A group of E&H sociology students joined sociologists from more than 10 states to present research at the Southern Sociological Society Annual Meeting April 6-9 in Jacksonville, FL.
Seniors Ali Nail, Kelli Smith, April Smith, and Erika Wright presented research on attitudes toward immigration, confidence in the federal government post-Katrina, the impact of religion on worldviews, and religion and sexuality. The students developed their research papers during the semester-long Methods of Social Research course, analyzing data from the General Social Survey, a biannual nationally representative survey of Americans’ opinions on key social issues.
E&H professors Julia Wilson and Shelley Koch accompanied the students to the conference, which was based on the theme “Power, Revisited.”
“I absolutely love watching students present their research at the Southerns, particularly when they realize that their work is equal to that of undergraduate and graduate students in the field. Ali, April, Erika, and Kelli all are poised, polished, and smart young sociologists and fine ambassadors for Emory & Henry and its sociology program,” said Wilson.
Nail’s paper, “Crossing the Border: Investigating Immigration Attitudes and Religion,” examined the relationship between religiosity and attitudes towards immigrants. Nail found that Americans who are more likely to believe that the Bible is the true word of God are slightly more likely to negative attitudes toward immigrants, especially in the South. The conference was a wonderful opportunity to discover new and interesting concepts from different sociologist, Nail said. Nail credits Dr. Wilson for the chance to attend this event by helping her develop a conference-level research paper and continually supporting her scholarship.
April Smith’s research explored whether African Americans experienced a shift in confidence in the federal government after Hurricane Katrina. She found no changes in attitudes, yet argued that this lack of change was an important finding in light of prior research on the topic. Smith said the conference was a great preparation for graduate school and that she learned a great deal from other presentations.
This was the second conference that Kelli Smith attended and presented her research on the connection between religiosity and knowledge about sexuality among American teens. She is using the feedback from the conference to revise her honors thesis, “How does ‘It’ Work? Religion and Sexual Knowledge Among Adolescents,” which she plans to defend at the end of the month.
In “Evil or Good? How Region, Religion and Nationality affect Worldviews,” Wright examined the impact of religiosity, region, and native origin on Americans’ views about the nature of people in the world, but found the data was too limited to provide a complete answer. Wright credits her training in both sociology and psychology for preparing her for this conference.
The students not only attended several presentations of original research by sociologists across the region, but also heard keynote addresses by prominent sociologists Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Barbara Risman and Erik Olin Wright.
This was the fourth year students from the E&H Sociology department presented at the Southerns. Wilson and Koch plan to take a new group of undergraduate sociologists to New Orleans for next year’s SSS Annual Meeting.