College of Liberal Arts

Sociology Doctoral Candidate Awarded Moore Fellowship to Study Forced Relocation

Mon, Jun 18, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas — The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health has awarded the $20,000 Harry E. and Bernice M. Moore Fellowship to Esther Sullivan, a doctoral candidate in sociology from The University of Texas at Austin.

The fellowship was established in 1995 in memory of Dr. Harry E. Moore, a University of Texas at Austin professor and sociologist who specialized in disaster studies, including tornadoes and hurricanes in Texas. The fellowship is awarded annually to doctoral students completing dissertations on the human experience in crises caused by natural or other major disasters or, in a broader sense, stress and adversity.

Sullivan was chosen as this year’s fellow for her research proposal on the effects of mass residential relocations. She will study community-wide evictions that occur in mobile home parks, the single largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing in the United States and areas vulnerable to rapid forced relocations.

“The conditions that catalyze such relocations contribute to the unequal distribution of housing stability and more generally to social stratification. They result in severe crises for individuals, families and dismantled communities,” Sullivan said.

Through her research, Sullivan seeks to better inform legal and policy decisions related to community and housing regulations.

“Esther Sullivan’s research will give a unique look at some of the most at-risk populations in Texas and continue the Moore Fellowship tradition of advancing public understanding of human adversity,” said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the foundation.

In the first phase of her research, Sullivan will create a specialized geospatial methodology, replicable in any county in the United States, to document and analyze this form of eviction. Later, she will live in mobile home parks facing forced relocation in Texas and Florida to more closely evaluate community opinions, strategic decisions and coping strategies.

The Hogg Foundation advances recovery and wellness in Texas by supporting mental health services, policy analysis, research and public education. The foundation was created in 1940 by the children of former Texas Gov. James S. Hogg and is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.

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