Mari J. Armstrong-Hough


Ph.D. Duke University
M.A. Duke University
B.A. University of Wisconsin-Madison


My research is primarily concerned with the intersection of globalization, local health cultures, and the practice and experience of biomedicine. I'm particularly interested in the biomedicalization of "lifestyle" diseases in different cultural and institutional contexts, such as how type 2 diabetes is approached and treated differently in different societies. I'm finishing a book about how lay epidemiology, patient narratives, and clinical approaches to type 2 diabetes differ in the U.S. and Japan and what consequences this has for each country's burgeoning diabetes epidemics.

The sociology of health is one of the most fascinating subfields of social inquiry. Through it we see how social organization and sociological facts shape not only our likelihood of graduating from college or marrying a particular kind of person or attaining a certain income, but our very bodies.

At Davidson, I teach courses on global health, medical sociology, health disparities, and sociological methods for health research. My primary teaching objective is always to allow students to learn sociological practice by actually participating in it, so I design my courses to give students the opportunity to link the theoretical and empirical through guided research projects. I see the classroom as a space for intellectual discourse-for thinking and articulating and exploring ideas-not as a space for merely conveying information. My classes, then, are mostly seminar-style and discussion-based.

Before coming to Davidson, I spent three years as an assistant professor at Meiji University in Tokyo, where I maintain three active research projects: (1) the Japan Multigenerational Interview Project (J-MIP), which examines changing attitudes towards health within families, (2) a qualitative pilot project studying the experiences of Tokyo's homeless "net café refugees," and (3) a survey-based study of smoking cessation among Japanese undergraduates. Having successfully worked with many Japanese undergraduates on these projects, I look forward to working with Davidson students with an interest in Japan or East Asia.


SOC/MHU 280 Introduction to Global Health
SOC/MHU 320 Health, Illness, and Culture in East Asia