Majors make conference presentations


Mary Dickerson
Title:  Musical Preferences and the Internet
Southern Sociological Society Annual Meetings; Atlanta, Georgia
Mentor:  Dr. Allison Wisecup
     Two very distinct sociological arguments address how individuals develop musical preferences through cultural consumption.  The first argument, a cultural capital perspective, views music as a social artifact that individuals employ as a cultural marker to distinguish themselves from others.  The second argument, an ecological perspective, views music as a cultural form that consumes people.  Though these perspectives differ conceptually and theoretically, the literature supporting both share one important similarity:  neither address the role of the internet in music preferences and consumption.  The existing sociological literature under theorizes the potentially important role of the internet in cultural consumption, especially with regard to music and preferences.  The current study examines the role of internet usage in determining musical preferences, specifically using the three websites Facebook, iTunes, and YouTube.  The inclusion of internet usage in explanations of music preferences generates varying hypotheses depending on whether the user is an abstainer, localizer, or omnivore.  The sample consists of 129 individuals from the university student body population and logistic regression is used to analyze the data.  There is some support for the various hypotheses.  One finding is that if users are specifically using the internet to expand music preferences, it increases the odds of having a strong preference for a genre of music regardless of how the specific sites are used.  If individuals are using the internet to gain new knowledge, the odds of being unfamiliar with a genre decrease, but does not strengthen preferences.  These results suggest that the internet does play a role in gaining musical preferences, but it all depends on the type of user the individual is pertaining to music.

Mary Dickerson
Title:  Exploring Place Based Education
The Appalachian Studies Association Conference; Boone, North Carolina
Mentor:  Dr. Melinda Wagner
     This paper examines a few of the exponential ideas and reasons behind educational reform and presents definitions, methods, and techniques associated with one alternative: place-based education.  Place-based education is an educational approach that draws on local history, culture, and environment as a curriculum source that seeks to connect students to their community, by promoting citizenship, sustainability, and stewardship.  The current study examines the benefits of place-based programs and seeks to connect them to current U.S. educational goals through specific program examples.  A case study of the Floyd County High School Place-Based Oral History Project is included.


Mary Dickerson, Shylah Jones, Gabby DeMarco, and Victoria Curtis present on the Floyd County Place-Based Education Oral History Project at the Appalachian Studies Conference, at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.

Curtis Rash
Title:  Death Attitudes, Alcohol Consumption, and Religiosity
Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium; High Point, North Carolina
Mentor:  Dr. Jeanne Mekolichick
     There have been multiple studies that examine Death Attitudes and Religiosity; however, few studies have examined these two variables with the amount of alcohol consumption.  This project expands upon a pilot study to examine the relationship of these three variables.  Based off of the pilot study, I propose that the death attitudes, approach acceptance, death anxiety, and escape acceptance, have a negative correlation with the amount alcohol consumption and that religiosity reinforces this relationship with a negative correlation with alcohol consumption.  I also propose that neutral acceptance and avoidance of death do not have a positive or negative correlation with the amount of alcohol consumption.  To test this, I used a convenient sample of individuals from a rural area, gathering data from an online survey.  Results to be discussed.

Heather Wrightwinner of First Place Oral Presentation Award on Cultural History
Title:  Goffman, Lorber, and Marx: Applying Theory to Little Miss Sunshine
Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium; High Point, North Carolina
Mentor:  Dr. Carla Corroto
     This theoretical analysis uses sociological theory to inform the foundation of research on pop culture.  The film Little Miss Sunshine is a great example of media portrayal on work, family interactions, and societal influences.  Using theories from Marx, Lorber, and Goffman, the piece analyzes the individual members of the family and how they are influenced by higher social structure.
     Capitalism is a key theme found in Little Miss Sunshine as the father figure, Richard Hoover, is trying to become successful with his “nine-step program to success.”  His means of production has taken over his everyday life, and he has alienated himself from his family and other sources of comfort.  The social construction of bodies is another key theme in this film through Olive, the seven-year-old in the family.  Her social environment influences and informs her thinking and actions concerning her body image and self-perception.  Through symbolic interaction, meaning and purpose is placed upon the self and the perceived roles men and women should play.  Gendered expectations are pressed upon the family members, but dramaturgical front stages and back stages can differ between reality and expectations.
     Capitalism, social construction of bodies, and symbolic interaction are themes of Little Miss Sunshine and are blended for future conceptual and sociological work.  Theory is the foundation of research, and before researchers can fully understand empirical and conceptual evidence, it must be informed through the theoretical foundation.  This essay uses the groundwork for potential research in pop culture.


Sarah Wood, Victoria Curtis, and Dr. Melinda Wagner enjoy dinner in Boone, NC while attending the Appalachian Studies Conference at Appalachian State University. Wood was a co-presenter on "Appalachian Outmigration: A Study on Leaving Home."

Isabel Wu SSSA 2013

Isabel Wu
A Survey Study of Chinese Sociology
Southwestern Sociology Association Annual Meetings; New Orleans, Louisiana
Mentor:  Dr. Mary LaLone
     As globalization has become increasingly relevant in all domains of society, global studies are gaining growing attention and importance in sociological studies.  Pre-existing frameworks of sociological studies may not apply to all aspects of global communities.  The objective of this paper is to examine the “Chinese experience” of sociology and show a different perspective to the studies of societies.  I will clarify that by delving into the history of development of Chinese sociology to demonstrate how the unique Chinese history has had an indelible imprint on Chinese sociology:  Confucianism shaped the Chinese view of society; the doctrinal Marxism served as the basis of Chinese sociology in the pre-Reform-era; and Chinese sociology has developed distinctively during the Reform-era in the context of economic and cultural globalization.  The main objective of this study is to enhance understanding of Chinese culture through the complex of history and to deal with some issues facing Chinese sociology today:  modernization and globalization.  Considering the reality of Chinese society, we have to adopt a different framework to think about Chinese sociology and its future.

Mar 17, 2013
Dr. Jeanne Mekolichick