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150 Years of Impact

Syracuse Sociologists Shine at National Conference in Chicago

Faculty, graduate students present research at industry meeting in August

Jul 22, 2015 — Article by: Rob Enslin

Photo of Dawn Dow

Dawn Dow

More than a dozen members of Syracuse University’s Department of Sociology are presenting their research at the 110th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA), being held in Chicago through Aug. 25. They join approximately 4,600 other presenters for more than 600 program sessions.

The theme of this year’s meeting is “Sexualities in the Social World.”

Based in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, most of the presenters teach undergraduate courses in the College of Arts and Sciences, and are affiliated with the Center for Policy Research (CPR), Aging Studies Institute (ASI), and Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), all at the University.

“ASA provides a unique platform for junior and senior sociologists to showcase their scholarly work,” says Madonna Harrington Meyer, a Meredith Professor and chair of the department. “That we consistently have a strong showing at this meeting speaks volumes about the University’s role in cutting-edge research and practice.”  

Among the presenters whose research is potentially noteworthy are Professors Dawn Dow, Prema Kurien, Andrew London, and Janet Wilmoth; and graduate student Jessica Hausauer.  

Dow is an assistant professor of sociology whose ASA paper is titled “Challenging the Controlling Image of the Thug: Raising African American Boys and Confronting Gendered Racism.” Through extensive interviews with middle- and upper-middle-class African American mothers, Dow shows how the controlling image of the “thug” influences their parenting styles.

“Participants were concerned with preventing their sons from being perceived as criminals and with protecting their physical safety,” says Dow, a Faculty Fellow in the both the Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media, and the Syracuse University Humanities Center. “They use four strategies to navigate these challenges: Experience Management and Environment Management, which manage the characteristics of their communities; and Image Management and Emotion Management, which manage their sons’ demeanors.”

Photo of Prema Kurien

Prema Kurien

Kurien, a professor of sociology, is founding director of the College’s Asian/Asian-American Studies Program. Her ASA paper, “Contemporary Ethno-Religious Groups and Political Activism in the United States,” is part of a session on political sociology, addressing race, ethnicity, and religion. She says the paper is largely a reaction to a dearth of scholarship on the role religion plays in shaping the political mobilization of immigrants in North America.

“I examine how majority-versus-minority religion status in the United States and in the homeland shape patterns of political activism around U.S.-based and homeland-based issues,” says Kurien, adding that much of her focus is on Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, and Christian groups from India. “Indian American groups present a good way to examine the role of religion-versus-ethnicity in shaping patterns of mobilization, since Indian Americans are religiously diverse and have become politically active.

Photo of Andrew London

Andrew London

London and Wilmoth, both professors of sociology, have a longstanding collaboration focusing on military service and the life course. Their ASA paper, “Life Course Perspectives on Military Service, Gender, and Extramarital Sex,” is part of an invited thematic panel on military service and sexuality. London says the paper extends their previous research on the association between veteran status and extramarital and paid sexual relations, respectively, and aims to situate research on military service and sexuality within broader contexts of sexuality studies and scholarship on military service and the life course.

“Our research demonstrates strong associations between veteran status and both paid and extramarital sexual relations during various historical periods, with important distinctions between men and women being evident,” says London, who also is participating in ASA sessions on social policy and on aging and the life course. “Although much research on sexuality focuses on young adults and the transition to adulthood, the literature on the military, an institution in which large numbers of young adults participate, is relatively silent on issues of sexual behavior.

Photo of Janet Wilmoth

Janet Wilmoth

Adds Wilmoth: “There is considerable room for advancing knowledge related to the influence of military service on the initiation, maintenance, frequency, and timing of a range of sexual behaviors and relationships, in relation to other life events.”

London and Wilmoth are experts in demography, health, and the sociology of aging and the life course. In addition to being members of ASI (which Wilmoth directs), they are IVMF senior fellows and CPR senior research affiliates.

Photo of Jessica Hausauer

Jessica Hausauer

Hausauer, a Ph.D. candidate, is presenting a paper titled “A Whole Bunch of Combustibles: Welfare Rules and Barriers to Compliance.” Using mixed-methods research, including interviews with women who have been sanctioned for failure to comply with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) requirements, she hopes to shed light on the impact of welfare policy on the lives of the poor.

“Findings show that it is often a combination of barriers to compliance that prevent women from following welfare rules,” says Hausauer, alluding to TANF, a federal assistance program that purports to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency. “Far from helping women succeed in the labor market, sanctions merely complicate already difficult lives.”
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Rob Enslin