Research and Selective Publications by topic:

Rather than list all my publications, I would like to tell you a little about why I studied certain topics and then give you representative examples of my publications on each topic.

I seem to have a preference for studying new topics and, as a result did some of the very early work (either by myself or with colleagues) in the areas of two-career families, rape, newborn intensive care and the family experience of the college application process.

My first research was on two-career families.  In the late 1960's when I began this research it was unusual for women, especially married women, to have careers.  Nevertheless, some married women did pursue careers and I thought we should know more about them and about how they and their husbands had managed to successfully go against the norm.  Through in-depth interviews with husbands and wives, I looked at the issues such couples face--deciding where to live, finding jobs, juggling family and career responsibilities, managing time--and the solutions they use.

I then turned my attention to rape (with Burgess), looking at it from the point of view of the victim/survivor.  In the early 1970's the second wave of the women's movement had swept across the country and women were speaking out about the barriers they faced including the violence directed against them.  Despite the devastating impact of rape, little research existed on the victim's situation.  As researchers, we were interested in the impact of rape on the victim and the institutional response to rape cases.  We arranged to have a major hospital notify us whenever a rape victim arrived at the emergency ward.  We were able, in most cases, to be at the hospital within 30 minutes to interview the victim and observe the scene.  We also spoke again later with victims and, in those cases that went to court, accompanied them to court.  The result was an empirical study of the institutional processing of rape victims as they came into contact with police stations, hospitals, and courthouses.

I next used my ethnographic skills (with Guillemin) in a study of newborn intensive care.  In the space of a decade, intensive care for critically ill newborns went from an experimental venture to a widespread and controversial hospital service.  Our participant observation study focused on the social context of medical decision-making about how aggressively to intervene in the sensitive area of newborn life and on the dilemma that neonatal intensive care has become a mixed blessing.

Two-career families, rape, and newborn intensive care certainly are very different substantively.  Nevertheless, several themes run throughout all three projects.  First, all three projects look, in the language of Everett Hughes, my mentor, at the relationship between the person and the institution.  They deal with how people wend their way through and/or are processed by institutional structures.  Second, at the time I began researching them, they were all new areas.  Third, all of these projects were based on in-depth interviews and/or participant observation.  Fourth, all were based on modest size samples.   Fifth, the results have stood the test of time, suggesting that if you choose your sample carefully and if you listen well, you will learn a lot without the need for a large sample.

I am presently doing research, with David A. Karp and Paul S. Gray, on yet another area.  We call our project "Getting In: Family Dynamics and the College Application Process."  We believe that the college application process is a critical turning point in American society for thousands upon thousands of high school seniors and their families.  Given the importance of the process, there is a need for research that looks, in a holistic way, at what the process means subjectively for the participants themselves.

The college application process also provides a window for enlarging upon our understanding of a number of important features of the broader society such as the symbolic significance of children leaving home, central aspects of how the social class system replicates itself, mid-life parenting and how parents make decisions about the degree to which they should intervene in the lives of their children, the ways in which parents' identities and aspirations are wrapped up in the achievements of their children, parental perceptions about the significance of a college education, parents' changing image of their children, and their views about money and the meaning of education.

 We conducted this study by following 30 families through the college application process.  We did in-depth interviews, including a lengthy joint interview with the husband and wife, and then a separate lengthy interview with the son or daughter.

So once again, I find myself looking at the relationship between individuals and institutions, studying a new area, using in-depth interviews, and using a modest-size sample.  Hopefully, this study too, ultimately will stand the test of time.

On occasion, I also have written about the careers of others or my own career.  Everett Hughes liked to observe his students and referred, in an article, to teaching as fieldwork.  I turned the tables on him and wrote an article about his career from the point of view of a student observer.  Later, on another occasion, I wrote a chapter about my own career choices that were made in a social era when women were not expected to pursue careers. While thinking about these choices I developed the concept of the third shift which I use to refer to all the work women do to manage the effects of sexism in their daily lives as well as to fight sexism more broadly.

A present side project on what I call social genealogy will probably turn into my next main project.  At least two of my ancestors were in the New World in the 1700's and all branches of the family had arrived by the time of the Civil War.  All four grandparents (three of whom I knew) were pioneers in the white settlement of the Pacific Northwest, specifically, in Idaho (near Coeur d' Alene) and Bellingham, Washington (near the Canadian border).  As a child I was interested in and asked questions about my ancestors.  My parents were not particularly interested in the subject, but they provided information, and my mother connected me with two relatives who helped me write down a basic list of names and relationships.

As time has passed, I have become more interested not in just a list of names, but in what the lives of these people were like.  Hence, I think an appropriate term for such research is social genealogy.  It also occurred to me that these people represent a tiny piece of history of the development of this country--a piece that is likely to be lost because historians until recently have focused on the leaders and the famous.  Another point is that it is harder to find out about the women--their last names change and what they did is not necessarily recorded.  So I see the project also as helping to document women's lives that otherwise would be lost to history.

I keep collecting bits and pieces of information from private and public sources.  I started with my list of names that I collected as a child and family memorabilia.  I then did oral history interviews in Seattle with an aunt born in 1909 whose remarkable memory provided details about her Idaho pioneer childhood, names of relatives, and stories about their lives.

Armed with family data, I visited public sources such as the National Archives in Washington, D.C for data including census records (listing individuals by name); civil war pension records; and homestead records (including reports about use and improvement filed by homesteaders).  Some of the people whose lives I'm researching are:

Jennie Elizabeth Swezy (married name Thomas) Born 1870, NY.

Isaac Newton Thomas (born 1863, Centerville, New York)

Mayme Wade (married name Lytle) (born 1880)

Clarence LeRoy Lytle (born 1879)

There's much more to do.  This whole research process is an adventure, sort of a combination of detective story and jigsaw puzzle.  I'm not sure what the outcome will be, but I was impressed with Karen V. Hansen's paper "When Biography Meets History" and the way in which an analysis of an individual's life can illuminate aspects of social history.  I'm interested in hearing about and from other people who are doing similar research.

Representative Publications:

Two-Career Families; Women's Careers

The Two-Career Family. (Cambridge, MA: Schenkman, 1972).

"Women's Career Patterns: Appearance and Reality," Journal of the National Association of Women Deans and Counselors 36 (Winter, 1973), pp76-81.


"Rape Trauma Syndrome."  With Ann Wolbert Burgess.  American Journal of Psychiatry, 131 (Sept., 1974), pp. 981-86.

The Victim of Rape: Institutional Reactions. With Ann Wolbert Burgess.  (New York: Wiley, 1978).  (Transaction edition, 1983, contains new literature review.)

"Rape: The Husband's and Boyfriend's Initial Reactions."  With Ann Wolbert Burgess. The Family Coordinator, (July, 1979), pp. 321-30.

"Rapists' Talk: Linguistic Strategies to Control the Victim." With Ann Wolbert Burgess.  Deviant Behavior, 1 (1979), pp. 101-25.

Newborn Intensive Care

Mixed Blessings:  Intensive Care for Newborns.  With Jeanne Harley Guillemin. (New York: Oxford, 1986).  Paperback edition:  1990.

"Newborn Intensive Care: A Curative Approach to a Preventable Problem"  With Jeanne Harley Guillemin.  In Encyclopedia of Birth, Barbara Katz Rothman (ed.) Oryx Press, 1992.

Biography, Autobiography

"Everett Cherrington Hughes: A Tribute to a Pioneer in the Study of Work and Occupations," Work and Occupations, 11 (November, 1984), pp. 471-81.

"Working the Third Shift."  In Individual Voices, Collective Visions: Fifty Years of Women in Sociology, Ann Goetting and Sara Fenstermaker (eds).  (Philadelphia: Temple, 1995), pp. 251-70.

The College Application Process

"Leaving Home for College:  Expectations for Selective Reconstruction of Self."  With David A. Karp and Paul S. Gray.  Symbolic Interaction 21 (1998), pp. 253-76.

More detailed information about publications available upon request.

Back to top

Back to home page