Senior Essay and Thesis Abstracts 2014-2015
E-rectile Support: Electronic Support Group and the Development of the Biomedical Male
The last two centuries have seen several important developments in the medicalization of the Western body. The advent of Viagra in 1995 provided a chemical cure for the flaccid penis, effectively solidifying a medical understanding of male sexuality. Concurrently, the rise of Electronic Support Groups has offered an accessible and informal alternative to the traditional doctor-patient relationship. Medical sociologists have critically studied these technologies independently, but have yet to consider how the medical narratives of Viagra are negotiated on Electronic Support Groups. My project fills this gap by asking how Electronic Support Groups for Erectile Dysfunction medically construct the male body. Using non-participant observation, I conduct a critical discourse analysis of WebMD and Rebootnation. I find that WebMD promotes a broad diagnostic model that measures health through formal medical encounters, whereas Rebootnation relies on neuroscientific models to construct Erectile Dysfunction as a disease of the will that can best be resolved through a regime of abstinence. Despite these nuances, both sites treat Erectile Dysfunction as a health obligation that can only be resolved through constant self-surveillance and a regimented health lifestyle. The erect penis thus becomes a visible indicator of the health, and therefore the worth, of the medicalized male.
Equal Access to the Privilege of Wilderness: Paradoxical Dynamics in Middlebury Mountain Club Discourses and Practices
This project examines the Middlebury Mountain Club as a social institution and investigates two cultural paradoxes inherent in performance of a “wilderness identity” at a liberal arts college in the northeast. One paradox is that the wilderness is a space that all people can enjoy, though history and sociological analysis indicate the wilderness is a space of privilege and access to it can reproduce social distinctions. The second paradox is that while wilderness has been defined as a space free from humans, the wilderness is laden with societal values and used as a means to define social positions and identities. Privilege and notions of public access have important roles creating wilderness as a recreational space. Because at Middlebury College there is an emphasis on outdoor recreation, we must examine how the college’s institutional support for this recreation is associated with privilege alongside overt commitments to equal access. This investigation employs participant observation and uses narratives from Mountain Club members to unveil the methods of distinction practiced to create a wilderness identity, alongside apparently contradictory valuations of inclusivity and diversity. Members’ awareness of the paradoxes and their attempts at reform make this small-scale investigation relevant to larger societal consequences as institutions like Middlebury value both diversity and privilege.
Here for the Right Reasons: “The Bachelor” as a Total Institution
A total institution, as described by Erving Goffman, is a place where all aspects of an inmate’s life are controlled and monitored by a governing staff. An institution was first seen as some kind of place or mentality adopted by a group of people, such as a prison, mental hospital, drug rehabilitation center, monastery, or military camp. In today’s society, reality television has highlighted obsessions surrounding the ideology of romance, as well as normalizing bodies from a dominant heterosexual perspective. Similar to Goffman’s total institutions, reality shows such as “The Bachelor” serve as breeding grounds for experiments on what can be done to the self. Through analysis of this show, one can see that a total institution may apply to more than what it had in the past; “The Bachelor” brings women together to fight for one man, and does not allow them to control their own schedules or lives during this period. In order to best see the application of this theory, one must understand the levels of mortification of self that an inmate goes through upon entering the institution. Based on how she reacts to this entrance, she will become a specific type of inmate that must be controlled by the staff in some way. “The Bachelor” serves as an updated version of a total institution and can be seen through the logics applied to the women on the show, as well as the fascination and obsession with the ideology of romance as seen in today’s society.
Michael Hunter Bernstein
Sky Angels? Flight Attendant Identity Construction and Performance in the Globalized Context
This paper describes an emerging subjectivity of service workers on the front lines of globalization. Examining flight attendants provides important insights when thinking about those laborers who enable worldwide connectivity and mobility. Through in-depth interviews with flight attendants, an analysis of the airline industry’s practices, and participant observation both on and off the aircraft, I contend that this new subjectivity is constituted by flight attendants’ performances of emotional labor, roles in allowing others to experience greater mobility, low levels of economic capital but high levels of social and cultural capital, non-normative experiences within dominant racial and gender dynamics, and post-racial ideas of the social world. While sociologists have studied globalization, emotional labor, and identity production separately, the three have rarely been in conversation. This paper complicates traditional understandings of employment in the global context, pushing back against mainstream conceptions of the 21st century laborer as an “independent contractor” or “precarious laborer,” and presents a new form of subjectivity that can help scholars make sense of the social world.
Extreme Couponing: A Job, an Addiction, or a Way to Make Ends Meet?
Drawing upon TLC’s reality television show Extreme Couponing, I analyze the constructed narrative and interactions of extreme couponers and the responses that viewers have towards concepts of frugality, deservingness, work ethics, access to consumption and middle-class identity. My primary research method is digital media analysis of four episodes of “Extreme Couponing” and the show’s corresponding Facebook fan page. Because the internet creates a space for interaction at a low-bar participation risk, I have direct access to the candid, personal opinions of those who choose to interact online and self-identity as viewers of the show. The questions I examine are (1) How are the definitions of work, consumption and entitlement negotiated and reinforced within the realm of reality television? and (2) How do dominant ideologies influence the perception and interpretation of individual agency and merit towards unemployment and welfare dependency? I place my questions within the theoretical framework of the sociology of consumption, reality television, and neoliberalism. In overlapping these realms, I contribute to a deeper understanding into how moral processes and the consumption of reality television influence and guide concern for social welfare at micro and macro levels.
Hidden Cost of “Leadership”: The Appeal of a Corporate Reform Model to Middlebury Graduates
With this paper I analyze competing narratives of American public education at two scales of social relation: in the national debate, and at the level of career recruitment at a Liberal Arts college. Drawing analytic tools from critical discourse analysis and linguistic anthropology, I identify the interplay of narrative devices across samples of pro- and anti- education reform. I demonstrate how a narrative of “crisis and reform” is promulgated by those who advocate for charter schools and alternate teacher certification organizations such as Teach for America. I also examine a counter-narrative proposed by parents, teachers and public school administrators, who call attention to the manipulated quality of the messages reformers send to conceal business motives. At the national level, I examine two films, “Waiting for Superman” and its response film, “The Inconvenient Truth behind ‘Waiting for Superman’,” as exemplary representations of the two competing national narratives. My samples of college discourse are from the career center and the campus newspaper. I demonstrate the difference between discourses of education reform at these two levels and argue that the term “leadership” plays a special role in linking them. “Leadership” functions as a “shifter” which travels across institutional domains to create positive incentives for student participation in the reform organizations supported by the dominant narrative at the national level, without requiring overt awareness for all the components of reform as this is debated at the national level.
Complicit or Co-opted? Feminism, Neoliberalism and Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In
This senior work examines the unlikely convergence of feminism and neoliberalism in Sheryl Sandberg’s influential book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. This text, which the author calls her “feminist manifesto,” represents a curious development in the historical trajectory of feminism. Although the book is already widely credited for reviving and mainstreaming feminism, the seemingly conflicting ideals of feminism and neoliberalism represented in the text encourage a more thorough examination of the “feminist” nature of the book. I explore the following questions: (1) How does neoliberal feminism fit into the larger historical narrative of feminism? Why is it popular now? (2) Does the emergence of neoliberal feminism reduce consciousness of the larger, structural goals of feminism in favor of individualism? and (3) How do the messages of Lean In reappropriate the struggle for social rights as one of individual freedom and satisfaction? To answer these questions, I conducted a case study of Lean In and responses to the text online. I conclude that Lean In not only discourages collective action, but also requires women to take on increasing amounts of work, both professionally and personally, and to disconfirm the role of structural inequality in the challenges that they face in the workplace.
Social Interactions Between Student-Athletes and Non-Athletes at an Academically Rigorous Division III Institution
This study examines the relationships between student-athletes and non-athletes at an NCAA Division III institution. Student-athletes at many Division III institutions make up 40% of the student body, yet little research has covered the social interactions between these two groups. This project delineates the type of divide that exists between student-athletes and non-athletes, and what factors lead to its creation. The methods consist of a series of semi-structured interviews with a variety of student-athletes and non-athletes. Student-athletes in this study are unable to engage with non-athletes due to the intense time commitment that student-athletes devote to their sport, which leads to the formation of a divide between the two groups. Contradicting previous research at Division I institutions and high schools, I find that the actions of both student-athletes and non-athletes helps to maintain a social divide between members of these groups.
Anti-U.S. Sentiment and Constructions of “First World Environmentalism:” Perspectives of Indian Students and the Ideological Impact of the Global North-South Divide
This project explores perceptions of the U.S. and examines the ways in which Indian students interpret environmental problems within an ideological framework that has prioritized a focus on inequality and established a separate realm of “First World environmentalism” as an elite, privileged form of environmental thought and action. In Indian environmental discourse, symbolic sites of environmental conflict between development interests and the rights of marginalized groups become representative of a national narrative that frames Indian environmental movements and activism. This project examines student perspectives of “First World environmentalism,” using global environmental concerns as a lens through which to examine ideological interpretations and applications of more general discourse surrounding the North-South divide. My research draws on my experience studying abroad at an Indian college in Delhi and focuses on an analysis of interviews with Indian students to explore the ways in which broader attitudes toward the U.S. acquire symbolic personal meaning and are used as a framework for discussions of global environmental problems.
Between Pots and Patriarchy: An Investigation of Women-Cuisine Relationships of Young Bamiléké Women in Yaoundé, Cameroon
Cameroonian women and cooking are deeply related, both symbolically and in practice. This study examines how the lives and diets of young, educated women of the Bamiléké ethnic group in present day Yaoundé vary from those of their rural foremothers. Central to this investigation is the “women-cuisine relationship,” or the notion that changes in women’s lived realities necessary alter the culinary culture, and, in turn, that the changing culinary culture has implications for gender and power dynamics within their society. In the contemporary Yaoundéen context, cooking acts as a traditionally embedded form of cultural capital for women. However, it also serves to reinforce the Bamiléké patriarchal power structure in which women are subordinated. The relationship between food, gender, and power lies at the heart of this study. Many young, urban, educated, Bamiléké women are in the process of renegotiating their gender roles and diets to better suit their lived realities. However, these deviations from traditional norms pose a threat to a rich Bamiléké identity, value system, and way of life. Both a gendered nostalgia and a culinary nostalgia have developed in response to this perceived threat, so that while women’s lives and diets have changed substantially due to urbanization and modernization, the ideals of womanhood and cuisine have remained remarkably constant. This study investigates the extent to which the women adhere to the traditional women-cuisine relationship and how this relationship benefits and inconveniences them, as well as how they manage conflicting schemas and tensions within a complex socio-culinary scene.
Not Another Rosa Parks Worksheet: A Case Study of Teacher Perceptions of Multicultural Education in Vermont Schools
In this work, I investigate the issue of multicultural education in a case study of Blue River High School, a rural, racially homogenous (white) public school in southern Vermont. By interviewing a selection of teachers, I discovered the extent to which multicultural education practices were implemented within the school, whether teachers felt the issues were important and relevant, and what obstacles they faced when attempting to open dialogues about race, class, sexuality, or other difference. I found that while teachers all valued multicultural discussions as important, they often struggled to facilitate them effectively, citing a lack of time, a lack of relation of the material to their standardized subject, and a resistance from colleagues, students, and community members. Applying theories relating to structural dominance and hegemonic discourse and knowledge and identity construction, I argue that these teachers, while interested in using multicultural practices within their classrooms, are unable to do so effectively due to pressures from educative standardization, a lack of knowledge and identity awareness, and a sense of responsibility that is not shared or prioritized by the school and local community. Using relevant multicultural literature and teachers’ insights, I suggest a variety of techniques and changes that might help to increase opportunities for teacher agency and effective implementation of multicultural instruction and practices.
Mothering While White: Moments of Race Experienced by White Mothers Raising Non White Daughters
This project focuses on the racial moments and anxieties experienced by white mothers as they raise their non-white daughters. The white mother’s production of motherwork is coupled with an understanding of both their own race and the race of their non-white daughter (a mother-daughter relationship acquired through interracial conception or transracial adoption). This project explores when and how the white mother’s racial anxieties manifest themselves as crucible moments, and how the white mother then intemalizes these anxieties and negotiates her motherwork in light of them. Using the post-racial ideology of colorblindness as an inflection point, this project examines how the white mother’s lived experience, based on her racial socialization, informs her mothering practice and explores where the points of contention arise in reference to the racial differences between herself and her non-white daughter; and how these points influence the white mother’s own evaluation of her motherwork. This project uses primary data, collected from interviews with white mothers to highlight their own voices as they express their race-based concerns as they navigate through their maternal anxieties. In addition, narratives were pulled from online and media analyses to bring further insight.
Ji Eun Lee
Utilization of KakaoTalk by Different Age Groups and its Influence on Human Relationships and Identities in Korean Society
Along with the rapid development of smartphones, mobile messaging services have transformed diverse aspects of modern society but especially the way humans communicate. This research looked specifically at KakaoTalk in South Korea and found that smartphone message services have had a strong influence on the manner in which Koreans identify and interact in virtual and face-to-face interactions. Although the increased connectivity through KakaoTalk have allowed some people to thrive with all the added stimuli and be more connected with others than in the past, it has overwhelmed some users by causing stress and affecting the way they form social relationships and personal identities. As this pressure continues with the growing popularity of KakaoTalk, it is very likely that Korean society will continue having a strong normative tendencies, and this will ultimately reinforce the existing Korean social structure. Therefore, changes in identities and relationships caused by KakaoTalk would ultimately mean the lack of individuality and uniqueness in identities and social relationships along with the increasing numbers of Koreans living in solitude.
Dykochondriac? Lesbian Women and Experiences of Food Allergy
Food allergy is a growing public health concern, with an increase in prevalence over the past ten to fifteen years. Despite increasing prevalence and public concern, there is still some dispute over what constitutes food allergies and how they can be diagnosed. Further, women seem to suffer from more food allergies than men and bear greater socio-emotional and economic burdens due to food allergy. There is a perception that lesbians might have more food allergies than straight women (or at least think they do). I conducted semi-structured, iterative interviews with 14 lesbian, gay, and queer women. I recruited women through my social network based on sexuality, not food allergy. Nonetheless 11 of the 14 women I interviewed reported some sort of food allergy. In this paper I explore the way that lesbians experience and understand food allergy based on two seemingly contradictory perspectives. The first, that lesbians are more likely to recognize and accept food allergies because they are positioned to look beyond mainstream culture, touches on the struggle between complementary and conventional medicine. The second perspective focuses on the way that lesbians use their food allergy to talk about nutritional choices, health, and control of their bodies. This research demonstrates how explanations of food allergy bring in larger debates about the environment, women’s relationships to food and their body, and challenges to biomedicine.
An Examination of Blue-Green Coalitions and the Symbolic Construction of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by Labor, Environmental, and Corporate Groups
Many scholars and activists on the American Left have proposed that a lasting collaborative relationship between labor and environmental groups is of utmost importance in the fight to challenge neoliberal corporate power. This paper examines why labor and environmental groups have failed to form political coalitions, and how they have bounced back from these failures to develop a more effective approach to uniting their interests, by exploring their activity in the battle over whether or not to drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I propose that Pierre Bourdieu’s analysis of the formation of groups with regards to symbolic production in social space offers a superior lens of analysis to ecomarxism to understand how such dynamics function. Through this theoretical perspective, I propose that successful blue-green coalitions construct a cohesive frame which identifies a common antagonist in corporations, a common political vision in striving for a well regulated society, and explicit attention to the opportunity of growing the workforce in a green economy, thereby uniting the interests of labor and environmental groups.
Striving for Agency in Kigombe: The Legacy of Structural Adjustment in African Health Systems
Tanzania has a long and complex history with international organizations and their influence on the health sector. Beginning in the 1870s before colonization and culminating with structural adjustment in the 1980s, international actors continue to shape systems in Tanzania today through development aid. This thesis analyzes the lasting effects of structural adjustment on the health sector in Kigombe, Tanzania. I spent a month shadowing the healthcare professionals at the village’s two health clinics – one private and one public – in order to understand the clinics’ roles in the local community. In Kigombe, the legacy of structural adjustment has left a fragmented system that is unable to effectively serve the local population. The private clinic remains alienated from the community, and its high-quality resources, provided by an American non-governmental organization, remain underused. Academics argue that cost is the primary barrier preventing locals from visiting private clinics, but I argue that social factors are more important. The people of Kigombe value social and cultural capital, while the private clinic gives preference to economic capital. As a result, local patients prefer the government clinic. People in Kigombe use their agency to choose the clinic that best fits their needs, regardless of international bodies’ attempts to define their healthcare system.
Hot Babe Gets Her P*ssy Slammed: Young Women Navigating Representation, Pleasure, and Empathy in Online Video Pornography
The online porn industry has been growing rapidly over the past decade in terms of content and profits. And as the industry grows, the societal panic around porn grows as well. But this discourse is almost exclusively concerned with young men. Women, and especially young women, are assumed to not watch pornography. Or the relationship that young women have with the porn they watch is deemed of less interest and importance than the young men’s. It is important to understand how young women navigate the world of online pornography, where they are so clearly not the “invited audience.” My project talks with nine of these young women – exploring the relationship between their consumption of primarily mainstream, Internet pornography and their construction of a sexual self. My study departs from the typical American studies on pornography in three main ways: it is non-pathologizing, it is woman-centered, and it is qualitative. By conducting a small sample of in-depth interviews, I am able to amplify the voices of young women who watch porn – emphasizing their own experiences in their own words. Out of these interviews emerged the themes of how young women assess “authentic” representation and pleasure in the video pornography they watch, and how this builds their empathy for the female performers whose work they are consuming.
Title IX and Women’s Athletics: The Sports Bra as an Iron Cage
The female athlete’s sports bra functions as a symbol of an unsolvable contradiction. As a female athlete, one must fight a constant, unrelenting battle between masculinity and femininity. The sports bra acts as a provisional fix for solving this tension. On one hand, the sports bra works to literally encompass and control the breasts, a fundamental symbol of femininity. On the other hand, the sports bra calls attention to the breasts. Femininity is therefore is simultaneously masked and highlighted when a sports bra is worn. Thus, the female athlete’s sports bra is trapping her, while at the same time, setting her free. The idea that female athletes are “empowered” through Title IX is similar to the concept that the sports bra is empowering. With the introduction of Title IX, girls and young women were ensured equal access to all educational programs that receive funding, including athletics. It was created to “empower” women to advance in society, however like the sports bra, it relies on defining and perpetuating femininity. The female athlete’s body is being controlled willingly in terms of Michel Foucault’s notion of the “docile body,” but as she enters the bureaucracy of athletics it is clear that control is not just about the body, but also about desirable characteristics for the capitalist world. By wearing a sports bra, female athletes are trapped, in a similar manner to Max Weber’s “iron cage” and entangled in definitions of empowerment.
The Construction of Self-Identity among Intravenous Drug Users amidst Stigmatized Social Identity
Grounded in a paradigm of identity construction as a process of symbolic interactionism, I explain how stigmatized groups, in this case, intravenous drug users, incorporate their stigmatized social identity into their own conception of self-identity. I explore the ways in which personal identity is created, focusing on the patterns of social relations that cause individuals to adopt certain traits as key to their self-identification. I draw heavily on the notion of identity as a multifaceted performance, but limited in the presence of social stigma, and changing based on one’s current social dynamic. I provide a discussion of how and why drug use has been so heavily stigmatized throughout the past century along a variety of racial and class lines while simultaneously presenting a model of drug users as rational agents capable of making autonomous decisions rather than the problem population to be managed that they have historically been depicted as.
“Someday, this War will be Yours”: Collective Trauma and the Emergence of Generational Myths in 9/11 Presidential Speeches
This paper explores the discursive construction of new symbolic models by presidents of the United States in the face of the national trauma of the attacks of September 11th, 2001. Foregrounded by the writer’s own encounter with post-9/11 traumatized discourse, this paper begins by reviewing literature on collective trauma, the role of commemoration, and the production of nationalist myths before narrowing its scope to examine the construction of narratives about war, trauma, and generational significance in presidential discourses. The majority of this paper analyzes the discursive construction of two symbolic models over the course of thirteen years of Presidential speeches delivered on or near the annual anniversary of the attacks. The symbolic models in question are the emergence of the name-date “9/11” as the primary referent for the events, and the trajectory of a “cry to war” as the dominant response to these attacks. This focus on anniversary commemoration is influenced by previous scholarship on the power of memorial activity to shape ongoing meanings of an event. The choice of presidential speeches is informed by the methodology of critical discourse analysis. Critical discourse analysis suggests that elite actors, such as the President, are particularly influential forces on the formation of nationally significant symbolic frameworks. This paper finds that the symbolic models of name-date and cry to war produced through the presidential commemorative discourse overlap in the emergence of the idea of a 9/11 Generation. Examining this generational emergence returns the paper to its original questions of personal positionality and the ongoing implications of nationally traumatic events.
Re-evaluating the “Value of Discomfort”: Fractured Social Life on a Diverse Campus
At Middlebury College, students with marginalized or underrepresented identities often feel excluded from mainstream campus life. There is an overwhelming impression that students tend to split off into distinct cliques based around shared identities. These cliques find themselves leading parallel lives and having significantly different experiences of college life, rather than coming together to form a unified college identity. Middlebury College aids and abets this process via policies and structures that explicitly separate students into identity-based groups starting the moment they arrive on campus. These practices are rationalized by the ideology of diversity, which the college uses both as a marketing tool and as a means of regulating student social life. The most visible examples of this are the Early Arrival and specialized orientation programs designed for international students, Posse scholars and fall semester varsity athletes. The fact that these very groups are usually the first to spring to mind when a student is asked to name the different social sets on campus is no coincidence. This project argues that Middlebury College needs to reform its policies regarding the treatment of “diverse” students in order to enhance their academic and social experience.
Molly Hartnett Stuart
Food Sovereignty, Worker-Driven Social Responsibility, and “El Nuevo Dia” of Milk with Dignity
Over the last two decades scholars and activists concerned with “food politics” have identified the threats that neoliberalism poses to the livelihoods of food producers around the world. A variety of frameworks for social movement activity have emerged to challenge the power of food corporations and to assert degrees of sovereignty, rights, and dignity, for food laborers. This paper explores two frameworks of food politics – Food Sovereignty and Worker-driven Social Responsibility – and the extent to which they can contribute to a new movement of farmworkers. To illustrate the first, I analyze the strategic development of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida. I then discuss various histories of an international peasants movement called La Via Campesina. I argue that the differences in these two frameworks can inform new farmworker movements in struggling for governance of food systems. Finally, I apply my analysis to a new campaign called “Milk with Dignity” that aims to transform the dairy industry of Vermont. I draw from prior case studies on La Via Campesina and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, as well as my insights as a participant observer in the Milk with Dignity Campaign. My conclusions will be useful to theorists of social movements and governance as well as to political actors interested in improving conditions for workers in the food industry while building towards counter-hegemonic globalization.
The Nature of the Crime: New York’s Dysfunctional Parole Board
Fourteen people in New York State control the freedom of tens of thousands. They are called the Parole Board and they determine whether people in prison with indefinite sentences are ready to be released. Told from the perspective of the Parole Justice Now Campaign, this short documentary explores the inconsistencies between the intended and actual functions of the Parole Board and the human costs of this broken system. The board is supposed to consider a number of factors when considering a prisoner’s release – programs completed, education achieved, their risk-assessment test results, their plan after being released, among others. In fact, they are supposed to make decisions with a “presumption in favor of release.” But they continually deny people solely based upon one factor, the nature of their original crime, the one thing that will never change. Keeping people incarcerated for longer than they need to be deprives families of a mother, father, potential caretaker or financial provider and it deprives communities of a potential tax payer, leader, or someone who could make a difference.
To see Josh’s film, go to: http://nationinside.org/campaign/parole-reform-campaign/
Class, Culture and Identity at Middlebury Union High School: Understanding Self Through the Redneck/Prep Divide
In this ethnographic work I explore questions of identity and social group formation at Middlebury Union High School with a focus on student identified “redneck” and “prep” social categories. More specifically, this study delves into the ways in which redneck identity is appropriated with pride by certain individuals and stigmatized by others. Through interviews with high school students, teachers and administrators, and participant observation, I investigate the ways in which students establish affiliation and differentiation with respect to redneck/prep social categories through visible cues in clothes, behavior and attitudes. I further examine the ways in which notions of socioeconomic status, lifestyle, geography and academic achievement are embedded in the language that students use to talk about themselves and others. I argue that the “redneck/prep” climate within the high school reflects larger social dynamics on the local (Addison County) and national levels. I propose that students’ appropriation of such identities may in fact be (sub)conscious ways of understanding and actively claiming their own social positions in the highly unequal world we live in today. This study engages in larger discussions on issues of race (whiteness), class, social dominance, power, agency, and deviance.
Eat the “Right” Thing: Perceptions of Food Justice and Gentrification in Central Brooklyn
This project examines people’s relationship to food insecurity and food justice programming in two neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. The neighborhoods – among Brooklyn’s poorest – are known as food deserts: there is a dearth of fresh and affordable produce in the areas. Both neighborhoods are also undergoing gentrification, which I posit could impact how accessibility to food is addressed in the near future. Using personal reflections, interviews, observation, and media analysis, I link the situation in Central Brooklyn to the ongoing public and theoretical discourses on food justice and theories of taste. Finally, I introduce theories of gentrification to this discussion to see how gentrification complicates – or does not – food justice issues.