Dr. Ellen Lamont came to Appalachian State University in 2014 after receiving her PhD in Sociology from New York University that same year.
Since her arrival, Lamont has taught classes related to family and intimate relationships, including Sociology of Intimate Relationships, Constructions of Gender, Sociology of Families, and Women and Social Policy.
“Many of the political debates we see today, whether we realize it or not, are actually debates over the meaning of family, and these debates influence social policy, which profoundly affects our everyday lives,” Lamont said.
Lamont said studying families and intimate relationships gives her students tools to look at their personal experiences in a greater social context, and students learn to understand different family arrangements and the possible constraints and opportunities for each.
“A better understanding of our social world enables students to move beyond individualistic interpretations of behavior to a more empathetic outlook that emphasizes how social, political and economic processes impact the well-being of families,” Lamont said.
She said it is important to continue to study families and intimate relationships because through that research the public is given information to accurately assess and contribute to many prominent political debates.
Lamont hopes that by having more information, the public will move toward support for all types of families because they sustain some of our deepest emotional connections throughout our lives.
Lamont’s research focuses on gender and family, and dating and courtship. Her PhD dissertation, “The Mating Game: Women, Men, and Courtship in an Era of Gender Upheaval,” analyzed the process by which gender inequality persists in romantic relationships.
Lamont said her research approaches issues by understanding the links between large-scale social change, individual actions and culture. For Lamont, she looks at the effects on gender norms, and she helps students apply that same approach to their studies.
By continuing her research, Lamont said she stays up-to-date with developments in the field, which she then passes on to her students through readings and discussion.
“Appalachian’s students bring a wide range of backgrounds and ideological perspectives to the classroom, which allows for lively discussions,” Lamont said. “I have also had a lot of students who are passionately committed to social justice and are thus actively involved in the campus community. These dedicated students inspire those around them and infuse the classroom with an intellectual energy that is great to experience.”