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Kelsey D. Meagher

Education

  • Ph.D., Sociology, University of California, Davis, (expected June 2018).
  • M.A., Sociology, University of California, Davis, 2012.
  • B.A., Psychology, University of California, Irvine, 2010.

About

Curriculum Vitae

RESEARCH INTERESTS
Environmental Sociology; Organizations and the Economy; Health and Social Welfare; Food and Agriculture Systems; Political Sociology; Risk and Disasters.

DISSERTATION: After the Outbreak: Organizing Food Safety in the U.S. and Germany
Large-scale foodborne illness outbreaks over the past two decades have prompted growing public concerns over food safety. However, responses to these outbreaks have varied substantially across institutional and national contexts. My study investigates cross-national differences in risk perception and governance in the context of two major E. coli outbreaks in the last decade (California, 2006; and Germany, 2011). I employ mixed methods (including interviews, archival media, and nationally representative surveys) to trace how growers, regulators, and consumers in the U.S. and Germany defined and pursued food safety following the outbreaks. I argue that food safety is a “boundary object,” spanning the social worlds of agricultural and health experts, and that to understand the dynamics of outbreak response we must account for how power and authority are distributed across these professionalized spheres and the patterned relations between them. Food safety governance involves limited public participation in both cases, so foodborne outbreaks rarely disrupt the established dynamics of technocratic governance unless accompanied by sizable economic or political shocks.

Committee members: Thomas Beamish (chair), Nicole Woolsey Biggart, and Xiaoling Shu.