Sociology Department Newsletter Fall 2016

Student and faculty research

National Presidential Convention field research


This summer (2016), Assistant Professor Patrick Gillham and seven Western sociology students made field observations at protests that occurred during the national presidential conventions. The WWU team joined with sociology and criminal justice faulty from East Carolina University, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and Arcadia University. Western students Ian Blevins, Meg Hansen, Katie Saccomanno, and Daniel Murphy helped Professor Gillham observe policing of protests at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Erik Rummell, Haley Newhouse, and Ellen Wilkey did the same at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. After the conventions, students wrote a research report that has served as the basis for research papers to be presented at the Pacific Sociological Association meetings in April 2017.   Preliminary findings can be found at this link.


This fall (2016), two students from Western Washington University, Jake Gobielle and Tristan de Rochefort, traveled with Professor Ronald Helms to attend the 2016 Annual Conference of the Western Association of Criminal Justice, which is the Region 5 Affiliate to the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.  The theme this year was Justice, Diversity, and Criminal Justice Reform.  The meetings were held October 12-14, 2016, in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Each of the students developed independent research, culminating in their participation in the professional conference.  Their respective research abstracts can be found at this link.

Cunningham/Waldock/ Skillingstead

WWU Sociology alum JaneLee Waldock and Professor Mick Cunningham recently published a book chapter Divorce, Separation, and Remarriage: The Transformation of Family: Contemporary Perspectives on Family Research, Volume 10. Their paper was titled “Consequences of Parental Divorce during the Transition to Adulthood: The Practical Origins of Ongoing Distress.” JaneLee recently earned a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Washington.  She is currently completing an internship at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Cali, Colombia. Their paper analyzed data from a capstone course. Professor Cunningham also published a paper from another former student who was in the same class, Kelly Skillingstead. Their paper was titled “Narratives of Socialization: Perceptions of Parental Influence after Childhood Divorce.” It was published in the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage. Kelly is currently traveling across the United States. Before that she worked for two years in multiple capacities (including school principal) at the Kopila Valley School in Nepal. Other former students involved in the project were Kelly Gill and Cayla Williams.


Dustin Lovercamp recently completed a senior thesis entitled: Racialized Reformulation: Negotiating Asian American Male Body and Masculinity, under the supervision of Dr. Baozhen Luo. This paper is currently under review at Journal of Asian American Studies. It is also submitted to the 2017 annual conference for Pacific Sociological Association. This qualitative study explores how Asian American young men perceive and experience their own bodies responding to the cultural ideal of a white, muscular male body. Using in-depth interviews of 10 young Asian American men and the Grounded Theory Method, we uncover ongoing struggles and the oppression these men face regarding their body images. We theorize the concept of racialized reformulation to understand the strategies used by the respondents—family culture, fashion, and Othering. We argue that competition-based strategies are ineffective and may perpetuate oppression, and harm these individuals' self-worth; whereas group-oriented strategies may better defend them against hegemonic masculinity.


Professor Tsunokai’s manuscript entitled, “Differing Shades of Colour:  Online Dating Preferences of Biracial Individuals” was recently published in Ethnic and Racial Studies (2016), V39: 1920-1942.  His four co-authors are all Western sociology alumni.  Allison McGrath, the lead author, is currently completing her dissertation at Vanderbilt University; she is expected to earn her Ph.D. in 2017.  Melinda Schultz earned a Master’s degree in Sociology at Penn State in 2016.  She is currently working at the University of Washington as a social and communication health research analyst.  Jillian Kavanagh is a third year graduate student at Temple University.  Jake Tarrence is starting his first year of graduate school at The Ohio State University. 

American Sociological Association

Twelve sociology students attended the 2016 annual American Sociological Association meeting in Seattle.  As described on the website, “The Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association provides the opportunity for professionals involved in the scientific study of society to share knowledge and new directions in research and practice. Nearly 600 program sessions are convened during the four-day meeting held every August to provide participation venues and networking outlets for nearly 3,000 research papers and over 4,600 presenters.”  These sociology students attended:

  • Anna "Elena" Bishop
  • Emily Browning   
  • Alicia Duncombe
  • Lauren Farris
  • Meg Hansen         
  • Dustin Hughes
  • David Lucken
  • Kyle Menter
  • Patricia Pacheco   
  • Angelica Palma-Gutierrez     
  • Wayne Rocque     
  • Erik Rummell

Other faculty publications and media appearances:

Liang, Jiayin and Baozhen Luo. 2016. “It Was All Planned…Now What? Claiming Human Agency and Constructing Meaning in Everyday Retirement Life in Urban China.” Ageing and Society. Available on CJO 2016 doi:10.1017/S0144686X16000830. 

Dr. Baozhen Luo also started a column named “Four Dimensional Channel” (in Chinese) at a news magazine based in, which is equivalent to news media such as New York Times, the Atlantic, and Huffington Post in the U.S.  The name of her column came from a play of deconstructing the Chinese character of her last name Luo “羅”). In her column, Dr. Luo discusses China’s population and aging policies.

Dr. Baozhen Luo was also recently interviewed by China’s Central Television-American Channel to discuss the legacy of China’s one-child policy and the necessity of raising retirement age in China. Here is the link to her interview:

Dr. Baozhen Luo contributed her thoughts to an article published on NPR related to sexism in China.

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Sociology Department Lunch and Learn:  What Can I Do With A Sociology Degree?

 Lunch and Learn 2016

Karen Powell, of the Career Services Center led a workshop within the sociology department this fall (2016) to answer the question, ‘What Can I Do with a Sociology Degree’.  The information was very valuable, the turnout was great, and the pizza was delicious!  For more information about career search preparation, graduate school, networking and self-assessments visit the Career Services Center website

Keep your eye out for the next Lunch and Learn hosted by the Sociology Department, which will highlight additional resources on campus!

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Study in China spring 2017

China Study Abroad 2015China Study Abroad 2 2015

 Changing China:  Community, Culture and Citizenship (Soc 437), will be taking place Spring of 2017.  Led by Dr. Baozhen Luo of the Sociology Department, this experience will allow students to Explore Chinese society and politics at the local level where individuals and groups define and remake their communities in the face of rapid change.  Chinese language proficiency is not required.  This course may count as the capstone for students who have completed the core sociology requirements.  For more information about the program, please contact Dr. Luo at .

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