Lindsay DePalma

BA: UC San Diego, History and Sociology

Areas of specialization: Economic sociology, culture, work & occupations, religion, inequalities, stratification, consumption, field methods

I am broadly interested in the intersections of our economic and sentimental lives. My first paper, entitled “Money Talk, Moral Talk: The Actualization of Hostile Worlds,” is a comparative project in which I argue that individuals pursue varied forms and degrees of integration and separation of their economic and sentimental lives, equipped with disparate tools. This qualitative work analyzes how individuals navigate what Slater (2000) calls the “impossible space between culture and the economy,” with an emphasis on the cultural, organizational, and institutional forces that encourage integration or separation and provide language with which individuals can talk about money and sentiment and which define what individuals feel to be the normative relationship between the market and the social world.

My second paper, entitled “Commoncents Taboo: Why We Don’t Talk About Money,” is a qualitative project in which I analyze the relationship between money, sanctity, and taboo. With data from thirty interviews, this paper attempts to answer Wuthnow’s (1996) call to “pry into some of our most commonsensical, widely taken-for-granted assumptions about money” in order to understand what financial taboo means and what financial taboo does. My preliminary analyses suggest that analyzing money as a sacred object in our culture may grant us a more accurate understanding of our relationship with money. This paper ends with a discussion about the potential consequences of financial taboo, including the perpetuation of social and economic inequalities.

My dissertation, currently entitled “Fragmented Narratives, Rigid Flexibility, and Frenetic Drift: Making Sense of Middle Class Work,” is a mixed methods project in which I am fundamentally interested in the relationship between structure, culture, and expectations of work. Especially in a “new economy” in which work is unstable and the worker is flexible, the meaning of work must undergo constant negotiation in our lives. We do not experience work as static and fully legible. Instead, work is a space of constant cultural and moral work. The primary research question guiding my work asks how the changing nature of work effects how college educated individuals understand or construct the meaning of work in their lives. Questions subsumed under this larger question include how individuals imbue work with meaning, connect or separate identity/sentiment with work, negotiate increasing levels of risk, exercise agency against various constraints, reconcile rhetoric and reality, and more generally define the meaning of good work, meaningful work, and lovable work.