Assistant Professor of Sociology; AS, Piedmont Virginia Community College; BS, Longwood College; MS, North Carolina State University

rrobinso@marybaldwin.edu

Hi, I’m Bob. I’m an adjunct assistant sociology professor and academic advisor for the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs at Mary Baldwin University. Thanks for taking the time to read about my areas of interest in sociology and life in general.

Sociology’s emphasis on the examination of social forces fascinates me. I became interested in the field when I took my first sociology class in the late 1980’s, when I was attending Piedmont Virginia Community College in order to earn a business administration degree and learn information that would help me run my residential painting business. I fell in love with sociology and decided that I wanted to get my bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD in sociology so that I could teach these ideas to college students. I especially appreciate the critical thinking skills that sociology can help to foster. My main areas of interest in sociology include marxian, feminist, and critical theory. I am particularly interested in critiques of capitalism and any forms of exploitation that occur along the lines of race, class, gender, status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. I am also a member of Sociologists without Borders, an international sociological association that is dedicated to furthering human rights and social justice around the world.

I earned my bachelor’s degree from Longwood University and my master’s degree from North Carolina State University, and I am currently a PhD student at NCSU. I have been a non-traditional student throughout my academic career, so I understand and empathize with the unique circumstances that non-traditional students face while trying to earn a college degree.

While I enjoy doing statistical analyses, most of my research has been participant observation and theoretical in nature. My master’s thesis is titled “Construction Worker’s Reactions to Structural Alienation and Inequality.” I gathered my data for this project by working beside workers on expensive and extravagant houses. I wanted to find out what these workers think about the vast differentials of income, wealth, status, and power that exist in this society. I found that most workers usually don’t give this issue much thought and often focus their attention on areas of their lives that they feel they do have control over such as their interactions with their families and friends as well as their hobbies and religious activities.

I began doing construction work early in my life, as my father is a painting contractor, and I spent many summers working on construction sites while I was in high school. Construction has financed much of my college education, and I still enjoy getting out and climbing ladders and swinging a paint brush — every once in a while, that is. I’m still doing some construction work in order to gather more data for my dissertation, which is a participant observation study that focuses on the structure of the work process itself on these often unique houses. I compare Marx’s structural critique of capitalism with the conditions that exist on the jobsite of these nice houses. So far, I have found that the workers on these jobs experience quite a bit more control over the work process itself than do workers in jobs similar to those described by Marx and other marxists. Both Marx’s discussion of alienation and his critique of capitalism focused on manufacturing jobs which usually include much routinized labor where the workers are told exactly how to carry out even the most basic tasks of their jobs. Many of the workers I study have much more control over how they do their work because they are confronted with projects that are unique and cannot be completed by a set way of doing things. Many of these workers are content with their jobs because they believe that they are lucky to have their particular job, and because they believe that many of the jobs available in the society are much less desirable.

I have taught lecture courses at NCSU (including Principles of Sociology, Social Problems, and Theories of Social Structure). I have been teaching the on-line Methods in Sociological Research course for Mary Baldwin University since the fall of 2005. This is my second year as an academic advisor for the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs, and I work out of the Weyer’s Cave office at Blue Ridge Community College. (Stop by and see me some time if you want to talk about the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs or if you want to talk about sociology. You can also email me at rrobinso@marybaldwin.edu .)

In what little spare time I have from my studies and work, I enjoy hiking and bass fishing. Sherry, my wife of 22 years, and I both enjoy gardening and raising animals. We currently obediently serve numerous goldfish, koi, and betas, 6 cats (8 if you count the two strays that we feed as well), 2 goats, 2 dogs, and a horse on our farm in Nelson County.

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