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
  • FSEM 1905 - American Drug Cultures: Pleasure, Panics, and Punishment
  • FSEM 1905 - High Anxieties
  • Soc 3003 - Social Problems
  • Soc 3311W - Hard Times and Bad Behavior: Homelessness & Marginality in the U.S.
  • Soc 3415 - Consume This! The Sociology and Politics of Consumption
  • Soc 3451W - Cities and Social Change
  • Soc 3701 - Social Theory
  • Soc 8290 - Topics: Stratification: Comparative Marginality and Poverty Management
  • Soc 8701 - Sociological Theory
  • Soc 8890 - Advanced Research Methods: Discourse Analysis
  • Soc 8890 - Advanced Research Methods: Ethnography
  • Soc 8890 - Advanced Research Methods: Interviewing
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