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  Dunedin: Shaping our Future Together.

Dunedin: Shaping our Future Together is the result of a multi-year collaboration between the Dunedin Committee on Aging (DCoA) and Dr. Sara Green of the Department of Sociology at the University of South Florida. The purpose of the project is to provide data for the DCoA and other Dunedin citizens’ advisory committees, the Dunedin City Commission, city government staff, and community organizations to use as they develop plans and programs to serve the needs of community members in various age, race/ethnic, income, gender, and ability/disability groups in a time of demographic and environmental transition.

The multi-method study focuses on resident well-being, concerns, satisfaction, and future plans in five broad areas: 1. Transportation; 2. Health; 3. Housing; 4. Emergency Preparedness and Climate Change; and 5. Community Engagement and Social Life (see Executive Summary of Process and Findings, and Final Report Slides). Findings suggest that while the quality of life in Dunedin is rated very highly, there are improvements that could be made in specific areas in order to better serve the needs of all residents (see Executive Summary and Final Report Slides).   

Sociology Department Honors Student Brianna Vice and students enrolled in Sara Green’s sections of Senior Seminar in Sociology in the fall semesters of 2013 and 2014 assisted with project design and implementation as an undergraduate research opportunity that served as the capstone experience for the major (see list of student participants). Members of the Dunedin Committee on Aging were involved in all aspects of the project from design through suggestions for use of results (see DCoA Executive Summary).

Presentation of Findings

Presentation of Findings to Dunedin City Commission, November 10, 2015: Left to Right: Michael Whalen (Chair, Age Wave Sub Committee of the DCoA), Sara Green (Director, Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Program, Department of Sociology, USF), Andy Demers (Chair, DCoA), Sharon Williams (Immediate Past Chair, DCoA). Photo by Mary Bronson.

  Action Ethnography of Community Reintegration for Veterans with TBI

Dr. Skvoretz is a consultant on a Health Services Research and Development Service Grant titled "Action Ethnography of Community Reintegration for Veterans with TBI". Working with Principal Investigator, Gail Powell-Cope, PhD, Dr. Skvoretz is lending his social network analysis expertise to this important project about veteran reintegration.

  Community Resources and Disaster Resilience in Florida Mobile Home Parks

From 2008-2010, Dr. Kusenbach conducted an NSF study titled “Community Resources and Disaster Resilience in Florida Mobile Home Parks” (NSF SES-0719158). The research included the collection of qualitative data (100+ interviews and observations in four locations in and around Tampa, FL), quantitative data (survey), as well as the analysis of U.S. Census data and other community level information. The overall goal of the study was to investigate aspects of disaster vulnerability and resilience, and especially the influence of community level factors among middle and working class families living in mobile home parks. Extensive pilot research was conducted between 2005 and 2008.

  Gender, Sexuality and Power

Dr. Crawley is Core Resource Faculty for “Gender, Sexuality and Power” Regional Seminar for Excellence in Teaching, International Higher Education Support Program funded by the Open Society Institute. She is facilitating a three year program of 30 post-Soviet scholars and activists introducing and debating feminist and queer theory at universities in post-Soviet countries, taking place in Uzhgorod, Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine, and Budapest, Hungary.

  Immigrant Transnationalism and Modes of Incorporation

Elizabeth Aranda
Elizabeth Vaquera
Elena Sabogal


For decades scholars and policy makers have equated successful immigrant incorporation with assimilation to the dominant white, American middle-class culture. Research on transnational immigrants (those whose patterns of living transcend the boundaries of any one nation) has called into question the use of assimilation theory to describe contemporary immigrant incorporation. Research on the children of immigrants has gone further to suggest that assimilation compromises immigrant psychological and physical health.

Using random survey methods, this research proposes to investigate the modes of incorporation of recent, post-1986, Latin American immigrants in South Florida. With the Institute for Public Opinion Research (IPOR) at Florida International University, a phone survey will be conducted with a sample of 1200 immigrants to examine to what extent (if any) immigrant integration has taken on a transnational character, meaning that immigrants both assimilate to some aspects of American culture while continuing to be involved in their home countries. We also will examine whether there are links between particular modes of integration (e.g. bi-national integration versus other forms of assimilation such as segmented assimilation and selective acculturation) and immigrants’ subjective assessment of their well-being. Given the increase in the numbers of immigrants coming to the United States and the growing diversity in terms of their social origins, it is important to examine the extent of continued involvement in their home societies and whether such involvement, 1) deters or encourages integration to U.S. society; and, 2) if a particular mode of incorporation ameliorates the adverse impact of U.S. struggles documented by previous researchers who have argued that assimilation jeopardizes the health of immigrants.

Broader Impacts: The researchers aim to use this project as an educational tool for undergraduate and graduate students at the University of South Florida and William Paterson University. The data will be integrated into the researchers’ courses to expand students’ methodological skills as well as their understandings of immigration as a substantive area of study in Sociology. The data collected from this project will be made available to undergraduate and graduate students at USF and WPU for use in theses and dissertations. Moreover, the project increases the participation of historically underrepresented groups in research (all three of the researchers are Hispanic/Latina [im]migrants).

The study’s findings will shed new light on how new immigrants are integrating into already established immigrant communities and what particular modes of integration most enhance immigrant subjective well-being. These findings have policy implications, particularly as immigration continues to be a highly contested topic for legislative debate. As such, the study’s outcomes will be disseminated by publishing in interdisciplinary journals accessible to wide audiences.

National Science Foundation

  Managing Family Food Consumption

In an age when climate change, food security, and obesity are moving to the forefront of public agendas, we believe it is important to examine how different types of families interact differently with the food system. Our focus is on how different families “do” food differently, even in a society where the mass media works to standardize our eating habits. In particular, how do families with tween and young teen children negotiate food choices? We are conducting interviews with parents and children at the Temple Terrace Recreation Center, and we are involving undergraduate and graduate students in the process of data collection and analysis.

Jennifer Friedman (PI), Laurel Graham, and Blake Martin

  Successful Academic and Employment Pathways in Advanced Technologies

Dr. Tyson is principal investigator of “Successful Academic and Employment Pathways in Advanced Technologies” (NSF #1104214) or PathTech. PathTech is a collaboration with Tampa Bay area high schools, community colleges, and local businesses in the technology sector to better understand pathways from high schools and the workforce into AS degree programs and into the local workforce.

  Modern Slavery and Inequality in Families in Brazil

Dr. Hordge-Freeman is principal investigator of “Second-Class Daughters: Informal Adoption as Modern Slavery in Brazil.” This project is funded by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, American Sociological Association Funds for the Advanced of the Discipline, Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund, and USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy Research Award.

There are two lasting legacies of Brazil’s role in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: Brazil has the largest population of African-descendants outside of Africa, and it has the greatest number of domestic workers in the world. In Brazil, there are more than 7 million domestic workers, mainly Afro-Brazilian women. As recently as March 2013, the Brazilian Congress approved one of the most sweeping domestic labor reforms in the Western Hemisphere, which some call Brazil’s “second abolition of slavery.” These reforms are impressive, yet there are potentially thousands of Afro-Brazilian women who fall outside the scope of these reforms because they are exploited in a contemporary form of slavery in their own families. This project proposes a sociological investigation into the structural and individual-level factors that contribute to the exploitation and unpaid labor of informally adopted black women in their adoptive families.

Sociological Relevance
Currently, there is no contemporary research that addresses the lives of informally adopted women with the detail, longitudinal scope, and multiple perspectives proposed in this qualitative project. This project makes a contribution to sociology because it provides a clue to one of the most persistent social science questions: what are the mechanisms through which inequality is produced and sustained? This research uses an intersectional approach focusing on race, class, and gender to analyze the seamless transition from chattel slavery to contemporary forms of labor exploitation in Brazil.

Dr. Hordge-Freeman began this project in 2009 and with additional funding will expand the project to include interviews with informally adopted daughters (filhas de criação) in the states of Bahia, Paraíba, Rio Grande do Sul, and the Amazon region of Brazil.

Broader Impacts: This research has the potential to be used in interdisciplinary areas, as it bridges scholarship in sociology, feminist studies, labor, family studies, and African Diasporic studies. This project is timely because it builds on the momentum created by Brazil’s new labor laws regarding domestic work to bring attention to this exploited class. Ultimately, Dr. Hordge-Freeman plans to connect her research on modern slavery in Brazil to human trafficking in Florida.

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