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Department of Sociology

  • The Horseshoe at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Mayhew Lecture Series

This lecture series began in 1988 to honor the memory of Dr. Bruce Mayhew, one of the department's most celebrated members, who died of cancer in March of 1988.

Past Lectures

You can browse our past lectures to get a better idea of the topics we cover. 

"Aging and the Social Brain: The Role of Social Networks in Alzheimer’s Disease"

Dr. Brea Perry is the Allen D. and Polly S. Grimshaw Professor in the Department of Sociology, Associate Director of the Irsay Family Institute
for Sociomedical Sciences Research, and the Interim Vice Provost for Research at Indiana University. Her research investigates the interrelated roles of social networks, biomarkers, social psychology, and social inequality as cause and consequence of health and illness. Her work often focuses on psychological and brain diseases, including neurological disorders common in aging, mental illness, and substance use disorders.


" From Gulf to Bridge: Moral Reframing of Issues and Candidates Facilitates Political Persuasion"

Political persuasion is a multimillion dollar industry, a major area of academic research, and a critical mechanism for social change. Yet research suggests that political persuasion is very hard, and that most attempts fail. One factor contributing to this difficulty in the U.S. is political polarization. Because partisans interact primarily with like-minded others, they struggle to take the perspective of those who do not already agree with them. This is compounded by liberals’ and conservatives’ divergent moral values, which make political communication particularly challenging. While people naturally construct persuasive appeals in terms of their own moral values, those appeals could be more effective if they were instead framed in terms of the values of the person targeted for persuasion. In this talk, Dr. Willer presents research – conducted by his lab and others’ over the last decade – showing the effectiveness of “moral reframing” for a wide range of polarized topics, including views of environmental protection, same-sex marriage, immigration, and U.S. presidential candidates. He also spotlight studies that do not find persuasive effects and propose boundary conditions of moral reframing. This research highlights that the ability to take the perspective of politically dissimilar others – a scarce resource in polarized times – is helpful for building the popular support needed for social change.


“Someone To Talk To: New Findings on How People Mobilize Their Networks"

Dr. Mario Small is Grafstein Family Professor in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University. He has published award-winning articles, edited volumes, and books on topics such as urban poverty, personal networks, and the relationship between qualitative and quantitative methods. He has some amazing books, from Villa Victoria to Unanticipated Gains, to his latest book, Someone To Talk To: How Networks Matter in Practice.


"How Families Matter"

Dr. Pamela Braboy Jackson is a Professor of Sociology at Indiana University and formerly the Inaugural Director of the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society (CRRES). With grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ford Foundation, Henry A. Murray Research Center (Harvard), and National Institute of Aging, her research lies in the areas of race and ethnicity, mental health, social psychology, the family and life course processes. Recently, she is the author of “How Families Matter: Simply Complicated Intersections of Race, Family and Work" (with Dr. Rashawn Ray). Her work has also appeared in numerous journals including the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Psychology Quarterly, Social Forces, Health Affairs and Advances in Life Course Research, among others.

"Understanding the Nature of Status Inequality: Why is it Everywhere? Why Does it Matter?"

Cecilia Ridgeway's career in sociology has taken her from her bachelor's degree at Michigan, through a Masters and Ph.D. at Cornell, to her faculty positions at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Iowa. She has been on the faculty at Standford University since the early 90's. Cecilia indeed has received the recognition that she deserves and walks among our field’s elites. She has won top awards from the Social Psychology section of the American Sociological Association including the Cooley Mead career award, and Outstanding Recent Contribution award for her book Framed by Gender. She also has won the ASA’s Jesse Barnard Award for Distinguished Career Contributions to the study of Gender. She has been elected to the AAAS, to the Sociological Research Association, and as every sociologist in the world knows, to the Presidency of the American Sociological Association.

Mayhew Lecture Speech [pdf]

"Reconceptualizing Health and Well-Being among Older Americans Empirically"

The 2017 Bruce H. Mayhew Jr. Memorial Lecture was delivered by Edward O. Laumann. In this talk, Laumann described two empirically grounded models of health and wellbeing among older Americans: the disease-centered Medical Model (MM) vs. a Comprehensive Model (CM) that incorporates psycho-cognitive, behavioral and social information. Laumann demonstrated that the CM model is a far better prognosticator of health and wellbeing (including the relative risk of death within five years) than the medical model and discuss its implications for reforming health care for older Americans.

The 2016 Bruce Mayhew Lecture entitled: “Grow Old Along With Me: Gender, Same-Sex Marriage, and Health” was delivered by Dr. Debra Umberson Debra Umberson is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Umberson's research focuses on social factors that influence population health with a particular emphasis on aging and life course change, marital and family ties, and gender and racial variation in health disparities. Her current research, supported by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator in Health Policy Research Award and the National Institute on Aging, examines how marital relationships affect health-related behavior and health care, and how those processes vary across gay, lesbian, and heterosexual unions. The lecture was held on March 17th in the Gressette Room of Harper College at 4:00pm

The 2015 Bruce Mayhew Lecture entitled "What Baseline (and Other) Models Can Tell Us About Race and Ethnic Relations in the USA Today” was be delivered by Dr. John Skvoretz

John Skvoretz, Professor of Sociology at the University of South Florida and Emeritus Carolina Distinguished Professor of Sociology from the University of South Carolina, is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a recipient of the 2012 James S. Coleman Distinguished Career Award from the Mathematical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association, and past Chair of the Sociology Department at the University of South Carolina. Current research interests include the analysis of social and semantic networks and the development and evaluation of models for status emergence in small task groups.

The Lecture was held on March 4th in the Gressette room of Harper College at 3:30 pm.

The 2014 Bruce Mayhew Lecture entitled "From Petty Crimes to Epic Records” was be delivered by Dr. Christopher Uggen

Chris Uggen (pronounced You-Gun) is Distinguished McKnight Professor of Sociology and Law at the University of Minnesota. He studies crime, law, and deviance, firm in the belief that good science can light the way to a more just and peaceful world. His writing appears in American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Criminology, and Law & Society Review and featured in media such as the New York Times, The Economist, and NPR. With Jeff Manza, he wrote Locked Out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy. His research, teaching, and advising interests include punishment and reentry, citizenship, substance use, discrimination, and health inequalities. His outreach and engagement projects include editing Contexts Magazine (from 2007-2011) and The Society Pages (with Doug Hartmann) and Public Criminologies (with Michelle Inderbitzin). Away from work, Chris is a father, jogger, and blogger.

The Lecture was held on March 20th in the Gressette room of Harper College at 2:30 pm.

The 2013 Bruce Mayhew Lecture entitled 'Understanding the Autism Epidemic' was be delivered by Dr. Peter Bearman.  

Dr. Bearman is the Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theories and Empirics (INCITE), the Cole Professor of Social Science, and Co-Director of the Health & Society Scholars Program at Columbia University in the City of New York. A recipient of the NIH Director's Pioneer Award in 2007, Dr.  Bearman is currently investigating the social determinants of the autism epidemic.

The Lecture was held on April 10th in the Gressette room of Harper College at 2:30 pm, a small reception will follow the lecture.

 The 2012 Bruce Mayhew Lecture was delivered by Richard Felson, Professor of Sociology and Crime, Law and Justice at Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Felson’s primary interest is in the social psychology of violence, with a special focus on the role of situational factors in homicide, assault, robbery and rape. Recent research concerns race differences in violence, the control motive in marital violence, and the role of the police in deterring marital violence. Dr. Felson's lecture titled 'Sexual assault as a crime against teenagers' was held at Harper College in the Gressette room on November 8th at 2:30.

 The 2011 Bruce Mayhew Lecture is delivered by Dr. James Moody, Professor of Sociology and Director of Graduate Studies at Duke University. Dr. Moody's specialties include sociological perspectives of social networks theory and quantitative methodology. His lecture, "Reconstructing the Ship of Theseus: Groups, Roles & Trajectories in Early Adolescent Friendship Networks," was held on Thursday, October 27 at 2:30pm in Harper's College.


The 2010 Bruce Mayhew Lecturer is Dr. Francois Nielsen, Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His research interests include social movements, stratification, income inequality and development, and the eco-biology of collective action. His talk, entitled "The Nature of Social Reproduction," was held on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 3:30 p.m. in the Gressette room of Harper College. 

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