Department of Sociology

Cheryl Laz

Chair & Associate Professor of Sociology


120 Bedford Street, Portland Campus

Office Hours Summer 2016

By appointment

Contact Information

Phone: 780-4101

I’ve been at USM since 1991 as a member of the Sociology Department and the Women and Gender Studies Council.  Prior to that, I taught at SUNY Stony Brook, where I earned my PhD.

In addition to teaching and research, I currently serve as Chair of the Sociology Department and advisor to the national Sociology Honor Society, Alpha Kappa Delta.  Previously at USM, I worked to promote Writing across the Curriculum, and served on Faculty Senate and the General Education Council.  For the past three years, I’ve been part of an advisory board working with actor and director, Jennie Hahn, on a theater project called Of Farms and Fables.  The original play about family farms in Maine will be performed in September 2011. 

I teach several of the required courses in the Sociology major, including SOC 100: Introduction to Sociology, SOC 210: Critical Thinking about Social Issues, and SOC 300: Sociological Theory.  I also teach SOC 363: Food, Culture and Society.  In addition, I regularly teach two courses in Sociology that are also part of the Women and Gender Studies curriculum--SOC 316: Sociology of Gender and SOC 358: Sociology of Women’s Work

When I’m not at USM, you might find me digging in the dirt, tending to chickens and dogs, playing with yarn, or reading.       

Research Interests

My current research focuses on broadly on systems of food and agriculture.  I am particularly interested in alternatives to the dominant, industrialized food system.   One project involves interviewing folks who participate in and create such alternatives to understand the motivations for these choices; alternative food practices, organizations, institutions, and networks; obstacles to eating outside of the dominant system; and the implications of alternatives for social movements and social change.  A second project focuses on the gendered dimensions eating locally and sustainably.                    

My previous research examined the social construction of age.  In “Act Your Age,”  I develop a theoretical understanding of age as socially constructed, similar to the ways we construct gender and race. I contribute to the development of a sociology of age, as distinct from the more usual focus on gerontology and old age.  In “Age Embodied,” I theorize age and embodiment as mutually constituting accomplishments. Material from interviews with 15 adults over 50 illustrates the utility of this theoretical framework and reveals four main dimensions of embodiment—activity, fitness, and health; energy; appearance; and ailments and illness—that respondents draw on as they consider what it means to be both embodied and aged (i.e., having an age). In addition, the interviews show how respondents make social comparisons and employ age‑adjusted standards as they interpret their bodies, activities, and capabilities in relation to age.

Opening for Fixed-Length Lecturer in Sociology

Lecturer in Sociology

Department of Criminology, Economics and Sociology


The University of Southern Maine invites applications for a one-year, fixed-length Lecturer position in Sociology to begin September 2016.  Applicants must document successful teaching and a commitment to excellence in undergraduate education.  The length of the initial appointment will be for one academic year with possibility of an extension for up to two additional years.


The successful candidate will teach four courses per semester, including Introduction to Sociology and upper-division elective courses in the candidate’s area(s) of expertise.  Preference will be given to candidates whose courses contribute to Criminology and/or Economics and who have experience teaching Quantitative Research Methods. The successful candidate will be expected to teach on both our Portland and Gorham campuses and online, and to engage in departmental service. The Department of Criminology, Economics and Sociology offers four majors; more information about the Sociology program can be found at


The University of Southern Maine (USM) is Maine’s Metropolitan University, dedicated to providing students with a high-quality, accessible, affordable education.  USM’s strategic focus is in alignment with the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities and we are seeking to become a Carnegie Engaged University by the year 2020.  USM offers Baccalaureate, Master's, and Doctoral programs, providing students with rich learning and community engagement opportunities in the arts, humanities, politics, health sciences, business, mass communications, science, engineering, and technology.  Further information on USM can be found at     


USM’s three environmentally friendly campuses are unique, yet all share the extensive resources of the university — and all are energized through strong community partnerships.  Offering easy access to Boston, plus the ocean, mountains and forests of coastal, inland and northern Maine, USM is at the heart of Maine's most exciting metropolitan region:

  • Our Portland campus is located in "one of America’s most livable cities," according to Forbes magazine, which also ranks Portland among the top 10 for job prospects.  A creative and diverse community on Maine’s scenic coast, Portland is nationally known as a "foodie" hot spot!
  • USM’s beautiful residential Gorham campus  supports and celebrates excellence in academics, athletics, music and the arts and is home to ten Living Learning Communities and six Residential Communities.
  • Our Lewiston campus is home to USM’s innovative and richly diverse Lewiston-Auburn College. This Central Maine campus integrates classroom, community and workplace, and provides a small college experience with the resources of a large university.




  • ABD in Sociology or closely related field



  • PhD in Sociology


Apply online at: You will need to create an applicant profile and complete an application (which includes contact information for three professional references).  You will need to upload a cover letter, a resume/curriculum vitae which fully describes your qualifications and experiences with specific reference to the required and preferred qualifications. You will also need to complete the affirmative action survey, the self-identification of disability form, and the self-identification of veteran status form.  


Review of applications will begin immediately.  To ensure full consideration, materials should be submitted by May 1, 2016.  Materials received on or after that date will be considered at the discretion of the university.  We are not able to consider applicants who require Visa sponsorship support.


USM is an EEO/AA employer.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age, disability, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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