2021 Sociology Research Symposium

Fri, April 16, 2021 1:00 PM at Zoom

We would like to invite sociology faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students to attend and present at the 2021 Sociology Research Symposium. The symposium will be held on April 16, 2021 at 1-4pm via Zoom.


As a bonus offering, all attendees are encouraged to login to our virtual symposium space at 12:50pm for a special slideshow and musical accompaniment. This slideshow will highlight recent accomplishments of MSU Sociology faculty, students, and staff. 

 Paper title: Campus Sexual Violence as Sexual Terrorism: Examining institutional culpability
Author: Sarah Prior
Abstract: I will briefly describe the book project I am working on (Routledge 2022) which details the many ways the push toward neoliberal institutions have further exacerbated sexual violence on college and university campuses.

Paper title: Meeting the Moral Markers of Success: Concerted Cultivation among Second-Generation Muslim Parents
Author: Rebecca Karam
Abstract: Concerted cultivation describes how middle-class parenting practices prepare children for success through the organization of their family’s daily lives. Scholarship accounting for the potentially important role that minority religious identity plays in this process is warranted. The current study fills this theoretical and empirical niche by exploring the parenting practices of second-generation, upper-middle class Muslim Americans. I show how within the context of rising Islamophobia, members of this group: (1) defined success for their children in terms of both socioeconomic markers as well as moral markers, in which Islam and excellent character traits play a central role; (2) aimed to reproduce religion in the third generation using concerted cultivation strategies, in a fashion very similar to class. To do so, I utilize data from two years of ethnographic fieldwork as well as 72 in-depth interviews with second-generation Arab and South Asian Muslim Americans in Metro-Detroit. I make contributions to sociology by presenting novel data on a little understood minority group and their institutions and by bringing religion into discussions of minority parenting styles and class reproduction.

Paper title: Governing the Urban in China and India
Author: Xuefei Ren
Abstract: Urbanization is rapidly overtaking China and India, the two most populous countries in the world. One-sixth of humanity now lives in either a Chinese or Indian city. This transformation has unleashed enormous pressures on land use, housing, and the environment. Despite the stakes, the workings of urban governance in China and India remain obscure and poorly understood. Xuefei Ren will present her new book Governing the Urban in China and India (2020, Princeton University Press), which examines how China and India govern their cities and how their different styles of governance produce inequality and exclusion.

Paper title: Challenges in Accessing Institutional Resources for Survivors of Domestic Violence in Ghana
Author: Andala Yakubu
Abstract: Using focus group discussion with four organizations in southern and northern Ghana, this research takes a closer look at the challenges of resource distributions to survivors of domestic violence. Findings suggest that while legislation has created the space for women’s rights in Ghana, the pathways to justice in both the north and the south, are thwarted by an inefficient and mismanaged system, complicated by an overall patriarchal attitude to domestic violence and women. Research findings also suggest a need for various government departments, survivors, and organizations to create efficient networks that facilitate faster reporting, communication and delivery of justice.

Paper title: Drawing Borders in Blood: DNA testing, citizenship, and statelessness prevention in Thailand
Author: Amanda Flaim
Abstract: Despite its authoritarian commitments, the Thai government is regularly lauded by the UN for its statelessness prevention and eradication efforts. Photographs of happy “hill tribe” youth receiving their national ID cards are widely circulated by both the Thai government and human rights advocates, and are often invoked as examples of “best practices” for statelessness prevention. A relatively recent hallmark of this highly celebrated agenda is DNA testing. How is this test performed and adjudicated, and what logics underlie a program that promotes citizenship by blood? More importantly, what are the political and theoretical implications for pursuing these logics in citizenship adjudication? Drawing on extensive ethnographic and survey research, I argue that DNA testing, while “verifying” the citizenship claims of thousands of individuals on case-by-case bases, also produces an increasingly powerful and expansive infrastructure of body/border drawing, maintenance, and surveillance. Moreover, the research indicates that even as state and humanitarian advocates applaud the “objectivity” of DNA tests in adjudication of citizenship claims, the DNA test is carried out in connection with a range of highly contingent, subjective, and uneven practices at individual, local, and bureaucratic levels. Ultimately, the logics that underlie the DNA test are those of ever-expanding, yet ever-incomplete territorialization—a project that seeks complete, but ultimately unattainable, knowledge of, authority over, and reconciliation between individuals to territory.

Paper title: Depression in Parenting
Author: Sura Ali
Abstract: This presentation will illustrate the effects depression plays on children who are raised by parents who have depression. It will also speak on the struggles the parents withstand due to their depression and how it affects their parenting skills.

Paper title: Differences in mental health between men and women.
Author: Abby Wedge
Abstract: This presentation is going to address the sex and gender differences between men and women in relation to mental health. The presentation will address why there are differences and how stressors and gender roles influence how men and women experience mental illness. The presentation is an important topic because the conversation needs to be started on how outside stressors affect mental illness in different genders. Some important influences can be sexism that women face and toxic masculinity men might face. Society needs to recognize different forces on these genders and how they enhance mental illness.

Paper title: Mental Health and LGBTQ Youth
Author: Austin Pike
Abstract: My presentation will address the various identifications within the LGBTQ youth community, with a focus on gender dysmorphia, additional struggles those in this community have when compared to their heteronormative peers, an analysis of current treatments available and the effects/ethnicity of them, and the limitations of and proposal for empirical evidence surrounding this topic.

Paper title: Mental Illness: First Generation College Students in the U.S
Author: Belinda Hernandez
Abstract: My presentation will address any challenges that influence mental illness with first-generation immigrant college students in the U.S. It is important to study and be aware of this topic because there’s a negative depiction of immigrants being bad people who come to this country to steal what the U.S has built. Many students struggle with finding resources that will benefit their education especially if they don’t have proper documentations.

Paper title: Borderline Personality Disorder and its effects on couples
Author: Abigail Solis-Almaguer
Abstract: My presentation will address the topic of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and its effects on couples. In the five minutes, I plan to discuss the major findings of two different scholarly peer-reviewed studies. The first one discusses newlyweds and their martial outcomes. The second one discusses appraisals of relationship experiences with those who have Borderline Personality Disorder. Both articles touch on the effects that Borderline Personality Disorder has on couples. The articles also touch on communication and how that differs within relationships where one or both partners have Borderline Personality Disorder. If there is enough time, I will also discuss the issues that come when someone does not have a stable sense of identity in a relationship.

Paper title: Towards a Critical, Reflexive Stance on In Vitro Meat
Author: Nathan Poirier
Abstract: This presentation explains why we should all view in vitro meat (meat grown from stem cells without live animals) and other alternative animal products skeptically despite the rhetoric and promises of saving the environment and protecting nonhuman animals. Such a view is underrepresented in the literature and in popular animal and environmental advocacy. In short, in vitro meat is ideologically and economically aligned with animal agribusiness--the very same actors alternative animal product proponents accuse of causing so much harm. Animal and environmental protection should be vigorously and uncompromisingly pursued but with low-tech and less intensive means.

Paper title: Understanding Cosplay
Author: Stacy Smith
Abstract: Cosplay (from costume play) refers to the activity of dressing as a fictional character, often from a comic book, manga/anime, video game, and/or television shows or movies. Cosplayers may do so in small, local public gatherings or at conventions with thousands of participants; some participate professionally. Cosplay is a thriving subculture that attracts thousands of people in the United States and abroad, but little sociological research has been conducted on the subculture-at-large. Through interviews and ethnographic observation, this study has the potential to contribute to subdisciplines like culture and subculture, group behavior, emotions, and identity.

Paper title: Patient-Pharmacist Interactions: A Mixed-Methods Approach
Author: Elizabeth Price
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to document the emotional responses of pharmacists and clients during routine pharmacy operations: first, what stressors are associated with pharmacy exchanges for clients and pharmacists, second, what emotional outpourings arise because of said stressors, and third, how do emotional reactions impact client and pharmacist welfare? This research will be conducted in two stages using qualitative methods: conducting unobtrusive observations of semi-public interactions between pharmacists and clients, and immersion into pharmacy operations as a newly hired pharmacy technician. Most research on client-pharmacy interactions focuses on efficiency, while little has been written about the prevalence of emotional interactions and associated stressors

Paper title: Social and Structural Inequalities and Covid-19 in the United States
Author: Jean Kayitsinga
Abstract: This study examines the relationship between social structural inequalities and county COVID-19 cases and deaths. We rely on publicly available secondary sources: USA Facts, the CDC Surveillance Systems, and the American Community Survey summary files. We find that concentrated disadvantage, income inequality, racial/ethnic composition, and immigrant concentration—are associated with higher rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths, net of the effects of chronic disease comorbidities, the proportion of 65 years and older and uninsured residents, residential mobility, and metropolitan location. To address the COVID-19 pandemic, a concerted effort should focus on addressing the upstream social structural inequalities that affect health outcomes.

Paper title: Personal Reflections on Fieldwork in Conflict and Post-Conflict Areas
Author: Jihan Mohammed
Abstract: In my presentation I talk about the methodological challenges I faced while of doing field work in Iraqi Kurdistan region between January 15th and February 27th, 2020. First, I share some personal memories of wars and conflicts and how I revisited those memories when I travelled back to Iraq to collect data. Then, I discuss how I was torn between staying objective as a researcher but also staying as a human and sympathize with respondents’ pain. I conclude arguing that we need to pay more attention to the emotional well-being and the ethical and methodological challenges the researcher faces during fieldwork.

Paper title: Piping Problems: The Spatial Statistics and Drivers of Water Abjection in the United States
Author: Stephen Gasteyer
Abstract: This paper briefly summarizes the statistics on lack access to functional water and sanitation in the US. The paper also discusses the social causes of water and sanitation deprivation