Kristen Barber | Sociology | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

Kristen Barber

Assistant Professor

Kristen Barber

Office: Faner 3436

Phone: (618) 453-7633




Dr. Barber received her Ph.D. from University of Southern California and joined the SIU Sociology faculty in 2011. Her two primary areas of interest include: 1) the social construction of gender, specifically considering what gender-boundary crossing can teach us about the flexibility of gender, the mechanisms for reproducing gender hierarchies, and the potential for the reorganization of gender; and 2) methodological and epistemological developments in qualitative and feminist research.

Barber is an elected member of the Sally Hacker Award Committee for the ASA section on Sex and Gender and is on the Editorial Board of Gender & Society.


Dr. Barber's book, Styling Masculinity: Gender, Class, and Inequality in the Men's Grooming Industry (Rutgers University Press), is forthcoming in August 2016. In this book, she focuses on the social relations involved in selling beauty to men. Drawing from ethnographic observations and in-depth interviews with employees and clients at high-service men’s salons, she discusses how women beauty workers deploy feelings, touch, and appearance as institutionalized strategies to create a classed and heterosexualized space for men's status-enhancing practices, as well as to navigate the gendered and sexualized constraints of their occupation.

This book brings together the sociology of consumption with the sociology of service work, weaving a story about how classed gender relations are forged during the emergence of a new consumer market. Popular rhetoric suggests that men’s participation in the beauty industry means a closing of the gender gap, with men becoming more like women. However, as Dr. Barber shows, men’s consumer experiences are produced within corporate salons invested in upholding performances of middle-class hetero-masculinity, and with it social differences and unequal relationships between men and women. 

Dr. Barber’s methods work considers what technological advances mean for multi-sited ethnographic research, and what we can learn from the experiences of researchers who live through disaster.


  • Sex and Gender
  • Social Inequalities
  • Work and Occupations
  • Sociology of the Body
  • Qualitative Methodology
  • Disaster Research


Kristen Barber. 2015. “Styled Masculinity: Men’s Consumption of Salon Hair Care and the Construction of Difference.” In (Re)Theorizing Masculinities, edited by C.J. Pascoe and Tristan Bridges. Cambridge, U.K.: Oxford University Press.

Ronald E. Hallett and Kristen Barber. 2014. “Ethnographic Research in a Cyber Era.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 43(3): 306-320.

Kristen Barber and Kelsy Kretschmer. 2013. “Walking Like a Man?” Contexts: Understanding People in their Social Worlds. 12(2): 40-45.

Kristen Barber. 2008. “The Well-Coiffed Man: Class, Race, and Heterosexual Masculinity in the Hair Salon.” Gender & Society 22(4): 455-476.



  • Women & Men in Contemporary Society, SOC 223/WGSS 223
  • Elements of Sociological Research Methods, SOC 312
  • Sociology of Gender, SOC 423/WGSS 442

Graduate: M.A. and Ph.D.

  • Social Research Methods and Design, SOC 512
  • Qualitative Methodology, SOC 514
  • Gender and Work, SOC 530
  • Teaching Sociology, SOC 518