I am an Assistant Professor in the department of sociology at Wake Forest University. My research spans a number of sociological subfields, examining the role emotions, social interactions, and meaning-making processes play in reproducing inequality in a variety of settings, particularly in the arena of health and medicine.
My forthcoming book, Save My Kid: How Families of Critically Ill Children Cope, Hope, and Negotiate an Unequal Healthcare System examines how healthcare inequalities are produced in part through the paths families follow through the healthcare system as they seek and obtain care for children with life-threatening conditions. Drawing on ethnographic case studies with 18 families, including interviews and medical observations, I show how parents adopt diverging approaches to negotiating their child’s medical care in an effort to meet powerful emotional goals. The book highlights the role these emotional goals—deeply rooted in the emotional culture around illness and medicine in the United States—can play in shaping healthcare interactions and influencing medical decisions in ways that breed inequalities even among those who ultimately access care at the top of the U.S. healthcare system.
My work can be found in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Problems, Social Psychology Quarterly, Symbolic Interaction, the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, and Contexts Magazine among other outlets. My research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the American Sociological Association, and has received awards from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction and the Society for the Study of Social Problems Theory Division. I completed my PhD at Brandeis University, and my BA and MSSW at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Feel free to contact me at gengleam [at] wfu [dot] edu.