Fall 2014 Cohort

Public Sociology

One of the hallmarks of the UMass Sociology Department is our commitment to “public sociology.” The term refers to engaged scholarship that uses a sociological perspective to:

  • Address audiences beyond the academy about issues, including class, racial and ethnic inequalities, gender discrimination, sexual assault, homophobia and transphobia, environmental degradation, market fundamentalism, and state and non-state violence, among others; or
  • Influence public debate on social policies on these and other issues; or
  • Participate in activism or other forms of community engagement to address social problems.

Faculty Public Engagement

Our faculty members have a strong record of public service and engagement. A few examples:

Michelle Budig testified for the U.S. Congressional Joint Economic Council on “New Evidence on the Gender Pay Gap for Women and Mothers in Management” in 2010.

Invest in Women, Invest in America: A Comprehensive Review of Women in the U.S. Economy, December 2010, pp. 134-148.

Dan Clawson and Naomi Gerstel were interviewed on NBC News in Plain Sight about their book on work in the health care industry, Unequal Time (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2014).

Seth Freed Wessler, “Is health care just another chaotic, low-wage job?” Oct 8 2014.

Tom Juravich conducts research and publishes with unions and labor institutions, including the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, the Communication Workers of America, and the Metro West Workers’ Center.

Juravich, Tom and Corinn Williams. 2011. “After the Immigration Raid: Evaluating the Campaign to Support Undocumented Workers in New Bedford, Massachusetts,” Working USA, Vol. 14, No. 2 (June), 201-224. In conjunction with the Community Economic Development Center, New Bedford, MA.

CN Le was interviewed by CNN on the employment status of Asian Americans.

Zain Asher, “Behind Asian Americans’ Low Unemployment” video segment, August 12, 2013.

Jennifer Hickes Lundquist and former graduate student Ken Hou-Lin’s article, “Is Love (Color) Blind? The Economy of Race among Gay & Straight Daters” was featured on Insight One Current Affairs, a TV talk show.

Insight, "Dating Race" video segment, May 13, 2014. Episode Transcript.

Joya Misra published an op-ed in the New York Times on employment discrimination against mothers:

The New York Times, “This Perk Masks the Larger Issue of Wage Penalties for Motherhood,” October 16, 2014.

Amy Schalet works closely with physicians on new approaches to sexual health promotion for adolescents, and has delivered plenary addresses at the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and the STD-prevention branch of the Centers for Disease Control, among others.

CNN, “Do Teen Sleepovers Prevent Pregnancy? One Researcher Says Yes and Explains Why,” December 26, 2011.

Don Tomaskovic-Devey has served as a consultant for the Department of Justice on racial profiling cases and as an expert witness on class action discrimination lawsuits against prominent companies, including British Petroleum, the City of New York , Abercrombie & Fitch and Bank of America. He now works as an advisor with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Read one article published with former student Kevin Stainback:

Harvard Business Review, “Research: Your Firm is Probably Not an Equal Opportunity Employer,” June 19, 2013.

Public Sociology Graduate Student Award

In 2013, we inaugurated a new annual award which recognizes one or more graduate students for the practice of public sociology in the preceding academic year. Below is a listing of our recent winners and their activities:

  • Rachel Rybaczuk, 2013.  Rachel was recognized for her research on and collaboration with a local social movement to preserve an affordable neighborhood, as well as for her activism around issues of class, giving workshops to countless college classes, organizations and community groups about classism and growing inequality for a local non-profit called Class Action.
  • Abby Templer, 2013. In her dissertation research, Abby and a collaborator implemented a participatory methodology which aimed to empower her research subjects—low-income artists in Franklin County—by helping them build networks and identify their own non-monetized “assets,” as a counter to the disempowering discourse of “need” so prevalent in the county.
  • Rodrigo Dominguez, 2014. Rodrigo’s public engagement took two forms: First, co-production of a bilingual online radio show “Tan Cerca, Tan Lejos” which covers stories about Mexican society not heard in the mainstream media. Second, research and writing on international migration as an intern at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., where his sociological perspective helped to shift the narrative on policy issues such as immigration by unaccompanied minors from Central America.
  • Manuel Matos, 2014. Manuel worked with an Afro-Colombian community in the Pacific region, where he wrote grant proposals, offered classes, worked with youth, traditional healers and others to develop a community healthcare project, and helped establish a commercial crop farm based on ancestral farming techniques. Back in the U.S., he participated in the Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network to respond to threats of assassination of local leaders and prevent the loss of vital community resources.

Public Sociology Graduate Seminar

One of our newest elective courses, “Making Research Public,” aims to prepare students to reach broader publics and use their research to impact the world. The course focuses on learning the rules of the game, forming relationships, and engaging audiences in and outside the academy. Students develop strategies and skills for making research public by examining different models for combining scholarship, politics and practice drawn from a variety of disciplines.

UMass Public Engagement Project

The UMass Public Engagement Project was founded in 2007 by faculty from the humanities and from the social, behavioral, and life sciences on campus. The Project helps researchers disseminate their work outside the academy. It hosts speakers, runs workshops and holds panels open to the public which address a range of skills and situations that academics face in working with the media, policymakers, social movements and practitioners.