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Julie Bettie

Associate Professor



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Social Sciences Division

Sociology Department

Associate Professor
Former Department Chair


Humanities Division
Feminist Studies Department
Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
Latin American & Latino Studies

Regular Faculty

Cultural Studies
Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
Gender Studies

Rachel Carson College Academic Building

Not available Fall 2021

Rachel Carson College Faculty Services

• Ph.D. Sociology.  University of California at Davis with a designated emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research, Department of Women's Studies.


• M.A. Sociology.  University of California at Davis


• Department Chair, 2017-20.  Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Cruz.


• Chair, 2014.  Race, Gender, Class Section of the American Sociological Association.


J Bettie's scholarship examines the cultural politics of how inequalities are reproduced and challenged; explores the dynamic between multiple interacting social formations; and highlights popular culture and the practices of everyday life.  Her research works to uncover the relationship between large-scale economic and cultural transformations and the inner lives of individuals, the creation of new structures of feeling, and the production of new subjectivities, working to show how new selves are performed and embodied.  Her areas of expertise bring together these broad areas of scholarship:  race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality and cultural politics; feminist and cultural theory; queer of color critique; erotic labor and sexual commerce; and labor and education.  As a humanistic social-scientist, her methodological expertise is in qualitative/interpretive methods including critical ethnography and cultural analysis.  The interdisciplinary nature of her work is reflected in her affiliation with Feminist Studies, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, and Latin American and Latino Studies on our campus.


She has published in journals such as Social Text, Signs:  Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and Gender and Society






J Bettie is the author of Women without Class:  Girls, Race, and Identity (University of California Press, 2004, 2014), an examination of persisting educational inequality, its effect on labor and class outcomes, and which explores the intersection of racial and class formation, and sex/gender systems, on the lives of Latinas and white women in California’s Central Valley. Women without Class offers an account of the nuanced and complex ways that race, gender, and class intersect in American life arguing that essentialized concepts of race and gender are not only inaccurate, but part of the ideological structure that works against the development of a discourse on class rendering class inequality, per se, discursively invisible at times in the US.  The book makes a case for analytical and political attention to class inequality and cultural identification, but not at the expense of attention to other equally critical social formations; namely, racial formation and gender and sexual formations.  Women without Class received the Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship Award in Race, Class, and Gender studies, as well as the Sex and Gender Distinguished Book Award both from the American Sociological Association.  It also received the American Educational Studies Association’s Critics Choice Award.


Her newest book project on the cultural politics of sexuality explores erotic and aesthetic labor among African American and white women in the Bay Area and Las Vegas.  This book explores how erotic laborers creatively negotiate a terrain that is both oppressive and open with possibilities and highlights femme-inine pleasure in erotic labor.  Multi-methodological, it analyzes ethnographic data on erotic dancers, performs textual readings of the erotic labor of popular culture icons, makes observations of everyday practices of erotic embodiment, and performs discourse analysis of popular and academic feminisms.  This research provides a thick description of erotic labor using the culture of erotic dance as a site to speak to larger issues of contemporary gender, sexual, race, and class politics.


She is also working on a third edition of Women without Class (UC Press, forthcoming) which will offer an update on the lives of the women from the original text.  This research explores how two decades of varying social policy have shaped these women’s lives.  The women’s testimonies will be situated in sweeping domestic and global shifts including the Great Recession and the obdurate experience of economic precarity; mortgage fraud and foreclosures and rising debt; increasing privatization; decreasing access to and valuation of higher education; new racial projects including post-race discourse, color-blind social policies, and the rise of white nativism; increasing transnational migration alongside of virulent anti-immigration sentiment; new cultural wars over gender and sexuality and shifting kinship structures; a challenged health care system; and now, a global health pandemic.  Longitudinal qualitative will demonstrate how neoliberal capital, racial formation, and new formations in kinship shape intergenerational educational trajectories and class futures.



My teaching style centers on interactive, collaborative, student-centered learning.  This means inverting the traditional expectations of the college classroom by often putting students in control, requiring interactive engagement, and peer instruction.  My courses are characterized by:  reading intensive syllabi, daily reading responses, daily reading comprehension and listening comprehension quizzes (instead of midterms and final exams), small group discussions, student facilitated discussions which are co-produced with the instructor in advance through just-in-time teaching, and instructor overviews.


Media representations, both news media and popular culture, figure largely in my classrooms as I’m interested in bridging the gap between academic and nonacademic knowledges.  Students are asked to bring media examples to class, and we work together to learn how to use social theory to analyze everyday public discourse.  Learning “facts” (that are too often quickly forgotten) is complemented with the more important task of learning to think critically in daily life outside of the classroom in an ongoing way.  Students are expected to demonstrate how to use concepts presented in the course material in order to engage in critical thinking in classroom dialogues with their peers and with myself in a collaborative learning process.


My intent is to provide an environment for the exploration of different views among students and to foster in them a critical perception of the relative and contextual character of human knowledge.  Through interactive, collaborative, student-centered learning, it is my goal to spark in students an enthusiasm for examining the social world, to inspire creative modes of transgression, and to imagine more just futures.




  • • Spencer Foundation Research Grant, 2020.


  • • EVC Fellows Academcy Fellowship, 2019.


  • • Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship Award in Race, Gender, and Class studies from the American Sociological Association, 2004.


  • • Sex and Gender Distinguished Book Award from the American Sociological Association, 2004.


  • • Critics Choice Award from the American Educational Studies Association, 2003.


  • • Distinguished Article Award from the Sex and Gender Section of the American Sociological Association, 2001.

  • • Women Without Class:  Girls, Race, and Identity, 3rd edition. Forthcoming.  Berkeley:  University of California Press.



  • • "Exceptions to the Rule: Upwardly Mobile White and Mexican American High School Girls", in Gender and Society, Vol. 16 No. 3, June 2002.



  • • "Class Dismissed? Roseanne and the Changing Face of Working Class Iconography," Social Text 45, Vol. 14, No. 4, Winter 1995.

SOC 196S Senior Seminar in Race, Gender, Sexuality and Cultural Politics
SOCY 124 Visual Ethnography
SOCY 126 Sex And Sexuality As Social Practice And Representation
SOCY 129 Popular Culture and Cultural Studies
SOCY 158 Politics of Sexual Commerce and Erotic Labor
SOCY 205 Graduate Seminar: Critical Ethnography
SOC 290 Graduate Seminar: Sexual Politics
SOCY 209 Graduate Methodology Seminar: The Analysis of Cultural Forms
SOCY 255 Graduate Seminar: Engaging Cultural Studies
SOCY 259 Graduate Seminar: Feminisms and Cultural Studies

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