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Melissann Herron

BA: King College, English

MA: San Diego State University, Women's Studies

Research interests: sociology of gender, social inequalities, sociology of culture

There is no mainstream discussion or movement for increasing men's contributions in the home despite widely-documented slowing or stalling of egalitarian trends since the 1990s. Indeed, it often appears that scholarly understandings of inequality have little to do with the way individuals understand their daily realities, perhaps because research often focuses too narrowly on: 1) professionals, 2) women or, to a lesser extent, men alone, 3) white families, and 4) lacks attention to the most deeply felt emotional meanings of individuals' home and work identities. By interviewing both members of married and divorced, racially diverse, heterosexual couples who fall in the understudied "missing middle" that comprises the majority of Americans (Boushey and Williams 2010), I will study what I call the "nexus of intimacy and inequality." By exploring the deepest meanings participants attribute to paid labor, parenthood, and marriage, I will investigate the changing salience of gender in shaping individuals' lived experiences at work and at home. A guiding hypotheses is that there is a connection between that which is most meaningful to individuals as well as between intimacy and other deeply-felt emotions and that which produces different and often unequal outcomes for men and women in U.S. society. By allowing participants to speak to their understandings of inequality and change in qualitative interviews, I hope to offer a more nuanced picture of where, how, and perhaps why progress toward gender equality is or is not occurring.