Like teaching, research should never be separated from the communities and social problems that sociologists investigate. My interests in indigenous peoples’ rights originate with my upbringing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where white-native inequalities and racial intolerance were, and are, omnipresent. The sociological research that I undertake is thereby motivated to understand the historical nature of these conditions and how they can be remediated, both in my home state where the prairies yield to the West, and wherever indigenous peoples and cultures are attempting to overcome ignorance, intolerance, and dispossession.
To these ends, my dissertation project analyzed Euro-American attitudes and discourse surrounding the American Indian Movement (AIM) and American Indians from 1973-2015 in order to understand how dominant groups reconstruct cultural narratives in order to deter challenges to the status quo. The project drew on a unique research design in which 47 follow-up interviews were conducted with individuals across South Dakota and Minnesota whose 1970’s AIM narratives were collected from varied archival sources (viz. constituent political mail, juror voir dire transcripts, public opinion polls).
This longitudinal qualitative design allows me to analyze how white attitudes and discourse surrounding the movement, and American Indians more generally, have historically evolved, while controlling for contextual biases by utilizing data from the same individuals at two different points in time. By focusing on the dominant culture’s narrative reconstruction of AIM, I mobilize an original, and relatively rare, dataset on the social construction and stereotyping of American Indians in US society. In so doing, I argue that future research needs to focus more on the discursive mechanisms that enable the perpetuation of extant power relations and social inequalities.
You can read a short blog post relevant to my dissertation at the Mobilizing Ideas website here: On Mobilizing Unintended Targets
Fishman, Robert M. & David W. Everson. 2016. “Mechanisms of Social Movement Success: Conversation, Disruption, & Displacement.” Revista Internacional de Sociologica.
Everson, David W. 2014. Review of The Future of Social Movement Research, edited by Jacquelien van Stekelenburg, Conny Roggeband, and Bert Klandermans. International Journal of Comparative Sociology 55(2): 166-168.
Reese, Ellen, Ian Breckenridge-Jackson, Edwin Elias, David W. Everson, James Love. 2012.“The Global Justice Movement and the Social Forum Process,” in Routledge Handbook of World Systems Analysis, edited by Salvatore J. Babones and Christopher Chase-Dunn. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.