Jessica Taft


Ph.D., M.A. University of California Santa Barbara, Sociology
B.A. Macalester College, Women's and Gender Studies

Research Interests and Background

I love teaching and am particularly committed to helping students connect what they learn in the classroom to their lives as members of various communities. I recently taught a class where students conducted their own qualitative research on unemployment here in the Charlotte area. They collectively developed interview questions and designed an interview guide, and then transcribed their interviews and worked in small groups to identify themes and patterns the interviews revealed. It was an eye-opening and transformative experience for them, as some were seniors about to enter the job market. 

My current research project, entitled "Social Movements and the Meaning of Childhood: Intergenerational Collaboration in the Peruvian Working Children's Movement," received a research grant from the American Sociological Association's Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline.  This project explores the interactions between children and adults in the Peruvian movement of working children, a movement that seeks to create collaborative political relationships across age differences. By looking at how childhood is constructed and experienced within organizations that take a strong position in favor of children's political capacity, my project engages with important questions regarding the durability and fluidity of the meaning of childhood.  I'll be working on this book manuscript during my sabbatical in 2013-14.

I've published one book, Rebel Girls: Youth Activism and Social Change Across the Americas, as well as multiple journal articles.

For more about my research and teaching, please see my website.