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Ellen Meiser

Sociologist and Writer.


Ellen T. Meiser, PhD

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Alaska-grown writer and sociologist interested in qualitative research, with expertise in social psychology, emotions, and the culinary industry. Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo.
And co-creator and co-host of The Social Breakdown, the sociology podcast nobody wants,
but everybody needs.




University of Hawai'i at Manoa – Honolulu, HI
Doctor of Philosophy Degree, Sociology
Dissertation title: "Making It: Success, Mediocrity,
and Failure in the Commercial Kitchen"


University of Hawai'i at Manoa -- Honolulu, HI
Masters of Arts Degree, Asian Studies (China)
Thesis title: "Human Smuggling from China's Fujian Province
to New York City"


University of Alaska Anchorage -- Anchorage, AK
Bachelor of Arts Degree, Hospitality Business Management


Culinary Institute of America -- St. Helena, CA
Certificate, Baking and Pastry

Education & Experience


Making It: Success in the Commercial Kitchen. (Forthcoming, October 2024) Rutgers University Press. 

"$50K Per Year for a Degree in a Low-wage Industry − Is Culinary School Worth It?" (March 19, 2024) The Conversation.

"Sociology of Disaster Syllabus." (2024) ASA TRAILS. 

"Rethinking Service-learning to be More Public and Creative." (2023) The Society Page's First Publics 

"Dangerous Workplaces and the Counterintuitive Value of Scars." (2023) ASA's Work In Progress.

"'It was, ugh, it was so gnarly. And I kept going': The Cultural Significance of Scars in the Workplace." (2023) Qualitative Sociology.

"The Social Construction of Money: A Theatrical Classroom Exercise.” (2023) ASA TRAILS. 


"The Value of the Taiwanese Caishichang: A Photo Essay." (2023) Gastronomica: The Journal for Food Studies.

"How Did Abuse Get Baked Into the Restaurant Industry?" with Eli R. Wilson. (May 11, 2023) The Conversation. This article was also translated into Japanese for The Big Issue and can be found here!

"Avoiding, Resisting and Eduring: A New Typology of Worker Responses to Workplace Violence." With Eli Wilson. (2023) Work, Employment and Society. DOI:10.1177/09500170231159845 

Theoretical Script Writing: A Creative Project for Social Theory Courses.” (2022) ASA TRAILS. 


"The Normalization of Violence in Commercial Kitchens Through Food Media.” With Penn Pantumsinchai. (2021) Journal of Interpersonal Violence. DOI:10.1177/08862605211005138

Podcasting and Pedagogy.” (2021) City University of New York, the Center for the Humanities.

"Resource Guide for Improving Diversity and Inclusion Programs for the Public Transportation Industry." With Dave Keen and Janine Kyritsis. (2021) The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. DOI:10.17226/25230

Understanding Discrimination Through Multimedia.” (2020) ASA TRAILS. 

Other Podcast Appearances


When I'm not teaching and researching, I work on creative writing projects like screenplays. You can find my work on The Black List here

Click on the script to the right to read a synopsis of
"Frankentits," a memoir-ish screenplay that received a score of 8 on The Black List twice and was selected for Stowe Story Labs' June 2024 Narrative Lab.

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2024 June Narrative Lab Selected Participant Laurels_EllenMeiser.png

The Social Breakdown

Listen to Penn, Omar, and I breakdown our complex world one topic at a time using our sociological imagination! We release new episodes every two weeks.

Social Breakdown
Media Coverage

Other Podcast and Radio Appearances

The Sociologist's Dojo - "Episode 4: The Big Lebowski Featuring Ellen Meiser"

Queens Podcast Lab - "
Meet the Social Breakdown Podcast"

Queens Podcast Lab - "New Digital Inequalities (Matt Rafalow)"

Queens Podcast Lab - "Inequality in the Restaurant Industry (Eli Wilson)"


Professional Activities

  • "Content Creation as Public Sociology Service-learning" workshop presented at the American Sociological Association 2023 conference

  • Editorial Board Member of ASA Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology (TRAILS), 2023-2026

  • President of the Hawai'i Sociological Association,

  • “Movement, Scars, and Taste: Embodying Cultural Capital in Commercial Kitchens” presented at a paper session at the American Sociological Association 2022 conference 

  • “Podcasts in the Classroom” webinar sponsored by Teaching Sociology journal on August 18, 2021

  • “Enduring, Avoiding and Resisting: Responses to Workplace Violence in Commercial Kitchens” presented with coauthor Dr. Eli R. Wilson virtually at a roundtable session at the American Sociological Association 2021 conference

  • “Working Outside of Academia” workshop presented virtually at the Hawaii Sociological Association 2021 conference

  •  “How to Podcast in the Academy: Legitimizing and Creating Alternative Media” workshop presented virtually at the American Sociological Association 2020 conference

  • “The Normalization of Abuse in Commercial Kitchens Through Food Media” presented virtually at a roundtable session at the American Sociological Association 2020 conference

  • “Resisting Abuse in the Commercial Kitchen” presented at the Canadian Sociological Association 2020 (conference cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic)

  • “Podcasting and Public Sociology: Alternative Forms of Knowledge” workshop presented at the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology 2019 conference 

  • “Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement: Research Opportunities” presented at the Society for the Study of Social Problems 2016 conference

  • “Race-Specific and General Theories of Crime and the Reporting of Crime” presented at the Hawai'i Sociological Association 2017 conference

  • “Crime Reporting and Theories of Crime” presented at the Society for the Study of Social Problems 2017 conference​

Professonal Activities
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