Culture Industry Fellows

Theories of postindustrial society have long pointed to a world oriented around knowledge and representation. Hence many occupations today are concerned with the creation, management, understanding, exchange and circulation of information, signs and iconic forms. Far from being locked in an Ivory Tower the work of the CCS has been centrally concerned with these very processes, about meaning and its implications for society today. Taking advantage of their CCS training some of our graduates become practitioners rather than academics, and others practitioners who continue to publish and research. Drawing upon their deep immersion into CCS paradigms and ways of seeing such scholars are uniquely equipped to master the pragmatics of the cultural-industrial landscape and build careers where cultural sociology is applied to solving problems, building communities, sharing ideas or creating identities.

Vanessa BittnerVanessa Bittner

Research Consultant, Appinio, Amsterdam (Netherlands) / Hamburg (Germany)

PhD ~ 2023 “The Dark Side of Iconicity: How Controversial Icons become Lightning Rods for Passionate Audiences”

Vanessa Bittner is a cultural sociologist who is currently located in Amsterdam, Netherlands, while working at the German tech & market research company Appinio. As a research consultant, she supports global brands in the creation, adaptation, and analysis of projects such as Mental Availability Tracking, Consumer Usage & Attitude studies, Maximum Difference Scaling, TURF or Conjoint Analysis. 

Having earned her PhD in 2023, Vanessa’s dissertation research explored controversial public figures and political polarization through the lens of iconicity. Her case studies included quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick, climate activist Gretha Thurnberg, as well as Donald Trump’s MAGA hat. You can find her work published in Emotions & Society and Cultural Sociology.

Elizabeth BeckerElizabeth Breese
Director of Marketing, Panorama Education, Boston, Massachusetts

PhD ~ 2012 “Interpreting the News: A Cultural Sociology of Journalistic Discourses in the United States”

Andrew CohenAndrew Cohen
Associate Director of Strategy, Material, Los Angeles, California

Andrew C Cohen is a cultural economic sociologist and advertising strategist. He is currently working as an Associate Director of Strategy at Material, a modern marketing services company powered by deep human understanding, analytics, and design thinking.  

Andy brings a sociological approach to brands, helping them understand the role they play in culture and the actions they need to take to effectively perform that role. Using cultural and economic sociological concepts like narratives, binaries and codes, and relational work, Andy investigates culture and meaning-making practices as they relate to consumption as a way to inform brand strategy. 

Andy earned his Ph.D. in sociology in 2017. His dissertation uses cultural sociology to investigate the production of advertising, drawing on ethnographic research conducted across four different U.S. advertising agencies.

Andy has published articles in Consumption Markets & Culture as well as Theory & Society (with co-author and fellow CCS alumnus Shai Dromi). His work also appears in The Encyclopedia of Economics and Society (eds. Frederick F. Wherry & Juliet B. Schor) and the Journal of Applied Social Sciences


Caroline Gray
Research Sociologist, Center for Innovation to Implementation (Ci2i), Department of Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto, California

PhD ~ 2010 “Disfigured Forms: Surgical Alterations of the Body”

Jin Su JooJin Su Joo
Healthcare Strategist, Throughline Strategy, Inc., Toronto, Canada

PhD ~ 2016 “The Cultural Logic of Heritage Redevelopment Mega-Projects: The Distillery District in Toronto and Cheonggyecheon in Seoul”

Carolyn Ly DonovanCarolyn Ly-Donovan
Organizational Social Scientist, Vega Factor, New York, NY

Carolyn Ly-Donovan is an organizational and cultural sociologist who is part of the Vega Factor team. Vega Factor improves how people work by transforming organizations through a scientifically-grounded and scalable approach to cultural change. At the core of this work is a deep understanding that culture powerfully shapes workplace experiences.

Carolyn has researched and published work on organizational dynamics with emphasis on organizational design and group-centered cultural processes. Her B.A. (summa cum laude Hunter College, City University of New York), M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. (Yale University) are in sociology. She is experienced in mixed qualitative methodology including ethnography, interviewing, content analysis, and historical research. 

Christine SlaughterChristine Slaughter
Social Science Research Librarian, The University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Virginia

Abby StiversAbby Stivers
Engagement Manager, The Beacon Group, Portland, Maine

Abby J. Stivers is a cultural sociologist who works as an Engagement Manager at The Beacon Group located in Portland, Maine. The Beacon Group focuses on providing market research and growth strategies to Fortune 500 companies in Healthcare, Technology, Industrials, and Defense. At Beacon Abby has found the opportunity to conduct applied qualitative research about innovative products in healthcare and technology. Abby brings a deep theoretical knowledge of economic sociology and behavioral economics to her work with clients.

Abby graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 2008 with a degree in International Relations. In 2020 she earned a PhD in sociology from the State University of New York at Albany. Her dissertation focused on the relational effects of student loan debts and the cultural implications of a more financialized economy. 

She XiShe Xi
Academic Editor, Youth Studies Journal, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, China

She Xi joined us at the CCS as a Visiting Assistant in Research during her graduate studies in  2016-2017 and then as a Postdoctoral Fellow for two years in 2018-2020).