Department of Sociology Newsletter

January 29th, 2015

The Department of Sociology just published their 2014-2015 newsletter, which provides faculty notes, student news, alumni updates, and department tidbits. To check out the newsletter, download the PDF here!

Sociology Faculty making contributions to Medical Sociology

January 20th, 2015
“Reimagining (Bio)Medicalization, Pharmaceuticals and Genetics – Old Critiques and New Engagements ” is a medical sociology book written by Susan Bell and Anne Figert. Brandeis’ own Prof. Peter Conrad wrote the preface, while Prof. Sara Shostak contributed a chapter. For more information on the book, check the link.


In New Book, RWJF Scholar Explores Effects of Genetics on Environmental Science

November 6th, 2014

Sara Shostak, PhD, MPH, is an associate professor of sociology at Brandeis University and author of Exposed Science: Genes, the Environment, and the Politics of Population Health. She is an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health & Society Scholars program (2004-2006). 

Sara Shostak
Sara Shostak, PhD, MPH

Human Capital Blog: Your book, Exposed Science, won two awards from the American Sociological Association: the Eliot Freidson Outstanding Publication Award from the Medical Sociology Section and the Robert K. Merton Book Award from the section on Science, Knowledge, and Technology (SKAT). Congratulations! What do these awards mean for you and your work?

Sara Shostak: Thank you! I am deeply honored that Exposed Science won those awards. This kind of recognition from one’s colleagues is tremendously meaningful on a personal level, especially as there are many scholars in these sections whose work has inspired me for years.  

More broadly, the dual awards signal something important about the connection between these two domains of inquiry—medical sociology and the sociology of science. That is, science and the politics of science are important foci of analysis for sociologists concerned with population health. The conditions under which scientists do their research—the political economy of knowledge production—is a critical context for what we do and do not know about human health and illness.  

Population health researchers often observe that in the United States, health disparities research tends to focus on differences between racial and ethnic groups, while in the United Kingdom the focus tends to be on variations by social class (or what U.S. researchers more often call socioeconomic status). Scholars of science, knowledge, and technology can help us understand how and why these differences emerged, and with what consequences. My book raises questions also about how any of these determinants get operationalized in laboratory-based research. All of these aspects of how science is done have direct implications for public policy, as well.

Read more at the Human Capital Blog

Food for the future: A vision for New England farming and food production

September 17th, 2014

Reposted from BrandeisNOW

By Julian Cardillo

Aug. 29, 2014

Cut down trees to benefit the environment and improve human health?

That may seem counter-intuitive, but Brian Donahue, professor of environmental studies, says in the long term converting some of New England’s forests into farmland and pastures could create a food system that is healthy, sustainable and prevents global warming. It also is a critical step in enabling New England to produce half of its food needs by 2060.

Donahue is the lead author of A New England Food Vision, a perspective on the future of the region’s food needs. Calling access to food a basic human right, he and co-authors, who include researchers from the University of New Hampshire, College of the Atlantic, University of Southern Maine and University of Vermont, propose changes in food production and distribution across the region.

At present, five percent of New England’s land is used to produce food while 80 percent is forested. The researchers call for using 15 percent, or 6 million acres, of the region’s land for food production.

“We are not talking about running out and cutting down a bunch of trees,” Donahue explains. “It would be gradual, happening over a half of century or more. We need adequate conservation. You want to be careful about how you go about this, as forests give us immense benefits.” Read more here!

How We Define the Street: Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria

March 12th, 2014

Anthropology professor Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria just recently published an article, How We Define the Street in the Indian Express, one of India’s major national newspapers. In the article Anjaria discusses the new street vendors’ law in India. See the full article here.

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