Sociology Newsletter
Fall 2014

Student Profile
Faculty and Student Updates
Sociology Internships
Career Preparation


Student Profile

Carter Anderson, the 2014 Sociology Department Outstanding Graduating Senior, is featured on the College of Humanities and Social Sciences website.  Click here to learn more.

Faculty and Student Updates

Kristin Anderson and Jill Cermele (Professor of Psychology at Drew University) published "Public/Private Language Aggression Against Women: Tweeting Rage and Intimate Partner Violence" in the Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict (DOI:  10.1075/jlac2.2.05and).  The study compares the form of content of verbal aggression against women using data from two sources:  1) 130 Civil Protection Order (CPO) petitions filed with the court by victims of domestic violence in 2010, and 2) the population of 1117 tweets containing the handle @femfreq posted during 17 days in the fall of 2013.   The handle @femfreq is used by the founder of the website Feminist Frequency: Conversations with Pop Culture. They find that CPO petitions describe overtly sexist language aggression against women, whereas tweets about @femfreq are characterized by covert forms of gendered language aggression.


Seth Feinberg recently returned to Western after a Fulbright year in Japan teaching students about American culture and history (including race, prisons in the U.S., and social problems in the U.S.). 

Seth Feinberg During His Fulbright Year In Japan

Seth Feinberg also recently published a research article with two former WWU Sociology Majors, Amy Famelos and Valeria Fisher entitled, “Senseless Messaging: Advertising Images of Illegal Driving and Deviant Behavior”​ with the following abstract:

We review messaging within automobile advertisements that normalizes and glamorizes reckless driving behavior. Our content analysis of video advertisements illustrates the use of the automobile in ways that are both illegal and dangerous. Advertisements with hazardous driving images occur more often in our sample than all other types of marketing strategies. Messages include deviance from distributional norms (atypical vehicle use); illegal or immoral driving behaviors that put others at risk; and questionable judgments on the part of manufacturers that use advertisement imagery to increase sales while assuming little of the public costs associated with accidents, injuries, and preventable fatalities on roadways.

Ron Helms published an article in SAGE Journals entitled, “Energy Inequality and Instrumental Violence: An Empirical Test of a Deductive Hypothesis” with the following abstract: 

Economic research has firmly established that energy consumption is closely linked to economic growth patterns. The subtext of such research is that disruptions to stable supplies of affordable energy could adversely affect quality of life and interrupt patterns of social cohesiveness. This article investigates a hypothesized link between patterns of energy consumption and instrumental violence across 868 U.S. counties. Tobit regression results confirm an inverse association between a global indicator of energy consumption and robbery rates, after statistically holding constant numerous theorized correlates of crime. Results support calls for increased contingency planning in anticipation of energy-related social control challenges and continued efforts to research and develop alternate and affordable energy.

Ron Helms also attended the annual meeting of the Western Association of Criminal Justice (WACJ), which is the regional affiliate of ACJS (the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences).  He chaired one panel and presented a paper on another panel.  The paper title is: Shedding Inventory, Gearing Up for Domestic Conflict, or Managing Post-Modern Police Imagery?  A Study of Purported Links between US Military Transfers and Emergent Developments in Domestic Policing.  This research is being conducted in collaboration with Lucky Tedrow.

Two of Ron Helms’ students also traveled to the same annual meeting and made panel presentations and attended the full conference.  Their presentation titles and abstracts are as follows:

Service Learning and Internships in Criminal Justice
Rebecca Wood, Western Washington University

Using a qualitative reflection process, the current paper explores literature on the incorporation of service learning and internship opportunities in the field of law enforcement and the criminal justice system into a classroom curriculum. It compares and contrasts other researchers’ results with my own personal experience, interning at a police department. My assertion is that internships are an invaluable method of learning and connecting in-classroom ideas with real world experience, which is generally supported in the literature. These results suggest that more service learning and internship opportunities may be presented to college students in order to better prepare them for the work force in law enforcement and criminal justice.

A Suitable Amount of Crime
Shane Farrell, Western Washington University

In a suitable amount of Crime, Nils Christie presents arguments concerning horizontal and
vertical models of justice, in which the vertical model represents justice delivered by an authority such as the state and tends to be retributive in nature. The horizontal scale represents justice delivered informally by a community. Christie raises the rhetorical question “why should retribution have priority over forgiveness?” His discussion seems to imply that forgiveness is always preferable to retribution. But this is balanced against other system goals, which range from vengeance to rehabilitation to social protection. Thus it is critical to balance these types of considerations. As an example, vertical justice priorities are proportionately strengthened when risks involving the safety and dignity of victims and others are elevated. This paper assesses various limiting conditions under which vertical justice becomes necessary to the satisfactory resolution of criminal cases.

Jen Lois recently gave the keynote address at the 2014 Northwest Search and Rescue Conference near Portland, OR.  Her talk, titled “Heroic Efforts: Getting Emotions ‘Out of the Way’ in Search and Rescue Work,” focused on the belief that emotions can “get in the way” in urgent situations.  Relying on interview excerpts and field notes of her own experiences from her six-year study of a Mountain Rescue group in the Rockies, she detailed how rescuers manage their emotions before, during, and after missions to accomplish their task while keeping themselves and others safe.  In addition, she discussed how rescuers must devote a great deal of attention to keeping others’ emotions from impeding their efforts: they must respond to and shape the feelings of victims during rescues as well as those of awaiting family members during searches. Dr. Lois believes that thinking about how the emotions of crisis situations can impact rescuers’ identities as well as their relationships with victims, families, and each other can provide a useful perspective in understanding search and rescue work.

Jen Lois Giving A Keynote Address


Jasmine Strode-Elfant is a sociology major who is also in the Honors Program. Each student in the Honors Program is required to conduct an Honors Senior Project. Under the supervision of Professor Cunningham, Jasmine is investigating the theme of authenticity within food advertising. She is conducting a content analysis study of food advertisements in two varieties of magazines: women’s food and housekeeping magazines, and gourmet cooking and food magazines. Her research seeks to explore what types of authenticity are used to advertise food, and if different types of authenticity are used to advertise food in women’s magazines versus food magazines.

Jay Teachman, Carter Anderson, and Lucky Tedrow have a forthcoming publication entitled, “Military Service and Alcohol Use in the United States.”  Armed Forces and SocietyCarter Anderson was the 2014 Sociology Department Outstanding Graduating Senior and is now in the PhD program at the UW.  The podcast related to this article can be found at the following link with the following abstract:

It is well known that enlistees and veterans in the United States are more likely to use alcohol than civilians. However, most of this research is potentially biased in that it often does not employ control variables (other than age) and is based on cross-sectional data. Much of this research also fails to consider the relationship between military service and alcohol use among women. Using longitudinal data taken from the 1997 National Longitudinal Study of Youth, we investigate the relationship between military service and alcohol consumption employing a fixed-effects approach. We find that military service appears to encourage young men to consume alcohol. It is also the case that the effect of military service is not limited to the time that men spend in the military given that male veterans are also more likely to consume alcohol than are comparable nonveterans. We find, however, that women who serve, both enlistees and veterans, are less likely to drink than their civilian counterparts.

Professor Tsunokai and four Western alumni have co-written a manuscript that examines the racial/ethnic dating preferences of biracial individuals.  Their paper entitled, “Differing Shades of Color:  Online Dating Preferences of Biracial Individuals,” is currently under review at Ethnic and Racial Studies.  The authors examine two interrelated research questions:  (1) Are biracial individuals more likely to date outside of their own race/ethnicity compared to their monoracial counterparts?; and (2) Do the dating preference patterns of biracial singles reflect a triracial hierarchy as articulated by Bonilla-Silva (2004), where “whites” (i.e., Asian-white, Hispanic-white, and other-white biracials), “honorary whites” (i.e., Asian-other and Hispanic-other biracials), and the “collective blacks” (i.e., black-Hispanic, black-other, and black-white biracials) select romantic partners based on perceived racial/ethnic status.  Their results suggest that although biracial daters are more likely to cross the color line when dating compared to their monoracial counterparts, distinct differences in dating preferences among the eight biracial combinations still persist.  The lead author, Allison McGrath is currently a fourth year Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University.  Melinda Schultz (Ph.D. student) is starting her second year at Penn State, while Jillian Kavanagh is starting her first year in grad school at Temple University.  Jake Tarrence will be applying to Ph.D. programs in Sociology in December 2015.
Allison McGrath, WWU Alumna 2010
Melinda Schultz, WWU Alumna 2013
Jillian Kavanagh, WWU Alumna 2013
Jake Tarrence, WWU Alumnus 2014

Sociology Internships

An internship is a valuable opportunity to apply sociological concepts and methods in real world work settings, while at the same time contributing to the community.  An internship also increases a student’s understanding of the job search process, the complexities of professional work, interconnection of agencies, organizations and public policy.  The opportunity to be involved with local agencies is also an excellent avenue to begin building a professional network prior to entering the workforce.  For more information regarding the opportunity to complete an internship for credit, see the information about SOC 371 (Directed Internship) on the sociology website or contact Dr. Karen Bradley, the Sociology Department Internship Coordinator. 
Students have recently completed internships in a variety of programs and agencies in Whatcom County including:

  • Lighthouse Mission
  • LAW Advocates
  • Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood
  • Agape House (a safe-house for Domestic Violence victims)
  • Prosecutor’s Office, City of Bellingham
  • Whatcom Drug Court
  • Bellingham Senior Activity Center
  • DSHS
  • Ethnic Student Center (WWU)
  • Skagit Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services
  • Catholic Community Services Recovery Center
  • Whatcom Middle School
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Wade King Elementary School

Career Preparation

Graduation is just around the corner for many sociology students.  An excellent campus resource for preparation to enter the workforce or continue on to further study is Western’s Career Services Center.  Visit their website  or office (Old Main 280) to learn more about:

  • Upcoming Info Fairs
  • Resume building
  • Networking
  • Strengths and assessment tests
  • Financial planning
  • Graduate school advising


Page Updated 10.16.2014