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Ellen Meiser

Sociologist and Writer.


Ellen T. Meiser, PhD

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Alaska-grown 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.

Education & Experience



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


"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

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

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

"How Did Abuse Get Baked Into the Restaurant Industry?" with Eli R. Wilson. (May 11, 2023) The Conversation

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

"The Value of the Taiwanese Caishichang: A Photo Essay." (2023) Gastronomica. (Accepted and Forthcoming)

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


When I'm not teaching and researching, I'm working on creative writing projects like screenplays. You can find my work on the BlackList here

Click on the script to the right to read a synopsis of
"A Cancer Story," a memoir-ish screenplay that received a score of 8 on the BlackList.

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Other Podcast Appearances

Other Podcast Appearances

Professional Activities

  • 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)

  • Guest peer reviewer for Social Process in Hawai'i, 2020

  • “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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