Dr. Barber is Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. She received her Ph.D. from University of Southern California and joined the SIU faculty in 2011. Her research expertise lies in gender, organizations, work, and culture, with a focus on what everyday, boundary-crossing behavior can teach us about complex systems of inequality.
Barber is on the Gender & Society and Men and Masculinities Editorial Boards, is an elected member of the American Sociological Association’s council for the section on Sex and Gender —the largest section of the ASA—is past council member for the ASA section on Sociology of the Body & Embodiment, and has served as a grant reviewer for the National Science Foundation. She is also Chair-Elect for the ASA section on Race, Gender, and Class and will serve as the section’s 2019–2020 Chair.
Gendered Worlds, 4th Edition (Oxford University Press, Forthcoming) is a foundational textbook that introduces students to the topic of gender and sexuality as they operate in conjunction with race, ethnicity, and class. The text stands out for its global focus, which helps students to see how gender operates around the world in patterned and political ways. And while the chapters emphasize social problems and inequalities, they also present state, institutional, and interactional level efforts to improve our social environments and our lives.
Styling Masculinity: Gender, Class, and Inequality in the Men’s Grooming Industry (Rutgers University Press, 2016) traces the network of economic and social relations that undergird the burgeoning men’s beauty industry. Bringing together scholarship on consumption with the sociology of service work, Barber theorizes the “labor of consumption” to explain how women working in high-end men’s salons become cultural brokers for their heterosexual white clientele. This work exploits women who constantly wrestle with the organizational demands that set them up as gendered persons before skilled workers. These findings inform Barber’s discussion on the limited potential of the “new man” rhetoric. At the same time, she shows how the women’s work not only props up these men’s privileged identities but also allows them to be creative and to carve out professional dignity.
*Styling Masculinity made the New York Times’ 2016 List of “Stylish Reads,” here, and has also been mention in Playboy, Mel Magazine, The Atlantic, The Houston Chronicle, and more. Barber has talked about her research on The Matt Townsend Show, WPR’s Central Time, NHPR’s Word of Mouth, and NPR’s Marketplace.
Barber is working with Dr. Kelsy Kretschmer (Oregon State University) on a study of men’s participation in feminist protest and in progressive campus organizations. This work continues Barber’s focus on men and masculinity in conventionally women’s spaces, as well as on work within gendered organizations. Using the long-running Take Back the Night marches and the more recent SlutWalk events as case studies, Barber and Kretschmer have explored how shifting boundaries around who can participate in sexual assault protests shape feminist movement messages about equality. This work is published in the journals, Mobilization and Contexts.
AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION AND INTEREST
- Gender and Sexuality
- Social Inequalities
- Sociology of Culture
- Work and Organizations
- Qualitative Methodology
- Disaster Research
Kristen Barber and Tristan Bridges. 2017. “Marketing Manhood in a ‘Post-Feminist’ Age.” Contexts 16(2): 36-41.
Kelsy Kretschmer and Kristen Barber. 2016. "Men at the March: Feminist Movement Boundaries and Men's Participation in Take Back the Night and SlutWalk." Mobilization 21(3): 283-300.
Kristen Barber. 2016. "'Men Wanted': Heterosexual Aesthetic Labor in the Masculinization of the Hair Salon." Gender & Society 30(4): 618-642.
Kristen Barber and Timothy J. Haney. 2016. “The Experiential Gap in Disaster Research: Feminist Epistemology and the Contribution of Local Affected Researchers." Sociological Spectrum 36(2): 57-74.
Shiloh Deitz and Kristen Barber. 2015. “Geographies of Inequalities: Urban Renewal and the Race, Gender, and Class of Post-Katrina New Orleans.” Race, Gender & Class 134159.
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.
Kristen Barber. 2006. “Sex and Power.” In Introducing the New Sexuality Studies: Original Essays and Interviews, edited by Steven Seidman, Nancy Fischer, and Chet Meeks, 59-63. London, U.K.: Routledge.
Women & Men in Contemporary Society
Elements of Sociological Research Methods
Men and Masculinities
Sociology of Gender
Graduate: M.A. and Ph.D.
Social Research Methods and Design Qualitative Methodology
Gender and Work