Teresa Gowan

Teresa Gowan
Photo of Teresa Gowan

Contact Me


1080 Social Science Bldg
267 19th Ave S


Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, 2003.
  • B.A.: American Studies, Manchester, 1991.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Urban Sociology
  • Ethnography
  • Poverty and Marginality
  • Consumption and Branded Labor
  • the Cultural Micro-Foundations of Alternative Economies
Courses Taught
  • Cities and Social Change
  • Cities and Social Change (Writing Intensive)
  • Hard TImes and Bad Behavior (A Cultural Studies Approach to Homelessness in the United States)
  • Ethnography (Graduate Practicum)
Research & Professional Activities


  • Since 1980 there have been some deep shifts in the American understanding and management of poverty. My 2010 book Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders analyzes the medicalization and criminalization of homelessness. A closely-related development has been the increasing centrality of addiction discourse and what Sarah Whetstone and I call “strong-arm” rehab – court-mandated treatment -- to contemporary poverty management. My largest project during my Minnesota years examines this important place of addiction treatment within contemporary social policy, studying the primary forms of addiction intervention targeted to the uninsured with a combination of ethnography, life-history interviews of clients (inside and after program experience), and discourse analysis of program material. Two of our sites work closely with local courts – one a “strong-arm” therapeutic community strongly shaped by the 12-step tradition, the other an evangelical program premised on conversion. Both place a strong emphasis on a holistic remaking of the individual, instilling a strict moral code, self-discipline and a strong work ethic. A third site rooted in the alternative “harm reduction” model practised practical, "non-judgmental" health education and outreach. Sarah Whetstone and I are bringing several elements of the project together in a book manuscript tentatively titled American Addict: Out of Control in the Treatment State. ,
  • Mary Douglas Prize for Best Book, 2011
  • CLA Teaching Award, 2009 - 2010
  • CLA Student Board Award for Outstanding Faculty in CLA, 2008