My research interests and teaching interests overlap: I am interested in the social factors that influence families, especially issues of poverty. Relevant factors include issues of underemployment, changes in pension policies, factors involved in planning policies and practices that are more likely to be experienced by families in poverty; another interest is end of life practices that affect families.
My current research involves several areas of interest: the conditions of child poverty in the USA today, especially as a result of the most recent recession; another area of research is the impact of changes in pension plans and policies that have made the system for retirement less stable for families; finally, a third interest is care at the end of life, especially as it affects families.
Social construction of race and ethnicity, globalization, research methods, applied sociology, visual sociology
I am always doing research to update two textbooks, Sociology: A Global Perspective (9th edition) and Seeing Sociology (3rd edition). In Sociology: A Global Perspective I present globalization as an ever-accelerating force pulling people, groups, organization, communities and countries into a web of transnational relationships. Globalization is a social force that is experienced and launched locally. In the latest edition I emphasize key dynamics underlying globalization including industrial food, mass surveillance and a knowledge economy and the changing environment.
In Seeing Sociology: An Introduction the book capitalizes on the instructional value of photographs as tools for provoking thought and clarifying abstract concepts. Photographs, captions and text are seamlessly integrated and have equal significance in showcasing how sociologists observe, interpret and analyze the world around them. In connection to the third edition of this textbook, NKU photography major and sociology minor Rachel Ellison has been awarded an Undergraduate Research Council Award to travel to Washington, DC, the four poorest counties in Kentucky and the U.S. border with Mexico to take photographs for the textbook. We are fortune to have professor of visual arts, Barbara Houghton as consultant and mentor to Rachel.
In addition to the ongoing research associated with these textbooks, I am especially interested in the social construction of race and ethnicity in the United States. I am particularly interested in the U.S. system of racial classification and how our system of classification discourages identification with more than one race. To grasp this idea think about President Obama who is considered the first black president of the United States. For Obama to be considered black, at some point, we decided that certain ancestors (those from Africa, specifically Kenya) are much more important to his identity than the Kansas-born white appearing one who raised him. To call President Obama black we have to look past the fact that his skin shade is lighter than his biological father and close to that of his mother. Finally we have to count the African or black historical experience as more important than the European or white experience in shaping his life. I am interested in how this way of seeing race has shaped race relations and dynamics in the United States.
Demography, Sociology of Aging, Technology and Social Change, Social Stratification, Global Aging Issues and Policies, Urban Sociology, and Medical Sociology.
My major concentration and publications include areas of international aging studies between America and China, the elderly people's housing and their children's attitudes toward the arrangements for their elderly parents, evaluation studies on institutionalized care facilities and services, and the elderly and middle aged people's attitudes toward Social Security and Medicare reformation. I am also interested in the middle aged population's preparation for their future retirement, home care-giving to Alzheimer's patients and evaluations on caregivers' pressures when offering care for their family members with Alzheimer's disease. I also study cross-cultural comparisons between the development of mediated communication (email, internet, cell phone and text messaging) and people's quality of life.
Criminological theory; sex crimes; women and crime; guns and society; crimes committed by U.S. military personnel; alternatives to traditional incarceration war-time rapes; house arrest and electronic monitoring; and sociology of surveillance.
My core research interest is changes in crime/deviance trends and how they are explained. Examples include the rise and fall of margarine as a controlled substance, seasonal variations of trysts at a southern no-tell motel, variations in sex crimes; war-time rapes committed by U.S. soldiers, and the transformation of privacy associated with electronic surveillance.
Social construction of gender and sexuality, social construction of race and ethnicity, social psychology, research methods.