Division of Social Sciences

The official blog for the Division of Social Sciences at Brandeis University

Archive for the 'Publications' Category

Department of Sociology Newsletter

Posted by musegade on 29th January 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!

Posted in Publications | No Comments »

Sociology Faculty making contributions to Medical Sociology

Posted by musegade on 20th January 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.


Posted in Publications | No Comments »

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

Posted by musegade on 6th November 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

Posted in Publications | No Comments »

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

Posted by musegade on 17th September 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!

Posted in Announcements, Publications, Research | No Comments »

How We Define the Street: Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria

Posted by musegade on 12th March 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.

Posted in Publications | No Comments »

“More and Less than Equal,” and article co-authored by Brandeis PhD Miranda Waggoner

Posted by musegade on 10th February 2014

Miranda Waggoner received her PhD in Sociology from Brandeis in 2011; currently she is a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University and her article, “More or Less than Equal,” co-authored with Rene Almeling of Yale University, has been featured on Slate and Time Magazine.

“In both social science and medicine, research on reproduction generally focuses on women. In this article, we examine how men’s reproductive contributions are understood. We develop an analytic framework that brings together Cynthia Daniels’ conceptualization of reproductive masculinity (2006) with a staged view of reproduction, where the stages include the period before conception, conception, gestation, and birth. Drawing on data from two medical sites that are oriented to the period before pregnancy (preconception health care and sperm banks), we examine how gendered knowledge about reproduction produces different reproductive equations in different stages of the reproductive process. We conclude with a new research agenda that emerges from rethinking the role of men and masculinity in reproduction.”

See the full article

Posted in Publications, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Can Self-Referencing Contribute to Memory Errors? – By Dr. Nicole Rosa

Posted by musegade on 9th November 2013


recent paper in the Journal of Gerontology by Brandeis Ph.D. program alumnus Dr. Nicole Rosa and Professor Angela Gutchess attempts to answer this question. During an interview with ElderBranch, Dr. Nicole Rosa discusses the relationship between self-referencing and false memory. For more information, please read the article on ElderBranch.

Posted in Alumni News, Publications, Research | No Comments »

Strangers on the Prairie

Posted by musegade on 18th October 2013

Karen Hansen’s new book uncovers complicated history of Scandinavian, Native American coexistence in North Dakota.


By: Debra Filcman

Oct. 18, 2013

From: BrandeisNOW

It was an intriguing detail in the stories her grandmother used to tell that set Karen Hansen on a 15-year journey through her family’s, and the country’s, past.

Hansen’s maternal grandmother, Helene Haugen Kanten, came to America in the first years of the 20th century, a young Norwegian girl with golden plaits coiled on her head. Her family planned to homestead in North Dakota.

In fact, the story went, the family ended up homesteading on an Indian reservation, side by side with the Dakota Sioux tribe.

All that was true, Hansen would eventually discover. But the Brandeis professor of sociology and women’s and gender studies didn’t stop there. In time, she was able to plumb a much more complicated mystery: why her grandmother used to say that Scandinavian homesteaders had “stolen the land” from Dakotas.

With support from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Hansen began digging and found that her family story was part of a much larger American saga. What she learned formed the basis for her new book, “Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930.”

Hansen’s family lived in a tiny shack on a hill on North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Dakota Indian Reservation. Surprisingly, Hansen found that her grandmother’s mother was far from the only Scandinavian or the only woman to own land on the reservation at that time.

The Dawes Act of 1887 allotted 160 acres of reservation land to each Dakota male and 80 acres to Dakota women and children. The rest was open for white homesteading. This meant that approximately 100,000 of the 240,000 acres of the Spirit Lake Reservation were available. By 1929, Scandinavians owned more land than the Dakotas.

Poring over local land-ownership records and complaints lodged with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, as well as reading and conducting 130 oral histories with Scandinavian and Dakota elders, Hansen learned about the conflicting sense of community and inequality in which her grandmother was raised.

“We hear a lot and know a lot about Indian wars of the 19th century, the story of dispossession and how dishonorably the U.S. government acted and we know something about contemporary reservations, rife with disease and social ills,” Hansen says. “But we don’t know much about the period in the middle.

“The Norwegians were farmers,” she says. “They came to accumulate land, to make farms to pass along through their family, and Dakotas  didn’t share that same agricultural sensibility or value acquiring things or land.”

Though the Scandinavians benefited from generous homesteading policies, they were also impoverished immigrants trying to begin a new life, says Hansen. They and Dakotas shared an outsider status even as they competed for land and the power it conveyed.

Hansen, who is also the author of “Not-So-Nuclear Families: Class, Gender and Networks of Care” among other books, has long documented disparities in equality and access.

In “Encounter on the Great Plains” she writes, “This book is my effort to reciprocate” for the generosity of those who shared their sometimes tragic family stories with me. “I now realize that I came to this project in order to repair my fractured sense of ethnic identity and remedy my placelessness, as a daughter of an immigrant mother and a restless father who thought that frequent moving was a way to repair mistakes and start over.”

Posted in Announcements, Publications | No Comments »

New journal explores signs across cultures, disciplines

Posted by musegade on 10th October 2013


The journal Signs and Society connects Brandeis and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies of South Korea.

By Leah Burrows
Oct. 8, 2013


Richard Parmentier, professor of anthropology and director of the graduate program in global studies, has been waiting 30 years for someone to publish a research-oriented journal focused on an interdisciplinary approach to semiosis — the study of meaningful signs in their social and historical contexts. He just never expected to be the one to do it.

But when two young scholars, an anthropologist and a linguist, from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in South Korea emailed Parmentier in April 2012 with an idea for a journal (whose a name reflects his seminal 1994 book, “Sign in Society: Studies in Semiotic Anthropology”), he couldn’t think of any reason to refuse.

“I’ve basically been doing this informally for three decades,” Parmentier says. “So I would’ve been crazy to say no.”

The first issue of Signs and Society was published last April and the second issue will go online. It is funded by Hankuk University and published by the journals division of the University of Chicago Press. To assist him in this project, Parmentier recruited Brandeis English professor John Plotz and anthropologist Javier Urcid to join the Board of Editors.

The journal takes an interdisciplinary approach to semiosis, the study of sign production, communication and interpretation. The inaugural issue features papers from anthropologists, archaeologists, a linguist, and a professor of philosophy. Unlike other semiotics journals, Signs and Society focuses on empirical research rather than strictly philosophical or methodological issues, Parmentier says.

“In this journal, semiotics is the common language for researchers across different fields to have a conversation,” Parmentier says. “I want to promote conversations between archaeologists studying past worlds and researchers studying contemporary cultures, and between scholars studying face-to-face interaction and those exploring digital communication.”

The journal is also connecting scholars of different nations. In addition to featuring research from managing editors Kyung-Nan Koh and Hyug Ahn, the first three issues showcase scholars from Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.

For Parmentier, the journal is a culmination of sorts. He began his academic career at the University of Chicago, where he received his PhD. Later, at the Center for Psychosocial Studies, he and Professor Greg Urban, now at the University of Pennsylvania, launched a small pre-print journal dedicated to semiotics. Thirty years later, several of his former teachers and classmates from the University of Chicago have already submitted papers to Signs and Society.

This journal also capitalizes on new technology. It is free and available online, making it accessible to anyone interested in the field.

“Journals today can be both accessible and prestigious,” Parmentier says.

Parmentier hopes to connect established scholars like him with young up-and-comers from around the world.

“There are so many young scholars out there doing interesting work, I want them to submit,” Parmentier says. “I want to see the world vicariously through their eyes.”

Posted in Announcements, Publications, Research | No Comments »

New Book by Sociology Professor Sara Shostak

Posted by mzoltan on 19th February 2013

exposed science

Brandeis Sociology Professor Sara Shostak‘s new book, Exposed Science: Genes, the Environment, and the Politics of Population Health, was published by University of California Press this month:

We rely on environmental health scientists to document the presence of chemicals where we live, work, and play and to provide an empirical basis for public policy. In the last decades of the 20th century, environmental health scientists began to shift their focus deep within the human body, and to the molecular level, in order to investigate gene-environment interactions.

In Exposed Science, Sara Shostak analyzes the rise of gene-environment interaction in the environmental health sciences and examines its consequences for how we understand and seek to protect population health. Drawing on in-depth interviews and ethnographic observation, Shostak demonstrates that what we know – and what we don’t know – about the vulnerabilities of our bodies to environmental hazards is profoundly shaped by environmental health scientists’ efforts to address the structural vulnerabilities of their field. She then takes up the political effects of this research, both from the perspective of those who seek to establish genomic technologies as a new basis for environmental regulation, and from the perspective of environmental justice activists, who are concerned that that their efforts to redress the social, political, and economical inequalities that put people at risk of environmental exposure will be undermined by molecular explanations of environmental health and illness.

Exposed Science thus offers critically important new ways of understanding and engaging with the emergence of gene-environment interaction as a focal concern of environmental health science, policy-making, and activism.

Posted in Publications | No Comments »


Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)