Research

REPRESENTATIONS OF MONOGAMY AND POLYAMORY 

In this study, my overarching goal is to show how the stories we tell about monogamy and polyamory are part and parcel to the cultural production of or resistance to gendered, raced, and classed heteronormativity and ethno-sexual constructions of Western, European, Christian nations as civilized, progressive, and superior.

To accomplish this goal, I analyze fictional narratives in television, film, non-fictional media narratives about polygamy in the FLDS, social science research on American campus hookup cultures, and historical biographies. In each case, I explain and demonstrate how to decode the way in which monogamy and monogamous coupling stand in for, obscure, or legitimate hegemonic constructions of gender, ethnicity, race, class, nation, and sexuality and how poly narratives might or might not disrupt them. This study resulted in my forthcoming book, Monogamy, Polyamory, and American Dreams: The Stories We Tell About Poly Lives and the Cultural Production of Inequality and will be published by Routledge in November 2019. 

POLYQUEER SEXUALITIES

This study is an inter and multi-disciplinary exploration of how compulsory monogamy and mononormativity are implicated in gender, race, and sexual inequalities. Using autho-ethnography, content and discourse analysis, and fictional narrative, I developed a theoretical framework for what I'm calling "polyqueer sexualities." Polyqueer sexualities are sexual interactions and intimate relationships that involve more than two people and, through plurality, reconfigure the gendered self, sexual subjectivity, gendered interactions, and gender ideology. Specifically, I analyzed threesomes, the "down low," homosocial bonding between men, and the construction of cheating spouses on the internet. This study culminated in my book, Beyond Monogamy: Polyamory and the Future of Polyqueer Sexualities (New York University Press 2016)

CAMPUS SEXUAL CULTURES, RESEARCH ON HOOKING UP, AND THE ERASURE OF CONSENSUAL NON-MONOGAMIES

In this research, I conducted a detailed content analysis of the published research literature on hookup campus sexual cultures to identify if and how research participants and researchers make the mononormative assumptions that 1) all "real," "serious," and "committed" relationships are monogamous and 2) all non-monogamous relationships are "casual" and do not require interpersonal responsibility. The data show that mononormativity is a significant factor in the gender dynamics of campus hookup cultures. Moreover, the data show that researchers reproduced the same mononormative assumptions in their research instruments and in their reports of their findings. This research is the basis of a chapter in my book, Polyamory, Monogamy, and American Dreams

GENDER AND ROCK MUSIC

This is an ethnographic study of a rock music subculture in which musicians and fans adopted feminism and feminist ideology to do rock music in a way that did not reproduce the sexism of mainstream rock 'n roll. Combining participant observation and interview methods, I found that members of this subculture used what I call "gender maneuvering" to reconfigure the relationship between masculinity and femininity as it takes shape in mainstream rock. This research is published in my book Rockin' Out of the Box: Gender Maneuvering in Alternative Hard Rock (Rutgers University Press 2002)

STATUS MANEUVERING IN A MENTORING PROGRAM

This research project was part of a program in which college women were partnered with middle school girls in a mentoring relationship. Analsis of interview and ethnographic data on the mentoring program revealed that, contrary to what the literature on mentoring assumed, the younger girls had a great deal of interpersonal power over the college women. By raising the salience of race and class difference and diminishing the importance of their sameness as girls, the middle school girls could manipulate the college women into doing what they wanted. This research is published here:

Mimi Schippers. “Doing Power/Doing Difference: Negotiations of Race and Gender in a Mentoring Program.”  Symbolic Interaction 31(1), 2008.