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Colloquium Seminar on Sociological Issues - Fall 2019


All Colloquia are held 3:30-5:00 pm with Reception to follow unless otherwise noted*. Locations listed below. 

Schedule subject to change.

View more info on our Events page.

Thursday, September 12, 2019 - 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Jeffrey Alexander
Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology

Title:  “#MeToo as Societalization”


Most of the time, social strains, no Matter how problematic and painful, remain insulated inside non-civil institutions — such as family, workplace, church, or school. Hidden from the critical discourses and institutions of the civil sphere, they are handled by intra-institutional elites according to the “self-serving” values of the particular sphere. Only when strains become scrutinized by civil sphere elites and democratic values do they become “social problems,” such that there is the experience of social crisis and the sacred center of society seems to be at stake. Over the last two years, Just such a process has occurred with regard to sexual harassment in the workplace. Once civil “Code Switch”  destroyed steady state,  cultural, material and organizational tranformations unfolded. 

In response to these changes and challenges, a powerful backlash movement pushed back against #MeToo, and we are now in the midst of a battle between spheres.  the sense of crisis will eventually abate, but the Civil regulation of sexual conduct has permanently entered into the workplace. 

Location: Claude Moore Nursing Education Room 1110

Thursday, September 26, 2019 - 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Claire Decoteau
Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Location: Robertston Hall Room 227, *reception to follow in Randall Hall 212

Title:  “The 'Western Disease': Epistemic Contestations over Autism in the Somali Diaspora”

Thursday, October 31, 2019 - 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Waverly Duck
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Pittsburgh
Location: Robertston Hall Room 227

Title:  “There were Black People in the Past: Gentrification, Displacement and The Making of a Food Oasis


Combining stakeholder interviews, ethnographic observations and GIS mapping, I explain the formation of a “food oasis,” a concentration of seven supermarkets within a quarter-mile radius in East Liberty, a poor and working-class Black neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I show that the creation of the food oasis has produced gentrification and destabilized the local interaction order, displacing local Black residents. In contrast with “food deserts,” neighborhoods without access to food, the conception of a food oasis has received little scholarly attention, despite being a critical aspect of uneven development. Through an analysis grounded in a conjunction between the political economy of the Growth Machine and the dynamics of the local neighborhood Interaction Order, I argue that the food oasis in East Liberty is not only the result of gentrification, rather than a genuine response to neighborhood needs, but that its orientation toward the preferences of customers drawn primarily from more affluent surrounding communities is contributing to further gentrification at the expense of the original neighborhood residents whom it has displaced. Rather than giving poor Black residents better access to food, the new upscale supermarkets actually exclude them and attempts to make the middle-class outsiders who shop there feel safe actually place longtime residents in danger.