UCLA Department of Sociology
264 Haines Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1551
Job: My research investigates contested public debates as a prism to examine how culture shapes and is shaped by institutional dynamics, including the mass media, mobilization of social movements, and pre-existing cultural legacies. My research has focused on two main topics: sexual harassment and obesity. As issues that concern the body, both sexual harassment and obesity are widely considered natural. Yet, in my work, I show how attitudes and practices regarding both topics have been socially constructed. In the case of sexual harassment, I demonstrate that culture is embedded in institutional settings and that cultural understandings, legal legacies, media practices, and corporate interests dynamically intersect to shape different definitions and practices concerning sexual harassment. In my research on obesity, I similarly show that moral meanings of body weight, medical science, media practices, and corporate interests shape framing contests over obesity as a public health crisis. Both research projects examine how cultural meaning operates as a form of power and how subordinate groups can sometimes redefine cultural meaning in ways that increase their control. My work is empirically grounded, employing multiple methods, including in-depth interviews, ethnography, media analysis, legal analysis, and statistical analysis.
Some of my recent publications include:
Saguy, Abigail C. 2003. What is Sexual Harassment?: From Capitol Hill to the Sorbonne. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Saguy, Abigail C. and Kevin W. Riley. 2005. “Weighing Both Sides: Morality, Mortality and Framing Contests over Obesity.” Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law. 30:5, pp. 869-921. Benson, Rodney, and Abigail C. Saguy. 2005. “Constructing Social Problems in an Age of Globalization: A French-American Comparison.” American Sociological Review. 70:2, pp. 233-259. Working Papers and Short Articles
Saguy, Abigail C. and Rene Almeling. 2005. “Fat Devils and Moral Panics: News Reporting on Obesity Science.” Under Review at the American Sociological Review. Campos, Paul, Abigail Saguy, Paul Ernsberger, Eric Oliver, and Glen Gaesser. 2005. “The Epidemiology of Overweight and Obesity: Public Health Crisis or Moral Panic?” International Journal of Epidemiology. In Press. Recent accomplishments: ASA/NSF Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline (FAD): Creating the “Obesity Epidemic”: Science, Social Activism, and the Mass Media. $7000. 2004-2006. Personal news: My daughter Claire, who will be turning 4 next week, and Jonah (almost 17 months) are thriving. My husband Dotan is enjoying running the quickly-expanding Internet retail company that he founded. Ph.D. Dissertation: Defining Sexual Harassment in France and the United States, 1975-1998