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.
Social construction of gender and sexuality, social construction of race and ethnicity, social psychology, research methods.
Race and Ethnicity; Public Policy; Criminal Justice, Law and Society; Teaching and Learning; Social Change; Critical Race Theory; Social Psychology; Qualitative Methods; Urban Sociology
I am a sociologist of race and ethnicity studying urban issues related to social mobilization, gentrification, and neoliberal public housing policy. I use ethnography and in-depth interviews to understand how groups fight to preserve public and subsidized housing and how they deal with issues of race that materialize in their efforts. The proliferation of studies about the outcomes of deconcentration policies overshadows the continuance of mobilization challenging this policy orientation and how people organize against the state’s recent norm of using mixed-income communities to deal with poverty. My work also interrogates the way that people navigate race, class, and status differences within multiracial coalitions of people organizing to prevent the loss of public housing units.
My research also seeks to enhance sociological work about diverse neighborhoods. Typically, studies about diverse urban neighborhoods focus on the way these communities develop along with explorations of efforts to maintain cohesion in these communities. Less attention is given to interactions between people living in diverse communities, especially spaces that are lower-class and public housing. My research explores the interactions between Black, Latino, and White residents living in one of the most demographically diverse public housing developments in Chicago. I pay particular attention to the way different racial and ethnic and economic groups make sense of what constitutes a diverse community.