Renee Monson

Associate Professor of Sociology

Joined the faculty in 1998

Ph.D., Wisconsin at Madison
M.A., Minnesota
B.A., Oberlin

Current scholarly interests:
Gender relations
Families and social change
American politics
Social policy
Welfare state restructuring
Qualitative methodology

Previous teaching experience:
University of Wisconsin
Oberlin College

Previous and current research:
My previous research focused on how U.S. welfare reform affected the social organization of sexuality as well as the social organization of paid and unpaid work in families. I was interested in how gendered interests, identities, and ideologies of fatherhood, motherhood, and heterosexuality were at stake as the U.S. shifted the provision of social welfare from the state to families and employers. To investigate these questions, I conducted ethnographic research on the process of establishing paternity and enforcing child support in several Wisconsin counties.

More recently, I have been working on an investigation of the correlations between patterned variation in family forms and recent U.S. presidential election outcomes at the state level. My co-author, Prof. Jo Beth Mertens in the Economics Department, and I have analyzed Census data on state-level patterns in family types, state economies, and demographic characteristics of state populations to propose a new explanation for the red state/blue state electoral maps. Our research focuses on how and why states' rates of absent-father families and small/delayed families are correlated with the proportion of votes cast for the Democratic candidate in presidential elections.

Courses Routinely Taught:
The Politics of Sex
Introduction to Sociology
Research Methods
Sociology of Sex and Gender
Sociology of Family
Social Policy


2011 Renee A. Monson and Jo Beth Mertens. "All in the Family: Red States, Blue States, and Postmodern Family Patterns, 2000 and 2004." The Sociological Quarterly 52(3):244-267.

2002 "Ties That Bind: Child Support Enforcement and Welfare Reform in Wisconsin." In Work, Welfare, and Politics in the Wake of Reform, edited by Frances Fox Piven, Joan Acker, Margaret Hallock, and Sandra Morgen, University of Oregon Press.

2002 Ann Shola Orloff and Renee A. Monson, "Citizens, Workers, or Fathers? Men in the History of U.S. Social Policy," in Making Men Into Fathers: Men, Masculinities and the Social Politics of Fatherhood, edited by Barbara Hobson, Cambridge University Press.

1997 "State-ing Sex and Gender: Collecting Information from Mothers and Fathers in Paternity Cases." Gender & Society 11(3): 279-295.

1992 Sara McLanahan, Pat Brown, and Renee Monson. "Paternity Establishment in AFDC Cases: Three Wisconsin Counties." In Child Support Assurance: Design Issues, Expected Impacts, and Political Barriers as Seen from Wisconsin, edited by Irwin Garfinkel, Sara McLanahan, and Philip K. Robins. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute Press.


2009 Renee Monson and Jo Beth Mertens. "The Color Purple: Postmodern family patterns in red and blue states, 2000 and 2004." Presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, San Francisco.

2006 Renee Monson and Jo Beth Mertens. "What's the Matter with What's the Matter with Kansas?: Explaining variation by state in the 2004 Presidential election." Presented at the 2006 annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society, Boston.

2005 "On the record: Conceptualizing case records as documents/artifacts/practices in fieldwork." Presented at the annual meeting of American Sociological Association, Philadelphia.

2003 "'Nice girls don't...': Unmarried Motherhood and the Welfare State After the Sexual Revolution." Presented at the Gender and Welfare States panel of the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Atlanta.

2002 "Sexually Transmitted Truths: Unmarried Mothers and Welfare Reform." Presented at the Society for the Study of Social Problems, Chicago.

2001 "Variation by Race in Unmarried Mothers' Interests in Child Support Enforcement: Evidence from Wisconsin." Presented at the Sixth Institute for Women's Policy Research Conference, Washington, D.C.

2000 "Ties That Bind: Child Support Enforcement and Welfare Reform in Wisconsin." Presented at the Work, Welfare, and Politics Conference, sponsored by the University of Oregon, Eugene.

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