Linda Blum Biography

Linda Blum

Professor of Sociology
College of Social Sciences and Humanities

[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Contemporary gender relations

Disability, health, and the body

Families, work, inequality and intersectionality


Linda Blum is a qualitative sociologist whose interests include: contradictions in contemporary gender relations; disability, health, and the body; and families, work, inequality and intersectionality. She has long studied how gender ideologies in the United States measure women against each other, as respectable or disreputable, fit or unfit, in ways that reinforce class and race inequality and individualize responsibility for larger structural inequalityIn addition to articles and chapters, she is the author of  Between Feminism and Labor: The Significance of the Comparable Worth Movement  (1991, University of California Press);  At the Breast: Ideologies of Breastfeeding and Motherhood in the Contemporary United States  (1999, Beacon); and  Raising Generation Rx: Mothering Kids with Invisible Disabilities in an Age of Inequality (2015, NYU Press).

Project Descriptions

BRCA Communities In the Pandemic: Exploring the Role of Online Peer Support 

Pilot funds from the IHESJR will allow her to launch a larger project exploring the experiences of those with the BRCA gene mutations utilizing online peer support during the Covid-19 crisis. These online communities provide a unique lens on the pandemic as healthcare systems are strained, those with underlying conditions are at greater risk, and other medical needs become secondary. The project, asking about the relation of online support to advocacy and improved access, extends from my longstanding focus on issues of gender, health, and medicine as, in fact, women’s health activism was a crucial part of second-wave feminism.  Embodied health activism emerged specifically among breast cancer survivors (breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer in the U.S.), and such networks have continued to grow, offering peer support but also advocating for better care and greater voice in research. With the advent of social media, much of this peer-to-peer support moved online. Those within breast cancer communities with the BRCA gene mutations – at much higher risk for breast, ovarian, and other cancers – have been particularly active on such platforms as Facebook and Twitter, labeling themselves BRCActivists.  The Light Collective to which I have access represents the intersection of these trends, as BRCActivists striving to democratize access to health information and improved care. The dramatic rise of the Covid-19 pandemic raises additional questions of democratic access, as evidence indicates persisting health disparities are exacerbated

Transitions to Adulthood Amid the Pandemic and Its Aftermath: a Longitudinal Study.

A CSSH Research Development Award will allow Blum to launch a qualitative, longitudinal study of advanced undergraduates at NU, those near or having just completed their degrees, to explore how they understand the social effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on their transitions from college to adulthood. The COVID-19 crisis threatens young adults’ ability to establish the independence at the root of shared cultural ideals of productive citizenship; and it is likely, for those from less privileged family backgrounds, to threaten the advantages attendance at a highly ranked university typically confers.

Publications – Past Three Years

Blum, L. M. (2020). Narratives of Care and Citizenship: Mothering “Precariously Normal” Adult Sons and Daughters in an Age of Inequality. New Narratives of Disability, 11 (Research in Social science and Disability), 59-73.

Blum, L. M. (2020). Gender and Disability Studies. In N. A. Naples (Ed.), Companion to Women’s and Gender Studies (pp.175-194). John Wiley & Sons.

Blum, L. M., & Mickey, E.** (2019). Women Organized Against Sexual Harassment: Protesting Sexual Violence on Campus, Then and Now. In T. Oren & A. L. Press (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Feminism. Routledge

**graduate student