Research Interests: Gender, reproduction, states, violence, politics, mobilization, theory, development, and Latin America
Jocelyn Viterna is Professor of Sociology and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Harvard University. Her research examines how social mobilization affects gender norms and practices in politics, in government institutions, in warfare, and in communities. Currently, Viterna is developing four research projects. The first project documents how activism surrounding women's sexual and reproductive rights in El Salvador has fundamentally transformed the Salvadoran judicial system, and more specifically, its processes for litigating gender. Building from this research, Viterna is developing and deploying training programs aimed at mitigating implicit bias and gender discrimination in Latin American courts. The second project examines how Salvadoran ob-gyns care for pregnant women and fetuses while negotiating the nation’s absolute abortion ban. This project also interrogates whether and how the ban is consequential for women’s and fetal health. The third project compares the discourse and tactics of 8 conservative and 8 progressive social movements in the U.S., investigating whether and how each camp strategically mobilizes notions of “gender.” Finally, Viterna is engaged in a pedagogical collaboration aimed at re-imagining how sociology programs should teach “classical” sociological theory in a way that is honest about our discipline’s intellectual roots, and their implications for present-day research.
Viterna’s work has been published in the American Journal of Sociology, the American Sociological Review, Politics and Gender, and the Latin American Research Review, among other journals. Her book, Women in War: The Micro-processes of Mobilization in El Salvador (2013, Oxford University Press) won four distinguished book awards (the ESS Mirra Komarovsky award, the ASA Section on Sex and Gender award, the ASA Section on Political Sociology award, and the SSSP Global Division award) and one honorable mention (the ASA section on the Sociology of Development). It is currently being translated for publication in Spanish.