Research & Scholarship

Nopales bloom over the city of Zacatecas, Mexico. Photo by Karen Hooge Michalka
Nopales bloom over the city of Zacatecas, Mexico. Photo by Karen Hooge Michalka

Immigration, embodiment, and community

My dissertation examined how bodily discipline in immigrant Latino communities contributes to shared cultural logics regarding how groups understand their presence and purpose in their host country. Through interviews and observations, I sought to understand how immigrant groups navigated cross-cultural experiences and variance in salient identities. Comparing two church communities, I found that as the first- and second-generation Latino immigrants become embedded in communities that shape their understanding of their immigrant experience, their bodily practice is also shaped in ways that impact processes of acculturation present in the communities. I am currently reshaping this dissertation as a book manuscript and am preparing stand alone articles as well.

Lives of Latino Religious Communities

I continue to collect data and analyze Latino religious communities through the Latino Protestant Congregations Study, which is a research project designed to examine and illuminate the variety and complexity of Latino Protestant congregations and their worship practices in the United States through a qualitative approach.

Poverty alleviation efforts in local communities

Prosper Springfield is a collective impact initiative model. By partnering with a number of different local organizations aimed at improving the lives of the city’s inhabitants, Prosper Springfield pools, strengthens, and further motivates the work of those dedicated to enhancing local outcomes in the areas of education, health, housing, employment, and financial security. I work managing the data for the initiative, shaping the measurement items that the various organizations use to assess impact and writing reports.

Individualism in marriage cultures

In “Individualism and Marriage: Ideal Types for Making Sense of the Relationship between Self and Sacrifice”,  (Qualitative Sociology 2017) for which I was first author, we provide theoretically grounded reconceptualizations of the intertwining relationship between commitment and individualism in local marriages. While macro data reveal trends of individualistic orientations to relationships in Western countries, micro-level data retain diversity in how commitment and individualism are related to one another.