Vaccaro Tweets From, Presents Research at American Sociological Conference

Posted on 8/8/2013 1:57:55 PM

Sociology faculty member Christian Vaccaro presented two of his research projects at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York City, August 10–13, 2013.

Vaccaro also tweeted live updates on the latest sociological research findings from the conference floor. Follow him on @DrCVaccaro.

Paper: Gendered Embodiment Cycles in Mixed Martial Arts

Author: Christian Vaccaro


Through an analysis of mixed martial arts (MMA) gym members’ training, I examine how embodiment can be a both a cyclical process and gendered. I forward the concept of “gendered embodiment cycles,” which are a repeated sequence of interactions intended to shape bodies so they align with culturally ideal gender standards and is accompanied by related subjective experience. Specifically, I show how MMA gym members’ embodiment was an interpersonally constructed cycle sequenced as (1) skilling, (2) aggrandizing, (3) specializing, (4) advantaging, and (5) testing and resting; and how it was tied to both signifying the status of manhood and the positive emotions accompanying feeling like a “real man.” Whereas previous research on gender and embodiment has typically conceived the process as linear, static, or contextually achieved, I show how it can also be cyclical. I end by drawing out implications for research on gendered socialization of bodies and gendered identity, as well as the literature on embodiment more generally.

Paper: Identity in Action: Emails to Elected Officials Regarding the Terri Schiavo

Authors: Deana Rohlinger, Christian Vaccaro, Miriam Sessions, Heather Mauney


Despite scholarly interest in identity, we know very little about how individuals strategically deploy identity in their political action apart from social movements or outside of the voting booth. Drawing 2,509 emails sent by individuals to Governor Jeb Bush regarding his efforts to reinsert the hydration and nutrition tubes of Terri Schiavo, we analyze 1) how often individuals deploy one or more identities in their efforts to encourage and dissuade Bush’s intervention on the Schiavo case, 2) whether there are patterns in what identities individuals deploy in their strategic efforts, and 3) how individuals use identity to bracket their support for or against intervention. We find that individuals, indeed, invoke identity in their emails and that some identities are more likely to be deployed alone while others are layered in ways designed to buttress claims as to why intervention is (in)appropriate. Additionally, we find some support for our expectations regarding how individuals use identity to bracket their support for or against government intervention on the Schiavo case. We conclude the paper with a discussion of the implications of our findings for research on identity and political processes.