Race, Gender, and Class · Work · Crime, Law, and Deviance · Culture · Ethnography
I am a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, where I am affiliated with the Sociology Department’s Ethnography Lab and completing a portfolio in Women’s and Gender Studies. My research has won awards from the American Sociological Association, Sociologists for Women in Society, and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at UT Austin.
My dissertation Breaking the ‘Grass Ceiling’? An Intersectional Analysis of Women’s Work in the U.S. Legal Cannabis Industry is an ethnographic case study of cannabis legalization in the United States. Funded by the National Science Foundation and the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, I spent 13 months immersing myself in one of the world’s largest regulated cannabis markets. I conducted media analyses of cannabis legalization campaigns and brand marketing; collected 50 in-depth interviews with women workers, executives, and entrepreneurs; and spent 500+ hours working and observing interactions in 17 dispensaries across a major metropolitan area of the state. My research investigates three facets of legalization: 1) how the meaning of consuming cannabis has changed; 2) how consumers are socialized into these new meanings; and 3) how entrepreneurs make inroads into the new legal cannabis industry. By examining the roles and experiences of differently racialized women at different levels of this multibillion-dollar industry, I explore who benefits from legalization, and who is left behind.
My analysis focuses on how race, gender, and class shape the meanings and practices associated with legalization. Doing so reveals benefits, but also limitations, of legalization for redressing the harms of prohibition. Achieving equity and justice for people targeted in the U.S. war on drugs, I argue, requires policies that explicitly prioritize their needs and well-being, not only through equitable opportunity in the legal cannabis industry, but also through reparations that specifically address the race-, gender-, and class-based violence of prohibition.
Header images: Zbynek Pospizil, Andrea Porziella, Joshua Resnick