Sexuality, Gender, and the Body, Science and Technology Studies, Social movements
Broadly, my research interests are at the intersections of sociology of sexuality, gender, science, technology, and the body. I am especially interested in how sexuality and gender become constituted as objects through scientific controversies and practices, and understanding the significance of sexuality and gender in the context of technoscientific professions and work. My research brings together sexuality and gender studies, science and technology studies, sociology of social movements, and sociology of work and organizations. In addition to being an Assistant Professor in Sociology, I am also affiliated with the Temple Women's Studies program.
I am currently working on a book manuscript, tentatively titled "Drawing the Straight Line: Sexual Reorientation and the Scientific Fringe," which examines debates over sexual reorientation therapies and ex-gay ministries from the 1950s to the present in the United States and abroad. As reorientation has moved from the center to the margins of science over these decades, social movement and professional struggles over sexual orientation change efforts have produced particular notions of what it means to be "straight" or "gay" within science, as well as techniques the measurement of “sexual orientation." Looking at the ex-gay movement as a transnational phenomenon, I also trace how sexual reorientation and knowledge of "sexual orientation" have shaped the politics of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda.
As a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Science in Human Culture Program and Sociology Department at Northwestern University from 2010-2012, I had the opportunity to travel to Kampala, Uganda to study the controversy over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and the roles of religion, science, race, and national identity in this issue more closely.
Other work of mine includes research on the history and impact of statistics about gay teen suicide and the ways these numbers shape our vision of the possibilities for gay youth. I am also co-author of a paper on the experiences of LGB engineering students, discussed in a 2010 article in Science Careers. Currently, I am working on another team project on the social history of the "phallometric test," a test which uses a "penile plethysmograph" device to measure sexual desire in men through genital arousal testing with erotic imagery. I am also working with a colleague on a study of the workplace experiences of LGBT professional scientists and engineers in the United States.
Waidzunas, Tom J. 2013. "Intellectual Opportunity Structures and Science-Targeted Activism: Influence of the Ex-Gay Movement on the Science of Sexual Orientation." Forthcoming in Mobilization (March).
Waidzunas, Tom J. 2012. "Young, Gay, and Suicidal: Dynamic Nominalism and the Process of Defining a Social Problem with Statistics." Science, Technology and Human Values. 37 (2): 199-225.
Cech, Erin A. and Tom J. Waidzunas. 2011. "Navigating the Heteronormativity of Engineering: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Students." Engineering Studies. 3 (1): 1-24. Discussed in "Closeted Discoverers: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Scientists," Science Careers, October 1, 2010.
Waidzunas, Tom J. 2009. "Measuring Desire: The Science of Phallometric Testing." Cabinet Magazine. 34: 80-81.