Some fifteen years ago, Judith Stacey and Barrie Thorne lamented the “missing feminist revolution” in the discipline of sociology. The area of gender and sexuality has become -- paradoxically – increasingly institutionalized and ever-more challenging since then. All major sociology departments must “cover” a delimited area of “gender and sexuality,” and in this vein, Michigan offers a core course in gender and sexuality and a series of research seminars and topical classes for advanced graduate students. (Students may also take a preliminary examination in the area if they choose.) At the same time, and more ambitiously, Michigan’s program registers the fundamental ways in which feminist and queer theories are changing how sociologists think about many general sociological questions and problems. “Gender and Sexuality” is both an academic specialty area, in other words, and an ongoing challenge to sociology itself.
Faculty in the department and associated with this area have many strings to their bows. We study the constitution of gender and sexuality per se in bodies, psyches and social and cultural practices. We also study the ways in which gender and sexuality articulate with race and class, and play out across many substantive dimensions of social and cultural life, including: citizenship; nation; work; states; schools; families; social movements; markets; business organizations; transnational economic networks and forms of political association; and the practices of everyday life. Some of us are historically-minded; others more contemporary and our work ranges over the globe. We also deploy a wide range of approaches and methods, including ethnography; survey methods; textual analysis, in-depth interviews, and archival-historical research. The concentrated strength in gender and sexuality in the department is complemented by institutional and personal connections with the Women’s Studies Program and the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, among other relevant sites.