Paige L. Sweet is a 2018-2020 Postdoctoral Fellow with the Inequality in America Initiative at Harvard University. Paige recently completed her PhD in Sociology at the University of Illinois Chicago. Her research focuses on the politics of health, expert knowledge, inequalities around gender and sexuality, violence against women, and social theory.
Paige’s current research explores the medicalization of domestic violence and the effects of that shift on feminist politics and on domestic violence victims themselves. Drawing on archival research, interviews with domestic violence professionals, and life story interviews with domestic violence victims, Paige shows that in order to become “good survivors,” women must make themselves legible to therapeutic institutions by performing psychological wellness. Paige reveals how anti-violence feminists made themselves into an expert field by constructing the figure of the battered woman as a psychologically suffering and recovering subject: a “survivor.” Paige then shows how women face pressure to tell narratives of psychological betterment in order to be credible survivors in court, support groups, child services, and therapy. Because performances of psychological wellness depend on material and symbolic resources, the politics of survivorhood operates to exacerbate racial, gender, and sexual inequalities in women’s experiences of help-seeking and surveillance after abuse. Paige has ongoing interests in the politics of health, knowledge production, feminist and queer theory, violence against women, and science studies.
Paige's work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the ACLS/Mellon Foundation. Her research will soon appear in American Sociological Review and has been featured in Social Problems, Sociological Theory, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture & Society, Social Science & Medicine, and Sociological Forum, among others.