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August 27, 2021

New book by UO Soc prof: “Tasting Coffee: An Inquiry into Objectivity”

Professor Emeritus Ken Liberman has completed his study of coffee and the results will be published in his upcoming book, due out this fall, titled Tasting Coffee: An Inquiry into Objectivity (SUNY Press). This work promises to add another excellent contribution to his productive and meaningful career, and we are delighted to congratulate him on this accomplishment!

A summary of the book is provided below:

Based upon a decade of research in 14 countries, the 500-page study presents a non-essentialist ontology of coffee, its history and its production, that undermines fetishized reifications of coffee that facilitate profit-making in the global coffee industry. It is at once ethnographic and phenomenological; however, it provides not one ethnography but a dozen (including growers, processors, exporters, buyers, professional tasters, importers, blenders, roasters, marketers, baristas, sensory scientists, and consumers). Coffee tasting is investigated by tracing the global chain of coffee production “from seed to cup,” stopping at every stage along the way and describing the tasting and thinking practices of each of these stakeholders in the purveying of coffee. Particular attention is devoted to how tasters convert what is subjective experience into objective knowledge that can be shared and made reliable.

Tasting Coffee is a study in the sociological tradition of Simmel (The Philosophy of Money), Benjamin (The Arcades Project), and the situated studies of Garfinkel (Ethnomethodology’s Program), all of who examined just how local parties produce live social structures. A series of naturally occurring ethnographic case studies provide specifications of postmodern humanity, and the world of coffee becomes a microcosm in which current societal dilemmas are exposed and interrogated.

August 18, 2021

UO Sociologists’ appearances in recent media

How does increased consumption of poultry and fish affect beef consumption? According to Dr. Richard York, Professor of Sociology, it does not lead to the decrease one might expect. Dr. York discussed his latest publication with Brigham Young University Radio (BYUradio) on their daily program Top of Mind, and you can listen to the full interview on their website.


Dr. Krystale Littlejohn, Associate Professor of Sociology, has been busy with the release of her new book, titled “Just Get on The Pill: The Uneven Burden of Reproductive Politics” (UC Press 2021), due out this August, but found time to speak with NPR’s 1A about the history of birth control in America. The full interview is available on their website, and Dr. Littlejohn’s interview features in their follow-up story about birth control’s status today, also available on their website.

Dr. Littlejohn’s work was also featured on Jefferson Public Radio this week; the full interview is available on their website.

Dr. Littlejohn’s book release will also be celebrated on August 31st with a virtual book launch. She’ll be joined by Alicia Bonaparte (Department of Sociology, Pitzer College), Katrina Kimport (Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, UC San Francisco), and our own CJ Pascoe for what promises to be an engaging and enlightening conversation. If you are interested in attending this FREE online event, please register online.

July 12, 2021

UO Sociology Professor featured on Around the O website

UO Sociology Associate Professor Raoul Liévanos and his research on environmental and urban sociology were profiled in a recent piece on the Around the O website:

As an environmental sociologist, Liévanos studies spatial and institutional factors—segregation and governmental policies, for example—that create inequality in how people experience their environments. It’s the difference between the experiences of privileged and disadvantaged neighborhoods regarding, say, toxic exposures, flood protection, or access to healthy, affordable food.

Research and public debate have historically focused on the role that racial and class discrimination played in the concentration of lead exposure in specific parts of the city. But findings by Liévanos and his colleagues highlight the importance of race, gender, and family structure as factors at the finer scale of the neighborhood block level.

“If we develop policies geared toward one particular understanding of a problem but the policies are very broad,” Liévanos says, “they may not address other aspects of the problem that need attention.”

See the full story on Around the O. Congratulations, Raoul!

June 16, 2021

UO Soc professor wins award for recent article

UO Sociology Professor Jessica Vasquez-Tokos’ recent article (coauthored with Priscilla Yamin, Professor of Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at UO) “The Racialization of Privacy:  Racial Formation as a Family Affair” (Theory & Society), has been selected as co-winner of American Sociological Association (ASA) Race, Gender, and Class Section Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Article Award.  This paper carefully and clearly lays out the theory and cases to show how myriad forms of state action get entangled with and emerge from hegemonic racial ideologies and relations to differentially value Whiteness and devalue non-Whiteness specifically in the context of restrictions on family privacy. This is a powerful clarification and application of racial formation theory. Congratulations Jessica and Priscilla!


A right to family privacy is considered a cornerstone of American life, and yet access to it is apportioned by race. Our notion of the “racialization of privacy” refers to the phenomenon that family privacy, including the freedom to create a family uninhibited by law, pressure, and custom, is delimited by race. Building upon racial formation theory, this article examines three examples: the Native American boarding school system (1870s to 1970s), eugenic laws and practices (early/mid 1900s), and contemporary deportation. Analysis reveals that state-sponsored limitations on family privacy is a racial project that shapes the racial state. Performing an ideological genealogy with our cases, this article makes three contributions: it illustrates how the state leverages policies affecting families to define national belonging; it reveals how access to family privacy is patterned by race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, and national origin; and it distills how Whiteness and a national racial hierarchy are socially constructed and maintained over time. With the racialization of privacy, we identify how the state seeks to reproduce institutionalized White supremacy and the effects this has on families. We argue that families are the linchpin in state-sponsored racial projects that construct the nation and that the racialization of privacy, as a form of inequality, is a defining characteristic of the color-line.

May 3, 2021

Professor Richard York publishes new article in Nature Sustainability

Congratulations to Dr. Richard York on the publication of his article, “Poultry and fish and aquatic invertebrates have not displaced other meat sources,” in the high-impact journal Nature Sustainability! In this paper, Dr. York identifies an empirical puzzle of global environmental consequence regarding the production and consumption of animal meats and applies the “displacement paradox” – a concept he identified with energy use nearly a decade ago – to this puzzle of meat consumption. The Academic Times describes Dr. York’s analysis in their recent write-up:

Chicken, fish and aquatic invertebrate foods such as mussels and scallops produce relatively less carbon and are relatively less resource-intensive in the food production system than beef, mutton, goat, buffalo, and pork. But even though the consumption of pigs, fish and aquatic invertebrates doubled over the study period, and chicken consumption increased fivefold, other meat consumption remained steady. “Consumption,” notably, means foods produced and sold for human food, and thus include the 17% of food the U.N. says is wasted. Notably, food waste also drives the climate crisis.

In his statistical analysis, York said he measured consumption per capita, “so we take care of population growth, which will of course lead to more food consumption. I control for gross domestic product, affluence – you know, people get richer, they change their diet – urbanization. I control for a variety of things, and then I look at, if you have a rise in poultry consumption in nations, does that have an effect on how much consumption of other meat is happening? The finding is, it doesn’t.”

These results are sure to stimulate ongoing research and public consideration. If you would like to read more about this engaging and important work, check out Dr. York’s Behind the Paper piece with Springer Nature.

March 11, 2021

UO Soc professor quoted in report on Gen Z housing trends

A recent report on Gen Z renters (those born between 1997 and 2012) shows that the trending locations preferred by Gen Z are small towns in the heartland, in the Midwest as well as in parts of the South, according to data analysis by RentCafe. The authors interview UO Professor Jill Ann Harrison (Sociology), who explains that

“Younger people are willing to trade off living in a crowded, bustling city for having more space at home. Many of these Heartland places are also much closer to their hometowns, too, enabling a tighter intergenerational connection which is more valued among younger adults today than with Gen X.”

The full report, including more of Professor Harrison’s expert commentary, can be read on the RentCafe blog.

February 3, 2021

Costly Failure: new report co-authored by UO Sociology doctoral candidate tackles online charter schools

A new report from In the Public Interest that argues that California is wasting over $600 million a year on nonclassroom-based charter schools is gaining national attention with its recent mention in the Washington Post.

The report is co-authored by UO Associate Professor Gordon Lafer (Labor Education & Research Center) and doctoral candidate Larissa Petrucci (Sociology), alongside co-authors from In the Public Interest, and reveals that despite the high costs of these nonclassroom-based programs paid by California taxpayers, the educational outcomes of online charter schools are significantly below the state average, by every measure.

The full report can be found at

January 27, 2021

Congratulations to the Duck of the Week, Dr. John Bellamy Foster!

UO Sociology’s own John Bellamy Foster is this week’s Duck of the Week, recognized for his new award-winning book, The Return of Nature, and his many teaching and research contributions on environmental problems. Congratulations John! You can read the full interview on the Around the O website.

January 20, 2021

UO Sociology professor co-edits new Oxford Handbook of Social Networks

Published in December 2020 and coedited by UO’s Professor Ryan Light and Professor James Moody (BS ’92) of Duke University, The Oxford Handbook of Social Networks is an important collection on the study of social networks.

“Despite the rapid spread of interest in social network analysis, few volumes capture the state-of-the-art theory, methods, and substantive contributions featured in this volume. This Handbook therefore offers a valuable resource for graduate students and faculty new to networks looking to learn new approaches, scholars interested in an overview of the field, and network analysts looking to expand their skills or substantive areas of research.”

We proudly celebrate Professor Light’s contribution to this important Oxford Handbook and for keeping the study and understanding of social networks so central to UO Sociology!

December 22, 2020

UO Sociologist cited in new article on climate change denial

Professor Kari Marie Norgaard‘s expertise on climate change denial and emotional management was cited in an article on Grist last week. Below is a short excerpt of the article:

“Getting used to things is just what humans do. It’s what has allowed most of us to get through the constant upheavals and wild news of 2020. But for severe, global problems, psychic numbing can have dangerous implications. It could mean that we ignore the roughly 250,000 people estimated to die annually of climate change-related causes by 2030; or that, in the age of COVID-19, people start to forget about the pandemic, flout social distancing rules, and spread the disease…

…But even though the Norwegians knew about global warming, Norgaard argued that they lived in a kind of “double reality,” both accepting — and almost completely ignoring — the melting ice caps and disappearing snow. They spent their days, she wrote, “thinking about more local, manageable topics.”

The full article is available for free on

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