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Karen Sternheimer

Associate Professor (Teaching) of Sociology

Contact Information
E-mail: sternhei@usc.edu
Phone: (213) 740-3533
Office: HSH 314

LINKS
Personal Website
Everyday Sociology Blog
Facebook
Celebrity Culture and the American Dream blog
 

Biographical Sketch

Karen Sternheimer is the author of Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility (Routledge, 2011), Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture: Why Media is not the Answer (Westview Press, August 2009), Kids These Days: Facts and Fictions About Today’s Youth (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006) and It’s Not the Media: The Truth About Pop Culture’s Influence on Children (Westview Press, 2003). She teaches in the sociology department, where her research focuses on issues related to popular culture and youth, particularly fears surrounding both.

Specific topics of inquiry have included concerns about youth violence, kidnapping, substance use, child obesity, teen driving, and fears about the effects of media on children. She has also studied the construction of celebrity culture, examining how celebrity has been manufactured from the early twentieth century to the present.

Her current research involves a comparative historical study of moral panics surrounding popular culture, from the late nineteenth century to the present. Her commentary has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, the San Diego Union Tribune, the San Jose Mercury News, and other newspapers around the country. Sternheimer is also a sought-out source for journalists around the world, and has been interviewed for scores of magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Variety, Child, and Ladies’ Home Journal, as well as for publications in China, Japan, and South America.

She has provided commentary for CNN, ABC News, FOX News, MSNBC, The History Channel and other televised programs, and has been a guest on numerous radio shows nationally and internationally, including NPR’s Marketplace, Bloomberg radio and Voice of America. She is a contributer to The Huffington Post and is also the editor and lead writer for everydaysociologyblog.com.

 

Education

Ph.D. Sociology, University of Southern California, 8/1998
 

Description of Research

Summary Statement of Research Interests

Karen Sternheimer is currently working on a comparative historical study of moral panics surrounding popular culture from the nineteenth century to the present. Her previous research has explored anxieties surrounding popular culture and children and teens, as well as the construction of social problems surrounding youth. She recently completed a study of celebrity culture and consumption, based on an analysis of celebrity fan magazines dating back to 1911. Her resulting book, Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility, considers how celebrity culture in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries both reflect and reinforce notions of social mobility.
 

Research Keywords

Youth, popular culture, media, celebrity culture, moral panics, teens, social problems and childhood, consumption, video games, fears of youth and media, panics surrounding popular culture.
 

Research Specialties

Popular culture, moral panics, childhood and youth, celebrity culture
 

Publications

Book

Sternheimer, K. E. (2011). Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility. Routledge.
Sternheimer, K. E. (2010). The Everyday Sociology Reader. WW Norton.
Sternheimer, K. E. (2009). Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture: Why Media is not the Answer. Boulder, CO: Wesview Press.
Sternheimer, K. E. (2009). Childhood in American Society: A Reader. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Sternheimer, K. E. (2006). Kids These Days: Facts and Fictions about Today's Youth. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Sternheimer, K. E. (2003). It's Not the Media: The Truth about Pop Culture's Influence on Children. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
 

Journal Article

Sternheimer, K. E. (2011). Enduring Dilemmas of Female Celebrity. Contexts. Vol. 10 (3)
Sternheimer, K. E. (2008). Hollywood Doesn't Threaten Family Values. Contexts: Understanding People in Their Social Worlds/American Sociological Association. Vol. 7 (4), pp. 44-48.
Sternheimer, K. E. (2007). Do Video Games Kill?. Contexts: Understanding People in Their Social Worlds/American Sociological Association. Vol. 6 (1), pp. 13-17.
 

Newspaper

Sternheimer, K. E. (2012). Flaws Humanize our Heroes. New York Times.
Sternheimer, K. E. (2011). The Bieber Effect. Los Angeles Times
Sternheimer, K. E., Gallagher, M. D. (2010). Science Shows no Link Between Games and Violence. The San Diego Union Tribune
Sternheimer, K. E. (2005). The Silence of the Young. Newsday.
Sternheimer, K. E. (2004). Super Bowl Uproar Shows Tension over Sex. San Jose Mercury News.
Sternheimer, K. E. (2003). Our Toys are Us. San Jose Mercury News.
Sternheimer, K. E. (2001). Blaming Television and Movies is Easy and Wrong. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times
 
 

Honors and Awards

USC Center for Excellence in Teaching, Faculty Fellow, 5/29/2008-6/1/2012  
Honorable Mention, Dean S. Dorn Outstanding Contributions to Teaching Career Award (Pacific Sociological Association), 2009-2010   
 

Service to the Profession

Professional Memberships

Pacific Sociological Association, 1995-  
American Sociological Association, 1993-  
 
 
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