Research

My research interests are in the area of social theory, especially as it applies to problems of selfhood, identity and subjectivity. I am an interpretive sociologist who draws upon hermeneutic and phenomenological theories and methods.

Since 2006, one of my central research interests has been on the relationship between antidepressant medications and selfhood. I have spoken to people who take and have taken antidepressant medications and I have analyzed print and television advertisments for antidepressants. The purpose of the research has been to describe the many ways that people incorporate antidepressants into their everyday lives. I have also described the narratives that people tell about their encounters with antidepressants.

More recently, I have been studying the writings of contemporary German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk. In particular, I have published a paper about Sloterdijk’s book Bubbles and its relevance for social psychology. Sloterdijk argues that subjectivity emerges out of intersubjective spheres or more specifically, sweet and intimate bubbles. I use that idea to show how contemporary social psychological theory can be enhanced through concepts like atmosphere and intersubjective mingling.

Finally, as a part of the Contemporary Ukraine Research Forum, I have started to study the Euromaidan movement in Ukraine. The Euromaidan movement began in November 2013 when then President Victor Yankovych failed to sign a much anticipated association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. In response, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians gathered on Independence Square in Kyiv Ukraine to protest the move. The protests continued for 3 more months. In the process, protesters set-up a barricaded encampment in and around Independence Square. The protests came to a culmination at the end of February 2014 when, after violent clashes between protestors and police (up to 100 protestors were killed, some by sniper fire), President Yanukovych fled Ukraine.

While at first glance this research might seem distant from earlier interests in self, antidepressants and intersubjectivity there is in fact significant overlap. For example, I am interested in the ways that Ukrainian identity and more intimately, selfhood, has been articulated and transformed through the Euromaidan Movement. In particular I am focusing on the way in which the Independence Square encampment (the Maidan) has created an atmosphere or unique space of intersubjective mingling (to use Sloterdijk’s language) for identity creation. My blog entries on this research can be found at the Contemporary Ukraine Research Forum website under the project heading “Ukrainian Identity on the Maidan.”