Orange Alert

Syracuse University Sociologists Unveil Research at ASA Annual Meeting in California

More than a dozen Syracuse professors, numerous graduate students participate in high-profile conference

Aug. 24, 2015, by Rob Enslin

Madonna Harrington Meyer
Madonna Harrington Meyer
More than a dozen professors in Syracuse University’s Department of Sociology are presenting research at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) in San Francisco, Calif. They join approximately 4,600 other presenters, including numerous Syracuse University graduate students, for 600 program sessions over a four-day period.

Research by four of the professors—Madonna Harrington Meyer, Andrew S. London, Amy Lutz, and Janet M. Wilmoth—is considered potentially newsworthy.

“We’re extremely proud to represent Syracuse University at this important annual event,” says Harrington Meyer, a Meredith Professor and chair of sociology. “ASA provides a unique platform for us to share knowledge and ideas about sociological research and practice. Our faculty are some of Syracuse University’s best ambassadors.”

Based in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, all four professors are affiliated with the Center for Policy Research (CPR), Aging Studies Institute (ASI), and Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). They also teach undergraduate courses in the College of Arts and Sciences.

An expert in gender inequality and aging policy, Harrington Meyer is discussing “Grandma’s Financial Contributions During Hard Times.” Her paper draws on her new critically acclaimed book, Grandmothers at Work: Juggling Families and Jobs (New York University Press, 2014), exploring the growing phenomenon of middle-aged American women struggling to balance family life and careers.

In July, the Gerontological Society of America named Harrington Meyer a 2014 recipient of the Richard Kalish Innovative Publication Award for her book’s “significant contribution to the understanding of the complex family dynamics of the 21st century.” Much of the book is based on a recent five-year project, in which she interviewed nearly 50 grandmothers from all walks of life.

“In the same way that women who reduce employment hours when raising their young children experience reductions in salary, savings, and public and private pensions, the mothers of those same women, as grandmothers, are rearranging their hours to take care of their grandchildren. As a result, they experience additional loss of salary and reduced old-age pension accumulation,” says Harrington Meyer, an ASI faculty associate and a CPR senior research affiliate.

“My paper uses qualitative data to highlight financial contributions made by grandparents during hard times and the financial implications of those contributions on their own old-age financial security,” she adds.

Lutz, who studies racial and ethnic inequality, is an associate professor who oversees the department’s undergraduate studies program. She is co-presenting “College Funds and Transit Passes: Class Differences in Parents’ Social Network Resources and Utilization During Adolescents’ Transition to High School” with colleagues from Queens College and the University of South Florida.  

“Whereas middle-class parents primarily use their networks to promote the college-going chances of their adolescents, we’ve found that working-class parents’ use of networks is more varied, due, in part, to their own meager financial resources,” writes the co-authors in a joint statement.

Lutz’s expertise extends to immigration, bilingualism, and educational inequality. “Our presentation illuminates a means by which class inequalities in network resources may be mitigated,” says Lutz, a CPR senior research associate.

London and Wilmoth have a long-standing collaboration that focuses on military service and the life course.  Building on their recently edited volume, Life-Course Perspectives on Military Service (Routledge, 2013), they are presenting a paper titled “Veteran Status and Paid Sex Among American Men.” Slated for publication in the Archives of Sexual Behavior (International Academy of Sex Research, 2014), the paper is a response to the dearth of population-based, social scientific research that examines the link between military service and paying for sex.

Both professors situate their study in the life-course perspective. Hence, their data comes from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project; the National Health and Social Life Survey; and the General Social Survey. In all three data-sets, they found that veterans were significantly more likely than non-veterans to report ever having paid for sex.

“While these results do not demonstrate a causal relationship between serving in the military and ever paying for sex, the strength and consistency of the findings provide compelling evidence of an association that is worthy of further theorizing and empirical investigation,” says London, professor of and director of graduate studies in sociology, as well as an expert in demography, the sociology of health and health care, aging and the life course, and sexuality. He is also an ASI faculty associate.

Wilmoth is a professor who serves as ASI’s director. “There is considerable room for advancing knowledge related to the influence of military service on the initiation, maintenance, frequency, and timing of paid sexual relationships in relation to other life events,” says Wilmoth, who studies aging and the life course, demography, and health.

She and London are also IVMF senior fellows and CPR senior research affiliates.

The sociology department offers core training in sociological issues, theory, and practice, with emphasis on structural and social inequalities. The department offers graduate and undergraduate opportunities in multiple areas, including globalization, immigration, and transnational studies; health, aging, and the life course; family, education, and work; and power, capital, and culture.

Media Contact

Rob Enslin