Assistant Professor of Sociology
Phone: (561) 297-3270
Office: CU 259/Boca Campus
Research: Social Problems, Culture, Social Interaction, Gender, Sexuality, Sociology of the Body, Childhood, Family, Deviance, Qualitative Methods
Teaching: Self and Society, Youth and Society, The Social Construction of Sexuality, Sociology of the Body
Dr. Laura Backstrom joined the faculty of the sociology department at FAU in Fall 2016 after earning her Ph.D. from Indiana University. Her research focuses on cultural mechanisms and interactional processes that reproduce inequalities related to gender, race, sexuality, and the body with a particular focus on children, young adults, and families.
Dr. Backstrom’s publications center on embodied inequality and cultural framings of obesity. Her book Weighty Problems: Embodied Inequality at a Children’s Weight Loss Camp, critically addresses how current cultural framings and discourses of “childhood obesity” are internalized and experienced by children. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, interviews, and focus groups, the book examines how children experienced embodied inequality through interaction, how they responded to micro-level injustices in their lives, and how their participation in a weight loss program impacted their developing self-image. She also published an article “Embodied Resocialization at a Children’s Weight Loss Camp” using this data in Ethnography.
Additionally, Dr. Backstrom has published journal articles on how relationship context influences college women’s sexual practices in The Journal of Sex Research, how cultural representations of deviant bodies vary based on the historical legacy of stigmatized groups and contemporary cultural narratives of bodily difference in Sociological Forum, and how temporal dimensions of agency are characterized in framing childhood obesity as a social problem in Childhood. Dr. Backstrom co-authored a forthcoming journal article with Kelly Fraidenburg, an FAU Sociology MA student, that examined gendered representations of sportswomen on ESPN’s and espnW’s Instagram accounts.
At FAU, Professor Backstrom’s contribution to the sociology department’s curriculum centers on the areas of sexuality, the body, childhood, and the self. Her courses are writing-centered and challenge students to apply research skills to the course’s topic. She regularly teaches Self and Society, Youth and Society, Sociology of the Body and The Social Construction of Sexuality at the undergraduate level. Professor Backstrom is currently the Director of the BA Honors Program for the sociology department. Her graduate seminars include Research Methods and Design, Sociology of Childhood, and Sociology of the Family. Professor Backstrom enjoys working with graduate students on their research projects through Directed Independent Study projects and serving on MA thesis committees.
Backstrom, Laura. 2020. “Shifting the Blame Frame: Agency and the Parent-Child Relationship in an Anti-Obesity Campaign.” Childhood 27(2): 203-219.
Backstrom, Laura. 2019. Weighty Problems: Embodied Inequality at a Children’s Weight Loss Camp. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Backstrom, Laura. 2016. “Embodied Resocialization at a Children’s Weight Loss Camp.” Ethnography 17(4): 539-558.
Backstrom, Laura. 2012. “From the Freak Show to the Living Room: Cultural Representations of Dwarfism and Obesity.” Sociological Forum 27(3): 682-707.
Backstrom, Laura, Elizabeth A. Armstrong, and Jennifer Puentes. 2012. “Women’s Negotiation of Cunnilingus in College Hookups and Relationships.” Journal of Sex Research 49(1): 1-12.