Ph.D.’s on the Market

Andrea Hill is a PhD candidate and instructor in Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University. My broad areas of interest include stratification and inequality, political sociology, work, labor, and organizations, sociological theory, and research methodology. My dissertation, “The Lived Realities of Economic Crisis: Neoliberal Ideology, Governmentality, and Resistance in Elkhart, Indiana,” is an examination of the lived realities of hegemonic neoliberal economics, politics, and cultural practices in Elkhart, Indiana—the “RV Capital of the World” and a community which experienced the highest, fastest growth in unemployment in the wake of the financial meltdown and subsequent recession. Using participant observation and in-depth interviews with Elkhart’s unemployed RV workers, my research illuminates the experiences of workers struggling to stay afloat in a transformed world. My findings demonstrate the complex, incomplete nature of the neoliberal project: Workers in Elkhart embrace anti-union, small government, and individualistic discourses and use these tenets to inform their strategic responses to a bleak labor market. At the same time, they express anger and disillusionment with growing inequality, shrinking government assistance, and the alignment of state and corporate power. Workers walk a tightrope of tension as they act according to cherished values of individualism, responsibility, and enterprise, while simultaneously objecting to and resisting the realities that these values produce. This work is particularly useful for understanding labor market failure and the ways that individuals and communities address the lived, daily challenges presented by unemployment and growing employment insecurity.

In addition, I have extensive teaching experience and have designed and instructed several courses, including Introduction to Sociology, Research Methods in Sociology, American Society, and Social Theory. Teaching core courses multiple times has given me the opportunity to develop effective ways to help students activate and the apply critical perspective and sound research skills in their lives outside the classroom. I am committed to using my passion for sociology to teach students that our discipline is one that is both vitally important and consistently compelling. | Curriculum Vitae

Leandra Smollin’s primary research focus is social inequality, particularly in the areas of health, intimate relationships, and at the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and class. My dissertation, “Relationship Conflict, Violence and Abuse among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Adolescents,” speaks to the social and health effects of inequality, examining the relationships between systemic oppression and partner violence. This enduring social and public health problem is critically understudied in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth populations, despite prevalence rates approximating heterosexual youth. Data from interviews, focus groups, and one year of participant observation explain how youth conceptualize and negotiate dating relationships and violence in a changing socio-political context. Asserting their relationships are essentially “the same… but different” from heterosexual/non-transgender peers, youth narratives consistently focused more to the latter, evidencing the myriad of ways discrimination, bias, stigma, and stress influence dating relationships and subsequently prove to inform responses to dating violence. The findings of this study extend beyond addressing gaps in academic literature, they will contribute to anti-violence and health policy and educational programming.

My scholarship in the area of inequalities both motivates and informs my public policy work. In 2011, I was appointed to the Massachusetts’ Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, and asked to co-chair of the policy recommendation committee. This committee is tasked with drafting policy recommendations issued to the state legislature and executive agencies addressing social and health disparities and gaps in service provision. My public policy experience, in addition to my community-based work coordinating a health education program at a youth-serving organization, have added depth and perspective to my scholarship and teaching.

I value teaching and learning, and received an award for teaching excellence from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern in 2009. I have taught a variety of courses in both Sociology and Gender and Sexuality Studies at diverse institutions including Northeastern, Newbury College, Tufts, and Boston University. In addition to introductory course offerings in each field, I have taught courses on feminist theory, health, gender, family, family violence, and popular culture. I look forward to continuing to work with students in the classroom and through research-based partnerships. | Curriculum Vitae