Grantee: Andrew Perrin
- University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Dr. Perrin is a cultural and political sociologist whose work focuses on the conceptualization and measurement of culture as a causal factor of both political and health outcomes. Differences in cultural worldviews may explain important differences in individuals' behaviors, including both political and health behaviors of interest. For example, Dr. Perrin's work on political culture examines the ways shared cultural representations affect decisions about citizenship and voting.
One of the key questions that has plagued cultural sociology for years is how best to measure culture, particularly as an independent variable. Long-standing interests in the effects of culture on health outcomes make health research a fertile arena for innovation in the measurement of culture. In particular, obesity rates are patterned in culturally-relevant ways, so understanding the ways culture and obesity-related behaviors are connected is a promising direction for obesity research. Dr. Perrin's recently completed project explored a new method for measuring place-based, health-related culture. The method utilized, Systematic Cultural Observation, gathers information about "culture in the world" and "culture in the mind" to establish a valid, comparative measure of cultural characteristics. The project used Lenoir County, North Carolina as a pilot site for potential future applications of the method elsewhere.
Dr. Perrin is currently serving as a co-PI on a new, trans-disciplinary project on visual culture, obesity, and stigma in children's movies. Prior research demonstrated a very high prevalence of obesogenic messages alongside stigma against overweight in children's movies, sending mixed messages to children about food, exercise, and obesity. This study will bring together a broadly interdisciplinary team to assess visual, psychological, and cultural cues in children's movies and the ways children themselves interpret these cues.
I think cultural sociology has unique insights to offer in understanding how people develop beliefs about, and approaches to, their health. Working across disciplinary boundaries to discover these effects is very productive and exciting.”
- Featured Grant in Behavioral Research Program (BRP)
- Systematic Observation: a Method for Measuring Health Related Culture & Obesity
- Program Director of Featured Grant: Wen-Ying Sylvia Chou