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Faculty Research

Zachary Brewster uses his research to explore the everyday nature of racial discrimination as it is manifested in the US restaurant industry. His recent work has focused on assessing the nature and pervasiveness of restaurant servers’ proclivities to provide service that is informed by the race of their customers. Derived from this line of research he has had recent articles published in Sociological Forum, Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, Sociological Inquiry, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research, and The Sociological Quarterly. Brewster is currently in the process of collecting and analyzing primary data derived from a survey of U.S. restaurant consumers.  In this study he hopes to shed additional light on the subtle ways in which race continues to shape people’s thoughts, actions, and experiences in US consumer markets. More generally Brewster’s interest areas include race and ethnic relations, work and organizations, medical sociology, and scholarship of teaching and learning..

Khari Brown’s research interests primarily involve the intersection between race, religion, and social activism.  Dr. Brown is currently working on a series of articles on the association between political discourse within houses of worship and racial attitudes, same sex marriage attitudes, immigration attitudes, and racial solidarity.  All of these projects rely upon the National Politics Studies (NPS), a national study of White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, and Black Caribbean Americans.  Dr. Brown is also working with a team of research scientists at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research to seek funding to collect another wave of NPS data.    

 Krista Brumley's research uses qualitative methods to study gender, work, organizations, social movements, and globalization in Mexico. She conducted ethnographic field research at a Mexican multinational company, including in-depth interviews, participant observation, and archival research. Her earlier research was an extensive case study of non-governmental organizations and political participation in Monterrey, Mexico. Based on this research, she has forthcoming articles in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, “From responsible debtors to citizens: Collective identity in the debtors’ movement in Monterrey, Mexico,” and the Journal of Family Issues, “‘It was like a revolution:’ Women’s perceptions of work-family practices at a Mexican Multinational Corporation.” She is also the author of “Understanding Mexican NGOs: Goals, Strategies, and the Local Context,” in Qualitative Sociology and “Gender, Class, and Work: The Complex Impacts of Globalization,” in Advances in Gender Research. She received the Outstanding Author Contribution award from Emerald Publishing for the article in Advances in Gender Research. She received a University Research Grant and a Faculty Fellowship from the Humanities Center for her research work in the past few years, and recently won the President's Excellence in Teaching Award at Wayne State.

 Heather Dillaway's research focuses on the various social contexts for women's menopause  and midlife experiences. Much of her work focuses on women's experiences of dealing with menopausal symptoms in front of others, how women react to the biomedical discourse surrounding menopause, racial-ethnic differences in menopause, the uncertainty women feel during perimenopause, and the meanings women attach to midlife in general.  Dr. Dillaway is working on a book manuscript on menopause and midlife in Detroit and, at the same time, she is starting on a brand new research project looks at the differences between women with "natural" menopause and "surgical" menopause (hysterectomies). With co-authors Dr. Dillaway also researches the reproductive experiences of women with spinal cord injuries and impact of disability on reproductive experiences. Dr. Dillaway also writes about women's experiences of combining paid work and motherhood,  women's aging, and successful aging.  Recent articles have appeared in journals such as Sex Roles; Journal of Applied Gerontology; Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal; Journal of Family Issues, Journal of Women & Aging, and Healthcare for Women International. She is currently editor of the online journal, Michigan Family Review.

David Fasenfest is developing a model for assessing and including urban and social sustainability criteria related to new manufacturing development in Southeast Michigan.  As co-PI of a 2 year NSF engineering grant to develop a national network, Professor Fasenfest's focus will be to work with engineers and other scientists at several major universities to expand the engineering decision making process so that it will include social dimensions in a final calculus determining the optimum investment and technology strategy.  For the 2012-2013 academic year he has been awarded a Humanities Center Fellowship allowing him to pursue this line of research, and to develop a set of measures that will capture sustainability.  Finally, in addition to his work editing the journal Critical Sociology, and overseeing the book series, Studies in Critical Social Sciences (soon to publish the 50th book in that series), Professor Fasenfest is the Program Chair for the 2013 SSSP Annual Meeting, to be held in New York City.

Heidi Gottfried addressed her work on gender and work transformation in a book entitled, Gender, Work and Economy: Unpacking the Global Economy (Polity, 2012).  She has edited or co-edited books on Gendering The Knowledge Economy: Comparative Perspective; Remapping The Humanities: Identity, Community, Memory, (Post)Modernity; Equity in the Workplace: Gendering Workplace Policy Analysis; and Feminism and Social Change: Bridging Theory and Practice. In addition to collaborating with two international working groups, several of her publications have appeared in international journals and books, including: a chapter in Uberkreuzungen (Westfalishes Dampfboot, 2009); "Reflections on Intersectionality" in the Journal of Gender Studies; and “Gender and Employment: A Global Lens on Analyzes and Theorizing of Labor Markets” in Sociology Compass.

Janet Hankin was Interim Department Chair from 2009-2011.  She received the 2012 Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award from Wayne State University for her outstanding work with graduate students. She also received a Service Award from the Medical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association (ASA) for “Exceptional service as the organizer and principal editor of the special issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Section and for her service in other multiple roles to the Medical Sociology Section,” in 2011.  She was recently Chair of the Medical Sociology Section of ASA as well.  She is a member of the ASA W.E.B. Dubois Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award Committee (2010-2012) and the Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Team of the Detroit Department of Health & Wellness Promotion. Her current research focuses on two different topics within medical sociology: 1) the prevention of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and 2) the quality of care in radiation oncology treatment. 

David Merolla’s research focuses on both social inequality, social psychology and educational issues using quantitative methods. Recent publications reflect these interests.  One paper, titled “Concentrated Disadvantage and Beliefs about the Causes of Poverty: A Multi-Level Analysis” appeared in Sociological Perspectives (2011). This study investigated neighborhood level correlates of individual beliefs about poverty.  The research adds to the literature on the social bases for subjective experiences by showing both how contextual factors may affect ideological beliefs, and by advancing a more nuanced view of how beliefs about poverty are formed.  A second publication titled, “Structural Precursors to Identity Processes: The Role of Proximate Social Structures”, appeared in Social Psychology Quarterly (2012).   This research explores how science training programs can increase the degree to which students maintain an interest in science careers, finding that these programs are successful, in part, because they provide a setting for students to develop positive social relationships with other science students.   The study adds to growing evidence that social factors are important for student retention in science education.  A podcast with more information about this research can be downloaded at: http://spq.sagepub.com/content/75/2/149/suppl/DC1.   In the 2011-2012 academic year, Dr. Merolla was awarded a University Research Grant for a study of how neighborhood factors affect educational outcomes. 

Sarah Swider’s research is focused on understanding labor in a global perspective.  Her earlier work, "Working Women of the World Unite? Labor organizing and transnational gender solidarity among domestic workers in Hong Kong" in Global Feminism:  Women's Transnational Activism, Organizing, and Human Rights, edited by Myra Marx Ferree and Aili Mari Tripp (NYU Press) examined transnational labor cooperation, seeking to understand different forms of cooperation, conditions under which cooperation was likely, and factors that influence the outcome.  This research included a case study of a successful women migrant domestic workers union in Hong Kong that explored the innovative organizational forms and strategies these women deployed to gain and protect rights within the national and global context.  More recent research, "Permanent temporariness in China's construction industry," a chapter in the forthcoming edited volume by Sarosh Kuruvilla, Mary Gallagher, and Ching Kwan Lee, looks at the migrant labor workforce which has developed as part of extensive ethnographic field research in China focused on migrant construction workers in the informal labor market.  On the macro-level, it shows how these migrants, who have limited citizenship, are spatially, socially, and economically integrated into China's global cities.  On the micro level, the study identifies mechanisms that channel migrants into a segmented informal labor market and shapes the labor process.  Dr. Swider is in the process of preparing a book manuscript based on this research.  Lastly, she is working on developing a research proposal on the informal labor market in China which builds off of the work that she has already completed.  Dr. Swider is also interested in conducting similar research (on labor, migration, gender, and the informal market) in Detroit.

Nicole Trujillo-Pagán’s research explores how state institutions shape racial and ethnic identities and affect the contours of social inequality. This research agenda is informed by three general questions: 1) how does the colonial experience inform Puerto Rican identity; 2) how does the selective enforcement of immigration and labor policy influence the nature and structure of Latinos’ work; and 3) how does immigration policy shape Latinos’ socio-legal status? Dr. Trujillo-Pagan supports social justice through my research, an agenda shared by many Latino scholars and value-committed sociologists. As a result, her professional activities seek to promote the development of students’ research and the enhancement of community resources.

Leon Warshay has written about various aspects of sociological theory for his entire career. With co-authors he is also researching the reasons why some White individuals decide to remain in Detroit over time, despite out-migration trends and racial politics in the city. He is currently finishing a book entitled "Perspectives in Sociological Theory" (to be published in 2013). He is active in the American Sociological Association, still presenting his more theoretical work on a regular basis. He teaches sociological theory (both classic and contemporary) and social psychology.

2228 F/AB, 656 W. Kirby St.
Detroit, MI 48202
Phone: (313) 577-2930
Fax: (313) 577-2735
Website: clasweb.clas.wayne.edu/Sociology
Email: ad4388@wayne.edu