Selected Peer Reviewed Publications

Uncompensated Emotional Labor, Racial Battle Fatigue, and (In)Civility in Digital Spaces

sociology compassEmotional labor was originally theorized by Arlie Hochschild
in the context of domestic labor. Since her early theorization,
popular culture and social scientists have adopted the
term to refer to emotion work that is exhibited in a manner
of financially compensated social settings. Emotional labor
refers to the process by which individuals are expected to
conform to a set of societal guidelines, ensuring that their
emotions conform to that performance. As the use of social
media grows, emotional labor plays an increasing role in the
lives of people of color—across media platforms. We frame
the ever‐present negotiation involved in racialized interactions
online as a type of uncompensated emotional labor
that results in racial battle fatigue. Next, we position emotional
labor as an intrinsic part of the experience for social
media users of color because digital media is by default a
White, racialized space. Lastly, we argue that current
research on civility does not account for the emotional labor
of people of color. We offer an original view of uncompensated
emotional labor that is inclusive of cross‐platform,
racialized emotional labor that can result in racial battle

Mobile (In)security? Exploring the Realities of Mobile Phone Use in Conflict Areas


Across disciplines, scholars extol the revolutionary potential of mobile technologies in developing nations. Mobile phones in particular may facilitate economic and social development. However, our understanding of mobile phone’s interaction with a developing country’s society is limited by two factors: first, development is often accompanied by social and political conflict; and second, scholars often provide a broad overview on the use of these technologies. We address these limitations through the use of data collected from ethnographic interviews conducted in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. We highlight the everyday use of mobile technologies in developing nations that experience political conflict. We conclude that while mobile technologies have some potential of mitigating social inequality, political conflict, and safety concerns, these opportunities for meaningful use are hampered by limitations associated with daily life in developing countries such as irregular access to electricity and network coverage boundaries.

I Got All My Sisters with Me (on Black Twitter) Second Screening of How to Get Away With Murder as a Discourse on Black Womanhood


In addition to performing racial identity on Black Twitter, Black users also use the platform to host discourse on Blackness. Tweets, hashtags, and trends associated with the television show How to Get Away with Murder are used to demonstrate that second screening and co-viewing of the series on Twitter enables a technocultural discourse on a shared cultural history of Black womanhood. Specifically, we address scenes portrayed in HTGAWM and highlight the intersection of race and gender. From a critical Black feminist lens we analyze the response on Black Twitter.

Fat People of Color: Emergent Intersectional Discourse Online

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Though the general populace has been introduced to the idea of thin privilege, the fat activist movement has been slow in gaining momentum. This is due, in part, to the symbolic annihilation of “fat” people in media. Within the fat activist framework, women of color are often further excluded from the overarching discourse and white privilege is sometimes unacknowledged. Taking an intersectional approach, I examine the Tumblr page, Fat People of Color. I use Critical Technocultural Discourse Analysis (CTDA) to examine the images and conversations posted by users. Findings reveal that Fat People of Color uses an intersectional, communal approach to posit counter-narratives against normative ideas about white thinness. This research contributes to an understudied area of sociological inquiry by presenting an analysis of the experience of “fat” women of color within a feminist framework. Ignoring the variation of experiences strengthens the types of privileges that fat activism and feminism hope to dismantle.

The Lonely Selfie King – International Journal of Communication

Abstract: Taking selfies has become an integral part of the social media experience. As discussed in the introduction to this special issue, selfies are internationally pervasive and evoke strong reactions from those that encounter them. Even if users do not produce selfies themselves, they cannot help but consume them. But the production and consumption of selfies is not merely a social media trend; selfies have become social artifacts that deliver social messages created and negotiated by the culture that produces them. Even within a single culture, an artifact’s meaning can shift with context and those decoding the message. Gender and race play an important role in creating the context of almost all social messages and are particularly salient when analyzing the production and consumption of selfies. In this article, we provide a sociological analysis of selfies, interpreting them as a social tool that can be used in producing and consuming racial and gender identities. To do this, we share the results of a study we conducted that considered the attitudes and experiences associated with producing and consuming selfies among millennials in New York and Texas. Though we interviewed a relatively small number of participants—40 in total—we feel that the trends uncovered in this study warrant scholarly exploration. Our analysis focuses on both the production and consumption of selfies and on personal experiences associated with taking selfies.

You’ve Been Catfished: An Analysis of Postemotionalism in “Reality” Television and Audience Response on Twitter – Emerald Studies in Media and Communications


Abstract: Postemotionalism, nostalgia for authentic emotional experiences, can be observed in every aspect of popular culture, particularly social media and reality television. Viewers are driven by the need to find the balance between individuality, expressed through “legitimate” emotions, insights and acceptance by their peer group on social media. I use the program, “Catfish: The TV Show” to explore how postemotionalism operates in reality television. This paper examines the new experience of dramatized emotions as they are portrayed in reality television and reflected on social media. I offer a theorization of social media users’ response to the search for authenticity on television through an analysis of a series of Twitter interactions surrounding “Catfish: The TV Show.” The interactions on Twitter reveal that postemotionalism makes it difficult for viewers to distinguish between genuine, emotional interactions and projected, managed identities.