Congratulations to the recipients of the Student Paper Awards! The abstracts for all winning student papers are listed alphabetically by division below.
The student paper competitions and outstanding scholarship awards are sponsored by the Divisions.


Title:  Addressing the 21st Century Problem of the Color Line Using Community-based Participatory Research with Urban Black Churches
Author:  Julia M. Wesley
Affiliation:  Jane Addams College of Social Work

The color line remains the problem of the 21st century. This problem of the color line is profound in urban communities, which are characterized by urban sprawl, racial segregation and concentrated poverty. This paper discusses the implications of a participatory approach to focus group research (N = 42) that was used with Christian Churches to help assess for organizational collective efficacy among African Americans residing in 4 urban, racially segregated communities in Chicago. 


Title:  How Falun Gong Became a Political Movement: Bringing the State Back into New Religious Movements
Author:  Junpeng Li
Affiliation:  Columbia University

Ten years after the Chinese government's crackdown on Falun Gong in 1999, the questions of why the state saw those people who practiced "truthfulness, benevolence and forbearance" as a threat and how Falun Gong, a quasi-religious group that emerged as a physical healing regime, became a political movement aiming to overthrow the communist regime remain unanswered. This article takes a state-religion interaction approach, exploring how the Chinese state's attempt to control religion and policies to promote qigong gave rise to Falun Gong in the early 1990s and its shift to a new religious movement in the mid-1990s, how Falun Gong's immense popularity as a consequence of its touch on spirituality became a concern for the state, and how the state's effort to keep Falun Gong "apolitical"
unintentionally induced Falun Gong's eventual political defiance and actions. This article also invites a conversation between the sociology of religion and social movement theory, and calls to bring the category of the state into the study of new religious movements.


Title:  Strategic Conversion: The ‘Work Safe’ Culture of Prison Chaplaincy
Author:  Allison M. Hicks
Affiliation:   University of Colorado at Boulder

Goffman (1961) has noted that while total institutions claim to be concerned with rehabilitation, this is seldom realized, and the changes that do occur are often not the kind intended by staff—creating an ironic juxtaposition between rehabilitation, custody, and punishment. In this article I focus on prison chaplains, examining the process by which their worldviews are institutionally shaped around risk. Using participant observation, textual, and qualitative interview data, I explore the ways correctional facilities cultivate specific beliefs amongst staff while suppressing others. I delineate three stages in chaplains’ conversion to the work culture of corrections, emphasizing the way this affects chaplains’ workplace behaviors. I conclude with a discussion of the maintenance of institutions through such practices and note the significant role common sense plays in this process. 


No submissions were received. 


No award given.


Title:  Does Legal Apprehension in Adolescence Effect Educational and Occupational Attainments in Adulthood?
Author:  Arina Gertseva
Affiliation:  Washington State University

In attempting to resolve the conflict between deterrence and labeling perspective which differ in their theoretical predictions about the effect of sanctioning, this paper explores the differential impact of legal sanctions consisting of different levels of official processing (being charged, being convicted, and being on probation) on adult educational and occupational achievements. This study uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79), a large and nationally representative sample, to compare the educational and occupational attainments of adults who had a history of juvenile delinquency but avoided contact with justice system with those of adults who have been officially apprehended. By demonstrating that application of legal sanctions may have the differential deterrent effect on individuals with various delinquency experiences, the present research provides some support for both labeling and deterrence theories. 


Title:  Mediterranean Rift: The Metabolic Rift in the Sicilian Bluefin Tuna Fishery
Author:  Stefano B. Longo
Affiliation:  University of Illinois, Springfield

This paper is a sociological study of the Sicilian bluefin tuna fishery. It will examine the social and ecological transformation of this fishery during the modern era. This will be analyzed utilizing a sociological framework that draws on theory from environmental sociology, specifically the metabolic rift. The Sicilian fishery has been exploited for its abundant tuna for over a millennium, providing a major source of protein for Mediterranean civilizations. However, within the last half century there has been exponential expansion of industrialized methods of production and increasing capture efforts. This has culminated in the development of bluefin tuna “ranches,” which have become a highly controversial method for supplying global markets. Escalating pressure on the fishery has contributed to a host of environmental and social problems, including pushing this important fishery to the brink of collapse. Using a combination of primary and secondary source data such as interviews with local fishers and those in the tuna ranching sector, data compiled by international agencies such as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) as well as archival data on the Sicilian bluefin tuna fishery, I will employ sociological methods and analyze the recent changes in social life and the environment in Sicilian fishing communities. Subsequently, this project will shed light on the globalized and industrialized nature of the modern capitalist agri? food system, and lead to a better understanding of its social and environmental impacts.


Title:  Around Round?: Alcohol Dynamics of Opposite Sex and Same-Sex Couples
Author:  Corinne Reczek
Affiliation:  University of Texas at Austin

Paralleling the gendered division of labor in marriage, national surveys show that women are more likely than men to regulate a spouse’s alcohol use. However the dynamics that underscore this difference in regulation practices have yet to be fully investigated. Qualitative data are analyzed in order to explore the dynamics of social control and alcohol use in 61 long-term straight, gay, and lesbian couples (N = 122 individuals). Results indicate that men and women in gay and lesbian cohabiting partnerships, and women in straight marriages, regulate the alcohol use of their partners in similar ways. Men in straight marriages do not. A gender constructionist approach is utilized to argue that gender differences found reflect culturally based constructions of gender in relationships.


Graduate Winning Title:  Social Movements in Transitions to Socialism: An Examination of the Campesino Movement in Venezuela
Author:  Tiffany Linton Page
Affiliation:  University of California, Berkeley

The political dynamics of a transition to socialism shapes the nature of the social movements, and ultimately the mass organizations, that emerge, as well as their relationship to the government. The politically polarized nature of the revolutionary context and the opposition’s attempts to derail the process of social change leads pro-revolution social movements to forge a close relationship with the government. I examine both the potentially positive implications of the close relationship between the government and pro-revolution social movements – an increased voice for popular sectors and more effective implementation of policy – and the potentially negative implications – the emergence of a paternalistic or clientelistic relationship between the government and its supporters.

Graduate Honorable Mention Title:  Governance and the Production of Identity: Consuming Western High-Culture in Contemporary Shanghai
Author:  Fang Xu
Affiliation:  University of British Columbia,

Urban China has witnessed an increased exposure to and interest in Western performing arts over the last ten years, especially in a metropolis like Shanghai. Although China has been notorious as a manufacturing site for global commodities, another increasingly significant aspect of China’s participation in the global economy is as a consumer of Western goods and cultural products.

In this paper, I look at the veiled governmental intervention in Western high-cultural consumption, precisely Western classical music concert attendance, and the urbanites’ responses in Shanghai, which was a semi-colonial treaty port in the early 20th century, and is currently a strategically vital mega-city for the economic development in contemporary China. The collective memory of Shanghai being the focal point of Western and Eastern cultural encounter, and being modern and open to the world glosses upon the current conspicuous consumption of Western high-cultural performances. In both official and popular narratives, achieving the city status as a global city through the increase in Western high-cultural consumption is of same importance as the development in the economic sphere.

Western high-cultural consumption is regarded by the municipal government as an effective way to glorify the city's status and to enhance the ‘quality’ (suzhi) of the city dwellers. This entails the construction of grand theatres and invitations to world prestigious arts troupes. Meanwhile, the veiled governance in the cultural market buttresses the less-privileged for their identity production through justification and entitlement. Nevertheless, the attendance at Western classical music concerts by diverse audience groups indicates the social inequality brought about by China’s economic reform towards a socialist market economy. My study contributes to the understanding of how the availability and accessibility of Western high-cultural products influence Chinese urbanites’ daily lives, especially with the ideological and financial support from the central and the municipal government. This research is also relevant to broader discussions about the roles developing countries play in facilitating the sustainability of Western high culture amidst processes of intensified globalization.

Undergraduate Winning Title:  El Que no Tiene Dinga, Tiene Mandinga1 :Black Collective Identity Formation among Afro-descendants in Dominican Republic and Ecuador
Author:  Shantee L. Rosado
Affiliation:  Macalester College

1Literally translates to “He who does not have Dinga, has Mandinga.” This common Latin American saying refers to Latin Americans’ undeniable African ancestry. The terms Dinga and Mandinga refer to African tribes from which slaves were brought to Latin America.

This study examined the historical, political, and societal factors that have led to differing collective identification with the term “black” in Ecuador and Dominican Republic. Ecuador has been home to one of the most organized and supported black social movements in Latin America, regardless of their small Afro-descendant community. Conversely, within Dominican Republic, a largely Afro-descendant nation, national discourses have served to negate African heritage, favor racial whitening, and create the myth of an “Indian” nation. To account for these differing outcomes, this study examined how the implementation of race-based national ideologies known as mestizaje in Ecuador and antihaitianismo in Dominican Republic has served to shape why both nations identify with the concept of blackness differently. A historical analysis of both countries shows that the different foci of these ideologies, differing outcomes of spatial/racial orders, land/citizenship rights, education, and access to transnational black social movements have all influenced the current discrepancy in identification with a black collective identity in both countries.


Winning Title: Giving 'til it hurts: Egg donation and the costs of altruism
Author: Anna Curtis
Affiliation: University of Massachusetts-Amherst

The rapid increase in both the use of egg donation as a treatment for infertility and the compensation available to egg donors has sparked concerns about the victimization and commercialization of women and their genetic material. Most critics point to altruism as the motivation that will prevent women from being financially coerced into donating and egg donation from becoming the sale of gametes. In contrast to prevailing views that altruistic motivations are an unadulterated good, I argue that the rhetoric of altruism is gendered in such a way that women are expected to be emotionally invested in the families they donate to and that such an investment draws on ideals of motherhood and encourages sacrifice and risk-taking in a way that compensation does not. This article draw on extensive Internet research on agency websites, an egg donor listserv, and a public board for recipient women as well as qualitative interviews with egg donors.

Honorable Mention Title:  HIV Testing Sites in New York City: A Structural Analysis of Barriers to Access
Author:  Nicole D'Anna
Affiliation:  Hunter College, CUNY

Despite greatly improved treatment options and increased awareness, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) continues to spread, posing an ongoing threat to public health and to social welfare. Although treatments have advanced, there is still no cure. Preventing transmission of the virus remains salient, a key part of which is increased awareness. An individual’s choice to obtain an HIV test is important, but meaningful access to testing is critical. Though the incidence of HIV testing has been researched widely, few studies to date have focused on systemic factors that may influence opportunities for testing, as well as individual decisions whether to obtain an HIV test (Bond, Lauby, & Batson, 2005). This report examines existing HIV testing locations within a broader context in an attempt to consider potential structural barriers to testing. Geographic information system (GIS) software is used to help identify possible relationships between public HIV testing site locations in New York City and the rates of known HIV infection and of poverty. Overall, patterns of testing rates, income, diagnoses rates, and public locations where tests may be obtained suggest that testing sites ought to be more easily accessible in low-income communities in order to encourage more widespread HIV testing in these areas. Based on these findings, it is possible that locating additional public HIV testing sites in areas with significant systemic obstacles may offer testing opportunities to individuals with various perceived barriers to testing. As HIV testing methods have become faster, cheaper, and more accessible, testing becomes increasingly important to promote and make accessible to all populations. Such an elementary intervention is likely to have a tremendous positive impact on public health and social welfare, particularly for populations with low or no access to healthcare, including the poor.


Title:  Migraine Diagnosis: Ruling Out the Badness
Author:  Alejandra K. Gabriel
Affiliation:  Arizona State University

This paper discusses the “healthwork” performed by persons seeking medical care for experiences that were eventually labeled “migraine.” In exploring the social
organization of migraine diagnosis, I rely on interview data and texts gathered using institutional ethnography as a mode of inquiry. In this paper, I explore three areas of
the migraine diagnostic process during which persons experiencing migraine reported working to achieve—or occasionally derail—institutional goals. I show that this
work, which is not included in institutional protocols, is essential to the eventual diagnosis of migraine.


Title: Demanding Rights, Withholding Peace: The Colombian Sugarcane Workers Strike
Author: Louis Edgar Esparza
Affiliation: Stony Brook University

This paper explores the interrelationship between human rights and peace in the contemporary Colombian context. Using ethnographic and interview data with sugarcane workers, human rights organizations, and political leaders during and after a strike, the paper explores how people who have been denied peace and human rights attempt to regain it by withholding peace for the sugarcane industry and the political establishment in Colombia. The Colombian government has argued that it is in a state of "post-conflict" and has impressed the international community with its progress against its domestic insurgency, including the rescue of high profile hostages early in 2008. But internal conflict at the hands of paramilitary groups and other private security organizations continues. Colombian sugarcane workers labor under militarized working conditions, being watched over by these hired organizations. This violation of peace is accompanied by violations of Constitutionally-protected human rights. They also experience job insecurity, poor wages, and lack proper access to medical care, housing, and education for themselves and their families. In an attempt to attain these rights, 10,000 sugarcane workers spread across 8 plantations, in an industry of about 15,000 workers, went on strike and blockaded access to roads to sugarcane plantations. Allied with human rights organizations, unions, and other political allies, the workers and their families faced repression and hunger. The ethnographic observations illustrate that workers did not think of the problem as merely a labor issue, but as a general social problem involving human rights violations. They highlighted the government and the sugarcane industry's paradoxes by using "illegal" tactics to attain legal rights. However, the coalition of workers, unions, and human rights organizations was a fragile one which illustrates differing understandings of human rights and peace. I expect to conclude that peace can be taken away from the bottom-up in order to force human rights and peace from the top-down. Nevertheless, it should also be noted that differing perspectives among civil society organizations needs to be taken into account in the analysis. Some organizations may withhold peace primarily for the sake of exercising power. 


Title:  The Utility of Regional Jus Cogens in International Law
Author:  Reza Hasmath
Affiliation:  University of Cambridge

This article considers the principle of jus cogens norms from a regional perspective. It does so by looking at a regionalized set of legal norms and values, and expunge whether or not they can be reconstituted as regional jus cogens norms. An examination of the Brezhnev Doctrine, juvenile executions in the Americas, and Islamic ‘human rights’ will be instructive in this manner. The practical utility of norms of regional jus cogens will also be highlighted. Steeped in a legal positivist tradition, it will illustrate that a set of “higher laws” of overriding importance can assist in accomplishing certain social and political tasks that are deemed acceptable within a specific time-period by a group of nation-states. Moreover, such regional jus cogens norms can be replaced by another ‘super-norm’, or eliminated entirely by the passing of its usefulness. The legal implications for the existence and practice of regional jus cogens norms will be considered, notably its effect on sovereign equality and the role promoting ‘differential treatment’. Given a present international community of nation-states characterized by unprecedented heterogeneity, this article will argue that the use of regional jus cogens norms are demanded in limited situations.


Title:  Do the Mental Health Benefits of Marriage Vary by Race and Gender?
Author:  Dawne M. Mouzon
Affiliation:  Rutgers University

Although past research has examined how gender moderates the mental health benefits of marriage, very few studies have examined the combined effects of race and gender simultaneously. Using data from 2004-2006 Midlife Development in the United States (N=4,617), I find strong protective associations between marital status and self-rated mental health among White men and White women, but weaker relationships among Black women and unexpected or no significant associations among Black men. Low-quality marriages undermined mental health more than marital dissolution or having never been married for all subgroups except Black men. The findings suggest that the well-documented protective benefits of marriage are not universal, and instead vary based on the joint influences of race, gender, and marital quality.


Co-Winning Title:  From Job Search to Hiring to Advancement: The Labor Market Experiences of Ethnic Minorities in Beijing
Author:  Reza Hasmath
Affiliation:  University of Cambridge

This article suggests that ethnic minorities are at a disadvantage, relative to the dominant Han ethnic group, when it comes to their employment in high wage, skilled positions in Beijing. To understand the complexities behind this reality, drawing upon recent interviews with individual minority actors and employers, the article systematically examines ethnic minority experiences in the job search, hiring and promotion process.

Co-Winning Title:  Norms and Nuptials: The Changing Social Price of Marriage
Author:  Daniel Schneider
Affiliation:  Princeton University

Marriage patterns have changed dramatically in the United States since the 1960s as exemplified by increasingly older ages at first marriage and the emergence of large disparities in marriage entry by race and class. The author identifies a novel explanation for these two puzzles. Drawing on theory from historical demography and current qualitative sociological research, the paper develops the idea that wealth plays an important role in the marriage formation process. The paper then uses event history models with three sources of longitudinal data to find evidence that asset ownership has become an increasingly important predictor of first marriage across recent cohorts, that differential asset ownership helps to explain gaps in marriage by race and education, and that though wealth is a positive predictor of marriage for men and women, it is valued differently by gender. Finally, the author argues that wealth is primarily valued in marriage for its symbolic rather than its signaling or use value.


Title:  Indigenous Peoples: Theory and Practice of Resistance
Author:  Shari L. Valentine
Affiliation:  Texas A & M University

This essay explores the common tenets of indigenous world views and how these commonly held tenets frame indigenous responses to dominant cultural practices and discourses. The essay examines the underpinnings of indigenous resistance to assimilation and neoliberal domination strategies. Indigenous resistance centers around concepts of memory and identity. The inquiry analyzes how indigenous frames of resistance are constructed and maintained through fundamental concepts of time, kinship and reciprocity. Indigenous rhetorics of survivance centering around identity, land and memory are examined. The essay highlights the resonance and power of indigenous ‘rhetorics of survivance’ and their consistency and longevity over time. The discourse aims to define and theoretically explain an indigenous frame through indigenous languages and concepts contrasting these global alternatives with the dominant western paradigm through examination of the literature in critical race theory, social movements and feminism.


Title:  Being Straight is Not a Choice’: Essentialism and Identity De/Construction Among Heterosexual Siblings of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Youth
Author:  Amy Kathryn Brainer
Affiliation:  University of Illinois at Chicago

Drawing from twenty-two semi-structured interviews, this article examines the essentialist theory of sexuality that heterosexual young adults rely on to construct identities for themselves and for their gay and lesbian siblings. Many respondents in this research attribute gender nonconformity in childhood and adolescence to a genetically encoded sexual orientation that is present from birth and stable through the life course. I suggest that these respondents perform constructive identity work, as they interweave essentialist theories of gender and sexuality to reaffirm the coherency and solidity of identities and the legitimacy of existing sexual categories.

Essentialism is absent from the stories of heterosexual respondents with bisexual siblings, for whom sexual identity is linked not to gender or genetics, but to sexual choices and desires. I suggest that these respondents perform deconstructive identity work, as they question the validity of the homo/hetero binary and come into an understanding of their own sexual fluidity.


Winning Title:  To Make a Prison Mobile: Social Problem Forms and the Construction of Abu Ghraib
Author:  Jared Del Rosso
Affiliation:  Boston College

How do institutional materials and meanings traverse the social, so as to influence local, claims-making activities? I propose that those who transform their social problems work into social problems forms-durable and mobile things-can potentially exert contextual effects on the activities of claims-makers at some other (spatially or temporally) distant site. Based on a qualitative content analysis of two series of US Senate Armed Services Committee hearings held in response to allegations of detainee abuse in Iraq, this paper focuses on the process by which some senators and witnesses typified the photographed violence at Abu Ghraib as an isolated incident or, as one investigator described the events, "'Animal House' on the night shift." I demonstrate how social problems forms, such as official investigations and reliable investigators who could testify to the content of their reports, produced by the Department of Defense provided an asymmetry in interpretive resources! that favored senators sympathetic to this typification and forced senators critical of it to seek interpretive resources from sources external to the hearings. This paper extends social problems theorizing by drawing attention to the materiality and textuality of social problems.

Honorable Mention Title:  "Victim Work”: A Narrative Analysis of the Duke Rape Case
Author:  J. David Thomas
Affiliation:  Purdue University

Constructionist research suggests that media frequently depicts social problems as occupied by victims and villains. This article expands constructionist literature on the rhetoric of victimization by examining how major media outlets narrated the Duke University rape case. The Duke University rape case is unusual in that it is one of few cases where the media were required to articulate a narrative fissure. This fissure, caused by apparently exonerating DNA evidence, should be excavated to understand better the structure and nature of victim work. Specifically, I argue that the news media employed two distinct and incompatible rhetorical idioms in its victim narrative. The rhetoric of social justice constructed the accuser as the victim of Southern racism, sexism, and classism. The rhetoric of individual justice constructed the Duke lacrosse players as victims of a rogue District Attorney. I use this analysis to add to the work of Holstein and Miller (1990) by offering a structural model of victim narratives. I then apply this model to the Duke narrative to illustrate the model’s empirical utility. Third, I use the Duke narrative to illustrate, on the one hand, the validity of the binary code victim/villain as a narrational stratagem; and on the other, the changeable and provisional nature of victim work in the media. Finally, I discuss theoretical implications and future lines of research.


No submissions were received. 


Title: The Terrible Towel and Fair-Weather Fans: An Exploration of Steelers Nation as a Quasi-Religion
Author: Marci Cottingham
Affiliation:  University of Akron

The subculture of Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans (Pittsburgh, PA) is analyzed using participant observation and qualitative content analysis, as a contemporary quasi-religion. In analyzing participant observation (while tailgating, attending a game, and watching televised games in sports bars), I drew heavily on the microsociological, situational work of Randall Collins (2004). I used concepts related to ritual ingredients, outcomes, and collective effervescence to interpret experiences and observations. I qualitatively analyzed two types of content—news articles and artwork—exploring emergent themes related to the theoretical relationship between religion and Steelers Nation. Conceptual and theoretical implications are explored, particularly in regard to Collins’ claim that sports fans are dependent on high ritual intensity for community. I also explore the continued privileging of cognitive beliefs over religious practice in the sociological study of religion. Finally, I suggest a shift in focus toward the localized, bodily experience of the quasi-religious as a necessary transition toward a more holistic view of religious phenomenon.


No submissions were received.


Winning Title:  Negotiating the Ethics of Elder Care in the Transnational Field: A Case of Immigrants in the U.S. and their Parents in Taiwan
Author:  Ken Chih-Yan Sun
Affiliation:  Brandeis University

In this study, I use the changing meaning of filial piety within transnational Chinese families as a case study to examine the processes through which a family ideology “travels,” varies and functions across different social and cultural worlds. Through multi-sited field work in the United Sates and in Taiwan, I delineate how family members within a transnational household simultaneously espouse and contest cultural beliefs about intergenerational ethics. Furthermore, I illuminate how the politics of race/ethnicity and gender are articulated in immigrants’ and their parents’ narratives of intergenerational ethics. In doing so, I argue that the malleability, rather than the immutability, of a culturally specific family ideology is the key to understanding the maintenance of ties among family members within transnational households.

Honorable Mention Title:  Returning to Work: The Impact of Health Insurance on Labor Market Reentry among Older Workers
Author:  Ben Lennox Kail
Affiliation:  Florida State University

This article studies the impact of having access to health insurance coverage on returning to work after retirement. Using the 2004 and 2006 waves of the Health and Retirement Study, I find that having access to Medicare reduces the chances that people will return to work, but that having to purchase direct insurance increases those chances, after accounting for demographic characteristics, economic well-being, and health. Moreover, I find that both of these effects are larger for African Americans than they are for whites. I conclude by considering the implications these findings have for changes to U.S. Medicare policy.