December 11th, 2013

An article about how men’s role in reproduction has been culturally diminished, co-authored by a Brandeis PhD Miranda Waggoner

Miranda Waggoner received her PhD in Sociology from Brandeis in 2011; currently she is a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University and this article that she co-authored with Rene Almeling of Yale University, has been featured at Slate and this week at Time Magazine:

More and Less than Equal
How Men Factor in the Reproductive Equation

“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


December 9th, 2013

A Toast to the Department: Brandeis Sociology’s Publications Reception

Thursday, December 5th,  we celebrated the Department’s remarkable publication record  including new books, articles, book chapters, and more! Since 2010, our faculty and grad students have been busy writing and many more than 100 of their articles appear in major Sociology professional journals. This has been a a particularly fertile time and these pieces and the ten books authored this year reflect that fertility.


Chair David Cunningham toasts the Department’s many accomplishments: promotions, anniversaries, and publications, and more.



December 4th, 2013

Brandeis Sociology Department Publications Reception!

The Department of Sociology is proud to announce that we’ll be hosting our Publications Reception tomorrow, Thursday December 5th at 4:00 pm in Pearlman Lounge! Come by and check out our bounty of Soc-authored books, articles, and chapters written by our prolific faculty, students, and department alums! Refreshments will be provided.

Publications Reception Invitation


November 13th, 2013

The Not-So-Hidden Cause Behind the ADHD Epidemic

The diagnosis of ADHD has skyrocketed over the past few decades, causing a shortage in low-dose generic medications. A large percentage of people diagnosed with the disorder likely have no neurological problems at all, and the common diagnosis is likely because of sociological factors. Parents expect more from their children which causes children to need to focus more intently.

A study was done at Michigan State University to find a genetic basis of the disorder. Using both fraternal and identical twins, researchers concluded that traits of hyperactivity and inattentiveness are highly inheritable. There are different regions of the brain where ADHD genes affect neuronal circuitry, showing that there is a physiological feature of the disorder.

Although ADHD is physiological, many patients that have the medication do not have the disorder. Policies such as the Individuals With Disabilities Education act in 1991 and the Food and Drug Administration Act in 1997 allow drug companies to market to the public. The rates of diagnosis in eastern America are also higher than the rates in the western part of the country, giving more evidence of the sociological influences that cause ADHD diagnosis.

When President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act, diagnoses began to skyrocket even more. The diagnosis is on the rise because the way our societies define disorder continues to change. Schools used to punish kids who wouldn’t sit still, but now schools support these children with medications and therapy. As Joel Nigg says in the article, “When people don’t fit in, we react by giving their behavior a label, either medicalizing, criminalizing it or moralizing it.”

Medications can hurt people as well as help them, and the increasing diagnosis of ADHD may do both.

See Original Article Here


October 7th, 2013

Patricia Hill Collins, Sociology Alumna, wins Gittler Prize

Patricia Hill Collins, ’69, Ph.D. ’84 <>, is the winner of this year’s Gittler Prize <>, which honors “outstanding scholarly contributions to racial, ethnic, and/or religious relations.” Professor Collins, a distinguished university professor of sociology at the University of Maryland/College Park, is the author of seven books including the award-winning “Black Feminist Thought.”

Graduate students are invited to join Professor Collins for a special seminar discussing the implications of her groundbreaking work on intersectionality, race, gender and class. The graduate student co-facilitators will send out short readings in advance to inform the conversation.

Date: Tuesday October 29
Time: 10 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Shapiro Campus Center, Room 313
Session Facilitators: Danielle Cole (SOC), Callie Watkins Liu (Heller,
Social Policy), and Caty Taborda (WGS)


Also mark your calendar for the Gittler Prize lecture:

“With My Mind Set on Freedom:Black Feminism, Intersectionality and Social Justice” <>
Date: Tuesday, October 29
Time: 2-4 pm, followed by a reception with refreshments
Location: Rapaporte Treasure Hall, Goldfarb Library

We hope you will join us for that talk as well. No RSVP needed.

For more information, visit or email




September 9th, 2013

Tom Shields’ Dissertation Defense

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 9.58.18 AM


July 3rd, 2013

Former Sociology Chair Dies at Age 86


Renowned social critic and author of the highly influential book The Pursuit of Loneliness, Philip Slater, has died at age 86. Harvard educated, Philip was the Chair of Brandeis’ Department of Sociology in the 60s, before leaving Brandeis in pursuit of personal, academic, and occupational interests. After leaving Brandeis, Philip joined forces with Morrie Schwartz (of Tuesdays With Morrie) to create a personal growth center in Cambridge called Greenhouse. Prof. Gordie Fellman remembers working with Philip in the 60s: “Amazingly alive, relaxed, vital guy. We used to have fantastic discussions of films. The Pursuit of Loneliness was a dazzling book. Really lovely guy.” Philip spent his last years teaching in Santa Cruz, beside the beach which he loved so much. In a Harvard Magazine interview a few years ago, Philip reflected on his life, saying, “It’s been a very satisfying life, in nearly every way.”


May 7th, 2013

Sam Petsonk ’06, SOC alum, receives prestigious Skadden Public Interest Fellowship

Brandeis University Sociology Alum and Washington and Lee University third-year law student Sam Petsonk has been awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Skadden Foundation. These highly-coveted, post-graduate fellowships provide funds to law students who want to devote their professional life to providing legal services to the poor (including the working poor), the elderly, the homeless and the disabled, as well as those deprived of their civil or human rights.

The Skadden Fellowship Program, often described as a “legal Peace Corps,” provides fellows with a salary and benefits consistent with the public interest organization sponsoring the law student’s fellowship application. In Petsonk’s case, this organization is Mountain State Justice, a non-profit, public interest law firm based in Charleston, WV.

For more information, click here!



April 30th, 2013

Faculty and Alum featured in Brandeis Magazine

Professor David Cunningham, Professor Wendy Cadge, and Anne Pollock BA ’98 and PhD from MIT ’07 are featured in the Spring 2013 “On the Bookshelf” section of the Brandeis Magazine.

Klansville, USA: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan


By David Cunningham
Oxford University Press, $29.95

Of all the U.S. states back in 1966, North Carolina was by far the most virulent hotbed of Ku Klux Klan activity: 52.2 percent of the most prominent Klan group’s membership lived in the Tar Heel State (Georgia had the next-highest share — a relatively scant 9.7 percent). Cunningham, associate professor of sociology, unravels why the Klan gained such purchase in North Carolina during the civil rights era, what this reveals about the Klan’s extremist methods and how those methods were finally overcome.

Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine


By Wendy Cadge
University of Chicago Press, $25

Should spiritual practices and prayer play a recognized role in hospitals, one that affects decisions related to space allocation, policies and staffing? If so, how do hospitals accommodate the ever-broadening spiritual diversity in the U.S.? Cadge, associate professor of sociology, explores religion’s place in American health care — what it is, and what it could be — in this thoughtful, engrossing book.

Medicating Race: Heart Disease and Durable Preoccupations With Difference


By Anne Pollock ’98
Duke University Press, $23.95

A clinical study recommends that an inexpensive antihypertensive be the first drug prescribed for black patients with elevated blood pressure. Is this racism? Or do black people actually have a genetic difference that makes them more responsive to the cheaper drug? Pollock, an assistant professor of science, technology and culture at Georgia Tech, probes the ways that racial bias interacts with experts’ imperfect understanding of human biochemistry and medical technology to complicate the treatment of heart disease.

Check out the magazine online:


April 17th, 2013

Emma Messore: awareness and cultural dynamics in Montpellier, France

When I chose to study abroad in Montpellier, France, I did not anticipate a particularly culturally challenging experience. It really never occurred to me that I might notice a distinct difference from my experiences in the US; “culture shock” was a phrase reserved for my friends off to places I considered significantly less westernized. To a certain extent, I am sure that this is true. However, I have been continuously surprised by my observations here: I am reminded everyday that I am not at home in the US, that I do not exist within a culture that is familiar to me right now. The smallest observations provoke this awareness: the dress of small children I see on my walks through the medieval city center and the consistent approaches from “strangers” on the streets.

I arrived in the mild winter of Southern France to immediately notice little little girls in under-the-knee leather boots, sometimes wobbling along behind their parents or settled safely into strollers. This somewhat silly observation struck me as unique to my new home. These little girls really seemed more like shrunken adults than children as they mimicked their mothers in just about every aspect of self-presentation; boots, scarves, mini-leather jackets. It occurred to me that maybe the concept of “big girl” shoes doesn’t quite exist in the same way here as those tiny shoes were really no different than my own! I always looked forward to articles of clothing that would somehow display my developing maturity and I knew I had arrived when I traded in my sketchers or my sparkly decal covered snow boots (clearly belonging to a child) for a pair of black leather boots.

Exploring the narrow, winding roads, I was also jarred by the manner in which strangers seemed to interact. I am frequently approached without hesitation; whether it is someone asking me for a lighter or the time of day. Even in line to check out at the supermarket, I’ve been asked twice for an extra 5 or 20 centimes. I realized immediately that I am not accustomed to this sort of confrontation; when someone approaches me on the street (or even in a closed environment such as the supermarket) I am immediately skeptical of what they could possibly be requesting. If I anticipate being short on my groceries, I’m more likely to leave an item behind than to risk confrontation with a stranger who may or may not be feeling friendly. From a greater perspective, though, I realized that these interactions make for a wonderful dynamic between people. I feel as though I am incorporated into a fabric of society that shares a greater understanding of individuals living complicated daily lives. If the woman in line ahead of me is short twenty centimes on her evening groceries, why wouldn’t I gladly help her out? If I mustered up the courage to ask, I’d certainly want someone to do the same for me. And despite being late for class, why wouldn’t I pause to lend out my lighter? It’s possible that I am overlooking this sense of community in the US, and perhaps being here in France has just attuned me to it. Regardless, I look forward to re-experiencing my home with this new awareness.


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