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About Cheryl Laz

My current research focuses on broadly on systems of food and agriculture. I am particularly interested in alternatives to the dominant, industrialized food system. One project involves interviewing folks who participate in and create such alternatives to understand the motivations for these choices; alternative food practices, organizations, institutions, and networks; obstacles to eating outside of the dominant system; and the implications of alternatives for social movements and social change. A second project focuses on the gendered dimensions eating locally and sustainably.
My previous research examined the social construction of age. In "Act Your Age," I develop a theoretical understanding of age as socially constructed, similar to the ways we construct gender and race. I contribute to the development of a sociology of age, as distinct from the more usual focus on gerontology and old age. In "Age Embodied," I theorize age and embodiment as mutually constituting accomplishments. Material from interviews with 15 adults over 50 illustrates the utility of this theoretical framework and reveals four main dimensions of embodiment--activity, fitness, and health; energy; appearance; and ailments and illness--that respondents draw on as they consider what it means to be both embodied and aged (i.e., having an age). In addition, the interviews show how respondents make social comparisons and employ age-adjusted standards as they interpret their bodies, activities, and capabilities in relation to age.


Present Faculty Member, University of Southern Maine

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