Sociology Theses and Dissertations

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    Juvenile Delinquency and the Negro in Charles County, Maryland
    (1966) Seaman, Thomas W.; Lejins, Peter P.; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, MD)
    Are there differences between Negro and white juvenile delinquents? This was the question that constituted the basis for this exploratory study. The objectives of the project were to determine if Negro juveniles were proportionately overrepresented among juvenile delinquents and if there were differences in types of offenses committed by Negro and white delinquents. The differences found were analyzed in the light of socio-economic class differences between Negro and white delinquents. Previous research has tended to indicate that racial differences disappeared when socioeconomic class was held constant. The area selected for the project was Charles County, Maryland, because of the writer's access to court records and knowledge of the area. Delinquency rates were developed to determine if Negroes were proportionately overrepresented among delinquents and/or if lower class juveniles were overrepresented among delinquents. Delinquent offenses were divided into four types: offenses involving theft or attempted theft of property, offenses involving violence, offenses involving the destruction of property, and offenses injurious to the child himself. Delinquency rates were developed for Negro and white delinquents in each socio-economic class for each type of offense. A simple ecological investigation was conducted to determine if there were any significant patterns in the spatial distribution of the delinquents. The findings show that Negro juveniles were not significantly overrepresented among delinquents even though Negro delinquents were overrepresented among lower-lower class delinquents. White delinquents were found to be overrepresented among delinquents from the lower-middle and upper-lower classes. The analyses of types of offenses revealed that types of offenses could be identified with certain levels of the socio-economic structure regardless of race, but that differences existed between Negro and white delinquents within socio-economic classes. The ecological investigation indicated that there was no significant ecological pattern among county delinquents.
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    Internal Migration to Osaka Prefecture, Japan
    (1956) Lewis, David Michael; Hoffsommer, Harold; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, MD)
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    "It's Not Like I Can Just Pause Diabetes:" How People Living with Type 1 Diabetes Navigate Relationships, Reproduction, and Parenting
    (2023) Maietta, Justin T.; Doan, Long; Cohen, Philip N.; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation draws on 26 qualitative in-depth interviews to explore how people who live with type 1 diabetes (T1D) navigate three important and intimate areas of life: dating and relationships, reproduction, and parenthood. Applying a sociological disability framework to this research, I explore how participants’ trajectories and outlooks, decisions, and feelings of agency and self-efficacy in these areas of life are influenced biographically, structurally, and culturally on account of living with T1D. Each of the three substantive chapters of this dissertation is an article that examines the relationship between living with T1D and either dating and romantic relationships, reproduction, or parenthood. First, I argue that dating and relationship norms and expectations can be rooted in ableist ideals that marginalize potential partners living with impairment or disability. I also demonstrate the importance of two kinds of support that dating partners offer to participants living with T1D: tangible support and incorporative support. Both kinds of support work against assumptions made about dating and relationships among people living with impairment or disability. I then examine facets of living with T1D occurring at multiple analytical layers (structural and cultural, interactional, self, and body) across the life course and how they influence whether people with T1D feel having children is something they want or need or is within their reach. This article enriches our understanding of disability by demonstrating that individuals with less noticeable or visible disability are subject to similar social imperatives of risk management and moral reproduction as those with more noticeable physical or sensory disabilities. Finally, I discuss how participants think about and practice balancing caring for their T1D and caring for their children, as well as how they reconceptualize “good parenting” within an intensive parenting culture that expects child-centered and self-sacrificing parenting. I also discuss how adults who grew up as children and adolescents with T1D reflect on how they have been and continue to be parented regarding their T1D, leading them to challenge norms of “expert-guided” parenting within an intensive parenting culture. This challenge is made through advocating for more agency, autonomy, and expertise grounded in embodied experience to be afforded to children and young adults with T1D in ways that supersede the expertise of doctors and researchers. Overall, this dissertation illustrates: (1) how experiences, interpretations, and representations of disability at multiple analytical levels have the power to remove some feelings of agency and self-efficacy from disabled people throughout the process of reproduction, in their dating lives and romantic relationships, and in their roles as parents; and (2) the ways that individuals with disability adapt to, challenge, and disrupt the norms, ideologies, and assumptions that marginalize them in these intimate areas of life.
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    Latinx Motherhood Reassessed: How Second and Later-Generation Latina Mothers Redefine Motherhood, Latinidad, and Pursue Intergenerational Healing
    (2023) Reyna, Chandra V; Dow, Dawn M; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation examines how social location, experience with racialization, and generation since immigration influence the parenting practices and mothering ideologies of second- and later-generation upwardly mobile Latina mothers. Through 62 in-depth semi-structured interviews with Latina mothers across the United States, I explore four sets of questions. First, how do second and later-generation Latinx mothers approach parenting amidst multiple cultural scripts of motherhood? Second, how does social location, experience with racialization, and immigrant generation inform the motherhood ideologies and parenting practices of second and later-generation Latinx mothers? Third, how do Latinx mothers approach ethnoracial socialization and transmission of cultural knowledge with their children? And lastly, how do second and later-generation Latinx mothers’ experiences and practices highlight the incorporation strategies and challenges of later-generation Latinx people? My findings show that upwardly mobile second and later-generation Latinx mothers intentionally deviate from the mothering strategies used by earlier family matriarchs and also do not replicate those of white American mothers. Instead, they adopt what I call a culturally transformative mothering approach that involves 1) intentionally selecting and integrating valued aspects of their cultural background into their parenting practices while also 2) identifying and altering practices they deem harmful and remnants of structural inequalities. Overall, my findings demonstrate that middle-class Latina mothering is distinct from both mothers’ ethnic communities of origin and white American middle-class motherhood. It is instead informed by cultural expectations and traditions but adapted to fit their current social, cultural, and economic needs of mothering in the United States.
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    Heterogeneous Effects of Grandchild Care on Employment, Working Time, and Work-Family Conflict
    (2023) Min, Jisun; Sayer, Liana; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    A substantial number of adult children, both in dual-earner and single-parent families, are increasingly relying on grandchild care to bridge childcare gaps. Despite the growing trends of grandchild care and the prolonged participation of older Americans in the workforce, prior evidence over how time spent on grandchild care is associated with grandparents’ employment outcomes remains inconclusive. Considering unobserved (time-constant) heterogeneity is important for a better understanding of the association between grandchild care time and employment/work hours, because mixed findings in prior research may be attributed to omitted variables, such as preferences related to grandchild caregiving and work. Empirical research has not yet examined how grandchild care time influences family-to-work conflict and work-to-family conflict over time among employed grandparents. To examine these questions, this dissertation uses the Health and Retirement Study between 2004 and 2014 and employs fixed effects models to take into account unobserved heterogeneity and to address selection issues, and use a random effects model for family-to-work conflict. Chapter two illustrates that considering class and employment informs us with further understanding of grandchild care time, while the effects of gender and race/ethnicity on the time allocated to grandchild care largely remain. Particularly, non-employed NH Black men with a high school diploma or less provide substantial grandchild care (500 hours or more over the two years; approximately 4.9 to 96 weekly hours), matching the level of care provided by non-employed NH Black women with the same education. Class is only linked to the time spent on grandchild care for employed NH White and Hispanic men. College-educated employed NH White men engage in a low level of grandchild care (1-99 hours over the two years; about 1 weekly hour), which is greater than that of employed NH White men with a high school diploma or less. Employed Hispanic men with some college education or more tend to provide an intermediate level of grandchild care more (100-499 hours over the two years; roughly 1 to 4.8 weekly hours), whereas devoting to substantial care less, compared to employed Hispanic men with a high school diploma or lower education. Employment status exclusively influences the time that NH White grandparents dedicate to grandchild care: Non-employed NH White women and men are more involved in substantial grandchild care compared to their employed counterparts. In contrast, no employment variations in grandchild care among NH Blacks and Hispanics may suggest that racial minority groups prioritize grandchild care regardless of their employment status. Chapter three shows that an increase in time spent on grandchild care is link to a decrease in work hours over time among both grandmothers and grandfathers. Although the direction of providing each additional hour of grandchild care on employment status appears similar to the effect on work hours, it is not significant. No gender differences are found in the effect of grandchild care hours on both work hours and employment status. Chapter four demonstrates that employed grandfathers who provide a low level of grandchild care experience a decrease in family-to-work conflict and an increase in work-to-family conflict over time compared to employed grandfathers who do not engage in grandchild care. No significant associations are found among employed grandmothers. However, employed grandfathers who engage in a low level of grandchild care are more likely to experience an increase in work-to-family conflict compared to employed grandmothers who do the same level of care. No significant evidence for gender differences in the association between grandchild care time and family-to-work conflict is found. Results in chapter three and four collectively provide insight into both negative and positive aspects of grandchild care. Results in Chapter three indicate that an increase in time spent on grandchild care is linked to reduce grandparents’ work hours regardless of gender and may potentially produce economic repercussions, especially among grandparents who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. Results in Chapter four demonstrate the buffering effect of minimal grandchild care on family-to-work conflict and its adverse effect on work-to-family conflict among employed grandfathers. In conclusion, my dissertation sheds light on both different aspects of grandchild caregiving, with outcomes potentially depending on the level of caregiving engagement and gender.
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    (2023) Ruan, Hangqing; Kahn, Joan JK; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    The dissertation addresses two "public health puzzles" in US mortality inequality trends: (1) SES inequalities in mortality have been growing wider despite declines in overall mortality levels and the expansion of social welfare policies; (2) mortality inequalities present diverging trends across age groups, with declines at younger ages but growth at older ages. These puzzles challenge existing theories in explaining the complex dynamics of mortality disparities. The study aims to bridge this gap by proposing an alternative theoretical framework that combines Fundamental Cause Theory with the concept of epidemiological transition.Previous research has focused primarily on socioeconomic factors as the main drivers of widening mortality disparities. However, this dissertation argues that mortality inequalities can evolve independently of socioeconomic factors due to shifts in disease patterns towards non-communicable diseases and advancements in health-beneficial innovations. By analyzing county-level US mortality rates from 1968 to 2020, this study reveals that mortality inequality related to infectious diseases declined in the early 1970s and remained stable over time. On the other hand, mortality inequality related to non-communicable diseases remained at a low level during the 1970s but saw a significant increase since the 1980s. Further, this study found that mortality inequality from non-communicable diseases is more pronounced in middle-aged and older adults, and the age distribution of mortality inequality progressively shifts towards older ages. This study contributes to the existing literature with a new theoretical perspective to understand the developments of mortality inequalities over time. This framework sheds light on the two "public health puzzles” and emphasizes the crucial role of disease patterns prevailing during specific historical periods in understanding the developments of mortality inequality. Furthermore, the study underlines the interplay of disease patterns, prevention/treatment innovations, and social and economic inequalities in collectively shaping the future of mortality and health disparities. It also sheds light on the social-political circumstances of medical innovation as well as behavioral factors over the life course in determining future population health and health inequalities.
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    (2023) Ye, Jing; Chen, Feinian; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation consists of three papers that investigate the working and caregiving roles of middle-to-older adults and their implications for well-being in China. While existing literature predominantly focuses on older adults as care recipients, this research sheds light on the significant number of older individuals who actively participate in the labor market and provide informal caregiving to family members. Studies usually focus on either caregiving or employment while keeping the other in the background, leaving the intersection of work and caregiving responsibilities understudied. I then ask whether and how work-life conflicts, commonly discussed in the context of middle-aged women, are also applicable to the older population and are shaped by gender. Using data from the China Health and Retirement Study, the study investigates work and caregiving patterns among middle-to-older adults and explores the well-being consequences of juggling these roles. Furthermore, the research examines whether gender-based patterns persist in work and caregiving dynamics during this stage of life. The study is conducted in China, a developing country experiencing accelerated population aging, and the boundaries between work and family responsibilities are less distinct compared to developed societies. Early retirement age in the formal sector provides opportunities for older workers to engage in caregiving, while informal sector and agricultural workers may need to continue working until old age due to low pension rates. The culture of filial piety and intergenerational solidarity further encourages older generations to provide financial and caregiving support to their younger family members, leading to the common occurrence of middle-to-older adults taking on both work and caregiving roles. The first paper explores the association between living arrangements and middle-to-older adults’ work prospects, considering gender and work sector differences. The second paper examines the impacts of living arrangements on role transitions, especially the transitions of workers and worker-caregivers given their prevalence, while also considering the moderating effects of gender and residence. The third paper investigates the joint impact of work and informal caregiving on mental well-being, analyzing the differential effects based on intensity, gender, residence, socioeconomic status, and social isolation level. In the context of accelerated aging in developing countries, this dissertation highlights the contributions of middle-to-older adults and emphasizes the need for investment in and design of long-term care services to meet the demands of rapidly aging populations.
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    Mothers as Agents of Social Change in the Movement Against Sexual Violence
    (2023) Drotning, Kelsey J.; Cohen, Philip N; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    My dissertation examines how the #MeToo movement is changing generational understandings of sexual violence. Through this research, I examine how sexual violence is both a cause and a consequence of systemic gender and race inequality. Using eighteen in-depth semi-structured interviews of mothers with at least one child aged five-years or older, I investigate three sets of questions. First, how are mothers evaluating their own experiences with sexual violence post #MeToo movement? Second, how is sexual violence part of mother-child conversations about sexual behavior? Third, how do mothers; social location contribute to how they feel about the #MeToo movement and how they teach their children about sexual violence? My findings suggest mothers are transmitting new understandings of sexual violence to their children. Specifically, mothers are teaching their children that appropriate touch, sexual or nonsexual, cannot be determined using a binary yes or no standard of consent. Their approach to sex education is driven by their own experiences with sex that was violating and/or nonconsensual and consideration of their own and their children's social location. Overall, my findings demonstrate the #MeToo movement and other associated events have ushered in a change in mothers' rape consciousness which is facilitating change in children's sex education. If successful, mothers will have contributed to decreased prevalence of sexual violence as these children age into adolescence and adulthood.
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    Interaction Patterns in the Neighborhood Tavern
    (1971) Bissonette, Raymond Peter; Lejins, Peter P.; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md)
    This study was undertaken in order to develop a systematic description and analysis of the social reality of the public drinking establishment with special reference to the neighborhood workingman's tavern. The perspective adopted was a focus on the non-pathological aspects of behavior associated with the consumption of beverage alcohol. Underlying this point of departure was the recognition that most research on drinking behavior is related to alcoholism but most drinking is not. The study had two purposes: first to attempt a descriptive analysis of social interaction in the tavern setting by translating observed behavior into relatively standard sociological concepts of norm, role, ecology, and communication. Beyond the descriptive purpose of this approach was the expectation that the organization of observations into such a conceptual scheme would enhance the scientific utility of the effort by providing for assimilability and comparability of the data with other research and theory. The second purpose was to test a new theoretical focus for its adequacy as an explanatory model. The focus is on behavior in public and semi-public places - an area falling some where between group studies on the one hand and studies of collective behavior on the other. The major component of this theoretical framework is the mechanism of involvement allocation which refers to the ways in which actors regulate the duration and intensity of their involvement in interpersonal interaction. As was anticipated much of what is unique to sociability in the tavern setting was explainable in terms of involvement allocation. Principally responsible for this is the fact that a tavern, regardless of its official definition, has the dual functions of dispensary and social event. Although the tavern is a prototypic case for involvement allocation it was concluded that this explanatory model might have wide application in interpersonal and intergroup behavior. The data were collected over a three year period by means of participant observation in a wide variety of settings. The core data represent observations taken over a two year period in four selected neighborhood taverns. The synchronic observation of these case taverns were then supplemented by spot observations taken in over one hundred other establishments. The third source of data was the published findings of similar and related studies. The contrast and comparison provided by these additional data aid considerably in verifying the raw data and their interpretation - an inherent problem in this kind of approach. The findings demonstrate that the social reality of the tavern setting consists in patterned behavior amenable to systematic description and analysis. Drinking is a never-present variable but rarely an exclusive preoccupation. A more fruitful approach in understanding the role of drinking in such a setting is to focus on its social rather than physiological consequences. As a part of the definition of the tavern, drinking is always an accepted major involvement and as such affords the individual considerable flexibility in his involvement in the social activities occurring simultaneously. Throughout the study much of what is characteristic of tavern behavior is explained in terms of the involvement allocation options offered by the tavern's dual function as dispensary and social event.
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    Gender-Specific Significance of Family Transitions on Well-being and Work Attitudes
    (2022) Hara, Yuko; Chen, Feinian; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Marriage and parenthood are major life events for many individuals. Marriage is linked with improved health partly through spousal influence on health-related behaviors including diet. Previous theoretical and qualitative research suggests a link between family transitions and meal patterns. Yet empirical research using a nationally representative sample to examine the association is scarce. And the issues of whether spousal influence on health-related behaviors can be extended to other types of romantic relationships, such as cohabitation, as well as whether the transition to parenthood is linked with changes in meal patterns, have not been adequately researched. Additionally, research examining whether the health benefits that marriage brings can be universally found for both genders across countries is limited. Family life events carry other consequences, too. Prior research also suggests that family life often has a negative impact on attitudes toward paid work, particularly for women. Past research, however, primarily relied on small sample interview data or cross-sectional data, leaving unclear how work attitudes change during adulthood. This dissertation examines the impact of different family life events such as marriage, cohabitation, and parenthood on changes in subjective well-being, health-related behavior (meal patterns), and attitudes towards work by gender. I focus on adults in their prime work and family life stages in the U.S. and Japan. By using fixed effects models and panel data, I aimed to estimate the average effect of family life events within individuals over time. I found that entering a romantic union reduces meal skipping, but the type of union matters differently for men and women. I also found that the transition to parenthood discourages women’s regular meal patterns, suggesting family ties do not necessarily facilitate healthy behaviors. In the highly gendered social context of Japan, contrary to previous findings from Western industrialized countries, I found no evidence indicating that marriage is associated with self-rated health for women. Additionally, I found that the transition to parenthood is negatively linked with men’s self-rated health. In terms of work attitudes, even when controlling for various job characteristics, I found that both marriage and parenthood are negatively associated with enthusiasm toward work achievement, only for women in Japan. These findings highlight the importance of country context and reveal that entry into marriage triggers shifts in women’s work attitudes even before having children.
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    (2022) Duan, Haoshu; Chen, Feinian; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation consists of three papers that investigate the long-term family caregiving patterns among Chinese and American older adults. Family caregiving has long been an essential fabric of long-term care services. Due to the prolonged life expectancy and the declined family size, older adults today are more likely to care for multiple family members for longer years than the previous cohorts. However, studies on caregiving predominately focus on singular care experiences over a short period time. As older adults transition into and out of multiple care roles, the overall caregiving patterns are overlooked. Leveraging two rich longitudinal datasets (the China Health and Retirement Study and the Health and Retirement Study), this dissertation aims to fill this current research gap by developing long-term family caregiving typologies. The first paper develops a care typology for Chinese older adults, and thoroughly assesses how gender, hukou status, living arrangement, and significant life transitions are associated with the long-term caregiving patterns. In the second paper, using linear mixed-effects models, I continue exploring the positive and negative health consequences of each caregiving pattern among Chinese older adults. The third paper focuses on developing a long-term family caregiving pattern for American older adults. In addition to prolonged life expectancies and the decline in family size, the U.S. has experienced complex transitions in family structures over the past few decades, leading to more diverse family networks and international relations in later life. After establishing the long-term care typology, the third paper pays closer attention to the variations of family caregiving patterns across the War Babies cohort, Early Baby Boomer, and the Middle/Late Baby Boomer cohort. Moreover, I explore how gender, race, and socioeconomic status are linked with these patterns. In the context of global aging, this dissertation highlights the heterogeneity in the family caregiving experiences and identifies the most vulnerable demographic groups who shoulder the heaviest care burden over time. In the end, the findings from the dissertation provide guidance for the investment and design of long-term care services in rapidly aging contexts.
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    The Socioeconomic Associations with Women's Partnership Formation and Dissolution in Russia, Germany, and the United States
    (2021) Zvavitch, Polina; Rendall, Michael S; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation consists of three studies that evaluate how women form partnerships, leave partnerships, and the economic outcomes of those partnerships. These demographic transitions and outcomes are evaluated in three country contexts with differing political, welfare regimes, social history. I use longitudinal data from Russia to analyze marital status differences and trends in in poverty risk. Contrary to assumptions that unmarried mothers will have higher risks of poverty over time as welfare policy weakens, unmarried mothers and married mothers’ risks of poverty came close to converging in the late 2000s. Second, I use German data to examine educational assortative mating in East and West Germany. I use the Revealed Preference Model (RPM). First, from bivariate analysis of the SOEP, I find that among the people who are partnering, they are doing so mostly homogamously in the East and the West. Highly educated women in the East are still less likely to partner somebody of a lower education status. The RPM estimated parameters then showed that in West Germany and East Germany alike, educationally hypergamous partnerships were most preferable. Though the availability of higher educated partners in East and West Germany are different, the preference for hypergamy remains. Finally, I move on to the United States to estimate the divorce risk of partners of various education levels. I use the Survey of Income and Program Participation, providing accurate representation of the contemporary U.S. The model estimates divorce risk using women’s own education, men’s own education, and their relative education levels. It reveals several persistent patterns. Women’s divorce risk decreases monotonically as education increases, so highly educated women have the lowest rate of divorce. Men’s education, however, is less of a determinant on the risk of divorce. Relative to hypergamy and homogamy, hypogamous unions (woman marrying a man of a lower education status than herself) were more likely to divorce. This study supports past research that finds the female breadwinner model the most volatile when it comes to likelihood of divorce and continued support for this trend into the 2010’s.
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    Collective Racial Emotion and Whites' Reactions to Demands for Racial Equity
    (2021) Genter, Shaun; Ray, Rashawn; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Research has shown that white people in the United States support the principle of racial equity, but oppose most practical efforts to advance it. Less is known about how whites respond to social actors who push for these efforts. Building on theories of racial policy attitudes, this research addresses the following questions: How do whites respond emotionally to actors who push for (and against) racial equity? Does the race of the actor matter? And what influence, if any, do these reactions have on subsequent policy evaluations?To begin answering these questions, I conducted three experiments (n = 1255) with self-identified white respondents recruited from Prolific Inc. In each of the studies, respondents reported their emotional reactions to an article designed to look like an online opinion piece. In the first and second studies, I varied the author’s race and whether or not the author supported or opposed race-targeted COVID-19 related economic stimulus. In the third experiment, I examined whites’ emotional reactions to Black and white advocates pushing for (or against) a presumably race-neutral policy—carbon taxing. My findings show that the author’s race does influence reactions, particularly when the policy has racial implications. Whites tended to direct more anger toward a Black advocate of the economic relief than they did when a comparable white advocate made the same claim. But whites showed more warmth toward the Black author when he argued against the relief. In both cases, the Black advocate promoted greater opposition to the policy by way of the emotional response. However, when the policy was race-neutral, the advocate’s race did not much influence emotional responses, suggesting that the response is, in part, related to the presumed effect the policy would have on reducing the social gap between Blacks and whites. The results of this research shed light on how white people react to demands for racial equity, and if the race of the messenger has any influence. It extends on previous research by focusing on emotional responses to these demands—both positive and negative—and the influence they have on policy opinions.
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    A Sociological Analysis of the Impact of Online Education on Community College Completion: A Case Study of Montgomery College in Maryland
    (2021) Hernandez, Shinta Herwantoro; Lucas, Jeffrey; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Community college completion is a top priority throughout the U.S. and particularly in the State of Maryland where the College and Career Readiness and College Completion Act (CCRCCA) was passed in 2013. To increase college completion rates, many community colleges throughout the state have prioritized online education by incorporating it into their institutional strategic plans. In doing so, higher education institutions in the state strive to lower social problems associated with college dropout rates, such as limited job or career opportunities, lower earning potential, increased unemployment, greater food and housing insecurity, and decreased community bonds. With more students enrolled in online courses, especially in community colleges, it becomes urgent to understand who is benefitting from online learning and who continues to experience challenges. In an examination of online education at Montgomery College in Maryland, results from this dissertation show that the delivery of high quality online education can help increase college completion rates. While not statistically significant, the time to completion for online students is 1.154 years less than fully face-to-face (F2F) students. Yet, middle income students graduate faster than their high income counterparts, Computer Science and Technologies students graduate faster than General Studies students, and online Computer Science and Technologies students graduate faster than their fully F2F counterparts. On average, there was no significant difference in the average time to completion across five academic years for online and fully F2F students – 4.5 years. Also across this five academic year span, specific online groups – males, Blacks or African Americans, high income and low income students, and General Studies, Business, and Early Childhood Education Technology majors – experienced an average time to completion that was lower than that of their fully F2F counterparts. The average time to completion at Montgomery College for online students exceeds that of fully F2F students after six online courses. However, for some online student groups – males, Blacks or African Americans, low income students, and Business majors – their time to completion is negatively impacted after 13 and 14 online courses, respectively. The research also suggests that the global COVID-19 pandemic has already positively influenced the way online education is delivered, the way instructors are trained, and the way students are engaged and learning at Montgomery College.
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    Understanding Values in Organizational Contexts: The Case of Species Conservation
    (2021) Dewey, Amanda Michelle Milster; Ray, Rashawn; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Biodiversity loss poses an existential threat to human life, and human activities both intentionally and unintentionally affect other species. Values provide an important tool for explaining such human behavior. While we have evidence of the causes and consequences of wildlife values at the individual level, much human activity that influences wildlife occurs in organizational settings. This project seeks to uncover the roles and negotiation of values in conservation organizations, filling an important research gap. The project uses a case study approach to illuminate the role and negotiation of values in case studies of three wildlife conservation contexts: national wildlife conservation, red wolf conservation, and horseshoe crab conservation in the mid-Atlantic. Through strategic selection of two organizations in each case, I explore how values function in these varied conservation contexts using interviews with staff and volunteers and content analysis of websites and social media. I argue that a broader typology of value frames exists within wildlife conservation organizations than is traditionally discussed in wildlife value literature. I find that frames include moral conservationist, community-steward, and complex utilitarian values, adding nuance to the previously understood value spectrum of humans versus nature. While findings indicated that values were behavior motivators for volunteers, volunteers were more likely to perceive and attempt to construct value alignment than to actively seeking organizations that were compatible with their values. While organizations proclaimed their values and described using values in determining tactics and approaches, they also did not report consciously attempting to align values in processes of volunteer recruitment. Findings indicated differences in value processes in local versus national organizations, and a complex value framing in organizational settings. Despite the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is an extremely disruptive social event that was directly tied to wildlife and biodiversity issues, this connection was not highlighted equally by volunteers or organizations, nor did organizations equally or significantly respond to a nationwide call to reckon with racial injustice. I argue that the organizations and volunteers who framed their values and approaches more broadly and included moral value of the wellbeing of both humans and other species were more responsive to changing social contexts.
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    Sex Cam Modeling: Labor, Intimacy, and Prosumer Porn
    (2021) Patella-Rey, PJ; Ritzer, George; Korzeniewicz, Patricio; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation begins with the assumption that the porn industry has radically changed in ways we are yet to fully understand. Drawing on interviews and auto-ethnography, it attempts to offer three distinct theoretical lenses through which these changes can be observed. First, I examine what is bought and sold in cam rooms, concluding that the work of cam modeling (both on camera and behind the scenes) has many dimensions that are not captured by reductionist tropes about selling one’s body. Second, I argue that camming fits a broader pattern in online content, where clear divisions between producer and consumer begin to break down. I conclude that camming (and especially custom content/shows) can best understood as prosumer pornography (i.e., as a co-creation of model and viewer). Finally, I explore the ways in which sex cam models actively develop intimacy with clients in spite of the fact that the interactions are defined by social and spatial distance; technological mediation; asymmetry; gendered expectations; and commercial transaction.
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    Income Inequality and Caste in India: Evidence from India Human Development Surveys
    (2021) Joshi, Omkar; Vanneman, Reeve D; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    The problem of income inequality has become a defining problem in today’s world yet, the implications of overall income inequality for different social groups remain understudied. The sociological literature on stratification has treated these two important facets of inequality, namely overall income inequality and group income gaps, separately. I study these two problems together in this dissertation by examining overall income inequality and caste and religious groups in the context of Indian society. Using the nationally representative data from India Human Development Surveys, I first examine in detail, overall income and consumption changes and inequality from 2004-05 to 2011-12. Then, I look at changes in income and consumption for different caste and religious groups and study inequality changes between these groups. In the end, I evaluate the role played by educational expansion and returns to education in explaining changes in overall income inequality as well as group income gaps using OLS and Quintile regression models.I find that income inequality based on both income as well as consumption measures has increased in India between 2004-05 and 2011-12. But contrary to the global pattern of increasing income inequality, income inequality in India was driven not just because of high growth for households at the top, but more so due to low growth of incomes for households at the bottom of the income distribution. Despite this rise in overall income inequality, income gaps and inequality between the forward caste and disadvantaged caste groups are getting closed. Though caste disadvantage is operational at all parts of income distribution, it becomes less oppressive over time. I find that while education helps explain the declining between-caste income inequality, it does not satisfactorily answer why overall income inequality is growing. I also find that socially disadvantaged groups as well as low educational households who are concentrated disproportionately at lower incomes did better in terms of their income growth over time. Yet, the low-income households as a whole somehow did not grow much over time. These opposite trends among lower income households, is a puzzling result.
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    (2020) Pratt, Beverly Marie; Marsh, Kris; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    My research site is pilgrimage as a space of liminality. I focus on the Camino de Santiago, particularly its Camino Frances route, a 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain. Specifically, I explore the experiences of people who participate in this pilgrimage liminality, focusing on both self-concept work and social solidarity formation. In other words, I investigate how people participate in pilgrimage for personal, self-care reasons while simultaneously, and perhaps paradoxically, developing solidarity with others also participating. Tangentially, I also explore how pilgrimage may be related to social justice pursuits such as those embodied in such lived experiences of (in)famous social movement revolutionaries as: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez, and Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Therefore, my main research questions are:1. How is pilgrimage used to work on the self-concept?, and 2. How does pilgrimage create social solidarity? My peripheral research question is:3. How, if at all, is pilgrimage used as a tool of structural resistance? Three stories appear from my participants on how pilgrimage is used to work on the Self: 1. Participants walk pilgrimage during a transitional life stage, 2. When defining “pilgrimage,” participants do describe a relationship between Self and the Other, and 3. “Good” pilgrimage experiences eclipse “bad” experiences among participants, with substantial illustrations of social connections between the Self and the Other. Three stories that appear regarding how pilgrimage creates social solidarity include: 1. Communitas is experienced among and between participants walking the pilgrimage, 2. Participants describe the common goal of reaching Santiago as a reason for social solidarity, and 3. Participants describe why and how walking pilgrimage is way to make the world a better place. Finally, my peripheral research question about pilgrimage as a structural resistance tool is investigated in the conclusion’s conversation about the act of walking being societal opposition. It is my intention that this dissertation-sojourn provides insight into how pilgrimage creates social solidarity and into the relationship between self-concept, social solidarity, and social justice.
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    Inequality in the College-to-Career Transition: Self-Scarring and Underemployment
    (2020) Dernberger, Brittany Noel; Kleykamp, Meredith; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    A recent college graduate working as a coffee shop barista, earning minimum wage and carrying thousands of dollars in student loan debt, is a familiar trope in conversations about the value of a bachelor’s degree. In the college-for-all era, young people are encouraged to attain a bachelor’s degree to bolster their labor market opportunities (Rosenbaum 2001), yet 42 percent of recent college graduates, and 35 percent of all college graduates, are working in jobs that do not require a college degree (Federal Reserve Bank of New York 2020). The American Dream posits that individual perseverance will lead to increased economic security. Young people invest in college as a pathway to a good job. Why does a degree not equally benefit all graduates, and how do graduates respond when their college investment does not pay off? I employ restricted-access Monitoring the Future panel data (1976 – 2015) and interviews with 60 recent college graduates to examine how college graduates transition from school-to-work, and how they respond when it does not go as planned. I contribute to studies of underemployment scarring by extending the context from workplace consequences to individual decision-making, unpacking how and why young people make choices related to their post-graduation employment outcomes. By examining how graduates engage as students and connecting that to post-college employment outcomes, I illustrate how graduates self-scar by making choices that diminish their ability to quickly translate their degree into a good job along three dimensions: 1) not engaging in outside-the-classroom activities during college, which are critical for career exposure and career-relevant skill-building; 2) downshifting job expectations in response to underemployment; and 3) making labor market choices that elongate underemployment. However, graduates’ decisions are not made in a vacuum, and preexisting inequalities – in economic resources, first generation student status, and social and cultural capital – are often perpetuated in the wake of underemployment. Graduates often blame themselves for their lack of labor market success. This project illuminates how inequality is replicated during the college-to-career transition through graduates’ self-scarring decisions and contributes to our understanding of who can achieve economic mobility through returns on a college education.
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    Diverse Care Networks and Unmet Care Needs of Older Adults in a Changing America
    (2020) Lin, Zhiyong; Chen, Feinian; Sociology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation consists of three papers that examine the complexity, dynamics, and stratification in care networks and unmet care needs of older adults in a changing America. For generations, most older Americans have been cared for by loved ones at home in their time of need. However, with sweeping demographic and family changes during the last several decades, care provision by immediate family (typically spouse and adult children) can no longer be assumed. Despite growing public interests in other alternatives beyond the spouse and adult children, limited research attention has been directed toward the provision of care by increasingly diverse care networks. The first paper develops a care network typology that captures the multidimensionality of care networks with a combination of different types of care, including informal care from the spouse, children, extended kin, and nonkin caregivers, formal caregiving from professional services, and self-care with assistive technologies. At the same time, demographic and family transitions are experienced unevenly across racial and ethnic groups, making minority older adults more vulnerable to structurally restricted care networks than older whites. Also, research on racial/ethnic differences in caregiving often emphasizes the role of cultural values in shaping care networks among specific subgroups of the aging population. Drawing from explanations that focus on both structural and cultural elements, the second paper investigates to what extent, racial/ethnic differences in care networks could be explained by structural and cultural factors separately, and further explores how they jointly shape diverse care networks across different racial and ethnic groups of older adults. The third paper questions whether some compositions of care networks are more effective in serving the needs of older adults, and whether others are more likely to lead to unmet care needs. Moreover, I explore how the perceived association between care networks and unmet care needs is further conditioned by race/ethnicity and gender. In the context of the declining availability of traditional caregivers, this dissertation can contribute to the understanding of which other alternatives are available and provide evidence on whether they can adequately meet the needs of older adults.