University of Missouri


Culture and identity are terms packed with meaning. The faculty in this program area represent varying theoretical and methodological orientations in the debates regarding these terms. Interest extends to cultural institutions, language and social interaction, personal and collective identity construction, and related discursive processes. Contexts of application range from everyday life to cultural contact and hegemony in global perspective. Particular emphasis is placed on the ways in which identity, culture, social institutions, and the organization of mass media intersect with issues of social inequality, social control, social change, and the everyday production of subjectivities.


This program area centers on the relationships between health, aging, and the environment. Issues of interest include health disparities, the body, constructions of aging and nature, environmental inequalities, the human-nonhuman divide, medical technologies, and public health policies. These span both micro-level processes and the global context to highlight analytic connectivity, processes, and change. Theoretical interests and research methodologies are diverse. Faculty focus on a wide range of institutions, nations, and regions.


This program area deals primarily with states, economies, the social movements shaping these institutions, and the policy formation process. The area is centrally concerned with power in and around the institutions and processes, and with the cultures of institutions and movements that shape the exercise of power. Representative research and theoretical concerns within the area include power structures and administrative arrangements within state bureaucracies, comparative institutional arrangements, comparative frameworks shaping institutions and social movements, comparative studies of revolutions, and the emergence and structure of social movements.


The issue of inequality is central to the field of sociology and figures prominently in research and teaching. We explore the origin, structure, reproduction, and outcomes of social inequality arising from various sources, including class, gender, race and ethnicity, age, and global economy. The area is highly diverse and intersects with many other domains of sociological research such as family, health, community, and culture. There are strong department links with Women and Gender Studies, Black Studies, and Peace Studies programs on campus.


Grants and Publications

  • Eileen Bjornstrom & Joan Hermsen. $220,000 Grant from the National Institute of Justice titled “Missouri Crime and Victimization Survey.”
  • Wayne H. Brekhus. Culture and Cognition. Cambridge UK: Polity Press
  • Jaber F. Gubrium & Margaretha Järvinen.  Turning Troubles into Problems: Clientization in Human Service.  London: Routledge
  • Amit Prasad. Imperial Science: Transnational Histories of MRI in the United States, Britain, and India. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

2015 Noel P. Gist Award

  • Barbara G. Brents, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Guest Lecture, title: The State of Sex: Nevada's Legal Brothels and the Political Economy of Sex. April 27, 2015 4 pm - 211 Middlebush Hall

Faculty Awards

  • Joan Hermsen. Stakeholder Lifetime Achievement Award. University of Missouri
  • Ibitola Pearce. Provost Award for Leadership in International Education. University of Missouri
  • Srirupa Prasad. Faculty Achievement Award in Diversity.  University of Missouri

2015 Robert Habenstein Dissertation Award

  • Braden Leap. Dissertation: Remaking Culture and Identities in the Gooseless Goose Capital of the World: Responses to Climate Change in a Missouri Community (Advisor: Tola Pearce)