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Karen Christopher

Ph.D. Sociology, University of Arizona, 2000.

Dr. Karen Christopher is Associate Professor, Women's and Gender Studies, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Sociology.

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 Selected publications:

  • "Mothering Scripts Among Women of Color," Conditionally accepted at Advances in Gender Research.
  • Forthcoming 2012. "Halving it Both Ways: Co-parenting in an Academic Couple." With Avery Kolers. Accepted for publication in Being and Thinking as an Academic Mother, Demeter Press.
  • 2012. "Extensive Mothering: Employed Mothers' Constructions of the Good Mother." Gender and Society, 26(1): 73-96.
  • 2009. "Mother as Provider: Student Welfare Recipients' Narratives of Paid and  Unpaid Work."  Race, Class & Gender 16(3-4): 185-202.
  • 2007. "Reassessing Welfare Reform Data: A Response to Cherry." Feminist Economics, 13(2): 197-202.
  • 2006. "The Poverty Line Forty Years Later:  Alternative Poverty Measures and Women's Lives." Race, Class & Gender, 12(2): 33-51 (Printing delayed due to Hurricane Katrina).  
  • 2005. "Welfare Recipients Attending College:  The Interplay of Oppression and Resistance." Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 32(3): 165-185.
  • 2005. "A 'Pauperization of Motherhood'?:  Single Motherhood, Employment and Women's Poverty." Journal of Poverty 9(3): 1-23.
  • 2004. "Welfare as We [Don't] Know It:  A Review and Feminist Critique of Welfare Reform Research."  Feminist Economics, 10(2): 143-171.
  • 2002. With Paula England, Timothy Smeeding, Katherin Ross Phillips, "The Gender Gap in Poverty in Modern Nations:  Single Motherhood, the Market and the State.” Sociological Perspectives, 45(3).
  • 2002. “Caregiving, Welfare States, and Mothers’ Poverty.”  In Child Care and Inequality:  Re-thinking Carework for Children and Youth, editors Francesca Cancian, Demi Kurz, Andrew London, Rebecca Reviere and Mary Tuominen.  New York: Routledge.
  • 2002. “Single Motherhood, Employment, or Social Assistance:  Why are U.S. Women Poorer than Women in Other Affluent Nations?”  Journal of Poverty 6(2).


Current and recent courses:

  • Women in American Culture (introductory course in WGS)
  • Gender, Race, Work & Welfare
  • Feminist Research and Methods in the Social Sciences
  • Motherhood: Myths and Reality
  • For Sociology: Sociology of the Family


Research interests:

Professor Christopher is currently working on two research projects.  She is in the final stages of a research project on welfare recipients attending higher education.  Her other project is a cross-national comparison of U.S. and Canadian mothers with young children. This project extends the "choice-centered" literature on mothers' employment and caregiving decisions by exploring the contexts of mothers' decision-making:  how employers, government policies, partners, and other social networks affect mothers' decisions. This project also contributes a diverse sample of mothers with varied racial/ethnic, social class, and immigrant backgrounds.  Professor Christopher interviewed about 15 mothers in Toronto during summer 2007 and will be interviewing mothers in Hamilton, Ontario during summer 2008, as well as mothers in Louisville and Houston over 2008-2009.

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