BiographyI serve as Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell (soon to be Professor Emeritus). For over two decades, I coordinated the Media Research Action Project www.mrap.info with sociologist William Gamson until his retirement, and later, with communication scholar-activists, Kevin Carragee (Suffolk University) and Marcus Breen (Boston College).
My recently published Beyond Prime Time Activism: Communication Activism and Social Change taps over two decades of collaboration with community organizer Karen Jeffreys. The book represents our most extensive effort to develop empowerment communication practices with social movement groups.
Karen and I worked to develop research methods that are mutually beneficial. This is not only equitable, it improves the research: Movement leaders, organizers, and participants think constantly and dialog endlessly with others, drawing lessons in the process. Researchers need to develop methods that capture a movement's constant knowledge production, as well as its recurring adaptation to shifting conditions. Collaborative reflection produces lessons of direct interest to movement participants while also creating archives for later research.
Prior books include Prime Time Activism (South End Press 1991) and, with MRAP veterans David Croteau and William Hoynes, Rhyming Hope and History: Activists, Academics and Social Movement Scholarship (UMINN 2005). With Karen and Reverend DeeDee Williams, I continue to collaborate with regional organizing efforts to document how political strategies and communication strategies mesh.
New work involves environmental communication with emphasis on how the production, distribution and consumption of food affects climate change.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Social movement studies, grassroots communication practices, community-based participatory research methods, public sociology, environmental communication.
Watching my students eat junk food (or sometimes nothing), I developed the course Fast Food, Hot Planet, linking climate change to food production, distribution, consumption, and waste. I am currently working on a cookbook featuring cheap, tasty fast, healthy soups that do not tax the environment. I continue to work with Rhode Island economic justice activists to develop holistic approaches to issues--housing, unemployment, prisons, health care--often treated as single issues.
I walk with friends daily.