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The Department of Sociology offers a vibrant array of research workshops which allow students opportunities to present their ongoing research to faculty and other students. While each workshop has its own format, all welcome students at all stages of the program. Workshops provide students regular feedback from faculty and opportunities to connect with students working on related research. Students frequently have the opportunity to interact with faculty from other universities. Like the University of Michigan generally, most of the workshops are interdisciplinary, with students from History, Economics, Political Science, Women’s Studies, Public Health, and other units joining in the discussion.

Culture, History, & Politics (CHiP) Workshop

This workshop provides graduate students with an opportunity to share ongoing research with faculty and students working on issues related to culture, history, and politics. The main aim of the workshop is to assist students working in these areas through the close reading and discussion of papers written for publication in peer-reviewed journals, as well as grant, fellowship, and dissertation proposals. Faculty from the university and elsewhere will also be invited to share their current research on pertinent issues.

In general, the workshop, will adhere to the following format: The presenter will circulate their paper a week ahead of time.  During the workshop, the presenter will first provide a 5-minute summary of the main points of the paper; a team of faculty and graduate student discussants will then offer a 10-minute discussion of the paper designed to raise questions. The presenter will respond, followed by an hour-long discussion of the paper among all participants.   

Economic Sociology & Organizations Workshop

The economic sociology workshop serves as a forum for students and faculty in the areas of economic sociology and the sociology of organizations, both broadly defined.  We seek to explore the social organization of economic activity, at macro, meso, and micro levels of analysis, and engage in a wide variety of theoretical perspectives.  We are methodologically eclectic, representing network approaches, historical analysis, qualitative interviews, and ethnographic work.  Examples of our ongoing projects include a historical study of the emergence of the “economy” as an object of social knowledge, an examination of how internal networks affect the productivity of nanotech firms in different environments, a mixed-methods study of social work organizations that provide care for both substance abuse and intimate partner violence, an ethnography of a retiree volunteer organization, and a comparison of pricing practices in different consumer financial markets. The workshop also has strong ties to the Management & Organizations and Strategy departments in the Business School, and many graduate students from these departments participate actively in the workshop.

Presenters circulate a completed manuscript in the week prior to their talks. Student participants are expected to provide the speaker with an anonymous review of the manuscript (written in the form of a review for a scholarly journal) for each session. Presentations are interactive, with intensive questioning encouraged, as a means of preparing students for external talks, including job talks. We expect to meet approximately every other week during the term. Attendance at each session is mandatory.

Ethnography Workshop

The Ethnography workshop combines the format of a reading group and a workshop, to create a unique space for support in using ethnographic methods. Students will interrogate what it takes to get different kinds of data, the qualities of the data that make evidence convincing, and broader lessons on how to use ethnographic methods in a sociological context.

The workshop will consist of two sessions a month. For one, a student will present and receive feedback on a work in progress, and for the other, the group will engage in an in-depth discussion of the ethnographic text of the month.

Gender & Sexuality Workshop

The gender and sexuality workshop provides a setting for students and faculty interested in any aspect of gender or sexuality to come together to share their ongoing research and receive feedback from others. Participants’ interests in gender and sexuality are broad and wide-ranging. As a group we investigate issues of gender and sexuality across many levels of social life and as they intersect with other social identities and sociological phenomena. Methodologically, many participants use ethnography and in-depth interviewing, but we welcome and encourage methodological diversity within our group. Projects recently presented in the workshop have been on the professionalization of the secretarial role, low income women’s experiences of infertility, the medicalization of doulas and lactation consultants, the role of public health workers in enforcing HIV disclosure law, Catholic women’s experiences of infertility, the sexual socialization of preschoolers, and  sexual pleasure in college women’s hookups.

On a bi-weekly basis, the workshop aims to assist students with many aspects of doing research including, writing and revising papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals, developing dissertation proposals, and preparing job talks. The format for each session varies depending on the stage of student development and type of project.  

Inequality and Social Demography Workshop (ISD)

The Inequality and Social Demography (ISD) Workshop brings together graduate students, faculty, and postdocs to form a vibrant, respectful, and close-knit intellectual community.

We welcome the submission of all projects that are based on empirical research. Each semester, our goal is to offer a variety of theoretically informed projects that use (i) qualitative, (ii) quantitative, or (iii) comparative-historical methods to study one of the workshop's signature topic areas (inequality and social demography).

Graduate students are at the core of the ISD Workshop's structure and mission. The majority of sessions are dedicated to the presentation of graduate student research at various stages. One of the primary goals of the group is to assist graduate students with writing papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals, as well as writing successful grant and fellowship proposals. Faculty and postdocs are also invited to present their ongoing research, both to gain feedback on their work and to familiarize students with high-quality work as it is being developed.

The ISD Workshop is distinct because of its presentation-feedback structure. A typical session will involve a presentation, followed by questions and feedback. There are two main formats:

(1) RESEARCH PRESENTATION—a presenter will prepare a talk that outlines their research and, after the research presentation, participants will be invited to ask questions and provide feedback. The presentation should include the most important elements of the project (i.e., motivation, relevant literature, research questions, data/methods, results, and contributions/conclusion; any other element that the presenter deems important is also welcome). The research presentation is a dynamic format because it allows the presenter to solicit feedback about almost any area of the project (e.g., theoretical framing, data issues, methods-related questions, clarity of findings, data-theory consistency, future directions, etc.). [Best for substantive feedback on the theoretical and empirical elements of a project.]

(2) CIRCULATED DOCUMENT—a presenter will circulate a draft of a paper or proposal in advance of the meeting and participants will read it and prepare comments; during the session, the presenter will present an overview of the paper or proposal; and then attendees will share their feedback. The length of the overview may vary. The circulated document might be the ideal format for a presenter who wishes to solicit feedback about the mechanics, style, communication, and overall structure of a document (e.g., for a project that needs specific improvement on its organization, effective writing, revisions, or responding to journal reviewers' comments). [Best for revising a written document.]

In the past, ISD Workshop participants have presented: (1) early work/results; (2) drafts of working papers; (3) drafts of dissertation chapters; (4) reviewer comments and revise-and-resubmit memos; (5) grant or fellowship proposals (e.g., presented before NSF/Ford deadlines); (6) practice presentations (e.g., presented before the PAA conference); and (7) detailed outlines of the dissertation prospectus. The workshop offers a mix of full sessions (80 minutes) and half sessions (40 minutes) to facilitate the presentation of research at varying stages of development.

We encourage our members to attend and participate in as many meetings as possible, with the goal of ensuring high-quality feedback for every presenter!

Measuring and Modeling Culture Workshop

This workshop is envisioned to be a space for discussions among graduate students and faculty about measuring and modeling culture, conceived very broadly. Sociology of culture has become one of the largest sections of the ASA in part because sociologists tend to wrestle with questions about culture no matter what we study empirically. We use “culture” to refer to a diverse range of socially shared symbolic, cognitive, behavioral and interactional phenomena, including meanings, schemas, stereotypes, categories, narratives, values, practices, and habits. If one feature that unites these phenomena is their sharedness, another is the difficulty of analyzing them systematically. As a result, questions about measurement and modeling—what attributes, behaviors, or outcomes to observe; how to assess similarity and variation across people, groups, and artifacts; and how to assemble what we learn into systematic representations—have long occupied a central role in the sociology of culture. Our workshop deals with these methodological questions as they arise across sociological subfields and empirical topics.

We hope that both qualitative and quantitative scholars interested in thinking deeply about measurement and analysis will attend, even if they don’t think of themselves as interested in “methodology”. Along similar lines, we hope scholars will come even if they don’t think of themselves as "culture people", because many of us encounter questions related to culture when tackling our research even if we didn’t set out to study culture (and this workshop may help you realize there are interesting cultural questions lurking within your work.)

A student (or faculty) presenter will typically circulate a draft of their paper or proposal in advance of the meeting. Group participants will then read the draft and prepare comments. The typical format for each session will then consist of author offering 5-10 minutes of remarks highlighting the challenges they are currently facing with respect to the paper, and leaving the remaining time for group discussion.

Medicine, Aging, Science, and Health (MASH) Workshop

The workshop provides graduate students with opportunities to share their work in progress with faculty and students working on a variety of issues related to medicine, aging, science, and health. The primary goal of the workshop is to assist students in preparing papers for publication, but other uses of the workshop include preparing job talks and conference presentations, as well as getting feedback on research ideas at an earlier stage of development. For non-presenters, objectives include learning to productively engage colleagues with relevant questions and criticisms. Faculty may also present research in progress and we also occasionally host outside speakers. We are also committed to creating a supportive community of scholars – and thus plan to hold occasional social activities such as potlucks, etc.

The typical format for each session will consist of a student presenter circulating a draft of their paper or proposal in advance of the meeting. Group participants will then read the paper and prepare comments. The author generally offers 5-10 minutes of comments highlighting the challenges they are currently facing with respect to the paper, and the remaining time will be used for group discussion. For sessions where students are preparing conference presentations or job talks, the format may vary.

In addition to student presentations, several meetings per semester may be used for discussion of professionalization topics, critical review of published research, faculty research presentations, and guest speakers.

Social Movements & Political Protests Workshop

The social movements and political protests workshop provides graduate students with an opportunity to share ongoing research with faculty and students working specifically in the areas of social movements, collective action, and political mobilization. The primary aim of the workshop is to assist students with writing papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals, as well as writing grant, fellowship, and dissertation proposals. Through discussion and written feedback, the workshop seeks to introduce students to contemporary theory and research on political protest, as well as prominent works in the “canon” that may be relevant to their work.  It is a methodologically diverse group, and draws participants not only from Sociology, but also Women’s Studies, Political Science, and Social Work, among others.

While the format varies across sessions, in most cases, the “speaker” for the week circulates a draft in advance of the workshop, and participants are expected to read and prepare comments for discussion.

Social Theory Workshop

The purpose of the Social Theory Workshop is to bring together philosophers interested in the social sciences with theorists from fields like sociology, anthropology, political science, and history. The guiding idea behind the workshop is that the richest periods in sociological history (as at the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research and the Heidelberg Institute for State and Social Sciences before 1933) involved intense interaction between philosophy and the social sciences. The primary aim of the workshop is to discuss papers and research proposals that directly engage with issues of social theory and which contribute to current interdisciplinary discussions in the social sciences and humanities.

Urban & Community Sociology Workshop

The Urban & Community Sociology Workshop provides graduate students and faculty conducting research on urban spaces, neighborhoods, and other communities with opportunities to share their work at any stage with similarly interested students and faculty. The workshop has two goals. The first is to create a space in the department for people interested in urban/community-focused research to share their work, including paper drafts, job talks, grant and fellowship proposals, draft surveys, fieldnotes and interview transcripts, preliminary data analysis, and other research-related materials. The second goal is to promote discussion and debate about classic and contemporary literature in this area and think about how our own work links into the existing literature.

The workshop is meant to be an informal space where individuals at any point in their research careers can share their work and obtain thoughtful feedback. It may also be used as a space for discussion of professionalization topics, critical review of published research, and guest speakers.

In advance of each session, the week’s presenter will circulate two types of relevant materials for the group to review and prepare comments on: (1) their own work (a paper, talk, data, proposal, etc…) and (2) one article or chapter that relates to the work. During workshop meetings, the presenter will briefly discuss their own work. This will be followed by roundtable style discussion of the materials and suggestions from the group as to next steps or revisions. The last forty five minutes of the workshop will be devoted to discussing the circulated piece of literature. Discussion will center around how the presenter’s work links to this literature, where the debates and research in this area are at in this area of research, future research questions, data, and analysis in this area, etc…


   Department-sponsored Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshops