University of Mississippi

John Sonnett

Associate Professor of Sociology
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
P.O. Box 1848
University, MS 38677-1848

Phone: 662-915-7316
Office: Lamar 525



I received my B.A. in Russian Studies from the University of Virginia, and my M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Arizona. I joined the faculty at the University of Mississippi in Fall 2006. My research and teaching focuses on the ways that knowledge is connected to social power. I’ve done research on representations of environmental problems in the media, racial discourse in television coverage after Hurricane Katrina, and patterns of inclusion and exclusion in musical tastes. Across all of these topics I’ve been interested in how theory informs methods and how methods shape theory. In my teaching I highlight the ways that knowledge about the social world is shaped by our social positions within contexts of political, economic, and cultural power. I hope to give students a better sense of how existing social patterns have come to be and how they might be changed.


Much of my research has focused on how environmental issues are represented in the media. In this work, I have been particularly interested in developing a method for mapping patterns of language use across social fields. A paper on “Climates of Risk” examines global warming and/or climate change keywords in a diverse mix of media, including scientific, environmentalist, industry, and popular publications. I’ve also done research on news reporting about drought and wildfires, and am currently working with the COMPON project, an international team studying climate change policy networks,

A second stream of research focuses on race and racism. A series of co-authored papers examines news media representations of African Americans after Hurricane Katrina. The most recent paper from this project, “Priming Implicit Racism in Television News,” links the racialized structure of news sourcing to news narratives and the production of implicit racial cues. I’m also currently working on several collaborative projects with colleagues in the UM Critical Race Studies Group.

Lastly, some of my newest research brings me back to the sociology of music. One project explores how music fans construct symbolic boundaries in the ways they link musical artists to genres and listening situations. In a second project, I’m exploring the connections between artists, genres, and venues in current-day New Orleans to better understand the forces shaping the city’s diverse musical field.


Sonnett, John, Kirk A. Johnson, and Mark K. Dolan. (Forthcoming). “Priming Implicit Racism in Television News: Visual and Verbal Limitations on Diversity.” In press at Sociological Forum.

Johnson, Kirk A., Mark K. Dolan, and John Sonnett. 2011. “Speaking of Looting: An Analysis of Racial Propaganda in National Television Coverage of Hurricane Katrina.” Howard Journal of Communications 23(3):302-318.

Morehouse, Barbara J. and John Sonnett. 2010. “Narratives of Wildfire: Coverage in Four U.S. Newspapers, 1999-2003.” Organization & Environment 23(4):379-397.

Sonnett, John. 2010. “Climates of Risk: A Field Analysis of Global Climate Change in US Media Discourse, 1997-2004.” Public Understanding of Science 19(6):698-716.

Johnson, Kirk A., John Sonnett, Mark Dolan, Randi Reppen, and Laura Johnson. 2010. “Interjournalistic Discourse about African-Americans in Television News Coverage of Hurricane Katrina.” Discourse & Communication 4(3):243-261.

Dolan, Mark K., John Sonnett, and Kirk A. Johnson. 2009. “Katrina Coverage in Black Newspapers Critical of Government, Mainstream Media.” Newspaper Research Journal 30(1):34-42.

Sonnett, John, Barbara J. Morehouse, Thomas D. Finger, Gregg Garfin, Nicholas Rattray. 2006.
“Drought and Declining Reservoirs: Comparing Media Discourse in Arizona and New Mexico, 2002-2004.” Global Environmental Change 16(1):95-113.

Ragin, Charles C., and John Sonnett. 2005. “Between Complexity and Parsimony: Limited Diversity, Counterfactual Cases, and Comparative Analysis.” Pp. 180-197 in Sabine Kropp and Michael Minkenberg (eds.), Vergleichen in der Politikwissenschaft. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Reprinted, 2008. “Limited Diversity and Counterfactual Cases,” pp. 147-159 in Charles C. Ragin, Redesigning Social Inquiry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sonnett, John. 2004. “Musical Boundaries: Intersections of Form and Content.” Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts 32(3-4):247-264.

SOC 101, Introductory Sociology
SOC 365, Social Research Methods
SOC 411, Environment, Technology, and Society
SOC 440, Sociology of Music
SOC 502, Social Research Methods (Graduate)
SOC 615, Sociology of Culture (Graduate)