I study the production and reproduction of inequality in media and organizations. Previous and ongoing research on media representations examines depictions of motherhood, age, gender, and race in television advertising and popular music:
In a series of co-authored papers, Shyon Baumann and I analyze the cultural schemas that underlie contemporary representations of the intersection of age and gender, as well as portrayals of motherhood. Our findings have been published in Journal of Gender Studies and Poetics, as well as in two book chapters.
In another study, I analyze how performing artists’ representations of romantic love in popular music vary along lines of gender and race. In line with scholarship on postfeminist media representations, I find that women of colour are portrayed as empowered through their expressions of love. The idea of empowerment is conveyed through repudiations of infidelity and references to material wealth. Against a cultural backdrop of images of jezebels and welfare queens, this postfeminist portrayal is seen as empowering because it creates distance from denigrating racial stereotypes of women of colour. My analysis shows that, rather than erasing harmful stereotypes, this portrayal incorporates them as a silent reference category; the stereotypes are not represented but they nevertheless remain the standard against which women of colour are evaluated. Much as postfeminist modes of representation undercut gender equality by suggesting it has been achieved, racialized postfeminist portrayals elide considerations of racial inequality.
And my work on organizational inequality analyzes the bureaucratization of feminist internships, and racial discourse in the music industry:
In a collaboration published in Feminist Formations, Judith Taylor and I examine feminist internship settings, wherein the institutionalization of the women’s movement serves to routinize student interns’ political consciousness.
Media reports on the responses in creative fields to the Black Lives Matter, #TimesUp, and #MeToo movements suggest that much uncertainty remains regarding how to make creative workplaces more safe and inclusive. To date, we know little about how creative personnel conceive of racism and what efforts they take, if any, to make production processes more inclusive. Along with Alanna Stuart, I am in the process of conducting interviews with music industry workers, such as such as label personnel, performing artists, managers, and promoters, to examine their understandings and experiences with racial discourse.