Philip Pettis

Philip J. "PJ" Pettis
  • Assistant Professor
  • Department of Sociology
  • PhD, Vanderbilt University, 2022
  • Berkey Hall
  • 509 E. Circle Drive
  • East Lansing, MI 48824
  • (517) 295-3478


Philip J. "PJ" Pettis is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University. Pettis, LMSW, MA, examines how sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, gender, age, and SES intersect to shape social, economic, and health inequalities. He draws on theoretical insights and perspectives from medical sociology, the sociology of sexualities, race/ethnicity, gender, social networks, social psychology, and stratification to examine the following three research questions: 1) How do social identities shape how individuals interpret and conceptualize heterosexism across contexts? 2) How do objective and subjective interpretations of heterosexism shape inequalities in life outcomes across individuals and social groups? 3) How does the interplay of social networks and contextual level factors generate social inequalities, specifically among sexual minorities with diverse social identities? He employs diverse methods to examine these research questions, including nationally representative survey data, social network analysis, in-depth qualitative interviews, and ethnography.  

His co-authored publications appear in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Science & Medicine, Sociological Perspectives, The Companion to the Politics of American Health, Structural Competency in Mental Health and Medicine, and The Elgar Companion to Social Capital and Health.  Philip has also received national funding and recognition from multiple sources for his research, including the American Association Minority Fellowship Program, the Sociologists’ AIDS Network, the National Institute of Health-funded Social Networks & Health via Duke University Network Analysis Center, the Tides Research Center, and internal funding, from the Vanderbilt Jewish Students Department and the Department of Sociology. Furthermore, he is a passionate educator who has been recognized for his teaching pedagogy, including receiving: the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Assistant Award (2019) from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Sociology Graduate Teaching Award (2021) from the Department of Sociology. Prior to his training as a sociologist, he worked six years in applied social work and research focused on HIV/AIDS and community-based interventions.