sdsu library

Research

Aside from their teaching responsibilities, Sociology faculty pursue academic research in many different areas of expertise, including crime, demographic change, deviance, education, family, globalization, heath and illness, labor relations, immigration, international border issues, race relations, social class, and mental health.  

Several faculty members have attained regional, national and international recognitions through their prolific scholarly work and funded research endeavors.  

Faculty members have also recently led or collaborated with researchers from leading research universities on projects of vast social and policy implications on topics such as undocumented immigrants, public health, community corrections and parole policies, and statistical strategies for sampling racial/ethnic minorities and other hard-to-reach populations. 

Faculty members have also engaged in intense community-oriented research focused on salient local and regional problems that make significant contributions to the local communities. 

Taking advantage of our geographical location, several faculty members focus on trans-border and trans-cultural research projects.

Research Highlights

Learn more about our faculty's research by reading about their work:

computer with cup of coffee on front porchDr. Joseph Gibbons is an Urban Sociologist whose research focuses on how residence in neighborhoods affects one's well-being. He is an Associate Director of the Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age (HDMA) center, a multiple-disciplinary research consortium of scholars interested in applying 'big data' derived from very large data sources like social media to understand human behavior.  

He is currently involved in three ongoing projects with HDMA colleagues: 

  1. Exploring the imprint that social ties from social media have on urban communities.
  2. Using Twitter data to identify the emotional sentiment and efficacy of neighborhoods to better understand health outcomes. 
  3. Using Yelp reviews of restaurants in San Diego to more dynamically identify gentrification. 
  4. Mapping incidence of late stage cancer diagnosis listed in the California Cancer Registry with neighborhood demographic data. 

Dr. Enrico Marcelli’s research agenda is to (1) design and implement community-based probabilistic sample surveys to collect representative and sensitive demographic, economic, health-related and sociocultural information from relatively clandestine or “hard-to-reach" populations (e.g., undocumented immigrants, informal workers, young adults); and to (2) employ statistical (e.g., regression) techniques to these and publicly available (e.g., U.S. Census, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) data to investigate the demographic characteristics, health, integration and effects of these populations; for the purpose of (3) augmenting the technical and fundraising capacities of the community-based organizations with which he works (e.g., Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Border Angels) and providing policy-relevant information to county, state and federal-level legislators regarding health and immigration.

Some of his most recent research-oriented accomplishments are:

  1. a $449,175 grant from The California Endowment (TCE) on The Inclusion of Unauthorized Immigrants in the Implementation of the Affordable Care Act for which I estimated (in collaboration with an Manuel Pastor if USC) and continue to estimate the number and characteristics foreign-born residents of the USA in California by citizenship and immigrant legal status (e.g., unauthorized, legal permanent resident, other “authorized" non-citizens) at county and smaller geographic areas; Read the fact sheet | Read the report | Read the article from the Sacramento Bee

  2. a $106,835 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to help design and implement the San Francisco Bay Area Young Adult Health Survey (BAYAHS) in collaboration with UCSF colleagues Pam Ling and Louisa Holmes, and to home environment is associated with tobacco use; 

  3. the 2014 San Diego County Mexican Immigrant Health & Legal Status Survey (SDC-MIHLSS) data, which were collected in collaboration with UCSD Dr. Wayne Cornelius;

  4. a paper being co-authored with four colleagues from the CDC, UCSF, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health entitled “Vaccination Coverage among Foreign-born Mexican Adults: New Evidence from Los Angeles County," which employs his 2012 Los Angeles County Mexican Immigrant Health & Legal Status Survey (LAC-MIHLSS III) data (funded by the CDC with $93,685);

  5. and serving on the Population Association of America (PAA) Program Committee held in San Diego from the April 29 to May 1, 2015. 

Elusive Belonging book coverInternational Marriage and Multiculturalism in Korea

I have been working on the issue of marriage immigrants and multicultural policies in Korea for many years. Based on ethnographic research of Filipina marriage immigrants and South Korean rural communities, I published several articles and wrote a book, Elusive Belonging: Marriage Immigrants and Multiculturalism in Rural South Korea (University of Hawai’i Press, 2018).

Currently, Dr. Hyeyeong Woo (Portland State University) and I are working on a co-edited volume, tentatively titled Immigration, Marriage, and Multicultural Families in South Korea: Reflections and Future Directions (advance contract from Rutgers University Press). With the support from the Academy of Korean Studies, we are organizing a workshop where all contributors of the edited volume will visit San Diego State to give presentations on their works.

The workshop on Immigration, Marriage, and Multicultural Families in South Korea was on February 22, 2019. For more information, see the workshop flyer.

The Emergence of Korean Immigrant Communities on the U.S-Mexico Border

The international expansion of multi-national corporations and the bi-national economic operation on the U.S.-Mexico border has facilitated the growth of immigrants who are from neither border countries but have transborder lives. This ongoing ethnographic project investigates the conditions of migration, settlement, and incorporation of immigrants who moved to a bi-national border region from a third country.  The intense case study of Korean immigrant border communities will evaluate how ethnic immigrants, who are engaged in inter-ethnic social and economic interactions within both countries, are integrated into them, and how co-ethnic ties, ethnic identity, and political context affect their integration process. (NSF #1823828)

Race in Hollywood

I study media representations of racial minorities, with primary focus on Asians and Asian Americans. Check out “Consuming Orientalism” (Qualitative Sociology, 2005), “Missing Romance” (Contexts, 2013), and a book chapter in Feminist Perspectives on Orange is the New Black (MacFarland Press 2016).

Global Gender Research book cover

feminist perspecyives on orhnage is the new black

Multiethic Korea? book cover

Mike RobertsMy recently published research has been in the areas of: the American labor movement, the social and cultural history of rock-and-roll music, the representation of social class in mass media forms, the intersection of race and class and Critical Theory.  My book, Tell Tchaikovsky the News: Rock’n’Roll, the Labor Question and the Musicians’ Union (Duke University Press, 2014) was nominated for the Mary Douglas Prize by the Section on Culture of the American Sociological Association.  My book was also the topic of an interview conducted for the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM). Recently, the online magazine Jacobin ran an article about my book

In addition to research on popular music and the American labor movement, my other area of research on the culture industry concerns the representation of social class on television.  I co-authored an article on the representation of work and workers in children’s television programming.

My article, “Turning the Race/Class Dialectic on Its Head," represents a new direction in my research on the intersectionality of race and class.  It was published in October, 2015 in the journal Race & Class.  My latest work on the topic of social class includes a new co-edited book that will be published by Wiley in September 2017.  Read an excerpt from it.

In the area of Critical Theory, I have developed a new project on the contributions of Friedrich Nietzsche to critical social theory.  My essay, “Twilight of Work: The Labor Question in Nietzsche and Marx,” was accepted for publication in the journal Critical Sociology, where I am co-guest editor for a special issue on Nietzsche.  I am also currently co-editing a book titled Nietzsche and Critical Social Theory: Affirmation, Animosity, Ambiguity (under contract with Brill).  The selections are drawn, in part, from selected papers that were presented at an international conference I co-organized here at San Diego State University.  You can find more about the conference at https://nietzsche.sdsu.edu/.

Hank JohnstonHank Johnston is an eminent scholar of collective action, protest, and social movements. His research examines protest performance in different state systems, especially authoritarian regimes, cognitive/interpretative dimensions of collective action, and the cultural analysis of mobilization processes. In the last three years, Dr. Johnston has written three books:  What is a Social Movement, States and Social Movements, and with Greek researcher, Seraphim Sepheriades (Pantion University, Athens), Violent Protest in the Neoliberal State.

Dr. Johnston’s present research is a comparative study of protest and resistance in authoritarian states, entitled “The Resistance Repertoire.” Its themes are proposed in his recent article, “State Violence and Oppositional Protest in High-Capacity Authoritarian Regimes,” and his recent Mobilizing Ideas blog, “The Games Afoot, Authoritarian Regimes and the Field of Play.” This project comparatively analyzes protests in three authoritarian contexts of different repressive capacity:  (1) Mexico during its authoritarian period, especially in the post-1968 repression and until the opening of the political system in the early 1990s; (2) China’s current policy of providing channels of popular protest through the xinfang system of “petitioning” state authorities; and (3) the resistance against communist rule in Eastern Europe in the 1980s and early 1990s,  about which Dr. Johnston has written numerous articles and essays.