Directed by Professor Melissa Milkie
From early in her career, Professor Milkie's research has illuminated the power of culture to influence individuals. Her dissertation examined the power of cultural images to affect adolescent girls' health, a process that varies by ethnicity and is subtle and indirect. Professor Milkie assesses cultural ideals and how these may clash with people’s realities, and thus have implications for well-being. She is especially invested in examining cultural models linked to gender, work and family life, for example surrounding “involved fathering” and “intensive mothering.” Her scholarship reveals the complex, subtle aspects of stratification occurring through cultural ideals and examines how these are
reflected in the experiences of individuals. It addresses how cultural meanings attached to social statuses and roles --- for example the “ideal” female, the “good” father, the “problem” child or the stereotyped African-American --- become manifest in interactions, attitudes, behaviors, and identities, and how these are contested and change. Currently, she is testing assumptions linked to "intensive mothering" -- specifically how the amount of time mothers are supposed to invest in offspring --- matters for children's well-being.
Professor Milkie's work on culture and well-being has been rich and diverse methodologically, including the use of ethnographic interviews, survey research, and content and interpretive analysis. Her research in the content analysis tradition began with examining trends in racial and gender images in children’s book during graduate school (with a key paper published in the leading sociology journal, American Sociological Review, with Bernice Pescosolido and Elizabeth Grauerholz, which has been reprinted in methods books as an exemplar). Some recent work (with graduate students Kathleen Denny, Shanna Brewton-Tiayon, and Lucia Lykke) analyzes articles in Parents’ magazine to study how explanations of fathers’ lack of parental involvement have changed over the last 80 years.
Kathleen Denny received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Maryland. Her research focuses on elucidating cultural beliefs about gender, race, family. and the workplace, with her two most recent publications using content analysis of cultural texts to do so. She is currently working on perceptions of parents in the professional workplace.
Joanna Pepin is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the University of Maryland. Her research explores the relationship between historical changes in families and the gender revolution. She is currently working on her dissertation, Inequality and the Household Economy, which investigates the organization and use of money in couples' romantic relationships. Joanna published research on news coverage about domestic violence committed by celebrity figures.
Valerie Chepp is currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Director of Social Justice Program at Hamline University. She is a qualitative researcher and ethnographer studying intersectional and cultural approaches to inequality, art, and social justice. Her published work has focused on race, gender, feminism, hip-hop, and spoken word poetry. Valerie holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Maryland, a MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, and a BA in Sociology and Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin.
Shengwei Sun is a PhD candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of Maryland. She is primarily interested in the cultural construction of gender under different social contexts. Her current research examines the public discourse on the changing gender norms in contemporary China through analyzing mainstream media's framing of women's work-and-family issues. She is also engaged with a project exploring how low-income women in the U.S. draw on cultural schemas of motherhood to construct their maternal identities.