Letter from the Chair by Reeve Vanneman, PhD

Letter from the Chair

Whew!  It’s been quite a year.  We interviewed 11 candidates for positions in Sociology and hired four.  The annual Rosenberg forum, this year with Sudhir Venkatesh, was one of the most exciting, varied (videos!) and best attended in recent memory.  The graduate program continues to move thoughtfully towards a more individualized mentor-based training program.  Our undergraduate majors continue to increase and improve in quality. Patricio Korzeniewicz was promoted. We bid farewell to Mady Segal and Bart Landry – who combined over 70 years of service to the department.   We initiated the William Form alumni lecture with Phil Cohen talking about the effects of women managers on occupational sex integration.  And all of these public, organizational events occurred alongside the steady rhythms of research, publication, teaching, studying, and professional service that have long characterized our thriving department.

For me, some of the best developments are those that emerge without any involvement of the chair – the organization of a “prosumer” theory group and planned conference; the military families conference that brought some of the leading Washington policy makers to campus;  the teas and happy hours that help build our sense of community;  and most of all this newsletter which I read from cover to cover to find out what’s happening in my own department!

Next year we can expect more of the same: more recruiting for open positions, a new talented cohort of graduate students, stimulating Rosenberg and Form lectures, etc.,  etc.  But I look forward most of all to the unexpected developments that we can’t predict now – those new initiatives that arise from student and faculty interests and from the social interactions among them. So, if you have an idea, tell somebody else about it, explore its possibilities, and let’s see if we can’t build something new in the coming year.

Letter from the Editress by Beverly Pratt

Letter From the Editress

Welcome to Volume 4, Issue 4!  We are just a couple of graduation ceremonies away from the official end of the semester.  Does anyone else think that Spring 2010 was the longest semester ever?  Perhaps this is because of the snowstorms.  Or the deadlines.  Or the conferences.  Either way, cheers to the end of another semester (and all of its accomplishments)!

This newsletter edition is chock full of graduate student contributions reflecting our tumultuous semester.  Once again, the theme of “Imagine” continues.  As you will read, our contributors excellently weave together their sociological imaginations to share with everyone in our department community.

This edition begins with a goodbye: Heather Marsh and Nathan Jurgenson’s reflections as the Graduate Student Forum’s co-presidents.  Other student peers contributed pieces on stimulating events and projects in which they attended and/or are involved.  Two graduate students reflect on the identity-balance as both “graduate student” and “parent.”  Also, five individuals are spotlighted, including:  graduate coordinator Katrina Knudsen, undergraduate student Lena Bottenfield, graduate student Michelle Sandhoff, faculty Dr. George Ritzer, and alumnus Dr. Philip Cohen.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this final edition for Academic Year 2009-2010.  Special thanks, again, to Kathryn Buford for revitalizing our department newsletter last semester.

Moreover, sincere gratitude goes to each faculty, student, and staff for a memorable and meaningful year!

Please enjoy the contributions of our colleagues and feel free to contact me with any comments and/or suggestions that you may have.


Beverly Pratt, Editress, bpratt@socy.umd.edu

A Farewell to the GSF … by Heather Marsh and Nathan Jurgenson

Like most British sitcoms, we had a two-year run.  We took over as GSF Co-Presidents after Paul Dean and Les Andrist stepped down in the fall of 2008.  Now, as the semester comes to an end, we can look back and identify a number of new processes, events and happenings accomplished during our tenure.  But after all the Faculty Meetings have been attended and the minutes sent out, the GSF agendas compiled and the meetings run, we still have a bit more to share.

One of the most important activities was the rewriting of the GSF Constitution.  Thanks to Molly Clever and her hard work in getting the GSF job descriptions up-to-date, some positions were eliminated and others added (such as making the Sociology News Editor a GSF elected position).  Importantly, remaining positions have been organized into teams to foster collaboration and facilitate stronger communication among GSF members.

Another project tackled by the GSF during our first year as Co-Presidents was the development of new budget procedures.  (Again, thanks to Molly Clever for stepping up and taking over the Treasurer position in the spring of 2009.)  To make the Treasurer position easier, the GSF account was moved from a bank off-site to SunTrust on campus, expediting the dues collection process and reimbursements to students.

Rather than raising dues to ensure that the GSF had the funds to renovate the C. Wright Mills Lounge, continue providing recycled paper, and fund social events, the GSF asked for voluntary donations.  Almost every student who paid dues contributed at least an extra $5 dollars, which was necessary to accomplish our goals and continue providing students with the amenities and events that have come to be expected in the department.  In fact, the number of Happy Hours has been increased and Tea Times, a recent tradition of recognizing student and faculty achievements, are back.  In sum, we leave with a substantial budget surplus that can be applied to buying recycled paper and to pursuing other projects taken up by the incoming GSF cohort in the fall.

When we took over as Co-Presidents, we prioritized the renovation of the C. Wright Mills Lounge (many other concerns were not feasible due to the fiscally conservative climate caused by the major University of Maryland budget crisis).  Thanks to Marek Posard, this semester’s GSF Representative for the lounge space, the project quickly moved ahead.  The bookshelves came down, new coats of paint went up, furniture was swapped out and replaced and art was hung.  The new space is more open, inviting, and comfortable which allows us to put a better face forward when entertaining prospective students and hosting our various social events.  Although this took almost two years, we can retire from our positions having seen the renovation completed (though we fully expect that the next cohorts will continue to improve upon this space).

We cannot forget one of the biggest achievements of the GSF: eliminating the mandatory third stats class.  Students now have the option to take an advanced stats class or another methods course in their area of interest.  This benefits all graduate students since students who are not interested in quantitative methods can take classes that better fit their research needs and quantitative students can have more advanced, faster-paced courses.  Speaking of methods, the GSF made a strong push for qualitative hires last year, meeting success with the hiring of Rashawn Ray, from Indiana University, who will join the department in 2012.

The success of the GSF depends on strong interest and support from student members, especially in the first, second and third-year cohorts.  We will be calling for nominations in the beginning of September 2010 in order to have the new GSF teams in place by early October 2010.  There are numerous activities to pursue: one is connecting the GSF to larger University Politics, including having a student representative on the Graduate Student Government (GSG).  While we will no longer be serving as your GSF Co-Presidents, we look forward to helping the new forum and committee representatives make smooth transitions to keep the institutional memory alive.

Thanks to all the grad students who have served and supported the forum, to all the faculty members who supported us and to the department staff who provided their assistance on our many projects.

We should all take pride in the fact that graduate students in this department are highly involved, organized and effective in creating our program.  It is this that has made serving as your GSF Co-Presidents these last two years so enjoyable.

Thank you.

Heather Marsh & Nathan Jurgenson

GSF Co-Presidents

Heather & Nathan are both third year PhD students.

THANK YOU to the Fall ’09 – Spring ’10 Graduate Student Forum

Administration Team

Co-Presidents:  Nathan Jurgenson & Heather Marsh

Treasurer:  Molly Clever

Community Building Team

Department News:  Kathryn Buford & Beverly Pratt

C. Wright Mills Reps:  Gabriel Gerni & Marek Posard

Social Chairs:  PJ Rey & David Strohecker

Representative Team

Pre-candidacy Rep:  Amy Baxter

PhD Rep:  Dawn Norris

General GSF Rep:  Crosby Hipes

Committee Representatives

Admissions Reps:  Kendra Barber & Aleia Clark

Policy Committee Rep:  Kathleen Denny

Awards Committee Rep:  Valerie Chepp

Foucault Theater by Meg Austin Smith

Power and cell phones are everywhere. Turn them off before we all go mad.

Actually it’s probably too late. Or so one might figure at some point during the two-hour long world premier of Georgetown University’s Department of Performing Arts’ adaptation of Madness and Civilization. A creative young professor and an ensemble of undergraduates explored the archaeology of madness in the West through a pastiche of off-kilter characters and interpretations of how their re-kilterings might have gone in the Age of Reason. Lots of handcuffs and straightjackets interspersed with video footage of the present-day mentally ill—who, as it turns out, were not at all mad to be trotted out to dance on stage at the end of the show. (Mad, no. Shy, yes. Who could blame them?)

So with a sold-out house ready to go out into the world and produce a proliferation of discourses on the subject of staged dances with the mentally ill rather than Madness and Civilization itself, a good theory student would have to ask WWFD? What Would Foucault Do? I would have texted someone to ask (I heard you can reach George Ritzer 24-hours a day at 1-800-MCDONALDS), but as you’ll remember I had to turn off my phone. So I had to think, and I thought that perhaps Foucault himself would have been too tickled by the cute shirtless guy who spent most of the show tied to a chair to really care about much else. Not to mention that real live Italian who quoted Beppe Grillo more than mon cherie Michel. Yet somehow I doubt Foucault would have taken issue with the Grillo refrain.

So bottom line: what better way to discipline your students to really engage with that reading than to put them on stage in front of a paying audience? Thus I declare this my most favorite French post-structuralist, anti-humanist, anti-modernist dramatically interpreted philosophy performance ever. But don’t hold me to that. I’m waiting for Baudrillard on ice.

Meg Austin Smith is a first year PhD student.

Parenting in Graduate School: Procrastinated Thoughts on the Work-Life Balance by Catharine Warner and Betsy Thorn

Catharine’s Thoughts:

The more I tried to craft this column on work-family balance, the more I questioned my qualifications as an author.  Everyone finds their own balance when integrating a demanding career with a growing family.  In practice, I’ve embraced the idea of a separation of work and family.  Since I stay home alone with a toddler three days a week, I try to define family time and work hours clearly.  This often means that I am working odd hours late at night and on weekends.  And, the fact is, Jack (19 months) is an excellent enforcer.  He used to like my phone, but now when he sees me pick it up, he says, “off.”  And, if the laptop comes out, he starts repeating “fish, fish, fish,” with the sign language fish sign for emphasis.  (His favorite website is http://www.kneebouncers.com, where there is a little scene with fish.)

But, while the “doing” of separation comes fairly easily (perhaps by necessity) the mental reality of keeping work and family separate evades me.  I think any graduate student can attest to the long reach of the Ivory Tower and the challenges wrought by a formidable to do list that invades one’s “free” time.  I am often thinking about work-related issues during family time, and mulling over family issues during work time.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart.  Mostly I am awed by number of the work-related things I would like to accomplish and the limited time to do so.  So, I can only offer a few of my techniques for being productive and striking a work-family balance.

  • Keeps items on your to do list to things that can actually be completed in a one- or two-hour slot of time.  Break larger tasks down into smaller increments.  For instance, “Complete Chapter Three of Dissertation” may not inspire productivity during a short nap time.
  • Use deadlines to your advantage.  Create them if necessary.  Sometimes it isn’t possible to fit in regular hours of work, so take advantage of deadlines to make a last push and complete projects.
  • Consider hiring your toddler as assistant.  Jack provides support by helping with housework using his ABC vacuum.  [I cringe when he points to the real vacuum and says, “Mommy.”  I’ll be sitting him down for a talk about the gendered division of labor next week.]   Jack also has his own laptop on which he types regular memos about dogs, cats, birds, shapes, and songs that may or may not be included in my dissertation.
  • Turn to colleagues for support.  The work-family balance is juggling act that many of my fellow graduate students are performing right now, and I also find inspiration and understanding from professors who have found success in both areas.
  • Take some of the pressure off yourself.  The reading, heavy workload, and long hours are already the talking points for graduate school.  But, I think we could do to hear a little more about the patience that is essential for striking a balance between work and family.  Sometimes you just need a little faith that while you might not finish as soon as you originally intended, you’ll get there.
  • Embrace the imbalance.  I enjoy dedicating time to thinking about the things that inspire me in my research and spending a day at the park, attending storytime, and playing with toys.  In that sense, it’s hard to begrudge the challenges of balancing two things that bring their own fabulous rewards.

Betsy’s Thoughts:

I started graduate school when my first child was 9 months old. I was drawn to Maryland’s sociology department because the Gender, Work, and Family offered me the opportunity to explore the cultural and structural reasons that I was experiencing parenthood in such a gendered way. Over the intervening years, I’ve studied families while raising two children.  I have: pulled pacifiers out of my pockets during seminars, nursed babies while studying, brought one kid or the other to many meetings on campus, packed school lunches during comps, had kids “help” me underline articles, told anecdotes about my kids during lectures, and I once spent an entire day on campus with a toddler-sized peanut butter handprint on my back. For me, trying to maintain boundaries between work and family – to treat them as “separate spheres” – never really seemed like an option. Being a mother and being a sociologist are both key facets to my subjective position in the world. I can’t read the literature on mothering without reflection on my experiences as a mother (this made reading Freudian feminist theory a little awkward), and I can’t teach my kids about the world without being a sociologist.

Sometimes this overlap between my academic work and family life comes in handy. For example, I found myself hand-sewing a Halloween costume for my 18 month old son during my second semester of school. That’s just crazy – my son certainly didn’t care what sort of costume he had (as long as a cool hat was involved) and I had a really long list of other work to do; my only reason for trying to make a costume was a vague notion that that’s just what Moms do. One of the great things about studying GWF is the regular reminder that the parenting practices of the highly-educated, dual-earner couples in my neighborhood are not universal. Don’t get me wrong – I’m generally pretty much in synch with the cultural norm of intensive mothering – but reading sociological research about the stress mothers experience and the ways in which the structures of the labor force are often in conflict with the need to care for children enables me to give myself permission to dial back the intensiveness occasionally. As a result, my kids are probably less supervised than their peers and they certainly watch more TV. (My daughter is probably more familiar with Star Wars than a three year old really should be.) I’m still a more intensive mother than either my stay at home mother or grandmother were, but at least it’s self-reflexive intensiveness!

I also think that being a parent is good for my life as a sociologist. Because I have to take care of the kids, I really can’t work all the time, and unless there’s a pressing deadline, it’s really good to have a legitimate reason to stop coding/reading/writing at some point each day. The limited time I have had available for work throughout grad school has helped me develop great skimming skills. More importantly, it’s made me prioritize the work I do. That which is most important and/or interesting to me gets done best and first. The other stuff? Well, most of the time it gets done. Eventually. Like this newsletter piece, for instance…

Catharine and Betsy are both sixth year PhD students.

Tattoos tell my real story by Dave Paul Strohecker

Originally posted on www.cnn.com on April 1, 2010

(CNN) — We are often asked to declare our identity for documents, applications, bank loans and even social networking sites. But how much of our identity is lost when we select “female,” “African-American” or “Muslim?”

I think much of my own identity is lost when I fill in those boxes. I am technically a white, male, heterosexual, Christian, upper-class Ph.D. student. But I am more than meets the eye.

I’m covered in tattoos and piercings, and this often leads to assumptions about my character. “Is he a drug addict? Is he a skinhead? Does he play music for a band?” I am none of these things. The lesson I hope to teach others through my life is that it’s important to see past appearances.

My sociopolitical views are a large part of my identity, and I incorporate these into what I wear; whether it’s T-shirts emblazoned with the images of activists whom I admire or deliberately manipulating my demeanor to reflect the “professorial” role I assume in the classroom, I am continually aware that others are reading my presentation as a measure of my character. And it is to this end that I deliberately try to throw people off.

I hope to debunk some of the myths surrounding tattoos and piercings. And I know that everyone who interacts with me is left wondering how someone so “deviant-looking” can be kind, courteous and hospitable.

My body is also a billboard for my life, and my tattoos tell the story of my identity. My earliest tattoos were direct quotes and Bible verses and captured my identity as an outspoken social-justice advocate.

I began to display my political views more directly in later tattoos. I have the “female” sign behind my left ear to reflect my commitment to feminism and women everywhere; I have the Human Rights Campaign logo behind my right ear to reflect my commitment to LGBT struggles.

The tattoos on my arms capture my commitment to “faith,” “family” and “mom and dad.” I also have a bald eagle on my forearm to reflect my commitment to making this country a better place and a skull wearing a graduation cap to reflect my lifelong commitment to teaching.

I know that my appearance is misleading, and I know that many people would disagree with what I see as efficacious inscriptions. But one thing is for certain: I will not blend in with the crowd. I will be noticed, for better or worse.

Dave is a first year PhD Student.

Socy Staff Spotlight: Katrina Knudsen (written by Aleia Clarke)

In general, things run pretty smoothly around here. As students of the Institution, sociologists are arguably more aware than most that while institutions seem to persist as if propelled by some sort of mystical force, there are individuals whose labor is responsible for the magic. We have quite a few resident magicians here in the Sociology department. Our benevolent editress recently gave me the opportunity to get to know one of the women behind the curtain, Katrina Knudsen.

A: Let’s begin with the demographics.

K: Ok. I was born in Gaithersburg Maryland, so not too far from here. My parents still live there, but we live in Columbia, MD now which is about an hour away from there. I have a younger brother who is a veteran of the Iraq War and now he is in school at Towson. He is on the hockey team. I finished undergrad at the University of Delaware, where I met my husband, Ken. I majored in Foreign Languages and Comparative Literature.

A: What language?

K: Spanish, Japanese, and Russian. It was a weird combination but I got to study in Japan and Costa Rica so my Spanish is still pretty good.

A: So you and Ken met in undergrad?

K: Yeah, he proposed to me on the day of our graduation. It was great but it was the day of graduation so we didn’t know exactly what to do. So, after graduation Ken went back to his parents who had just moved to Kentucky and I went back to Gaithersburg. We made a pact that whoever got a job first would dictate where we were going to live. I landed a job first, in the admissions office at Georgetown. It ended up working out really well.

A: How did you end up here at UMD?

K: Well, I really enjoyed my job at Georgetown and decided to pursue a master’s degree at UMD. Ken is also in school here, in the computer science department. He also works as their webmaster. Working on campus together makes our commute easier.

A: At the picnic last week you had two additional family members with you.

K: Yes! Lily and Logan, our puppies. A few months ago, we adopted two puppies. They are siblings, brother and sister, born to a stray Scottish Terrier-Poodle mix mother and an absentee father. We adopted them from a rescue organization. The mother was picked up when she was pregnant. They are eight months old now and they just graduated from Puppy School. Lily is the runt of the litter. The best way to describe her is feisty and determined, while Logan is much more laid back and playful.

A: Speaking of graduations, congratulations on finishing your degree.

K: Thanks! I’m really looking forward to being finished with school and having more free time.

A: Tell me about your research.

K: My master’s is in Higher Education and my research focuses on advising and mentoring in doctorate programs. My advisor and I are working on a paper using a case study of an Anthropology doctorate program. It focuses on how the structural and cultural components of the program interact to influence students’ trajectory through the program. We recently received an R&R from the Journal of Higher Education. We are also working on a second paper using the same case study that examines what students and faculty describe as components of a good mentoring or advising relationship. We are currently waiting to hear whether the second paper has been accepted for presentation at the 2010 Association for the Study of Higher Education conference.

A: Awesome. So tell me how can you do all that and work here full-time?

K: I went to school part-time and it took four years. But I enjoy my work here. I get the opportunity to be creative and see my input and suggestion be implemented in terms of policies and organization for graduate students. I am also interested in academic advising.  Professors are mentors and advisors when it comes to papers and dissertations, but I tend to field a lot of graduate students’ questions about coursework requirements, exams, and graduation and job searches. I keep an open door policy and I love the students and the faculty.

A: I cannot imagine keeping all of that in order. Where did you get your organizational skills?

K: Hoarding runs in my family, so my mom got to me early. She is a paralegal and taught me intricate organizing schemes. I like the size of this department. There are not too many students so I can get to know each of them. It’s really just about having a good system for organizing. I also really appreciate the volunteerism here. Things like Admitted Students Day are tough to do alone. It really helps that people are usually quick to help out when I ask.

A: What do you do with your free time? Wait, what are you looking forward to doing with your free time after you graduate this week?

K: Ken and I like to play golf at the PG County course. I think I will take the dogs out more often. My parents have season tickets for the Capitals, so we like to go to hockey games. We are big football fans. Ken is an Eagles fan and I am a Redskins fan. We have a room in the house that is split between Redskins and Eagles paraphernalia. But since the McNabb trade we are coming together, a little.

A: Oh, so you also live in a bipartisan household. I am a Giants fan and I live with an Eagles fan.

K: But we all come together over common hatred of the Cowboys.

A: Amen. Anything else you two like to do?

K: We like board games and video games. We sort of collect Legend of Zelda games and I sing expert on Rock Band.

A: Wait. You can sing expert on Rock Band?

K: Yeah [laughs].

A: So you can sing pretty well then? Were you ever in any choirs or anything?

K: I was in the choir in high school and the drama club. [Laughs] Once I played Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

A: Perfect newsletter fodder. Any last words?

K: It can get a little boring over the summer when most of the department is away. Can I make this an open plea for people to stop by if they are here during the summer?

A: Done.

Katrina is the Graduate Coordinator for the Sociology Department.

Aleia is a fourth year PhD student.

Undergraduate Student Spotlight: Lena Bottenfield

I was born in Brooklyn, NY but I moved to Gaithersburg, MD at the age of 8, which is in Montgomery County. During my high school years I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go and I didn’t really get much guidance about applying for schools. Life sort of intercepted my decisions about college when I got pregnant during my senior year of high school. I graduated on time but I took the first semester of college off to stay home with my daughter. I decided that the easiest and most convenient choice for me would be Montgomery College. I graduated from there with my sights on the University of Maryland. I saw the University of Maryland as my ultimate goal. It was a prestigious 4-year university with a large student population. I really wanted to get as much of a college experience as I could, even though I could never really do so because of my responsibilities at home.

When I first arrived to the University of Maryland I declared a History major, but I took my first sociology course that first semester. I hadn’t really taken a college level sociology course and the next semester I took two more. The class that ultimately drove me to change my major was Professor Chepp’s Sociology of Gender course. That first week of class I was in the undergrad office getting the forms necessary to change my major. I fell in love with sociology because I can really connect with what it’s all about. I love learning about contemporary issues that affect me and the larger community right now. Until I took sociology, I never had an avenue to express the social disparity and inequality that still plagues our society and world today on an intellectual level. Saying that, my interests within sociology are stratification and inequality, specifically centered on women’s issues and African-American and Latino studies.

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed juggling all the things I currently have on my plate. I gave up a great paying semi-permanent job to go to school full time. As a single mother it is very hard to give up working all together so I work part time and go to school full time. All these pressures come at me constantly and I have to keep it all together. I’m so thankful for the support system that my family and loved ones provide me because without them I couldn’t do anything that I do. Part of my motivation for completing school is for my daughter’s sake. I want her to know that anything is possible no matter what hardships you may face. The other part is that this is something that I’ve always wanted and giving up is not an option. My experience at the University of Maryland has been so wonderful in that the quality of education is so excellent and the students and staff are diverse and great to be around. I really feel that I’ll be walking away from here with a great educational background and as cheesy as it may sound, I really feel that I’ve “found” myself and learned about what I’m all about, and that’s indispensible to me.

Graduating from the University of Maryland means so much to me because when I got pregnant 6 years ago, everyone said that I wouldn’t finish high school, let alone go to college. I would like to continue with my studies and attain a Master’s degree (hopefully from the University of Maryland). I would like to help people who are disadvantaged, I’m not sure exactly what that would translate to career-wise, but I hope to find something that would utilize my education and experience and combine it with the desire I have to help people and provide them with tools that they might not otherwise have access to.

To me the sociological imagination means that I am able to step outside myself and my experiences and take a huge step back and look at social and individual problems within a social context. I truly felt that through learning about sociology, my sociological imagination has expanded and I am grateful for it. I think that everyone should have a sociological imagination to really understand the society in which we live in and have a broader perspective of issues present in our society.

Lena is a senior undergraduate Sociology major.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Michelle Sandhoff

I’m from northern California, closer to the mountains than the beach. And no, we did not go surfing after school and my one star sighting, George Clooney, actually occurred in DC, not California. Moving to the East Coast was a quite a culture shock, but after 5 years here I think I’m starting to get the swing of things.

Growing up, I attended a large high school in the suburbs. Until moving out to the East Coast I didn’t realize that enclosed multi-story high schools existed outside of the movies. My first firefly sighting was also a shock. Looking back, I was very fortunate in having many outstanding teachers in high school who helped me get where I am now. Perhaps most important was the U.S. History teacher who convinced the school to let him offer Anthropology as a semester-long elective. I think it is fair to say this class changed my life as it lit in me a curiosity about cultures and societies and the vast diversity of the world which has shaped my work since.

After graduation I went on to study International Relations (from an Anthropological perspective) at the University of California, Davis. Davis is a small agricultural town in the central valley of California, and remains quintessentially a college town. In addition to having a wonderfully interdisciplinary program in International Relations, attending an agricultural school meant there were some rather unusual electives. To round out my general education requirements I took courses in entomology (the study of insects) and avian sciences. My final semester I took a class in tractor driving.

UC Davis also gave me many opportunities to continue learning about cultures and societies, both in the classroom and out. I spent my junior year studying abroad at the American University of Cairo. Between field trips to the Pyramids, the Red Sea, and Petra (think Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) I took classes in the local history, politics, and language. I learned to haggle for kitsch at Khan el-Khalili, where to find the best koshari (a popular local pasta, rice, and tomato dish), and a handful of traditional dances. I also had the chance to travel throughout the Middle East, experiencing first hand the vastly different ways we as humans organize ourselves.

After my undergraduate study I was fortunate enough to get a job right away in the DC-area working for the National Security Education Program (NSEP), a federal scholarship program. I worked in this job for two years, learning my way around DC and figuring out the whole real world 9-to-5 thing. It also gave me time to realize that despite my initial joy at not having homework on evenings or weekends that I did really want to return to school.

As I began considering going to graduate school, I knew that substantively I was interested in studying the military. This was in large part due to my many travels (by this point I had added China and Central America to my list). Around the world, the military was a constant presence, yet in dramatically different ways. From the police in Egypt who seemed to spend their days drinking tea and catcalling passersby, to the very young soldiers of Israel, to the newly minted officers taking pictures with foreigners on the Great Wall of China, the military was clearly an important institution. And despite similar missions of national defense, the ways in which militaries are organized and their relationships with civilian populations provided yet another way to explore the diversity of human societies. Knowing then that I wanted to study the military finding out about the program at Maryland was purely luck. I had never heard of the field of Military Sociology, but one day while commuting to work, I read an article in the local paper that quoted Prof David Segal from the Military Sociology program here. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I am now in my third year in the program and am hoping to begin my doctoral research very soon. Building on my driving interests in diversity, I have been pursing research on diversity in the military since I began the program. This has predominantly focused on minorities in the military, such as women. But my newest project is partially taking me back to my roots in studying culture and the Middle East as I examine the experiences of Muslims serving in the U.S. military.

Unlike most of the students entering a PhD program in Sociology when I began this program I was largely starting from scratch. I remember for the first day of theory we were supposed to read C.W. Mills’ book “The Sociological Imagination” which the professor assumed we all had a copy of. I had never heard of C.W. Mills and spent a day running around in a panic feeling like I was already falling behind. Since then, I like to think I have settled well into the role of Sociologist. My own approach to life and Sociology remains very much focused on issues of culture and diversity, and takes perhaps a more international approach than is common. In this way I see my interdisciplinary background as an asset. I am interested in how the world works, and deeply believe that the social sciences are as important as the natural sciences in getting the whole picture. I think that it is only by taking a good look at the variation that surrounds us and by experiencing everything we can that we as social scientists can begin to grasp what an amazingly complex world we live in.

Michelle is a third year PhD student.

Faculty Spotlight: George Ritzer (written by Beverly Pratt)

Since arriving at the University of Maryland two years ago, I have had four classes with Dr. George Ritzer.  After three semesters and four classes, I can honestly say that I know countless Ritzer anecdotes, stories, and wisecracks, most of which will safely remain within the confines of class discussion and hilarities!  So, when it came to interviewing a faculty for our newsletter, it was beyond clear that I had to spotlight George.

A couple of weeks ago, on a bright – and unusually warm – May day, George and I sat outside of Art-Sociology, soaking in the sun and discussing his childhood, academic, and familial experiences.  After an hour and a half of him sharing his intellectual journey and answering my somewhat naïve questions about intellectual maturity, I knew that my notes were a feeble display of an incredibly noble career.

However, I hope that I have pieced together well – via a pastiche technique –the wealth of knowledge and inspiration George provided me with during our interview.  Read and enjoy!  And I hope you feel a sense of childlike wonder after doing so (you’ll see what I mean below)!


George grew up in the ultimate of urban experiences – Manhattan.  Though he grew up “relatively poor,” Manhattan for George was a sophisticated world, as he was raised reading the New York Times and attending out door concerts and events.

George attended the Bronx High School of Science – “the best high school in New York City,” then and now, as competitive exams are required for entry.  For George, this experience was essential.  Solid teachers and students surrounded him; they provided him with aspirations and a sense of what was required to succeed intellectually.

The “most tangible event” of George’s intellectual life occurred while he was a student at City College of New York in 1960.  It was then that he visited Amherst where he went inside of a McDonald’s for the very first time; this event manifests itself quite clearly in his work.  This event, juxtaposed to New York City’s very distinct restaurants and stores, was jarring.

A few years later – in 1975 – George saw a McDonalds in Amsterdam.  The New York that George grew up in and the Netherlands of the 1970s were not spaces in which he expected to see a McDonalds; the establishment was not consistent with either environment.

These experiences meshed with the social theories with which he was engaged – especially those of Max Weber – and became a turning point in George’s career.  For the first 20 (or so) years of his career, George successfully produced pure theory, specifically meta-theory (theory about theory).  However, he had a small audience and soon became dissatisfied with that type of knowledge production.  George was then drawn to theoretically critiquing fast food establishments, credit cards, globalization, and consumption.  These interests flowed from meta-theory to discussing the social world with a more tangible and empirical display. George was able to produce applied social theory (i.e., using theory to think about the social world).

That said, George’s experiences growing up in New York City – specifically the intellectuality of the City and of Bronx High School in the 1950s – sensitized him to non-New York City phenomena and developments, as they were inconsistent with the world in which he grew up.


George’s father was a taxi-cab driver for most of his son’s youth.  His father told him countless stories framed around a person within low-status occupation who was abused quite readily by both customers and management.  Therefore, talk of unionization was rampant in the Ritzer-household, allowing a young George to saliently identify within a working-class mentality.  George had a strong labor union orientation (as opposed to a Marxian orientation; he appreciated Marxian theory rather than Marxian ideology).  From this upbringing is a social justice perception within George, specifically rooted in the anger he felt toward the manner in which his father – and others in low-status occupations – was/are treated.  This is from where his critical perspective – critiquing wealthy and large corporations – stem.

George received his MBA from the University of Michigan.  During second-year interviews – where students interview with potential employers – George ran into a gentleman that worked for General Electric Company (GE) in Schenectady, NY.  This gentleman invited George to interview and test with the company.  Though he was welcomed with open arms when arriving in Schenectady for a series of interviews and tests, it soon became clear to both the potential employers and him that he was “too” pro-union to be working for GE.   As GE is (in)famous for its anti-union practices, the interview-tone quickly transformed.  Both parties mutually agreed that it was best if George did not continue the interview and testing process.

That said, this pro-union ideology has remained with George.


George always tells this amusing and inspiring story about when he was a young professor at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA.  Long-story-short, somewhere along the line a longhaired, bearded George Ritzer became the rally-cry leader for Tulane students during a series of administration protests, as this was a nation-wide frequent occurrence epitomizing “the times.”  George’s sympathies lay with the students – he had the same feelings and attitudes toward them that he had toward his father – as they were protesting systemic injustices.  Within his frustrations with class-based power-induced injustices was based a much more personal – rather than theoretical – worldview.  This story is but one example.


But … the personal and theoretical can be combined, according to George.  Within the above story, his personal and theoretical frameworks were combined in a certain manner.  George is concerned about the social justice of “the underdog.”  While he does not consider himself an “optimistic person,” he concedes that a person has to be somewhat optimistic to buy into Marxian theory … to believe that better situations are possible.

Another powerful influence – personal and professional – for George is New York’s urban cynicism.  This perhaps, according to George, explains why he is drawn more to Max Weber’s theories than to Karl Marx’.  Weber married well the personal and the theoretical, somewhat epitomizing stereotypical New York City cynicism.


George does not have a PhD in sociology.  Then how did he enter the sociology field, specifically theory?  And what keeps him within the theory world?

After receiving his MBA, George worked at Ford Motor Company for a year.  He then applied and was accepted to the top-ranked Cornell University’s School of Industrial Labor Relations’(ILR) PhD program.  In those days, Cornell made the student choose her/his advisor within the first two weeks of attendance.  George – at around 25 years of age – wanted an advisor that would “leave him alone and let him go in whatever direction.”  Serendipitously, he found that advisor – Harry Trice

Dr. Trice was a trained sociology professor within the ILR program.  Him, along with other sociologists – including William Foote Whyte of Street Corner Society (1943) – were scattered throughout campus degree programs.  Quickly George’s minor field became sociology, which eventually overrode his interest in ILR.

While a student, George took a class with Margaret Cussler – who eventually became a professor at the University of Maryland as well.  The class was a social psychology theory course – fairly intimidating to George.  Each week’s assignment was to choose and read one of four substantive course readings.  George read every single assignment in order to compensate for feeling ill prepared.  Within a few weeks he proved to himself and others that he could handle the sociology community and discourse.

When George received his PhD in 1968, he had to decide between teaching at a business school or within a sociology department.  Though his main interest had become theory – as he informally became acquainted with it in a variety of ways – he never took an official theory course.  However, Tulane University hired him as an Assistant Professor to focus on industrial sociology.  Tulane had apparently lost their sociology theorist, so George taught the undergraduate-level theory course and eventually the graduate-level theory course.  It was via teaching that George realized his ability to communicate theory well; for him the most effective way to learn theory is to teach theory.  In doing so, he read everything – evidenced by his boxes of yellowed notes that he still brings to class-meetings (notes that I secretly want to read and transcribe!).


A decade later George’s interest in book publishing emerged.  He realized he could write theory texts in which he summarized what he learned while also consuming all sorts of new knowledge along the way – and publishers would pay him to do that!  This (awesome) strategy motivated George toward double-objectives:  knowledge-gain and economic rewards!

The irony is – George doesn’t have a sociology degree.  And, as mentioned, he has never taken a “true” graduate course in theory.  Undoubtingly, however, most U.S. sociologists have learned (and probably teach) theory from his textbooks.

In the early 1970s George learned of “meta-theory”.  Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) encouraged him to analyze sociology from a paradigmatic perspective.  He eventually wrote how to do so – Sociology: A Multiple Paradigm Science (1975).  Recently a Bulgarian professor emailed George and mentioned that he heavily relied on this specific text.

In the text Toward an Integrated Sociological Paradigm: The Search for an Exampler and an Image of the Subject Matter (1981), George describes the paradigm that sociologists need to create.  However, this text easily is lost because of publisher-policies (which have since changed) that prevented earnings.  Within six months, the book appeared and disappeared.  This event marked the culmination of George’s meta-theoretical period.


In 1986 George wrote an article about McDonalds – published in the Journal of American Culture – as he was immersed within theoretically critiquing the “rationalization ideal.”  At first, the article seemingly had zero impact and George “moved on.”  However, at the 1991 American Sociology Association (ASA) meetings, many folks wanted to discuss this particular article.


George both balks and appreciates when he is referred to as “Mr. McDonaldization,” as if it is the only thing he has done throughout his career.


When I asked George what keeps him in theory, he replied that the last couple of years have been the most fun he has had in a long time.  He notes, specifically, “the prosumption group” (refer to PJ Rey’s newsletter piece) as a motivation.  This reflects the fact that the social world, him – as someone within this social world, and theory each keep shifting.  This constant, forever-new, changing is a circular process, as there are in chorus exist both new and old theories.  Within the last two decades George has gone from theorizing consumption to globalization to prosumption; he has evolved more – in theoretical orientations – in the last 15 years than in the previous thirty.


George is well aware of his intellectual capital in theory.  He often quips, as he did in this interview, that if you give him a topic, he can theorize on it.


I asked George what the sociological imagination means to him and if/how it influences his daily activities as a professor, researcher, and life outside of campus.

For him, everything is sociological.  “The curse of sociology is that you’re always doing sociology.  Whatever you’re involved in, at some level you’re analyzing it sociologically,” according to George.  This is both interesting and problematic, as its consequence is too often times a critical attitude.  George said that almost everything that he is engaged in, he’s analyzing and criticizing it simultaneously – breeding a double-layered life (in which his wife – Sue – is good at calling out).

George reflects on how he can apply his sociological imagination about anything and everything he observes.  For him, some sort of relationship exists between the realities that he is encountering at the moment and theoretical ideas that he has acquired over the years (as he can be distinguished as a fairly eclectic theorist).

George does not often impose a theory on a reality.  Rather, he looks at the reality and asks what theories can help him to understand it.  He does this in his work, in his student interactions, and in his personal life.  This is a double-edged sword.  While many folks say that they are enjoying specific realities, George often finds himself analyzing them instead; therefore, it is difficult for him to become totally immersed in anything as he is always critically analyzing while concurrently experiencing.  This is dramaturgy for George; he cannot help but think of the performances (front-stage) and what is occurring back-stage (Hello Erving Goffman!).

“There are no people in my work,” George often quips.  He reinforces that he spends most of his life “mis-meeting” (Bauman 1993) people.  George is much more comfortable writing in and about structures than being with and writing about people.  He jokes that while ethnographers love to be in people-friendly environments, he works hard, well, and purposefully at mis-meeting people.


HOWEVER … George’s wife, children, and grandchildren – his overall family – are exceptions to this.  He and his wife Sue have two children and four grandchildren, ranging from three to 13 years of age.


Though life was a bit different when his children were young versus now that he has young grandchildren, George has always made time for his wife, children, and grandchildren.  However, he has always been a workaholic.  For example, when his children were infants, he would purposely take the middle-of-the-night feeding in order to stay up and work until 3 a.m.  He discovered a balance to be both a workaholic and to responsibly and lovingly be in relationship with his children.  With grandchildren in both Seattle and in Washington, DC, he now has a propensity to be in the Washington area as much as possible.


George often wakes up at 4 a.m. to write, typically ten to 14 hours per day.  He “love[s], love[s]” writing and creating a book.  The whole process of starting with an idea and birthing a book is an ultimate form of creativity, both aesthetically and artistically.

George also loves teaching.  Teaching – attending graduate seminars, etc. – is his sense of having a social life.  It is an unusual characteristic in an academic to love both writing and teaching.  But, for George, both have come relatively easy.  He is drawn to this peculiar world where the two things he does best – writing and teaching – are rewarded.


More importantly, most of his social life outside of academia is spent with his wife Sue.  If they are not in Maryland or Florida, they are traveling, as Sue travels with him most everywhere.  She enjoys the travel and has only missed one or two trips throughout their 47 years of marriage.  Speaking engagements are always seen as mini-vacations for both of them.


My final question to George was:  “What does the term “intellectual maturation” mean to you?  In answering this, what advice, guidelines, and words of wisdom would you give to us graduate students in the beginning stages of our “intellectual maturation” process?”

When discussing “intellectual maturity,” George suggests that the process becomes a question of drawing intellectual capital.  Maturation notes a life-long process of expanding that particular body of intellectual capital.  A student should use her/his intellectual capital as a basis on which knowledge is continuously acquired.  It never stops and never should.  However, George has met people who have purposively discontinued acquiring intellectual capital, something he describes as rather disturbing.

Ultimately, however, the term “maturity” bothers him.  Instead, George prides himself in his immaturity.  He jokes that his oldest grandson – at age 13 – always claims him that George  is immature.

His two (paradoxical) points on intellectual maturity are as follows:  1) maturity is a constant intellectual growing process, and 2) simultaneous – and perpetual – immaturity is also necessary.  For example, when reading his theoretical influential heroes  – like Jean Baudrillard – George often writes “WOW” in texts’ margins.  This perpetual openness for “WOW” is needed in the social and intellectual world.  “Maturity” sounds as if a person is finished growing.  But, from George’s point-of-view as he approaches 70 years of age, he does not at all feel as if he is “done,” especially as the social world, he, and theory continue to expand.  A perpetual childishness is needed to survive this.  To observe these expansions.  To be open to these expansions.  And to write, think, master, and teach others to think about these expansions.

George critiques that many folks at his career stage and age take themselves way too seriously.  While he is serious about his work, he does not feel as if it is up to him to judge his work.  This judgment is for others.  While people are reviewing his work, he is already working on his next project.  For George, it is always what is next.  He is never interested on reflecting on what has happened.  Rather, he is much more interested in what will happen.  (For example, he is currently focused on a lecture he is giving in Korea this September focusing on leisure.)


What advice does George give us graduate students?  “Write everyday.  Work a lot.  It is hard work.  It is not like a 9 to 5 job.  It is your life.  You have to enjoy it.  If you do not, then get out of it,” he insinuates rather clearly and without hesitation.

His main advice is:  1) acquire intellectual capital and be serious while gathering and updating a body of knowledge, and 2) continue to have a perpetual childlike wonder of the social word with a desire to understand it better, using your intellectual capital to do so.  Essentially, do what he did.


At the interview’s close, George and I walked a bit back to Art-Sociology.  As we were parting ways, I thanked him for taking time to sit and discuss his life, career, and thoughts.  Then George reached out his hand, giving me a distinguished handshake.  What an honor it was to interview a sociologist and social theorist of his caliber and intellect, to hear stories I hadn’t before, and to shake the hand of a professor I admire, respect, and hope to make proud …

Bev is a second year PhD student.

PhD Alumni Spotlight: Philip Cohen (compiled by Kathleen Denny)

Dr. Philip Cohen is a professor and current director of graduate studies in the sociology department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  He publishes extensively on the family, gender, race and occupational inequality, and other stratification issues.  He also teaches courses on demography and demographic methods, gender inequality, and the family.

Dr. Cohen is a distinguished graduate from this department.  He received his Ph.D. from Maryland  in 1999.  He was kind enough to share some insights from his experiences so far, as well as offer some advice to current graduate students.

Q: Where did you grow up and how do you think this experience prepared you to be a sociologist?

A: I grew up in Ithaca, a college town, as the children of academics – a mathematician and biologist (my mom is on the faculty at UMD now). The way my privileges worked out, I had the chance to do a lot of different things before I left for college, from an attempted career in music to radio and print journalism, to working as a counselor in a group home. It was all good for my sense of self-efficacy, you could say, but I honestly wasn’t very much exposed to the wider world.

Q: After attending the University of Michigan for your BA and the University of Massachusetts for your MA, why did you decide to attend the University of Maryland for your PhD?

A: I wasn’t sure I would complete a PhD when I left UMass. I took a job at a non-profit in the DC area for a year and considered the possibilities. Looking around at UMD helped me decide I could get back into sociology. The department made a great impression on me, and I started to actually see myself in this career. It was a great decision.

Q: Upon graduating from the University of Maryland, you became at a professor at the University of California, Irvine. Why did you choose to teach at UC Irvine? What was the transition like from being a PhD student to being a professor?

A: UCI was my only tenure-track job offer. I knew nothing about Southern California and had never heard of UCI. The department there was very small – about seven faculty at the time – and it was very friendly and supportive. The transition was great. I stressed about publishing and tenure, but I had good momentum coming out grad school and great colleagues to work with there. Matt Huffman was there a year ahead of me, and got me going. We hit on a collaboration that was very dynamic and a lot of fun

Q: What does the “sociological imagination” mean to you and how does it influence your daily activities as a professor, researcher, and your life outside of campus?

A: Maybe the biggest thing is trying to remember that things can be different. The most taken-for-granted aspects of life are really up for grabs. I’m always amazed by this. I recently learned pink and blue was the other way around in the U.S – boys in pink, girls in blue – until WWII or so. It seemed so natural to them that way. And that’s just the small stuff. On the sociological imagination itself: I really do often say to myself, “biography and history.” That’s got to be the most influential idea I got from sociology.

Q: What does the term “intellectual maturation” mean to you? In answering this, what advice, guidelines, and words of wisdom would you give to us graduate students in the beginning stages of our “intellectual maturation” process?

A: I’m not sure maturation is a great goal. It has upsides – like a more even keel, a longer-range perspective on life and work, and a bigger-picture view of social change and social science. But it’s got downsides, too, such as complacency and degenerative diseases. Ironically, as your future gets shorter, your perspective sometimes grows longer. There’s no reason to rush that. In the last year I’ve started working on a textbook – for undergraduate family courses – and it will take me a few more years. I’ve never made a commitment to one project that will take that long before. I’d like to think it was maturation that made me able to weigh a lot of different implications of that and make a good decision. Who knows?

On words of wisdom for grad students, I would have two:

(1) Learn how to do a good lit review. It’s not just a formality at the beginning of the paper. Use citation links backward and forward through the literature to find the most recent and most important work in your area, so you really understand the foundations and the direction of knowledge on your questions.

(2) Find questions you don’t already know the answers to, and that you can actually answer with your research. If you can meet both those criteria you have a good chance of remaining interested in your own work, and drawing other people in as well. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

How’s that for advice?

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?

A: Please visit my blog (www.familyinequality.com). To those who don’t know me, don’t be shy about contacting me if you like. Thanks for having me visit, and for having me in the newsletter.

Kathleen Denny is a second year PhD student.

Social Events Update by Dave Paul Strohecker

For my latest installment in the Sociology Newsletter, I thought I would talk about some of the events I helped plan as the Social Chair in the GSF.

As you all may or may not have been aware, we have been trying to bring back the defunct Tea Times that (I believe) were started by Annette Lareau. We had three successful Tea Time events this Spring semester, with one of them occurring during the Admitted Students’ Day. Reeve, PJ, and I believe these are important events in order to bring the sense of community to the department and recognize one another for our accomplishments. After all, a unified department makes for a mutually productive department.

In addition to the monthly Happy Hours, I have helped to organize several Interdisciplinary Events with other departments in the College of Liberal Arts. For our last happy hour, we extended invitations to graduate students from Psychology and Anthropology. We had about 10 students from these respective departments turn up, and they all agreed that it was a fun occasion.

This past weekend we also had a trip to see the Nationals play. We had a huge turnout to this event, but I must admit that Molly Russell from the Anthropology department took the lead on organizing this event. She was able to get us reduced ticket costs and good seating for the event. We had about 30 graduate students show up from Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, and Kinesiology. We were also able to share a few drinks at the Hawk and Dove afterwards.

I believe these interdisciplinary events are integral for the graduate students in that they not only foster friendships but also an interdisciplinary awareness that is beneficial to all parties involved. In order to overcome charges of insularity in our field, it is necessary that us graduate students do our best to begin fostering interdisciplinary research that tackles issues shared by our respective fields. These social events, albeit non-academic in the most, help us to create useful social networks outside of our own discipline. I hope to see some collaborative research emerge in the near future out of these burgeoning relationships.

Finally, as a capstone event in my position as Social Chair, I recently organized the Department Family Picnic. We had a good turnout, with about 30-40 people attending (faculty, family, pets, and graduate students). Despite the foreboding weather forecasts, the day turned out quite nice, with only wind being somewhat of a hindrance. We played a little baseball, football, and of course we ate lots of good food. Special thanks to Jeff and Karen Lucas for providing such wonderful food! And thanks to everyone else who showed up and/or brought some of food of their own.

In closing, I want to thank everyone who helped make the social events a success. This year has been a wonderful first year and I couldn’t have done it without you. I especially want to thank PJ Rey, who as Co-Chair has spent countless hours preparing for these Happy Hours and Tea Times. He should also be credited for creating the online recognition form that we can now use to compile and record our publications, speeches, and accomplishments. This will help us to create and up-to-date and promising website in the near future.

Dave is a first year PhD student.

Reflections on the Prosumer Studies Working Group by PJ Rey

Reflecting back on my first four years of graduate school (two here and two at Duquesne University), I can honestly say the Prosumer Studies Working Group has been the most inspiring and productive experience I have had.  Over the course of previous year, we met two to three times a month to discuss each other’s papers.  While these discussions were always productive and encouraging, they were often quite critical and sometimes led to intense debate.  The mantra was always, “better I get slammed by you guys than the reviewers.”  Watching how other people’s papers developed and improved over time has been invaluable to me in learning to how to organize coherent and interesting papers for myself.  Prior to this experience, it never quite “clicked” before.

The group included Meg Austin-Smith, Paul Dean, Nathan Jurgenson, PJ Rey, George Ritzer, Jillet Sam, Bill Yagatich as well as several folks outside of the department: Piergiorgio Degli Esposti (Università di Bologna), Shay Hershkovitz (Bar-Ilan University), U-Seok Seo (University of Seoul), Zeynep Tufekci (UMBC).  We primarily focused on prosumption (i.e., the convergence of production and consumption) as it occurs on social media, but the topic of a given session was often broader.

The Prosumer Studies Working Group has a number of projects under way.  We are trying to bring speakers of wide interest to campus on a regular basis.  Recently, over 70 people attended the lecture by Jessie Daniels.  George Ritzer is editing a special issue of the American Behavioral Scientist on the topics of prosumption and social media.  The group is also organizing a one-day conference on prosumption and social to be held next year.

Reflecting our commitment to public sociology, the group has maintained a significant online presence.  We blog and tweet regularly.  Our feeds can be found at our website: http://www.bsos.umd.edu/socy/prosumer/index.html.

The Prosumer Studies Working Group has made several significant accomplishment during the 2009-2010 school year.  George Ritzer and Nathan Jurgenson published an article entitled “Production, Consumption, Prosumption: The Nature of Capitalism in the Age of the Digital ‘Prosumer’” in the Journal of Consumer Culture.  They also published a chapter entitled “Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Web 2.0” in  The Culture of Efficiency, a book edited by Sharon Kleinman.  PJ Rey completed a second-year paper entitled “Alienation, Exploitation, and Social Media.” George Ritzer gave the keynote at the Prosumer Revisited conference in Germany entitled “Focusing on the Prosumer: On Correcting an Error in the History of Social Theory,” which was then published in the proceedings.  Nathan Jurgenson published a chapter entitled”The De-McDonaldization of the Internet” in the third edition of McDonaldization: The Reader.  Nathan Jurgenson also presented “Digitally Obscene: Foucault and the Cultivation of the Self Online” at the 2009 Meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco.  PJ Rey presented “Prosumption and the Internet: a New Epoch of Capitalism” at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Eastern Sociology Society.  PJ Rey and Nathan Jurgenson presented “Marcuse, the Web and the New Means of Ambient Production” at VII Annual Social Theory Forum on Critical Social Theory: Freud & Lacan for 21st Century.  At the  2010 Annual Meeting of the American Sociology Association, PJ Rey and Zeynep Tufekci will be presenting “Internet Use and Well-Being,” and Nathan Jurgenson will be presenting “McDonaldization and the Internet.”

The group plans to meet through the Summer and again next school year.  If you have ideas for speakers to bring to campus or perhaps a relevant paper of your own that you would like to present, please contact us.

PJ Rey is a second year PhD student.  You can email him at pjrey.socy@gmail.com

Congratulations Graduates!

PhD Recipients – Fall 2009, Spring 2010, & Summer 2010

Young I. Chun

Melissa N. Scopilliti

Brian W. Ward

Heather Ridolfo

Emily S. Mann

Sarah M. Kendig

Wesley Scott Huey

Michelle Corbin

Anna O’Donnell

Katarzyna Skuratowicz

David Smith

MA Graduates – Spring 2010 (those attending the ceremony)

Kathryn Buford

Kathleen Denny

Khaleelah Hardie

Mary Kniskern

Paul Rey

Kriti Vikram

… & CONGRATULATIONS to Katrina Knudsen, MA in Higher Education, Department of Education Policy & Leadership