Christine A. Bachrach of the Maryland Population Research Center will speak on “Can Meanings be Modeled? Exploring a Neural Networks Model of Culture” on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. in 904-08 Campus Center as part of the Center for Research on Families’ Tay Gavin Erickson Lecture Series.
Concepts of culture have undergone dramatic transformations in recent decades, from institutional models that emphasize values, norms and roles, to “tool kit” models that emphasize individuals’ freedom to choose from among many different cultural scripts, values, worldviews and more. In her talk, Bachrach will explore whether a model that represents culture as a network of cognitive schemas of varying levels of complexity can provide new insights into the concepts that dominate past accounts of culture while at the same time providing the conceptual links to new theories.
Bachrach is a research professor at the Maryland Population Research Center in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Maryland. She co-directs the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health and Society Scholars Program, a fellowship program in population health, and is president of the Population Association of America. She previously served as acting associate director for behavioral and social sciences research and acting director of the office of behavioral and social sciences research at the National Institutes of Health, and as chief of the demographic and behavioral sciences branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Her current research interests focus on the integration of cultural theory in social demography. Previous publications span the areas of fertility, family formation, marriage and divorce, adoption, sexual behavior, contraceptive practice, population health and survey methodology.
A demographer by training, Bachrach received her M.A. in sociology from Georgetown University and her Ph.D. in population dynamics from Johns Hopkins University.
The Tay Gavin Erickson Lecture Series brings internationally recognized speakers with expertise in family research to campus each year. The series began in 1999 through an endowment established in memory of Tay Gavin Erickson.