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Sociology and Criminology & Law

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Criminology, Law & Society

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Abby Novak

Degrees Earned:
  • M.S.W. Social Policy and Administration, Florida State University
  • M.P.A, Florida State University
  • B.A. Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, University of Richmond
  • B.A. Geography, University of Richmond

Research Interests: 
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Early Antisocial Behavior
  • Schools and Delinquency
  • Family Influences on Offending
  • Crime Prevention and Public Policy

Dissertation Title: Exclusionary discipline across the life-course: An age-graded examination of the school-to-prison pipeline

Abstract: The purpose of this dissertation is to apply the life-course perspective to understanding the school-to-prison pipeline by conducting three separate analyses pertaining to out-of-school suspension occurring at different stages in the life-course. The first analysis will use data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health to determine to what extent adverse experiences in early childhood are associated with experiences of exclusionary discipline in early learning settings, and to what extent this association is mediated by behavioral problems in early childhood. The second analysis will use data from the Longitudinal Studies on Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN) to identify trajectories of school suspension between ages eight and 16, determine to what extent adverse experiences in early childhood are associated with trajectory group membership, and examine whether and to what extent trajectory group membership is associated with justice system involvement by age 18. The final paper will use the LONGSCAN data and propensity score methods to examine whether the association between out-of-school suspension and justice system contact, age at first arrest, and justice system involvement differs by age at first suspension, comparing the effects of suspension first experienced at or before age 12, suspension first experienced between the ages of 13 and 14, and suspension first experienced between the ages of 15 and 16. The findings from this dissertation will have important implications for policy pertaining to the use exclusionary discipline and for the application of life-course theories to the school-to-prison pipeline.

Stephanie Mintz

Degrees Earned:
  • B.A Sociology with Minor in Psychology, University of Texas
  • M.A. Criminology & Law and Society, University of Florida

Research Interests: 
  • Law & Society
  • Terrorism
  • Legal Studies
  • Public Perceptions of the Legal System

Dissertation Title: Learning Extremism: A Social Learning Approach to Explaining Engagement in Violent Extremism

Abstract: My dissertation research aims to understand radicalization of extremists as a whole by applying Akers Social Learning Theory to data on radicalization. Using the Profiles of Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) data provided by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) I employ various quantitative methods to answer my research questions that aim to see if the radicalization process follows the theoretical constructs of social learning theory. I will address the following questions: 1) Do the individual constructs of social learning theory (Differential Association, Definitions, Imitation and Differential Reinforcement) explain endorsement of extremist beliefs before engaging in other radical behavior in accordance with the social learning process? 2)Do the individual constructs of social learning theory explain engagement in violent extremism? 3) Compared to the individual social learning theory construct model, can engagement in violent extremism be explained by the social learning process as a whole? 4)How does social structure social learning theory differ in explaining engagement of violent extremism? This research will also look at possible policies that could help in weakening radicalization movements in the US. Based on previous research on extremist groups and social learning theory, city or neighborhood policies can help in educating the public and weakening local radicalization efforts and combating violent extremism (CVE). However, in proposing these policies a legal analysis will be discussed as legal dilemmas arise in investigating and prosecuting extremist activity that need to be addressed in policy recommendations.

Daniel Action

Degrees Earned:
  • B.A. Sociology, emphasis in Criminology, University of Montana
  • B.A. Pyschology, University of Montana
  • M.A. Sociology, emphasis in Criminology, University of Montana

Research Interests:
  • Life Course Criminology
  • Neighborhoods
  • Personality
  • Violence
  • Drug Abuse

Dissertation Title: Siblings: Delinquency & Victimization

Abstract: The family is a primary institution of socialization that serves an important role in shaping children’s prosocial and deviant behaviors. Crime runs in the family and, compared to influence of parents, the influences of siblings is often overlooked or neglected although delinquency is associated among siblings. While some research shows evidence of significant sibling influences on delinquency, these studies are limited by 1) examining one-way sibling influences, 2) including few risk factors related to the sibling, and 3) not using multilevel models when siblings are nested within families. To address the limitations of prior research and expand on the knowledge regarding sibling influences on delinquency and victimization, I analyze data from the Longitudinal Cohort Study of the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. Data are analyzed using a multilevel, Actor-Partner Interdependence Model, a form of dyadic data analysis that allows testing of reciprocal influences among dyads. The approach to data analysis also allows distinguishing between the effects of older siblings and younger siblings. In evaluating sibling influences, this study provides further information on how siblings influence each other’s delinquency and victimization.

Thomas B. Smith

Degrees Earned:
  • M.S. Criminology, University of Pennsylvania
  • B.S. University of Birmingham (United Kingdom)

Research Interests:
  • Biosocial Criminology
  • Criminal, Social, and Behavioral Networks
  • Criminological Theory
  • Evidence-Based Interventions in Corrections
  • Data Science and Quantitative Research Methods

Dissertation Title: A Theory of Biosocial Support

Abstract: Cullen’s (1994) social support theory proposes that the actual and perceived reception of social support from a person(s) will reduce the likelihood of criminal behavior through a variety of mechanisms. I construct a foundation for a theory of biosocial support (TBS) by expanding the individual-level component of Cullen’s theory, integrating a series of biosocially-informed hypotheses on the role of genetics and neurobiology in the reception and appraisal of social support. TBS proposes (a) that genes have small direct influences on the reception of social support early in the life course via selection into supportive or unsupportive environments, (b) moderating effects on the relationships between social support and criminal behavior (including a three-way interaction between genes, support, and strain), and (c) moderated mediation via social bonds and ‘illegitimate’ social support. This dissertation will test the theoretical propositions of TBS using three waves of sibling (N = 7398) and molecular genetic (N = 2612) data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Generalized linear mixed models are employed to (a) estimate the variance in social support, criminal offending, and substance use attributable to genes, shared, and non-shared environment net of demographic control variables, and (b) estimate the effects of social support on criminal offending and substance use net of global genetic confounds. A subsequent series of generalized linear models will then estimate gene by environment (GxE) interactions to test the extent which cumulative genetic susceptibility moderates the influence of social support on criminal offending, substance abuse, social bonds, peer deviance, and the strain-crime relationship. Theoretical and policy implications will be discussed.


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Julia Arroyo

Degrees Earned:
  • B.A. Sociology, Bowling Green State University
  • M.A. Sociology, University of Florida

Research  and Teaching Interests: 
  • Quantitative Methodology
  • Families, Children and Youth
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Cognitive Development
  • Mental Health

Dissertation Title: Raising grandchildren: Navigating paths, mitigating costs, and managing presence.

Abstract: Grandmothers who raise grandchildren are thought to protect children’s well-being in the context of parental adversities and/or childcare gaps. At the same time, strains associated with raising grandchildren, in particular among socially marginalized groups and in disadvantageous contexts, are shown to place risks on grandmothers and grandchildren’s well-being. Despite some research that shows that pathways into raising grandchildren are diverse and despite sociological theories that place grandmothers’ care work and kin work strategies as central to family well-being, most studies do not examine directly how grandmothers come to raise grandchildren and how they go about caring for grandchildren. To address this gap, I conducted participant observation with grandmothers and at grandparent-serving organizations and collected narrative interviews from 18 Latinx and Non-Latinx White grandmothers. Asking grandmothers the story of how they came to be raising their grandchildren and analyzing their narratives using interpretive techniques, this dissertation describes grandmothers’ care work, and embeds this work within the familial and systemic contexts which precipitate, facilitate and impede it. In documenting grandmothers’ care work leading up to, while, and after raising grandchildren, this study provides further insight into how well-being is lost and how grandmothers bring it about even where it is not well-supported.

Kim Fleming Wingard

Degrees Earned
  • M.A., 2011, Sociology, Middle Tennessee State University
  • B.S., 2009, Double Major in Sociology and Psychology.Magna cum Laude. Jacksonville State University, Alabama
Research and Teaching Interests
  • Sociological Theory
  • Marriage and Family
  • Health and Aging
  • Medical Sociology
  • Sociology of Religion

Dissertation TitleInterpersonal Relationship History and Pre-Death Grief among Hospice Families: A Mixed Methods Study

Dissertation Abstract: The miracle of modern medicine has made it possible for people to live longer than any other time in recorded history. It has also led to fewer sudden deaths and more chronic illness with greater warning periods prior to death (Lynn 2005). When a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness, their lives and those of their loved ones undergo a drastic and permanent change. Individuals struggle to understand the implications of the news and the finality of its outcome. During this critical time, the diagnosed and their family members alike experience physical, emotional, and social symptoms of grief. This study suggests that there is a correlation between interpersonal relationship history and the ability of family members to grieve in a healthy way while supporting the dying and contributing to their ability to ‘die well.’ Employing a mixed methods approach, the current study aims to use personal interview data along with a previously proven grief inventory to determine whether strong relationship history leads to healthier grieving during the period at the end-of-life. The target sample for this study will be all volunteer and will include hospice patients (50+) and their loved ones (18+) and will focus on dyadic relationships more than family units. Being able to determine a connection between interpersonal relationship history and pre-death grief can assist future care workers in determining whether certain patients and/or loved ones may be susceptible to acute grieving processes.
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John Blasing

Degrees Earned:
  • B.A. International Affairs, University of Colorado at Boulder 2008
  • M.A. Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin 2011

Research and Teaching Interests:
  • Sociological Theory
  • Sociology of Sport
  • Political Sociology
  • Nationalism
  • Globalization
  • Turkey

Dissertation Title:
Nationalism and Civil Society in Globalizing Turkey: A Study of Soccer as a Sphere of Political Contestation

Abstract: My dissertation research focuses on Turkish sport—in particular soccer—in the age of globalization. I specifically focus on the relationship between sports and nationalism in the context of the changing social dynamics in Turkey caused by the acceptance of—and wholesale entrance into—the globalized neoliberal system. The connection between sports and nationalism is central to this analysis because both simultaneously reflect and reject the discourse of modernity (which, in the current age, manifests itself in neoliberal globalism). Organized sport—with its rationalist emphasis on rules and statistics—reflects modernity while, at the same time, offering an escape from the rationalized world by offering an opportunity for the unrestrained display of emotion. The concept of nationalism is similar in that it is both a modern phenomenon, yet it also developed in response the dislocations created by modernity, including the destruction of traditional communities and other forms of social organization. This analysis is extremely pertinent at the current juncture, as the postmodern world is one characterized by a trend towards micro-politics. In this respect, sport is a space where the dichotomies of nationalism and globalism clash, along with related dichotomies including historical/modern, emotion/rational, individualism/communitarianism, and tradition-based ways of life versus consumption-based ways of life. In order to study the relationship between these aforementioned dichotomies, I focus on fan culture so as to better understand the role that football clubs play in civil society specifically and wider culture more generally. My research employs qualitative methods such as interviews with fans and participant observation at various sporting events in stadiums across Turkey.

Stephanie Dhuman Giron

Degrees Earned:
  • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, University of Florida, 2014
  • Master of Arts in Sociology, University of Florida, 2016

Research Interests:
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Latinx Sociology
  • Immigration
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Qualitative Methods

Dissertation Title: Parallels and Paradoxes: Puerto Rican Migrant Experiences in Poinciana, Florida.

Abstract: My current research focuses on migration and racial-ethnic identities and relations, particularly the experience of Puerto Rican migrants to Central Florida. My dissertation, Parallels and Paradoxes: Puerto Rican Migrant Experiences, is based in Poinciana, Florida, one of the communities with the highest concentrations of Puerto Ricans outside of the island (37.7%). As an ethnic enclave in the suburban South, my dissertation sheds light on important distinctions between this new type of enclave and experiences within. This research draws on two years of fieldwork, archival research, and in-depth interviews with Puerto Rican and Black community members, to explore stratification, representation, and group relations within this emerging Puerto Rican ethnic enclave. I address how Puerto Ricans living in Poinciana experience racial-ethnic discrimination, intragroup relations amongst Puerto Ricans in the community, and cohesion or contestation between Puerto Rican and Black community members. As one of the country’s largest homeowner’s associations, I also explore racial-ethnic minority feelings of belonging and representation in this HOA of approximately 60,000 residents.