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Dr. Friedman is a cultural sociologist with a primary research focus on the cognitive and sensory underpinnings of the social construction process. More specifically, each of her core projects is concerned with understanding how individuals make mental distinctions in contexts of ambiguity and complexity. She also examines how sensory perception works to support cultural distinctions as a mechanism to simplify and resolve competing meanings. Through this work, she aims to advance thinking on what it means to claim that something is 'socially constructed,' particularly a material entity such as the human body. Although her approach is rooted in cultural and cognitive sociology and sensory studies, the questions about the social construction process that most interest her have applicability to a wide range of other substantive topics, allowing her to engage in debates in the sociology of gender, the sociology of the body, the sociology of race, medical sociology, and sociological theory. In each case, she uses an analysis of social patterns of thought and sensory perception to bring productive new questions to ongoing conversations in the field. Her first book, Blind to Sameness: Sexpectations and the Social Construction of Male and Female Bodies (Chicago, 2013), was awarded the 2016 Distinguished Book Award from the Sex and Gender Section of the American Sociological Association.
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