Department of Sociology, University of Tennessee

(unless noted otherwise)



Harry F. Dahms (Organizer)

Associate Professor of Sociology since fall 2004.  My primary research and teaching areas are theory, economic sociology, globalization, social inequality, and social justice.  Previously, I taught at Florida State University in Tallahassee (starting in 1993), and as a Visiting Professor at University of Goettingen, Germany (1999/2000).  Before completing my PhD degree at the New School for Social Research in New York in 1993, I also taught at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.  While at the New School, I benefited from the teaching and guidance of Arthur J. Vidich, Andrew Arato, Jose Casanova, Agnes Heller, Robert Heilbroner, Guy Oakes, Claus Offe and Eric Hobsbawm, and others.  My Master’s degree is from University of Konstanz, Germany (1986), where Ralf Dahrendorf and Albrecht Wellmer were the most important influences.  The primary reference frame of my research and teaching pertains to the tensions in the modern age between economic change, on the one hand, and politics, culture and society, on the other.  Interpreting the contributions of Marx and Weber, in particular, as foundations for a dynamic theory of modern society, I start out from the proposition that it is only from the perspective of “globalization” (including the debates about restructuring, transnational corporations, and neo-imperialism) that the contradictions and paradoxes of modern society can be disentangled.  The spectrum of my theoretical reference points reaches from the critical theory of the Frankfurt School at one end, to Joseph Schumpeter's social theory of capitalism, at the other. In modern society, a particular kind of social order fused with a specific type of social processes, into an inherently irreconcilable force-field that maintains stability by devising mechanisms designed to contain the destructive power of the contradictions, in the process continually deepening those contradictions.  The consequence is a widening gap between the categories social scientists employ to “meaningfully” interpret present conditions, and the categories that would have to be developed and deployed to maintain the possibility of meaning—socially, culturally, and politically. In the interest of setting the stage for developing categories that are tailored explicitly to capture the contradictory nature of modern society, I have begun to frame the latter as compounded layers of alienation.  Email: For more  information, see

Michael Arfken

Doctoral student in Phenomenological Psychology at The University of Tennessee. My research focuses on the concept of 'practice' as an alternative to social cognition's reliance on theories of mental representation. Drawing on developments in hermeneutic theory (especially Heidegger) I take the position that interpretations of social reality are grounded in practical activities rather than cognitive processes. I am particularly interested in the discursive practices that constitute an interpretation of the political. I hope to complete my dissertation by the Summer of 2006. Email:

I am also interested in the following areas:

Social Constructionism
Discursive Psychology
Critical Theory
Literary Theory

John Bradford

My current research examines recent reinterpretations of Marx's mature critical theory as one which conceptualizes capitalism in terms of an historically specific mode of social mediation. I am exploring the links between the core of capitalism, identified with alienation as self-reflexive domination, and the polarization of wealth. In addition, I am interested in historical-libidinal materialism and the works of Deleuze and Guatarri. Specifically, I am interested in their radical ontology of pure becomings, and its possible utility in scrutinizing contemporary society. I also plan to examine the relationships between political economy and psychology, and hope to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the complex internal relationships between the world capitalist system, on the one hand, and the transmission of traditions in semi-autonomous institutions such as the family, on the other.
Some of my other interests include: Actor Network Theory; world systems theory; Habermas; the Frankfurt School; the political economy of energy; Wilhelm Reich; the history of consciousness; universal basic income; the sociology of science and scientific controversy; and the art of arguing.

This summer I will be studying in Quito, Ecuador in order to improve my Spanish and to prepare for possible field work examining indigenous movements and global economic policies. Although busy, I will gladly answer emails at

Casey Cordy

I am currently pursuing my Master's in Sociology. I received my B.A. in Sociology from the University of Rhode Island in 2005. My concentration in the Sociology department falls within Criminology, however I am exploring various issues and interests. Presently, my interests include critical criminology, structure and crime, female offenders, terrorism, and the relationship between sexuality, power and the body. The concept of alienation offers a unique perspective to examining all of these relationships. Email:

George Gondo

I was born the fifth of six children to a Japanese father, who was born and raised in Lima, Peru, and a mother of European descent.  I grew up in the small town of Kingsport, TN, where I became aware of many of the contradictions that exist in American society.  This awareness was exacerbated upon the sudden death of my father in the summer of 1993.  As a consequence of the economic hardships placed upon my family as a result of my father’s unexpected death, I enrolled at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville in the fall of 1994.  While unfortunate, this situation led me away from my original major of Biochemistry ( I had previously interned at ETSU in their BioChemistry lab doing work with the genetic make-up of bovine viruses) and toward Sociology, as I became increasingly disillusioned with the rhetoric and ideology of the American Dream and received my initial exposure to radical politics.  In the summer of 1995, my mother re-married to a man she had met in via a personal ad in the National Enquirer, and subsequently dis-owned her children from her pervious marriage.  This estrangement from my sole surviving parent eventually led me to drop out of the University of Tennessee in the summer of 1998, after my mother refused to fill-out the required paperwork for Financial Aid.  After a year and a half of working two jobs, I managed to save enough money to return to school and complete my Bachelors degree in 2000. 

After graduating from the University of Tennessee, I completed two years of National Service as an AmeriCorps Volunteer, working on Urban Agriculture Projects and Alternative Recycling Programs in Knox County.  Additionally, I became very involved in local activism participating in the UT Living Wage Campaign, Food Not Bombs, TIRN’s Fair Trade campaign, and co-organized Knoxville’s first Critical Mass bike ride in the spring of 2000.  However, soon after the events of 9/11 I became completely disillusioned with most forms of activism, as I saw that they were too reform minded and offered little hope for positive social transformation. 

I am currently a MA student in Sociology.  My interests in the field of Sociology are in the areas of Political Economy, Theory, and Culture, which has naturally led me to the work of the Frankfurt School.  Within my own work, I view the concept of alienation as the thread that connects many of the problems that we face in the contemporary moment, and is precisely the mechanism that prevents us from any attempt to adequately address these problems.  Currently, I am engaged in writing my Master’s Thesis on the topic of the Theoretical Implications of a Re-orientation of Sociology towards the notion of Social Justice. Email:

In addition to my academic pursuits, I have an interest in music . . .

Andrew Gunnoe

First year Phd student.  I received my B.A. in Political Science from the University of Tennessee in 2002.  In 2005, I completed my M.A. in Political Science with a minor in Environmental Policy, also from the University of Tennessee.  My interest areas lie primarily within environmental sociology and political economy.  More specifically, my research concentrates on the human dimensions of modern environmentalism with a specific concentration on indigenous environmental movements in Latin America.  Alienation provides a guiding theme in my research as I seek to understand the social dimensions of our enduring environmental crisis. 

I spend my free time kayaking and hiking around the majestic Southern Appalachian Mountains.  I also enjoy listening to good music and reading literature when time permits. Email:

Jeremy Honeycutt

I am a native of Knoxville with a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Tennessee. I am currently pursuing a M.A. degree from the same department, with a concentration in globalization and political economy. My current research entails the critical reflection of the contemporary “outsourcing” phenomenon as a representation of the challenge of globalization. Through these studies I have learned that modern societies are best described as a dynamic system of alienation and that sociology’s purpose, from its conception, is to act as a kind of intellectual medium for dealing with this dominant feature. As expected, then, the starting sociological assumption for dealing with the problems of “outsourcing” is that it cannot be directly scrutinized, for it is a form of ideology. Rather, what is of interest to the sociologist is exploring the essential underlying patterns which have produced “outsourcing” as a practice and complemented discourse and how this insight might inform alienated-irrational society. Email:

In my life outside academia, I enjoy playing golf. You can also view my personal site at .

Banu Kocer

I am a PhD Candidate in Sociology, with a concentration in environmental sociology. I am particularly interested in structural analyses of environmental problems from the perspective of political economy. In this context, I am drawn to Critical Theory. I am especially fascinated by the holistic approach of Frankfurt School theorists that emphasizes the interdependence of the economic, the social, the cultural, and the individual. For me, alienation is an indispensable part of this whole. 

I received an M.A. in European Studies from Marmara University, Istanbul, Turkey in 1998, following a B.A. in Economics at the University of Istanbul. During my studies in Istanbul I received a scholarship from the Afro-Asiatisches Institut in Wien, AAI-Wien (Afro-Asiatic Institute in Vienna). Beside my native language Turkish and English, I also speak German.  I am one of the seven founding members of Yeşil Adımlar Çevre Eğitim Derneği (Green Steps for Environmental Literacy), an environmental NGO in Istanbul, Turkey, active since February 1998 as a registered association, aiming at increasing public awareness for the protection of the environment and sustainable use of natural resources. Email:

When I am not frustrated with the world and my being in the world, during my occasional existential crises, I enjoy life. I like listening to classical music (my absolute favorite piece is Vivaldi’s Four Seasons; I’m especially mesmerized by ‘winter’) and jazz (Coltrane, Davis, Parker, Blakey are my favorites), playing tennis, dancing folk dance, and talking with friends over a bottle (or more) of wine (preferably Pinot Noir) about the meaning of life.

James Maples

Graduating senior (summa cum laude) in sociology and philosophy.  My primary focus is in critical theory and political economy.  I will be continuing my studies at UTK in the sociology graduate program this fall. In my off time, I am a locally known banjo player and teacher, with a reputation for innovation and improvisation on the instrument. Email:


Katie Morris

First year M.A. student.  I received my B.A. from UTK in environmental sociology.  When I entered the program, my concentration focused primarily on the continued degradation of the environment.  My focus has since shifted, but I will admit that it has not settled on any specific vantage point yet.  My first semester here provided me with a depth of insight and context of understanding that I am only beginning to comprehend.  I am primarily now focusing on political economy and the consequences of globalization and capitalism, particularly the environmental, social, and economic structure of Appalachian communities.  When I am not attempting to understand this problematic society in which we live, I enjoy spending time outdoors, reading just about anything, and playing with my dog. Email:

Dima Sarbo

Having been forced to leave my own country (Ethiopia), I currently live between Germany (where my family is based) and the United States (where I am studying). I am working towards a PhD in Sociology, specializing in Political Economy, with a minor in Environmental Sociology. My undergraduate degree is in Political Science and Government from Haile Sellassie I University (now renamed Addis Ababa University) in Ethiopia. I later studied Economic Development and Planning for one year, at the United Nations African Institute for Economic Development and Planning, based in Dakar Senegal, graduating with a Graduate Diploma. In this institute, I had the privilege of studying under Samir Amin, who, besides teaching, was also Director of the Institute.

I have worked in rural development in Ethiopia, in the Departments of Labor and Social Affairs,Land Reform, as well as Agriculture. I also taught for a year in a high school, and later in a Community Development and Co-operatives Training College, an institution that trained rural development workers and extension agents. I have also worked as a research associate with the United Nations Environment Training Program, and the Council for the Development of Economic and Social Research in Africa, both based in Senegal. The most defining characteristics of my entire adult life however, have been my involvement in struggles for political change, and social and economic justice from my early youth, the consequences of which explains why I am doing graduate studies at middle age, when I should be doing something else. I also briefly served in the Transitional Legislature as well as Cabinet of the Ethiopian Government in the early 1990s. I resigned from the government because of disputes over the process of democratization, a factor that led to my being forced to leave my country and into exile.

I have also been involved in mediation and conflict resolution issues, taking part in numerous efforts, including by the international community, designed to promote political dialogue, national reconciliation and democratization in Ethiopia. I also participated in an extended four months long workshop on conflict management and peace building at an institution called Responding to Conflict, based in Woodbrooke College (run by Quakers), in Birmingham, UK, in 1998. Before joining the UT in 2003, I worked as a consultant on African and Middle-Eastern affairs.

My current areas of research interest include the nature and evolution of the colonial state, and problems of development and democracy in Africa. Email:

“Exile is strangely compelling to think about, but terrible to experience. It is the unbearable rift between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home; its essential sadness can never be surmounted.”

Edward Said.

Harwood Schaffer

Research Associate with the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center (APAC) as well as a graduate student in sociology (with an emphasis in rural sociology and political economy). My wide ranging interests are symbolized in my academic career which began with a B.Sc. in mathematics (postulate geometry) from The Ohio State University in 1965. I then received an M.Div. (cultural anthropology and South Asian Studies) from the Hartford Seminary Foundation in 1969 and am scheduled to receive an M.Sc. in Agricultural economics (economic theory and agricultural policy) from the University of Tennessee in 2006. I spent 30 years as a rural parish pastor serving United Church of Christ congregations in the Midwest. During my last ten years as a parish pastor I was also a country weekly newspaper editor and publisher. I have been with APAC since 2000 and works with Daryll E. Ray in writing a weekly agricultural policy column that is carried by numerous ag sector publications and is available in the web at Email:

Stacey Tucker

I am currently pursuing a PhD in Sociology.  My interests are in structural causes of poverty, specifically in the effects of globalization and public policy on poverty; conceptions of democracy; and the relationship of religion to political orientation.  The concept of alienation takes a fascinating approach to the political, economic, and social components of the “structuration” of poverty.  I am also teaching one section of the course, Social Justice and Social Change, which covers topics such as stratification and social justice in historic and contemporary settings. 

After receiving a Master’s Degree in Planning (Urban and Regional Planning, emphasis in Economic Development Planning) from UTK in 2004, I worked as a Planner for Bradley County, TN.  I obtained a B.A. in Intercultural Studies and Sociology from Lee University in 2001. Email:

When I am not immersed in the books, I enjoy spending time with my husband, especially in community service, and hanging out with friends.  I love to sing and, though I haven’t had time in years, I play the violin.

Julie Wiest

I am a doctoral student in sociology, concentrating in criminology. My research interests, however, are quite diverse and include: the interaction of masculinities, culture and power as they relate to violent offending; symbolic interactionism; classical sociological theory; new communication technologies, their uses and effects; and labor and education studies. I received my master's degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Georgia and my bachelor's degree in communications from UT. Email:

Shannon Williams

I am a M.A. student in Sociology with an emphasis in political economy and globalization. My primary interest is in Marxian theory that focuses on utilizing dialectical methodologies to study the organic composition, movement, and nature of modern capitalism. My nonacademic interests involve playing blues, jazz, gospel, and various forms of fusion music. I also enjoy spending as much time as possible fishing back home in Eastern Kentucky. Email:

John Wilson

I was born on Aug 07, 1980 in Madison TN. At the age of one my family moved to Florida where we lived until the winter of ‘90’, when we moved back to TN. I attended a small rural high school in a Greenbrier, TN. The town’s inhabitants were mostly white middle class, and the high school reflected the local population. Just down the road is the city of Springfield, which had a large portion of minority groups, African American and Hispanic mostly. There was a sharp contrast between the kind of education available to citizens in Greenbrier and in Springfield. It was then when I began to explore why there existed such a discrepancy between the two towns, in a country that proclaimed equality. My interest in sociology dates back to experience.

After graduating from high school in 1998 I attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. While attending, I participated in two different independent studies, as well as phone survey data gathering. The first independent study was delving theoretically into the Frankfurt school of critical theory. I established a basic foundation and familiarity with the classical authors associated with critical theory. The second independent study placed me in a statistical analysis and gathering setting. I assisted in organizing and analyzing data from a social worker organization in Cincinnati. In the process I taught myself SPSS and how to use some of the statistical tools the program processes. I also worked at the Applied Center for Social Research, gathering phone survey data for a local governmental agency.

I intend to complete a Master’s degree in Sociology by the end of 2007. My own research interests include alienation, organizations, religion, and criminology. Email:

Black Cultural Center

The Alienation Group meets weekly at the Black Cultural Center.


Created by Jeremy Honeycutt, April 14, 2006.