University of Mississippi

John Sonnett

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

Office Hours: By appointment

Phone: 662-915-7316
Office: Lamar 531



Originally from Southern Maryland, I grew up in the countryside at the edge of the Washington, D.C. area. 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. My three main substantive areas are environmental sociology, music, and race and racism. Across these topics I’ve been interested in how theory informs methods and how methods shape theory, and especially in developing social network analysis and field theory to map cultural communications. In my teaching I highlight the ways that knowledge about the social world is shaped by our social positions in 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 examines how environmental issues are represented in the media. I’ve done research on news reporting about drought, wildfires, and climate change. A forthcoming article in Socius, co-authored with an international team affiliated with the COMPON project, compares news discourse about climate mitigation policy in 17 diverse societies. In this article, we find much more debate about climate science and policy in Anglo-American countries than in other European, Asian, and Developing countries. A second interest is in the sociology of music, where I have used survey data to reassess how people draw symbolic boundaries through musical tastes. A recent article in Poetics finds a major distinction between those who are ambivalent, drawing boundaries within genres, and those who divide genres into liked versus disliked. Since coming to Mississippi, I have also done research on race and racism, beginning with a series of co-authored articles on news coverage of African Americans after Hurricane Katrina. A collaborative article in Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, written with colleagues in the UM Critical Race Studies Group, analyzes a recent racist act to show how it fits with the historical context and symbolic landscape of campus.


Broadbent, Jeffrey, John Sonnett, Iosif Botetzagias, Heike Brugger, Marcus Carson, Anabela Carvalho, Chris Edling, Dana Fisher, Georgios Giouzepas, Randolph Haluza-Delay, Koichi Hasegawa, Keiko Hirao, Christian Hirschi, Ana Horta, Kazuhiro Ikeda, Jun Jin, Dowan Ku, Myanna Lahsen, Ho-Ching Lee, Tze-Luen Lin, Thomas Malang, Jana K. Ollmann, Diane Payne, Sony Pellissery, Stephan Price, Simone Pulver, Jaime Sainz, Keiichi Satoh, Clare Saunders, Luisa Schmidt, Mark Stoddart, Pradip Swarnakar, David Tindall, Philip Vaughter, Paul Wagner, Sun-Jin Yun. “Conflicting Climate Change Frames in a Global Field of Media Discourse.” In press at Socius.

Combs, Barbara Harris, Kirsten Dellinger, Jeffrey T. Jackson, Kirk A. Johnson, Willa M. Johnson, Jodi Skipper, John Sonnett, and James M. Thomas. 2016. “The Symbolic Lynching of James Meredith: A Visual Analysis and Collective Counter Narrative to Racial Domination.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 2(3):338-353.

Sonnett, John. 2016. “Ambivalence, Indifference, Distinction: A Comparative Netfield Analysis of Implicit Musical Boundaries.” Poetics 54(1):38-53.

Sonnett, John, Kirk A. Johnson, and Mark K. Dolan. 2015. “Priming Implicit Racism in Television News: Visual and Verbal Limitations on Diversity.” Sociological Forum 30(2): 328-347.

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 32(3-4):247-264.

Bergesen, Albert J. and John Sonnett. 2001. “The Global 500: Mapping the World Economy at Century’s End.” American Behavioral Scientist 44(10): 1602-1615.

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)