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Lisa’s publication record includes work on topics as divergent as U.S. discourse about female genital cutting, partner dancingcollege hookup culture, and the sociology of the body, all of which reflect her theoretical interest in gender and its intersections, sexuality, embodiment, and culture.

For more, see Lisa’s full curriculum vitae or learn about her works in progress.





The Emancipatory Promise of the Habitus: Lindy Hop, the Body, and Social Change (Ethnography, 2011).


Doing Casual Sex: A Microsociology of Hookup Culture

Drawing on a symbolic interactionist perspective, Wade argues that the collective performance of sexual casualness is not automatic, but achieved. She shows that college students enact casualness and stave off seriousness with a set of symbolically meaningful moves: hooking up only when (appearing to be) drunk, avoiding acts of nonsexual physical intimacy, performing aloofness, and restricting the number of times they hook up with the same person. This paper contributes to the literature on hookup culture by answering a “how” question. While scholars have gained much insight into who hooks up, with whom, when, where, why, and with what consequences, we have less understanding as to the process by which individuals in a hookup culture bring it into existence through interaction. By theoretical extension, the careful documentation of how students “do” casualness contributes to the microsociology of sexual cultures more generally.

Resisting Bodies: A Carnal Sociology of Culture and Contradiction

In this paper, Wade speaks directly to the theorizing about the relationship between what Omar Lizardo describes as (a) public culture and personal culture of both the (b) declarative and (c) non-declarative or embodied kind.  Cultural sociologists disagree as to how these three manifestations of culture interact and whether any one is more foundational or dominant than another. Assuming somatic socialization in the tradition of Bourdieu, Wade suggests that college students arrive on campus having internalized a complex and often contradictory set of ideas about love and sex, ones that manifest on both cognitive and visceral levels. Students then must contend with hookup culture which—by constraining ideology, interaction, and opportunities—makes room for only one type of sexual engagement. In practice, most students argue in favor of the rightness of casual sex (and wrongness of serious relationship) during their undergraduate years, but this often clashes with their embodied desires and aversions, making it difficult or uncomfortable to pursue casual sex. Wade offer thick descriptions of this bodily revolt, contributing to the theorizing about the relationship between public and personal and declarative and non-declarative culture.

Mini-Longitudinal Cluster Autoethnography: Consideration of a Research Method

Elaborating on the research method Wade used for American Hookup, in this paper she makes a theoretical case for the method, describing its pros and cons. While the method should not be relied on to provide representative or comprehensive data, Wade argue that it has important advantages: autoethnographies are excellent tools with which to avoid some of the ethical and technical problems with researching sensitive and private behavior; longitudinal research helps us address some of the issues with one-off interviews, like the fact that declared attitudes do not always predict behaviors; and cluster sampling (simultaneously studying a group of people in shared social space) enables substantially thicker description because the researcher gets multiple points of view on the same phenomena.

Untitled Introduction to Sociology text (contracted with W.W. Norton)

With the aim of transforming how we teach sociology, Wade is midway through a solo-authored text for Introduction to Sociology courses. Her goal is to show students the excitement of the sociological imagination by offering what she is well-known for delivering:

  • conversational yet compelling translations of sociological theory and research;
  • illustrated with riveting, humorous, and heartfelt examples;
  • communicated by an experienced writer and an award-winning teacher;
  • and grounded in history, interdisciplinarity, and an eye toward social justice.


Photo credit: Marc Campos. Courtesy of Occidental College.

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