University of Missouri


Theory, culture, identity

Wayne H. Brekhus

Wayne H. Brekhus

Culture and Cognition: Patterns in the Social Construction of Reality

Associate Professor

Ph.D., Rutgers University

Research Interests

My research interests include culture and identity, theory, sexuality, social control, qualitative methods and cognitive sociology. My research program focuses on social identity and social control with a specific interest in the ways individuals negotiate marked and unmarked identity attributions, move between and shift identities across time and space, and assert and challenge claims to identity authenticity. In my first book, I developed a general theory on the grammar and micro-ecology of social identity from a qualitative case study of gay suburbanites. Analyzing data from intensive interviews with gay suburban men, I developed three ideal-typical "identity management profiles”: 1) identity lifestylers, 2) identity commuters, and 3) identity integrators.  Lifestylers treat their "gayness" as a noun, foregrounding it as their core ingredient of self at all times and in all places and immersing themselves in identity-specific enclaves and social networks. Commuters treat their "gayness" as a verb, foregrounding their "gay self" in a few places, times, and social networks, but submerging it and foregrounding "other selves" at other times and in other places and networks. Integrators treat their "gayness" as an adjective, presenting it as only one small part of their whole and integrating it into their overall identity and their social networks at all times. I use empirical examples approximating each of these heuristic types to explore the competing values of identity authenticity, identity mobility, and identity multidimensionality that these respective "identity grammars" battle over. In doing so, I focus on the ways in which individuals weight their competing cultural resources of stigma and privilege to actively shape, manage, and transform their social identities across time and space. I continue to be interested in these broad issues of identity authenticity, mobility, and multidimensionality and in the ways individuals creatively negotiate stigma and privilege. I have published a variety of articles on identity, the marked and the unmarked, and cognitive sociology. I am currently working on a book project on the sociology of culture and cognition.


Recent Publications

Brekhus, Wayne H. 2012. “Gay Commuters, Gay Integrators: Gay Suburban Identity Strategies in the Post-Closeted Era” in C. Rinaldi (ed.) Introduzione Alle Sociologie Dell Omosessualita. Mimesis: Milan.

Brekhus, Wayne H., David Brunsma, Todd Platts and Priya Dua. 2010. “On the Contributions of Cognitive Sociology to the Sociological Study of Race” Sociology Compass 4: 61-76.

Brekhus, Wayne H. 2008. “Trends in the Qualitative Study of Social Identities” Sociologiy Compass 2/3: 1059-1078.

Brekhus, Wayne H. 2007. “The Rutgers School: A Zerubavelian Culturalist Cognitive Sociology” European Journal of Social Theory 10(3): 448-464.

Brekhus, Wayne H, John F. Galliher, and Jaber F. Gubrium. 2005. “The Need for Thin Description.” Qualitative Inquiry 11(6): 861-879.

Brekhus, Wayne H. 2005. “Une sociologie de l’ invisibilite’: reorienter notre regard” Reseaux: Communication, Technologie, Societe 23:243-272. (republication of 1998 Sociological Theory article in French Communications Journal).

Galliher, John F, Wayne H. Brekhus and David P. Keys. 2004. Laud Humphreys:Prophet of Homosexuality and Sociology. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

Brekhus, Wayne H. 2004. “Commuting to Homosexuality: Laud Humphreys’ Unheralded Contribution to the Sociology of Identity.” International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 24(3-5):58-72.

Brekhus, Wayne H. 2003. Peacocks, Chameleons, Centaurs: Gay Suburbia and the Grammar of Social Identity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Brekhus, Wayne H., Keith L. Brekhus and John F. Galliher. 2001. “Social Problems in Social Problems: The Theory and Method of Justice.” Social Problems 48(1):137-143.

Brekhus, Wayne H. 2000. “A Mundane Manifesto.” Journal of Mundane Behavior 1(1):89-105.

Brekhus, Wayne H. 1998. "A Sociology of the Unmarked: Redirecting Our Focus."Sociological Theory 16(1):34-51.

Brekhus, Wayne H. 1996. "Social Marking and the Mental Coloring of Identity: Sexual Identity Construction and Maintenance in the United States. "Sociological Forum 11(3):497-522.