediation of mobile internet technology. I challenge deterministic accounts of the effects of new technology on social life by showing how the quite different features of the apps Grindr and Tinder rely on pre-existing sexual scripts for gay men and heterosexuals. The subversion of the gender and sexual binaries, built into the design of Tinder, by women looking for women and by transgender and gender non-conforming users reveals the queer potential of normative technologies.

Dissertation Chair: Dr. Lorena Garcia

Areas of specialization:Sexualities; Science and Technology Studies; LGBTQ studies; Feminist and Queer Theory; Race, Class, Gender; Body and Embodiment; Media Studies

Lisa Anne Berube (ABD)

Dissertation Title:

Desiring Otherness: Privilege, Bisexuality, and Embodiment

Dissertation Description:
"Desiring Otherness: Privilege, Bisexuality, and Embodiment" explores how young, urban white women experience a marginalized sexual identity (bisexuality) while maintaining racial and class privilege. Through intensive interviews and framed through critical feminist and queer sociology, this project asks how young women embody an often invisible sexual identity that both challenges and reaffirms heterogender. The resulting tensions offer an interesting discussion on the relationality of privilege and marginalization that seemingly plays out in these young women's sexual and personal lives.

Dissertation Chair: Dr. Laurie Schaffner

Areas of specialization:Gender, Sexuality, Race, and Violence

Jessica Cook (ABD)

Dissertation Title:
Contesting Exclusion: Worker Centers as Sites for Low-Wage Temporary Staffing Industry Workers to Claim Full Citizenship Rights.
Anticipated graduation summer 2016

Dissertation Description: My research examines how the nexus of persistent racialized inequality, mass criminalization, and labor market restructuring exacerbates the legacies of exclusion of Latino immigrants and African-Americans from “full citizenship” or access to social, political, and economic rights and inclusion (Marshall 1992 [1950]; Somers 2008; Somers and Roberts 2008).  Most labor movement organizing and research does not examine the intersectional causes for this marginalization and how labor organizations can address them broadly.   Thus, from my two years of ethnographic research with two Chicago based worker centers, I describe why worker centers have become key civil society sites for poor and working class immigrants and workers of color to demand broader citizenship rights and inclusion.  Building off the work of scholars who discuss the structure and functions of worker centers, I aim to develop a theoretical framework for how worker centers in particular are serving as civil society spaces for poor and working class immigrants and people of color to contest not just their labor exploitation, but their broader fragmented, precarious, exclusionary access to full citizenship and rights, while pushing the larger labor movement to do so as well.   While I argue the end goal should be broader human rights for all, regardless of race, class, nativity, and borders, I focus here on citizenship because the discourse of rights in the U.S. has long focused on immigration categories and civil rights boundaries.

Dissertation Chair: Dr. Nilda Flores-Gonzalez

Areas of specialization: local and transnational labor markets and organizing, precarious labor, worker centers, immigration, mass incarceration, citizenship and belonging, social inequality, global and Transnational sociology, class, race, ethnicity, gender, social justice organizations and movements, and qualitative and critical ethnographic research methods.

Tünde Cserpes (ABD)

Dissertation title:
From Brokerage to Market: Organizational and Spatial Dynamics in the Distribution Side of the Beer Industry

Dissertation description: My dissertation addresses a puzzling paradox: in the past thirty years, beer producers (i.e. brewers) proliferated, yet their intermediaries (i.e. wholesalers) declined, while the spatial reach of the market did not change. In three dissertation papers, I show that increased entrepreneurial activity among producers contributes to decreased entrepreneurial activity among intermediaries in a market where regulations prohibit vertical integration. Moreover, I offer an explanation for the seeming long-term stability of the three-tier system of beer distribution – it has been in place since 1933 –, by analyzing the shifting dynamics between brewer and wholesaler positions. Finally, I focus on the strategic alliance formation between brewers and wholesalers. By analyzing the relationship between intermediaries’ already existing brand portfolios and new entrant producers’ chances of representation, I disentangle how the mechanism of differential expectations to representation fueled by spatial unevenness forms the industry.

Dissertation chair: Paul-Brian McInerney

Areas of Specialization: Economic Sociology; Entrepreneurship; Organization Theory; Social Networks; Spatial Statistics

Jerome M. Hendricks (ABD)

Dissertation Title:
Vinyl Revival- Processes of Qualification and Change in Intermediary Markets.

Dissertation Description:
 My dissertation explores the actions of intermediary firms in periods of rapid technological change. By asking how new developments in listening to and owning music have changed the music retail industry, I offer the independent record store as a case of such an intermediary. Through a longitudinal multimethod content analysis of media and industry documents, I consider the massive decline of music retail from 1992 to 2012. I investigate patterns of composition and understandings in the field arguing that store survival suggests a complex of meaning not readily evident in general accounts of industry change. I find a refashioned approach to the role of independent record stores has become central in the resurgence of vinyl record consumption. Through localized, cooperative meaning-making, new perspectives on music consumption situate many stores as curators of music culture. This illustrates how reciprocity among invested local actors and consumers can collectively alter the meaning of goods and services to enable survival. This study contributes to both economic sociology as well as the sociology of culture due to its emphasis on evaluation processes central to a politics of consumption. Moreover, the production of meanings embedded in goods and services is critical to an analysis of markets and change.

Dissertation Chair:
Dr. Pam Popielarz

Areas of specialization: Economic Sociology; Culture; Collective Behavior and Social Movements; Consumers and Consumption; Community and Urban Sociology; Social Construction

Juan Russell Martinez, PhD

Dissertation Title:
The Suburban Village: White Ethnics, Latinos, and Neighborhood Relations.

Dissertation Description:  My dissertation examines white/Latino relations and Latino political, social, and cultural integration within new destinations. The findings come from an ethnographic study of a historically white suburban neighborhood in the U.S. Midwest that transitioned to a Latino-majority town in 2000. My findings reveal that despite Latino neighborhood succession, white residents continue to occupy a privileged status as community members through formal and informal place-based social structures that reproduce ethno-racial segmentation.

Dissertation Chair:
Dr. Nilda Flores-Gonzalez

Areas of specialization
: Urban Sociology, Race and Ethnic Relations, U.S. Latinos, Religion, Immigration, Social Movements, Community Studies, Space and Place, Ethnographic Methods

Emily Ruehs (ABD)

Dissertation Title:
Clandestine Youth: Unaccompanied Minors, Securitization and Humanitarianism in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Dissertation Description: My dissertation examines the recently publicized phenomenon of youth who immigrate by themselves to the United States. These so-called unaccompanied immigrant minors have been crossing the US-Mexico border for years, but the recent increase of migrant youth from Central America has brought their plight into the spotlight. The American public has reacted to this crisis with two seemingly distinct responses. On one hand, these youth are seen as thugs who threaten national security. On the other hand, they are viewed as vulnerable and traumatized children in need of international protection. These ideologies manifest in various ways throughout the borderlands, ultimately impacting youth as they attempt to establish lives that are precariously balanced on the edges of legal, educational and family systems. My research draws upon the dichotomous yet co-constituting ideas of securitization and humanitarianism as well as the dynamic process between youth agency and the structural realities of borderland life. Using interviews with youth and the professionals who work with them, along with a discourse analysis of the rhetoric surrounding this current event, I explore the ways in which youth navigate the security and humanitarian projects that exist in the borderlands.

Dissertation Chair: Lorena Garcia

Areas of Specializations: migration, childhood/youth, teaching sociology, human rights, gender

Caleb Schaffner (ABD)

Dissertation Title:
Paths Out of Religion: A Cartography of Atheism

Dissertation Description:
  My dissertation is mixed-methods, seeking to catalog and explain variations between atheists. Respondents’ type and degree of childhood religion is used to explain differences in first misgivings with religion, ways they dealt with their misgivings, and length of their overall doubting period. The circumstances of one’s exit and their previous religion, is used to explain variations in zealotry concerning religion; membership in atheist and secularist organizations; and the exclusivity of the “atheist” label.

Dissertation Chair:
Dr. Bill Bielby

Areas of specialization: Religion/atheism, role exit, public policy opinion, race, statistics

Paige L. Sweet (ABD)

Dissertation Title:
Trauma, Domestic Violence, and Hybrid Medicalization

Dissertation Description: Centered on the concept of trauma, this project examines how processes of medicalization affect domestic violence politics, service provision, and the ways in which women understand and tell stories about their abuse. Through the site of trauma, this project links macro-level political shifts in anti-violence feminism and medicine with micro-level transformations in women’s narratives of abuse and their interactions with service providers. Using in-depth interviews and archival research, this project tracks how feminist politics become articulated to biomedical knowledge through the concept of domestic violence trauma, how that concept is made into a reality via professional practices, and how women negotiate this new reality in their stories of survival and transformation.

Dissertation Chair: Claire L. Decoteau

Areas of specialization: Gender/Sexuality, Sociology of Health/Illness, Sociological Theory, Science Studies, Body/Embodiment, Domestic Violence

Bradley Zopf (ABD)

Dissertation Title:
Narrating Race through Ambivalence: Examining Racial Identity Construction of Egyptians in the United States

Dissertation Description: My dissertation examines how Egyptians interpret, manage, and respond to racial formation experiences. Through in-depth qualitative interviews and ethnographic observations as cultural, religious, and community events, I explore how Egyptians construct and express a sense of racial identity and positionality that contradicts their official racial classification as white. Consistent with previous research on Arab and Middle Eastern Americans, I find that Egyptians are likely to self-identify as white on official forms that refer to their racial classification despite not identifying as white in everyday interactions. In constructing a non-white, non-black racial positionality, Egyptians express a sense of ambivalence over the contradiction between their official racial classification as white, the public and media perception of Arabs/Middle Easterners as non-white and terrorist others, and their own racial self-identity as Arab, Middle Eastern, and/or Egyptian. Their racial narratives reveal that racial formation, racial identity, and racial classification are fluid, ambiguous, and often contradictory practices that result in complicated practices or strategies of race-making.

Dissertation Chair: Dr. Nilda Flores-Gonzalez

Areas of specialization: Race and Ethnicity; Sociological Theory; Qualitative Methods; Religion