Karen Sternheimer

Professor (Teaching) of Sociology
Karen Sternheimer
Pronouns She / Her / Hers Email sternhei@usc.edu Office HSH 314 Office Phone (213) 740-3533

Research & Practice Areas

Moral panics, social problems, popular culture


Karen Sternheimer’s research has focused on the intersection between popular culture, youth, and the construction of social problems. She has studied moral panics surrounding both youth and popular culture and their relationship to inequality and their impact on public policies. She is the author of six books and the editor of two anthologies, as well as the lead writer and editor of everydaysociologyblog.com.

Professor Sternheimer is a distinguished fellow at USC’s Center for Excellence in Teaching, the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the sociology department, and a Dornsife Faculty Development Director. She teaches a number of courses touching on issues of inequality, public policy, social exclusion, and research methods, and childhood.


  • Ph.D. Sociology, University of Southern California
  • Book

    • Sternheimer, K. E. (2020). Everyday Sociology Reader, Second Edition. W.W. Norton.
    • Sternheimer, K. E. (2018). The Social Scientist’s Soapbox. Routledge.
    • Sternheimer, K. E. (2015). Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility. Routledge.
    • Sternheimer, K. E. (2015). Pop Culture Panics: How Moral Crusaders Construct Meanings of Deviance and Delinquency. Routledge.
    • Sternheimer, K. E. (2012). Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture: Why Media is not the Answer, Second Edition. Westview Press.
    • 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.
    • American Sociological Association Distinguished Contributions to Teaching, 2022-2023
    • USC Associates Award For Excellence In Teaching, , 2019-2020