Matilda White Riley Distinguished Scholar Award
Madonna Harrington Meyer
Meredith Professor of Teaching Excellence
Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Madonna has accumulated more than two decades of sociological research on retirement and later-life economic well-being, particularly through the lens of the gendered welfare state. Her work has made critical contributions across research, theory, and policy analysis. The committee was especially laudatory regarding her involvement with national policy initiatives, putting her own research to work for the improvement of the lives of older adults. Her recent book with Pamela Herd, Market Friendly or Family Friendly? earned critical acclaim, including the Kalish Book Award from the Behavioral and Social Sciences section of the Gerontological Society of America. In addition, Madonna has a named Professorship in the area of teaching and has been an active contributor to the professional organizations of our discipline, including SALC. As one committee member described it, Madonna is “the total package.”
Best Publication Award
Corey Abramson (University of Arizona), The End Game: How Inequality Shapes Our Final Years (Harvard University Press, 2015).
This well-written and engaging book chronicles a study of the ways in which inequalities earlier in life shape not only diversity in well-being in old age, but also the differential ability of older persons to bring resources to bear to deal with problems. The challenges that aging brings touch everyone, but people respond differently depending on their social locations. This book examines both cultural and structural influences on the end of life in a carefully designed ethnographic study of older Americans living in more and less advantaged neighborhoods. The study makes new and important about cumulative advantages and the pathways through which it shapes aging in U.S. society. The work is nuanced and insightful, and its contributions to the literatures on aging and the life course are impressive.
Graduate Student Paper Award
Katherine Fallon and Casey Stockstill (Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison) for their paper, “The Condensed Courtship Clock: How Elite Women Manage Self-Development and Marriage Ideals.”
In this intellectually creative paper, the authors examine how young adult women negotiate societal expectations of marriage-formation with aspirations for professional achievement. Based on interview data with college-educated women over the age of 25, the study exposes a “time crunch,” what the authors call a condensed courtship clock, wherein subjects create a timeline to try to fulfill competing personal and social expectations. But society has not yet calibrated such a clock effectively. When women fall “off time” for marriage, they doubt their own development as a full adult, and they understand this as an explicit trade-off for relational success. The authors argue that while professional opportunities for women have expanded, both in type and in time to achieve them, marriage remains a prime marker of adult status—an expression of class-based beliefs about women’s ideal lives. Consequently, even among contemporary society’s members best positioned for professional achievement, courtship clocks hamper women’s self-understandings and often eclipse a realization of professional goals.