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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Sociology

Sociologist’s new book examines changing rural economics

Jennifer Sherman holding her new book, Dividing Paradise: Rural Inequality and the Diminishing American Dream.Even before COVID-19 prompted thousands of city-dwellers to seek new lifestyles in the country, sociology professor Jennifer Sherman had been researching and writing about a remote place she calls “Paradise Valley,” where efforts to revitalize the local economy with an influx of restaurants, cafes, hotels, and souvenir shops dramatically changed the community.

Her new book, Dividing Paradise: Rural Inequality and the Diminishing American Dream tells the story of » More …

Cannabis research center established

Cannabis plants.Early efforts in cannabis research at WSU have now grown into a full, multi-disciplinary research center with nearly 100 scientists working on a diverse range of cannabis-related projects. More than a dozen CAS faculty across chemistry, sociology, psychology, criminal justice, and political science are affiliated with the newly christened Center for Cannabis Policy, Research and Outreach, or CCPRO. » More …

Living the life precarious

Dalton Russell poses with a kayak on top of a sports van.In the United States, the subculture of precariat van-dwellers and car-based nomads remains largely under the radar.

“It sounds like the Dust Bowl all over again,” says Jennifer Sherman, WSU associate professor of sociology. “People are escaping places they can’t afford only to be exploited by some new sector in a new place and then, they move on when they can’t afford to live there either.”

Sherman says the American mythology of retiring and traveling the country in an RV is built on » More …

Making a difference

Lead Ceremony 2021. President's Awards.The 2021 WSU President’s Awards for Leadership and Engagement Award of Distinction (LEAD) recognized 17 CAS students and a faculty member for outstanding contributions across our diverse campus communities.

“This is a prestigious award that recognizes…the ways they give back to the community and empower others,” said Phillip Sinapati, ASWSU advisor and » More …

Plastic waste has some economic benefit for developing countries

Plastic waste in shrink wrapped bags.For decades, wealthy nations have transported plastic trash, and the environmental problems that go with it, to poorer countries, but WSU sociology researchers have found a potential bright side to this seemingly unequal trade: plastic waste may provide an economic boon for the lower-income countries.

Yikang Bai (’15 MA, ’19 MS, ’20 PhD) and former WSU faculty member Jennifer Givens analyzed 11 years of data on the global plastics trade against economic measures for 85 countries. » More …

Similar values, different views

A face mask with one half blue with white stars, the other side red with white stars.When it comes to wearing masks, partying, or just going to work at the office, Americans react a little differently based on which side of the political aisle they sit on.

In a nationwide survey, WSU sociologists found both liberal and conservatives in the U.S. disapprove of individuals putting the health of their community at risk, but conservatives cared more about why those individuals were taking the risks in the first place. » More …

Big name corporations more likely to commit fraud

Downtown buildings.Fortune 500 firms with strong growth profiles are more susceptible to “cooking the books” than smaller, struggling companies, according to a recent study published in Justice Quarterly.

“Prestigious companies, those that are household names, were actually more prone to engage in financial fraud, which was very surprising,” said Jennifer Schwartz, WSU sociologist and lead author on » More …

New research in these interesting times

In March 2020, when the University moved to distance learning to comply with stay-at-home orders, some WSU Vancouver researchers who were unable to pursue their existing projects turned instead to look at how COVID-19 was affecting various communities.

The new projects are “a lot broader than what people might expect. We are not looking for better testing or a vaccine or methods of contact tracing, but rather the impacts of the pandemic on various communities,” said Christine Portfors,  vice chancellor for research and » More …

Football-loving states slow to enact youth concussion laws

"American football" by alschim (Creative Commons)States with college teams in strong conferences, in particular the Southeastern Conference (SEC), were among the last to take up regulations on youth concussions, according to a recent study by WSU sociologists. The research, which investigated the association between youth sport participation and passage of concussion legislation, uncovered the importance of SEC affiliation, and found a similar connection in states with high » More …

Sociologist elected to Washington State Academy of Sciences

Trophy on a stack of books.Alair MacLean, associate professor of sociology at WSU Vancouver, will join the 2020 class of the Washington State Academy of Sciences (WSAS).

The academy announced its newest members in July, including seven from WSU. The honor recognizes researchers for their outstanding scientific and technical achievement as well as their willingness to work on behalf of the academy to bring the best available science to bear on issues within the state of Washington. » More …