Scholars Present at Annual Sociological Association Meeting

By Jeffrey Day - Nearly 60 faculty and students at the University of California, Davis, attended the 109th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, with about half presenting papers or leading discussions in San Francisco in August, 2014.

Papers from UC Davis examined the aging gay male population in San Francisco, evangelical Christianity in drug addiction recovery, and depression in older women, among other subjects.

Carmen Fortes, a doctoral student in sociology, is researching the lives of older gay men in the Castro district, a central site of the gay rights movement. Fortes will lead a roundtable titled “Mapping and Theorizing San Francisco Castro’s Aging Population in an Era of Rising Inequality.”

“I focus on the baby boom generation of gay men, and the study aims to provide a greater understanding of the aging process of this marginalized sexual minority group,” Fortes said. Many of the men “feel they are invisible” in a community that prizes youth and has gone through radical gentrification, according to Fortes. 

How language use operates in evangelical Christianity-based addiction recovery is the subject of “Submitting to Sanctification: An Ethnographic Discourse Analysis of Evangelical Drug Rehabilitation” by Zachary Psick, a graduate student in sociology. In the medical community and in many recovery programs addiction is viewed as a disease, but in the evangelical Christianity program Psick examined, addictions are defined as a sin and human failing that can be forgiven and corrected.

"The most successful graduates can not only rhetorically distance themselves from their old selves … but have incorporated some radical changes at the level of embodied practice,” according to Psick, who co-authored the paper with Teresa Gowan of the University of Minnesota.

Ester Carolina Apesoa-Varano, assistant professor at the UC Davis Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, is presenting the paper “Shame and Redemption: Older Women’s Depression Experience.” She based the study on interviews with 45 women in the Sacramento and Stockton areas of California with an average age of 71 and included white, Latino and African-American women.

While the women feel they are dealing effectively with the physical aspects of aging, “the loss of who they were as a mother, caregiver and community leader is harder,” Apesoa-Varano said. “That’s the most painful loss. This feeling that they are no long useful causes them to feel great shame.”

In many cases how they dealt with the depression was by isolating and rejecting others, she said.

“They were doing things contrary to what they would have done before and saying ‘The only thing I care about is myself,’” Apesoa-Varano said. “But they’re not really comfortable with that either.

“Some of the women can reformulate a definition of who they are, but for some I’m not sure if it is ever resolved.”

Originally posted by the UC Davis News Service.

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