Yuchen Yang
Yuchen Yang B.A., Sociology (Highest Distinction) and Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
M.A., Sociology, University of Chicago
Office: Phone: Email Interests:

Culture, Family, Gender, Qualitative Methodology, Sexualities, Social Theory, Semiotics, Ethnomethodology, Membership Categorization, Critical Childhood Studies

Doctoral Candidate (2017); Dissertation Fellow, Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality

Dissertation title: Indefinite Accomplishments: Gender, Childhood, and the Making of Difference

Committee: Kristen Schilt (chair), Kimberly Kay Hoang, Anna Mueller (Indiana University), Susan Gal (Anthropology)

How is a gendered society possible? In what ways can gender be “undone” or “redone”? To tackle these questions, I focus on gender and childhood as two intersecting social structures that can amplify each other in some situations but may contradict/mute one another in other situations. Based on over 70 interviews with feminist parents in the US, my dissertation examines how seemingly “individual” and “natural” attributes like gender and age emerge or dissipate through consumptive, discursive, and semiotic practices in childrearing and interview conversations. Weaving together theoretical insights from feminist sociology, linguistic anthropology, ethnomethodology, and critical childhood studies, this study moves beyond conventional scholarship on gender and parenting in two ways. First, instead of seeing childhood as a “natural” life stage where socialization happens, I theorize “children” as a socially constructed category that can be usefully deployed to achieve certain interactional outcomes (e.g., undoing gender) and legitimate various political agendas (e.g., non-sexist parenting). Second, instead of comparing parenting styles across pre-given demographic groups, I examine the intersection of distinctive axes of differentiation as a routinely reconfigured effect of social action. Through careful and reflexive analyses of how these parents render their non-sexist parenting choices and their kids’ gender-stereotypical preferences intelligible and reasonable to me, my dissertation showcases how the reproduction of childhood as a social structure can serve both as a means and an end for the transformation of gender structure.


My research interests broadly include gender and (a)sexuality, family and childhood, culture and semiotics, social category and language use, as well as social theory and qualitative methodology. My dissertation, Indefinite Accomplishments: Gender, Childhood, and the Making of Difference, undertakes a pragmatist-minded and ethnomethodologically-informed intersectional analysis of the social production of gender and childhood in family. In particular, I examine how seemingly individual attributes like gender and life stage emerge or dissipate through consumptive, discursive, and semiotic practices in parent-child interactions and interview conversations, and how interlocking systems of differentiation are reworked in everyday meaning-making practices. In so doing, I bring together theoretical insights from generational analysis in childhood studies, Peircean semiotics in linguistic anthropology, and membership categorization analysis in ethnomethodology to advance a more dynamic and processual theory of (un)doing gender. In the past, I have also studied cosplay participants’ collaborative production of gender embodiment, asexual people’s experiences of high school sex talk, and Gramsci’s influence on Connell’s theorization of “hegemonic masculinity.” My work has been published in Sociological Theory, Sexualities, and The Journal of Chinese Sociology, and received awards and recognition from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Sex & Gender, Section on Theory, Section on Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis, Section on Body and Embodiment, and from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction.

Recent Research / Recent Publications

Selected Publications

Yang, Yuchen. 2023. “Gender Uncoupled: Asexual People Making Sense of High School Sex Talk.” Sexualities 26(3):372–387.

Yang, Yuchen. 2022. “The Art Worlds of Gender Performance: Cosplay, Embodiment, and the Collective Accomplishment of Gender.” The Journal of Chinese Sociology 9: Article 9.

Winer, Canton, Megan Carroll, Yuchen Yang, Katherine Linder, and Brittney Miles. 2022. “‘I Didn’t Know Ace Was a Thing’: Bisexuality and Pansexuality as Identity Pathways in Asexual Identity Formation.” Sexualities OnlineFirst.

Yang, Yuchen. 2020. “What’s Hegemonic about Hegemonic Masculinity? Legitimation and Beyond.” Sociological Theory 38(4):318–333.