Elizabeth Klainot-Hess is a visiting assistant professor of sociology. Her research explores how the emergence and growth of contingent and precarious work creates and reproduces inequality as well as the collective responses to these new forms of work and the inequality they create. She is currently writing a book based on her dissertation research, a qualitative study of contingent faculty at two large public research universities. This research has important implications for understanding other types of contingent or nonstandard professional workers, and sheds light on the consequences of the transformation of higher education. Klainot-Hess has also conducted research on the labor movement response to anti-collective bargaining legislation, and the overrepresentation of women in involuntary part-time work.  

Areas of Expertise

Work, Social Inequality, Labor Movements


2020 — Doctor of Philosophy from The Ohio State University

2013 — Master of Arts from Univ of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

2006 — Bachelor of Arts from Univ of Wisconsin-Madison

Courses Recently Taught

The objective of this course is to critically examine social problems in the United States by using sociological perspectives to investigate the cultural and structural foundations of our society. Toward that end, students learn sociological and criminological perspectives that provide a basic understanding of the principles of social-problems research from a sociological perspective. Among the topics to be covered are education, crime, the family and work, using examples from the Age of Enlightenment up to the present day. The most fundamental expectation of students in this course to use their sociological imaginations in every class period to engage in focused discussion of the readings and assignments completed outside of class. This is expected to aid students in the goal of mastering necessary skills of critical thinking and discussion, both verbally and in their writing about contemporary topics of interest and concern. Students may take only one introductory-level course. This counts toward the foundation course requirement for the major. No prerequisite.

Sociology has long recognized the different roles of men and women in society, but the systematic, sociological analysis of how and why these roles have been developed and maintained continues to be a contested terrain of scholarship and popular debate. This course analyzes the social construction of gender and its salience in our everyday lives. Using sociological theory in the context of gender, we link the private experiences of individuals to the structure of social institutions. The course begins with the familiar world of socialization and move to the more abstract level of institutions of social control and sex-based inequalities within social institutions, including the economy and family. This counts toward the culture and identity or the institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor. Offered every two years.

This mid-level course will explore the methods that sociologists use to study popular culture and media products, and will examine the connections of popular culture and media to broader social patterns within American society. Course material will cover a range of subjects, including movies, television, the news, novels, and advertising. Students will become familiar with several approaches to the study of popular culture and mass media, and examine what these cultural products can reveal about social norms, trends, and relationships. In addition to empirical assessments of the content of cultural products, the course will examine the institutional structures that shape their production and distribution, as well as patterns of audience consumption and interpretation. This work will culminate with the opportunity to design a research project that uses sociological methods to critically interpret and analyze popular culture products. Prerequisite: foundation course in sociology or permission of instructor.

This mid-level course is for those students who have taken the foundation course. Consult the department for further description.

The primary objective of this course is to pursue a comprehensive examination of contemporary issues that determine social stratification in the United States and, thereby, impact public policy and societal values. Some topics that may be addressed are race relations in the United States, gender, work, family, sexuality, poverty and religion. Topics may vary from semester to semester, but they are of importance to any discussion of the institutional forces that govern our society. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of the instructor. Offered every two to three years.