Sociology Department Theses and Dissertations

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About the program

The IUPUI Department of Sociology offers a Master of Arts degree specifically designed to prepare its students for careers conducting applied and policy-oriented research, and to equip those already in the workforce with the critical skills necessary for assessing and applying sociological knowledge in their everyday responsibilities.

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Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 10 of 49
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    Prevalence of Mental Health Challenges in College Student-Athletes
    (2022-06) Allen, Morgan Rae; Hensel, Devon J.; Daday, Jerry; Foote, Carrie E.
    Mental health concerns among NCAA student-athletes have increased in the past decade. Prior research demonstrates the intense environment student-athletes reside in and the negative impact it can have on one’s mental health. However, little is known about the prevalence of mental health symptoms and the choices student-athletes make in regard to their mental health. We aimed to demonstrate the prevalence of adverse mental health outcomes in this population and the subsequent consequences it can have on collegiate student-athletes. Additionally, we examined how the demographic characteristics and behavior factors can affect their mental health, mental health stigma, and help-seeking behavior. Our sample consisted of 236 student-athletes participating in NCAA institutions across the country, with a target audience of Horizon League competing institutions. We utilized descriptive statistics, linear regression, and ordinal regression to examine the prevalence of each predictor and outcome variable. The following scales were utilized to assess various mental health outcomes: Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6), Psychological Well-Being Scale (PWB), UCLA Loneliness Scale, and the Connor-Davison Resilience Scale (CD-RISC2). Data show that a higher cumulative GPA was associated with lower mental distress and significantly more likely to have higher resilience. Additionally, athletes who were injured, were significantly more likely to experience mental distress compared to their non-injured peers. Furthermore, cisgender females reported significantly higher mental distress compared to their cisgender male counterparts. Student-athletes reporting an increase in public stigma revealed lower mental well-being and higher levels of mental distress. These findings indicate that participant characteristics do impact the adverse mental health outcomes student-athletes experience. The public and/or self-stigma one experiences can impact the overall well-being of the individual when it comes to mental health. We recommend that future studies examine how stigma can affect the choices of how student-athletes navigate their personal mental health. Future research should investigate new ways to combat the negative consequences of mental health challenges to improve the overall student-athlete experience.
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    A Latent Class Analysis of Vaping, Substance Use and Asthma Among U.S. High School Students: Results from the Center for Disease Control's Youth Risk Behavior Survey
    (2021-07) Zervos, Andrew Peter; Hensel, Devon J.; Foote, Carrie E.; Steensland, Brian
    Rates of vaping among high school students have increased significantly over the past decade. Prior research has found significant associations between youth vaping and substance use. However, little is known about how vaping is associated with various patterns of polysubstance use and asthma in youth. We aimed to identify how youth are best categorized into classes based on co-occurring vaping and polysubstance use behaviors, how these classes are associated with youth background and demographic characteristics, and if these classes significantly predict asthma outcomes. Our sample consisted of nationally representative data from the 2017 and 2019 waves of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (N = 28,442). We utilized Latent Class Analysis, multinomial logistic regression analyses, and binary logistic regression analyses to examine relationships between youth vaping, polysubstance use, and asthma. Three latent classes of substance use were identified: Polysubstance Users, Lifetime Alcohol and Vape Users, and Abstainers. Age, gender, grade and race were all significantly associated with odds of membership in the Polysubstance Users class, compared to the Abstainers class. Sexual identity was not associated with class membership. Membership in the Polysubstance Users class was significantly associated with higher odds of asthma, as compared to membership in the other two classes. These findings indicate that recent vaping is associated with high probabilities of recent polysubstance use. They also suggest that youth with high probabilities of vaping and polysubstance use are at significantly high risk for asthma compared to other classes vi of youth users and non-users. We recommend that future youth intervention strategies be tailored differently toward different classes of substance use and vaping. Future research should examine how the classes of vaping and substance use that we identify emerge in youth and what social factors (e.g., peer behavior, parental connectedness, etc.) influence their development.
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    Older Women and Discrimination at Work
    (2020-12) Chavan, Swapnali Ramesh; Mintus, Kenzie L.; Schall, Carly; Seybold, Peter
    Increasing numbers of older people are working past retirement age. However, older women are leaving the work force earlier compared with men, despite having longer life expectancies. Given the economic and health benefits of staying in the labor force in later life, it is important to understand which factors may contribute to older women exiting the labor force. With advancing ages, women may experience increasing work discrimination due to ageism and sexism. Using data from Wave 11 (2012) the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), I examine whether age is a predictor of work discrimination among older women workers. I conducted multivariable linear regression to assess whether age predicts perceived work discrimination among older women workers, net of all covariates. Additionally, an interaction between race and age was investigated to assess whether women of color experienced more work discrimination with advancing ages. I observed that age was negatively associated with work discrimination. Findings suggest that experiences with work discrimination may push older women out the labor force prematurely. Older women may desire to escape discriminatory work environments with less favorable conditions.
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    Women-Loving-Women Portrayals in Fiction, a Critical Literature Review
    (2019-06) Walker, La Shea; Hensel, Devon J.; Foote, Carrie E.; Latham-Mintus, Kenzie
    This critical literature review explores the ways in which scholars have discussed depictions of fictional women-loving women (WLW) in film and on television in the past five years. This study is guided by both sexual script theory and the intersectional perspective. Prior studies of WLW in fiction have largely focused on the areas of homonormativity, race, bisexual-erasure, WLW stereotypes, gender dynamics, WLW communities, and post-modern representation. Earlier research has focused on those areas to the exclusion of giving more attention to exploring the use of queerbaiting in modern storytelling. Future research should include analyses of more recently featured fictional WLW characters and WLW relationships in film and on television in addition to more research on queerbaiting overall.
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    Single Mothers’ Experiences As College Students: Exploring Role Conflict Among Single Mothers In College
    (2019-04) Vowels, Ashley L.; Seybold, Peter; Latham-Mintus, Kenzie; Aponte, Robert
    This research examines the experiences of single mothers as college students, especially as they pertain to the dual role of mother and student. With the rising number of single parent households and increasing numbers of nontraditional students enrolled in college, it is important to understand how the experience of single motherhood impacts the college experience. Using role theory and mothering ideologies, this research describes the challenges that single mothers who attend college face as well as the resources and strategies utilized by single mothers to help them succeed in college. The study consisted of 6 semi-structured, qualitative interviews with single mothers who attend a Midwestern, urban university campus. After transcription, interviews were coded by the author. Coding consisted of identifying key concepts that related to challenges of dual role status and strategies to overcome these challenges. Mothers were asked to describe their experiences relating to their dual role as parent and college student and to elaborate on the resources and strategies they use to overcome these challenges. Results suggest that there are many challenges single mothers encounter include: time management, role conflict (for instance, feelings of guilt from losing time with their child), feelings of stress and anxiety, and a lack of self-care. Several useful resources aiding in college success were identified, such as strong social support from family and friends, and campus resources such as health services. Research also found that single mothers experience financial strain while attending college and rely heavily on financial aid for assistance. The research presented here provides valuable insight to university administrators in their efforts to assist their single mother students.
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    Bullying, Weapons Carrying, and Mental Health Outcomes Among U.S. High School Students
    (2019-05) Kriech, Amber C.; Hensel, Devon J.; Mintus, Kenzie L.; Seybold, Peter J.
    Using data from the 2007-2017 cycles of the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), this researcher aimed to understand how weapons carrying mediates the association between bullying and mental health outcomes. I dichotomized four bullying outcomes to create one new carried a weapon after bullied (CWB) (no/yes; e.g. did not carry a weapon post-bullying vs. did carry a weapon post-bullying) for each bullying type. Mental health outcomes included (all dichotomized, past 2 weeks, no/yes): felt sad or hopeless, seriously considered suicide, had a plan for suicide and attempted suicide. I used descriptive statistics and binary logistic regression adjusted for YRBS sampling methods and weighting (Stata 15.0). Initial results showed that weapons carrying has a complex relationship with mental health after bullying. One notable finding is that individuals who had been in a physical fight were the most likely to carry a weapon (N = 268), followed by those who had been threatened at school (N = 233). Additionally, more students who had been bullied at school (N = 185) carried a weapon than those who were victims of cyberbullying (N = 166). Another interesting result found that across all bullying types, males were 2 to 3 times more likely to carrying a weapon as a result of being bullied. In terms of mental health, being threatened at school was the most significant bullying type in relation to suicidal ideation.
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    Moving on Up: The Experience of Post World War II African American of Indianapolis
    (2019-03) Huskins, Kyle; Seybold, Peter; Mullins, Paul; Modibo, Najja
    Housing discrimination is one of the main plights of many African Americans during their post WWII struggle from equality. It affected where African Americans could live, where they could work, where their children went to school, and it ultimately affected their means of accumulating capitol. Eventually, through legislation and the constant struggle for housing equality from local African Americans leaders and local community leaders, the discrimination marginally subsided and this allowed for African Americans to move away from the central city. This study is an examination of Indianapolis’s first African American suburbanites. This study focuses on residents from two Indianapolis suburbs that were predominantly African American and located outside of the central city. The goal of this paper is to try to understand, how these communities formed, try to understand who these African Americans were and most importantly what were their experiences as individuals with suburbanization post WWII and the effect that their suburbanization had on residential opportunities in Indianapolis.
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    Women's Descent into Crime
    (2018-10) Pierce, Allison Bianca; Aponte, Robert; Foote, Carrie E.; Bell, Linda G.
    The rate of criminal involvement of women has historically been lower than that of men; however, that is changing. Changes in societal norms and progress toward gender equality have broadened the scope of female behaviors, and modified traditional female responsibilities and roles in the home potentially influencing their participation in the crime market. However, the bulk of research on criminal activity is based on the male experience. Thus, less is known about female criminals and their motivations. A closer look at women’s trajectories into crime therefore will likely yield important insights. This study investigates the descent into drugs and crime from the perspective of women who have previously been charged with crimes beyond simple possession of illegal substances. The key interest lies in shedding light on the experiences that set these women on the path to criminal activity. Specifically, this project aims to explore what the women themselves perceive as precursors to their criminal experience. Our findings suggest that female descent into crime may run contrary to many widely held beliefs, such as: that criminal careers begin in adolescence; that women become participants in crime through the influence of significant others; and that criminals come from lower class households.
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    Identity reconciliation and religious agency in gay and lesbian Episcopal clergy
    (2018-01) Hemphill, Amy L.; Steensland, Brian
    The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the United States won a significant civil rights battle when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in 2015, and a majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage and accept homosexuality (PewResearch 2016a). However, notable conflict between the LBGT community and individuals and organized religion remains, as evidenced by the United Methodist Church’s ruling in April 2017 that the recent consecration of a lesbian bishop violated church law. According to UMC doctrine, homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching” (Goodstein 2017). The choice to continue participating in religious organizations whose formal policies, structures, and doctrines challenge the overlapping identities of “Christian” and lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is one that merits sociological inquiry. For some non-heterosexual Christians, a third identity enters the picture – that of ordained clergy. This third identity intensifies the salience of the first two; a Christian clergy person follows their religious beliefs and practices to a full-time vocation, and the increased scrutiny and expectations of clergy can shine an uncomfortable spotlight on issues of sexuality. To examine the “incompatibility” between homosexuality and Christianity, this study investigates the integration of homosexual and Christian identities at the micro level, among gay and lesbian Episcopal clergy. While such persons possess a gay or lesbian sexual identity, they also embody the institutional church as ordained clergy. Examining their processes of integrating homosexual and Christian identities provides a deeper understanding of the larger social conflict between homosexuality and Christianity; and because of their unique position vis a vis religion and sexuality, the experiences of gay and lesbian clergy can also reveal important information about the strategies and practices utilized by individuals as they attempt to transform religious institutions. This thesis asks how gay and lesbian Episcopal clergy reconcile and maintain their religious and sexual identities, and what strategies of religious agency they demonstrate as they work for a more just and inclusive church.
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    Paid parental leave in the United States: a critical literature review
    (2017-03) Able, Aubrey Evelyn; Seybold, Peter; Haas, Linda; Hensel, Devon