Graduate Students

Shayna Alexander

sha78@pitt.edu
Preliminary Phase
Admitted:
Fall 2016-2017

I am interested in the ideologies of and member experiences within radical right organizations and charismatic new religious movements. I am also interested in how one’s self-development process, of lack thereof, impacts decisions to join and exit these groups.

Ayse Alniacik

aya21@pitt.edu
Comprehensive Phase
Admitted: 2013-2014

Interests: I am interested in studying urban poverty and politics in Turkey around the axis of economic inequality, ethnicity and citizenship. My main question is how politics constitutes the experience of poverty at both the material and the symbolic levels.
Assisted: Global Societies, Societies

Daniel Burridge​

dpb36@pitt.edu
Comprehensive Phase
Admitted: 2013-2014

Interests: I am interested in Latin American social movements and their relationship to the state within the context of the crisis of capitalist globalization. Specifically, I intend to compare anti-systemic movements in different countries in Latin America in order to understand why some attempt to capture state power while others seek autonomy from the state, and how this question relates to community and transnational organizing dimensions.
Assisted: Global Societies
Taught: Social Change, Global Societies, Social Movements

Benjamin Case

bsc28@pitt.edu
Comprehensive Phase
Admitted: Fall 2013-2014

Interests: I am coming to sociology from the perspective of an activist and political organizer, and I am interested in studying social movements. My current research is on civil resistance, and the grey area in between "nonviolent" action and "violent" armed struggle. In particular I am examining the role riots play in civil resistance movements. Other interests of mine include organizing strategy, intersectionality, and anarchism.
Assisted: Deviance and Social Control, Statistics
Taught: Political Sociology

Gabriel Chouhy

gac27@pitt.edu
Dissertation Phase
Admitted:  Fall 2010-2011

Interests: I’m interested in broader historical processes of contemporary Latin America, such as democratization, neoliberalization, class inequalities, and state formation. For my MA thesis, I studied the statistical relations between social structure and consumption, determining the extent to which class differences account for variation in a set of consumption patterns inferred from the National Survey of Household Expenditures and Incomes conducted in Uruguay. I framed this analysis in the context of the advance of neoliberalism in the last quarter of the twentieth century, which transformed the material culture of Latin American societies in such a way that patterns of class differentiation are expected to revolve, increasingly, around consumption. For my Comps / PhD dissertation project, I focus on the trajectory of leftist parties and its interaction with waves of social protests, democratization and neoliberalization. In particular, I plan to develop a comprehensive comparative analysis of the long-run legacies of the democratic transitions and the process of neoliberalization in the post-Washington consensus era in Chile and Uruguay. More than twenty years after the formal end of authoritarian rule, the reminiscences of such legacies on contemporary Latin American democracies are of paramount importance, especially now that the neoliberal consensus is (supposedly) under frank decline throughout the continent and claims for more socially inclusive political systems are at the top of the agenda. The historical process that leads to the recent student uprising in Chile serves as point of departure.
Assisted: Societies, Sociology of the Family
Taught: Political Sociology, Revolutionary Social Movements, Societies

John Cuda

jrc87@pitt.edu
Dissertation Phase
Admitted:  Fall 2010-2011

Interests: My research is concentrated mainly within the sociology of religion. I am interested in studying alternative spirituality culture, specifically aspects of religiosity emphasizing ritual practices and self-making processes. This involves an examination of how individuals practice highly personalized and subjective forms of religiosity in a modern context. I argue that due to social processes such as individualization, pluralization, and cultural multiplicity, modern individuals are actively engaged in constructing unique spiritual identities, or creative mythologies, that consist of synthetic composites drawn from various religious traditions. Major questions that concern me include: what happens to religion as it undergoes transformations involving the mixing of diverse traditions, how alternative and self-oriented forms of religiosity reproduce themselves, and where the locus of authority is situated among groups and individuals. I am also interested in how anarchy theory may be applied to the study of alternative forms of spirituality, and in what ways art making is connected to ritual practices within this cultural milieu.
Assisted: Introduction to Sociology, Societies, Sociology of Everyday Life
Taught: Sociology of Religion, Introduction to Sociology

Sebastian Cuellar​

sec108@pitt.edu
MA Thesis Phase
Admitted: Fall 2013-2014

Interests: I am interested in cultural trauma, social movements and violent conflicts in Latin American societies. I am currently working in peace building process and its impacts in civil societies.

Brittany Duncan

bjd42@pitt.edu
Comprehensive Phase|
Admitted: Fall 2009-2010

Interests: My broad areas of interest are political and global sociology, especially women in politics, food politics, and feminist and anti-corporate movements.  My current research examines women's political leadership, with a cross-national study of legislative committees.  

Ellen Eckert

eme30@pitt.edu
Preliminary Phase
Admitted: Fall 2014-2015

Interests: My research interests are political sociology, social movements, and the role of social media in contemporary politics.
Assisted: Societies, Sociology of Everyday Life, Statistics
Taught: Introduction to Sociology, Mass Media

Stephanie Eckstrom

sae102@pitt.edu
Comprehensive Phase
Admitted:  Fall 2010-2011

Interests: I am very interested in the intersections of race, class, and gender; social movements, particularly the impact of technology on current and future functioning and infrastructure; gender studies; and feminist theory, particularly as applied towards sexuality and violence.

Suzanna Eddyono

sue2@pitt.edu
Dissertation Phase
Admitted: Fall 2009-2010

Interests: My comprehensive paper focuses on citizenship education. At this point I see education as national instrument for forging new citizens in Indonesia, a Muslims country that is in transition from the authoritarian regime to a more democratic one. Particularly I am interested in the way democracy and citizenship are presented in schools’ text books, what values citizenship textbooks emphasize, and how this emphasizing can be useful as an entry point to understand Indonesian cultural and political change.

Alana Fields

adf45@pitt.edu
Comprehensive Phase
Admitted: Fall 2014-2015

Interests: I am interested in studying the social, cultural and environmental factors that impact gendered violence in the African American community. I am interested as well in the ways that the intersection of race, class and gender shape the experience of violence in this community. I also hope to evaluate the significance of collectivism, black feminism, black masculinity, sexuality and the black church as they relate to violence in the African American community.

Basak Gemici

bag56@pitt.edu
Comprehensive Phase
Admitted: Fall 2014-2015

Interests: I am interested in the formation of collective action in high-risk environments, particularly in the prisons of Turkey. The relationship between space, identity and collective action in prisons together with the use of memory,emotions,language, oral/cultural production and different meanings of ethnic and political violence according to genders in the course of a collective action are parts of my inquiry.
Assisted: Sociology of Everyday Life, Sociology of the Family, Societies

Hatem Hassan

hmh33@pitt.edu
Comprehensive Phase
Admitted: Fall 2012-2013

Interests: I am interested in urban sociology, collective behavior, social movements, and the sociology of culture. Specifically, I study (and plan to continue studying) everyday resistance during the Arab Spring, and possibly through a historical-comparative lens. My latest research focuses on the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.
Assisted: Introduction to Sociology, Deviance and Social Control, Statistics

Mitchell Kiefer

mtk36@pitt.edu
Preliminary Phase
Admitted: Fall 2015-2016

Interests: My research interests fall under cultural and political sociology. I am interested in the reproduction and reification of dominant ideologies, specifically how these relate to understandings of blame and punishment. Additionally, I am interested in peace movements and how they are connected to conceptions of ideal democracy or other forms of government.
Assisted: Medical Sociology, Introduction to Sociology

Sarah Langman

sll65@pitt.edu
Comprehensive Phase
Admitted: Fall 2014-2015

Interests: Musical resistance, spatial potential & dissent, political sociology, power dynamics and the public sphere.
Assisted: Societies, Deviance and Social Control

Mehr Latif

mel93@pitt.edu
Dissertation Phase
Admitted: Fall 2011-2012

Interests: I am interested in the processes of state formation, political identity, and the public sphere. In particular, I am researching the intersection between Pakistani kinship networks and the state to study state/kinship boundaries, alternate spheres of governance, and citizenship.  Over the past fifteen years, I have researched and designed projects related to civil society development, decentralization policy, and social accountability models in Asia, including Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Pakistan.
Assisted: Sociology of the Family, Introduction to Sociology, Basic Applied Statistics, Deviance and Social Control
Taught: Global Society, Introduction to Sociology and Social Theory

Hillary Lazar

hal62@pitt.edu
Comprehensive Phase
Admitted: Fall 2012-2013

Interests: I am interested in power, resistance, and social change. This includes theories related to social movements, revolution, empire, transnationalism, and world-systems. I also tend to ground my work in comparative historical analysis. I am particularly focused on anarchist and other horizontal/de-centralized forms of organizing as well as creation of counterpower through alternative institution building and prefigurative politics. Recently, my research has also focused on the emotional dynamics in movements, including the many pleasures of protest as well as the meaning and role of political love across different fronts of struggle.
Assisting: Deviance and Social Control, Introduction to Sociology, Global Societies, Sociology of Gender, Statistics
Taught: Sociology of Gender, Deviance and Social Control, Social Movements

Daniel McClymonds

dam256@pitt.edu
Preliminary Phase
Admitted:
Fall 2016-2017

I have broad interests in social theory, political sociology, and civic participation. In particular, I’m interested in the ways in which social and economic inequalities affect politics and political participation. 

Joshua McDermott

jlm417@pitt.edu
Preliminary Phase
Admitted
: Fall 2016-2017

I'm interested in global political economy, specifically the role of extreme poverty within the global capitalist system and the dynamics of global labor. Specifically, I'm interested in the anti-capitalist dimensions of social movements within the growing phenomenon of mega slums. I'm also interested in how workers and the unemployed challenge the current global political economic system. This involves a comparative approach to movements in both West Africa and Central America, as well as an interest in transnationalism and the role of the nation-state in globalization.

Mohammad Golam Nabi Mozumder

mnm25@pitt.edu
Dissertation Phase
Admitted: Fall 2009-2010

Interests: My dissertation examines how educating the body/self (re)shapes a subjectivity as well as a body politic; how techniques of (re)forming bodily dispositions, sensibilities, inclinations speak to, facilitate or thwart dominant codes of power. In other words, given that power is predicated upon certain types of body, e.g., docile body, the presence of non-conformist bodily dispositions put them at unease with the structures of power—productive, collaborative, or destructive unease. While Foucauldian analysis of the body displays how the body comply with, adjust, inscribe the codes of power, Aristotelian paradigm of training of the self (which is almost disappeared in contemporary literature) testifies how the body is not merely a passive absorber. Instead the body can actively train itself to lead a defiant life, can embody an alternative world. Analyzing the heterodox Fakir life-practices in Bengal, especially of Fakir Lalon Shah and his followers, my research highlights the eventful interactions between the conflicting bodies—not  simply how power manufactures the body but also how the educated body create spaces outside the ambit of seemingly all-encompassing biopower, and can potentially unsettle it.
Assisted: Statistics, Societies
Taught: Sociology of Religion, Sociology of the Family, and Social Change

Corinne Ogrodnik

cro9@pitt.edu
Dissertation Phase
Admitted:  Fall 2010-2011

Interests: My research focuses on the political strategies of environmental organizations, with an emphasis on the dynamics of coalition building and collaborative processes. My dissertation explores an unlikely alliance of environmental organizations and industry groups working to address the ecological impacts of Marcellus shale gas development in the Appalachian region. Central questions of my study include the organizational motivations for and against participation, the costs and benefits of joining the collaborative, and the ability for participating organizations to sustain alliances with environmental groups that pursue alternative strategies. I also investigate key factors associated with the collaborative process, such as brokerage, trust building, and negotiation.
Assisted: Sociology of Gender, Sociology of Everyday Life, Statistics
Taught: Societies

Samantha Plummer

ssp19@pitt.edu
Overview Phase
Admitted: Fall 2011-2012

Interests: I am interested in religion and culture, specifically the religious and cultural dimensions of social cognition. Additionally, I am interested in the intersection of culture, politics and mental health treatment, particularly in the context of social and economic inequality.

Candice Robinson

ccr26@pitt.edu
Prelimary Stage
Admitted: Fall 2015-2016

Interests: I am interested in the broad areas of race, class, and civic engagement. Specifically I am interested in examining the volunteering behaviors of Middle-Class Black Americans and the reasons behind their volunteering choices.

Caitlin Schroering

chs203@pitt.edu
Comprehensive Stage
Admitted: Fall 2015-2016

Interests: I am interested in how religion and spirituality manifest in the arena of “globalization-from-below” environmental social justice movements, particularly in the United States and Brazil.  For my MA thesis I examined how liberation theology (and the present day beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church) informed “green movements” for environmental and social justice in Brazil. I studied the role of the Catholic Church in these mobilizations from 1960 to present.  This research forms the foundation of the work I intend to pursue for my dissertation, expanding it to also examine environmental social movements within the United States.
Assisted: Sociology of the Family

Jeffrey Tienes

jmt114@pitt.edu
Dissertation Phase
Admitted:  Fall 2010-2011

Interests: My dissertation, “Keeping it ‘Real’: Accountability in Pittsburgh’s Underground Rap Scene,” is an ethnographic study of how rappers attempting to break into the mainstream music industry hold themselves and others accountable to cultural norms in hip-hop via the credo of “keeping it real”. Over 17 months, I conducted 26 in-depth interviews while observing Pittsburgh’s underground rap scene through concerts, community events, recording sessions, and social networking websites. I argue that hip-hop artists implicitly and explicitly communicate their understandings of what it means to “do” hip-hop to community members via their ability to “keep it real”. These observations show me how artists (together and with other industry actors) construct and police the boundaries and meanings of their community, their art, and the cultural industry through interaction.
Assisted: Societies
Taught: Social Problems, Intro. to Sociology, Social Research Methods, Sociology of Sports 

Chie Togami

​clt57@pitt.edu
Preliminary Stage
Admitted: Fall 2015-2016

Interests: In broad strokes, my research has been driven by diverse attempts to envision and actualize alternative social arrangements. I am interested in how various communities have understood themselves as exercising utopian ideals through communal living, free love, shared income, and a small environmental footprint. The fundamental question that continues to animate my research is: how do modern intentional communities sustain themselves - economically, spiritually, socially - while attempting to work outside of the global capitalist paradigm? Building upon past field work conducted in a series of ecovillages and intentional communities found in Japan, New Zealand, Germany and Scotland, I hope to pursue a further investigation of the factors (internal and external) which may predict the longevity and stability of such communities.

Suzanne Wagner

sew61@pitt.edu
Dissertation Phase
Admitted: Fall 2011-2012

Interests: I am interested in examining the apparent analogy between the social movement phenomenon and the groups of actors involved in civil war and other regional international conflicts.

George Weddington

gtw10@pitt.edu
Comprehensive Phase
Admitted: Fall 2014-2015

Interests: My areas of interest are in social networks, contentious behavior, and racial justice. Specific questions that I seek to answer are when and how do people and organizations withdraw support for racial justice movements. I am interested not in oppositional movements, but more strictly on dynamics of supporting movements and then choosing to disengage with them. I want to examine such questions in terms of movement and supporter goals, racial identity, political identity, and the nature of movement support.
Assisted: Wealth and Power

Elizabeth Yates

eay15@pitt.edu
Dissertation Phase
Admitted: Fall 2012-2013

Interests: Social movements, gender in social movements, conservative social movements, the US and Latin America

Weijun Yuan

Wey39@pitt.edu
Preliminary Phase
Admitted
: Fall 2016-2017

My research interests include social movements, democratization, social stratification, and gender, with a regional specialization in Latin America and China. I am particularly interested in exploring which lines of social cleavage come to be the basis for mobilization, how the movements initiated by different social groups interact with each other, and what are the factors that condition inter-organization and inter-movement relationships.