Professor Alford A. Young, Jr. has been named the next Chair of the Department of Sociology by LSA Dean Anne Curzan. His 3-year term began July 1, 2021.
Professor Young has pursued research on low-income, urban-based African Americans, employees at an automobile manufacturing plant, African American scholars and intellectuals, and the classroom-based experiences of higher-education faculty as they pertain to diversity and multiculturalism. He employs ethnographic interviewing as his primary data collection method. His principal scholarly objective has been to explore how the social experiences of African Americans shapes the emergence of what sociologist Erving Goffman referred to as schemata of interpretation. These schemata include worldviews, belief systems, and ideologies. Here his work has centered on exploring the connections between the social location of individuals (i.e., differences in types of residential experiences, work histories, schooling experiences, etc.) and the content of their worldviews and beliefs systems about mobility, the world of work, and other social issues and conditions.
His objective in research on low-income African American men, his primary area of research, has been to argue for a renewed cultural sociology of the African American urban poor. Essentially, he argues that behavior is not solely produced and regulated by values and norms, but is also affected by the beliefs, worldviews, and personal ideologies that people construct, adapt, and/or employ in forming what are, for them, common-sense understandings of social reality. More specifically, he explores how those understandings emerge in different form based on individuals' patterns of social exposure to people who are positioned differently in various social hierarchies (racial, ethnic, class-based, etc.).