Allison Pugh is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, which she joined in January 2007 after completing her Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests coalesce around the accommodations people make – particularly in their relationships at home and at work – to what feel like economic and cultural exigencies. She focuses on the impact of social inequalities on care, intimacy and social obligations.
Prof. Pugh just returned from Sydney, Australia, where she spent the year working on her second book project, a look at the culture of flexibility and its implications for what we owe each other at work and at home. The Tumbleweed Society is the working title for her manuscript, which explores postindustrial meanings of commitment and flexibility for people whose experiences of trust and loyalty at the workplace and at home vary widely. In addition, Pugh is conducting work on the broader theoretical contributions of the social studies of childhood.
Prof. Pugh’s first book, Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children, and Consumer Culture (University of California Press, 2009), sought to make sense of explosive spending on children in recent decades. Relying on three years of ethnographic research in three communities in Oakland, California, Professor Pugh found that children negotiate with their peers which commodities have the power to confer “dignity,” or social belonging. She documented that affluent and low-income parents alike engage in symbolic buying to reconcile their conflicting feelings, ideals and consumer reach. The book won the 2010 William J. Goode award for the best book in the Sociology of the Family as well as the Distinguished Contribution award from the ASA’s section on the Sociology of Children and Youth. The book also earned an honorable mention for the Mary Douglas Prize for Best Book in the sociology of culture, and was a finalist for the 2010 C. Wright Mills award, administered by the Society for the Study of Social Problems.
Prof. Pugh teaches family, culture, gender, childhood and qualitative methods.