- Sociologist interested in media, social movements, and class.
- Currently working at the ALT Lab (Academic Learning Transformation Lab) at Virginia Commonwealth University.
- Experience Sociology page on this site links to resources organized by topic, loosely following the chapter organization of my intro textbook of the same name. I use some of these in teaching, some eventually show up in written work, most never see the light of day.
- You can also find me on Twitter (@DavidRCroteau), where I never tweet about what I had for lunch. Promise.
I work at the ALT Lab (Academic Learning Transformation Lab) at Virginia Commonwealth University and am an Associate Professor of Sociology. A New Hampshire native and first-generation college student, I received my B.A. from Brandeis University, majoring in sociology and English and American Literature, and my MA and PhD in sociology from Boston College, where I was part of the “Social Economy and Social Justice” program and a participant in MRAP, the Media Research and Action Project.
My writing and teaching have addressed issues of class, social movements and, especially, media. I have also been interested in “public sociology,” making sociological analysis available, accessible, and relevant to a broader audience of non-sociologists, including students and social movement activists. I have a long-standing interest in active-learning and student-centered pedagogy and taught the VCU Sociology department’s first-ever undergraduate service-learning class, and its first-ever participatory-action-research graduate research practicum. I “retired” from academia for a decade, mostly writing textbooks for a living and occasionally teaching.
In my recent return to campus full-time, I’ve been learning more about educational technologies and working with faculty to help them incorporate digital technologies into their classroom and develop online courses and programs.
My publications include:
Experience Sociology (McGraw-Hill 2015, 2nd edition) (with William Hoynes) An introductory text that focuses on the common-ground core concepts of culture, structure, and power, rather than on the differences between the traditional “three perspectives.”
Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences (SAGE, 2014, 5th edition) (with William Hoynes) Examines the dynamic “big picture” interplay among the elements of the media system, including commercial companies, technology, government regulators, content, as well as active audiences and users. Now in its 5th edition, Media/Society is a common text in “media and society” courses in both sociology and mass communications departments.
The Business of Media: Corporate Media and the Public Interest (SAGE, 2006, 2nd edition) (with William Hoynes) Examines the tension between the media industry’s quest for profits and a democratic society’s need for a media system that serves the public interest. It takes seriously the “free market” arguments made to support the deregulation of the media industry, but poses a “public sphere” alternative that considers the social impact of media. (Winner of the Robert Picard Award from the Media Management and Economics Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.)
Rhyming Hope and History: Activists, Academics, and Social Movement Scholarship. (University of Minnesota, 2005) (Contributor and co-editor with Charlotte Ryan and William Hoynes). A collection of work from academics and activists that considers the difficult relationship between these two communities.
The Political Diversity of Public Television: Polysemy, the Public Sphere, and the Conservative Critique of PBS. (1996, Journalism and Mass Communication Monographs, with William Hoynes and Kevin Carragee). An analysis of prime-time programming and source patterns on US public television. It reveals that the politics of PBS are highly varied by local station and by program genre, contrary to popular conservative claims. Overall, conservative voices dominate in economic news and much of the public affairs programming. A broader diversity of views are heard in documentaries–the very program genre most often attacked by conservatives. Theoretically, the study refutes sweeping claims of polysemy–or ideological “openness”–in television as well as overly simplistic claims of the univocal character of American journalism.
Politics and the Class Divide:Working People and the Middle Class Left (Temple, 1995). Examines why many progressive social movements in the US have little working class participation and are instead dominated by people from the professional middle class. I argue that, while differing material resources are obviously relevant, differences in class culture are just as important, but often overlooked. The democratic challenge here is to create participatory social change efforts that better reflect the interests and styles of working and poor people. (Finalist for the C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for Study of Social Problems and finalist for Transformational Politics Book Award from the American Political Science Association.)
By Invitation Only: How the Media Limit Political Debate (Common Courage, 1994). This is a collection of content analysis studies from 1989-1993 co-written with William Hoynes and released with the national media-watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), along with expanded analysis. These studies document the limited range of participants heard and seen on television public affairs programs. Too often, the voices left out are those of people who generally do not walk the halls of Washington and Wall Street power: representatives of working class and poor people, women, and people of color. (Chosen as one of Project Censored’s top books of the year.)