Department of Sociology

Envisioning Real Utopias

Envisioning Real Utopias

By Jessica Sinn, College of Liberal Arts
Published: September 28

AUSTIN, Texas - Last month, more than 80 students, alumni, and professors from the Department of Sociology and Population Research Center showcased their research at the annual American Sociological Association (ASA), one of the largest and most important professional gatherings in the field of sociology.

The conference, themed "Real Utopias" challended thousands of top scholars from research institutions throughout the nation to explore the viability of utopian ideas. Through their research, they demonstrated how innovative visions could provide alternatives to existing institutions ranging from corporate industries to small communities.

In between poster presentations and panel discussions, we caught up with some of our up-and-coming sociology scholars at the Denver Convention Center. Watch these video Q&As to learn more about their research.

The Roller Derby Revolution


Name: Travis Beaver
Rank: Graduate Student, Department of Sociology, Population Research Center
Faculty Advisor: Christine Williams

Research Summary: The all-women roller derby revival has grown rapidly from one league in 2001 to more than 300 leagues today. In his paper, Beaver shows how theoretical work produced by social movement scholars can be applied to an analysis of the roller derby revival. Although roller derby participants aren't outwardly striving for political and social change, they can be seen as a social movement that challenges cultural codes. Watch the video

The Effects of Parenthood on Exercise


Name: Amy Lodge
Rank: Graduate Student, Department of Sociology, Population Research Center
Faculty Advisor: Debra Umberson

Research Summary: How does parenthood affect physical activity among whites and African Americans thoughout the life course? To examine this question, Lodge analyzed in-depth interviews with 44 African American and white parents of young and adult children. Results from her study provide insight into the cultural and social factors that influence physical activity among parents across racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Watch the video. Read her Q&A

Mexican-American Health and the "Barrio Advantage"


Name: Alumnus Carlos Diax-Venegas: (Ph.D. Sociology, Population Research Center, 2012)
Rank:Postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Faculty Advisor: Jacqueline Angel

Research Summary: Diaz-Venegas is investigating how financial strain increases health risks among aging Mexican-Americans. From his analysis of more than 3,000 Mexican-American respondents in five southwestern states, he found poor neighborhoods predict higher levels of financial strain. However, close-knit Mexican-American neighborhoods reduce health problems among the poor. Watch the video

A Word from the Department Chair


Watch Christine Williams, professor and chair in the Department of Sociology, discuss the university's strong research presence at the ASA meeting. Watch the video.

For more about our student, faculty, and alumni presenters at this year's ASA conference, go to the Department of Sociology's graduate student blog. Go to this website for the latest updates on recently published papers by up-and-coming sociology scholars at The University of Texas at Austin.

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