Social & Political Sciences

Social & Political Sciences Experts

Wesley M. Shrum

Louisiana State University
United States of America


Wesley  M.  Shrum joined the department in 1982 and it is, truly, the best job in the world! LSU gave me the freedom to do anything I damn well pleased and supported me all the way—not a bad deal if you can get it. What did I do? My primary interest has been the sociology of science and technology, particularly in the developing world. Since the early 1990s I have been examining communication networks, in particular the role of the Internet in Africa and Asian science (Globalization of Science). I focus mainly on Kenya, Ghana, and Kerala (southwestern India). Recently, we’ve been working hard on the changes wrought by the introduction of mobile phones in Africa. My preferred methodology is video ethnography, developed together with a group of students in our department. After Hurricane Katrina, we felt strongly that the method, developed in Africa and Asia, should be of use in our own backyard. This led to a ten year project (now midway) documenting the aftermath, filming interviews and key events in the disaster and recovery. By fall of 2009 we had collected over 800 hours of footage, for deposition in the Louisiana State Museum. I have taken detours into the sociology of culture (“Ritual Disrobement at Mardi Gras” (Social Forces) and the role of critics in high and popular art (Fringe and Fortune, Princeton University Press, 1996)). Since 1987 I’ve been the Secretary/Treasurer of the Society for Social Studies of Science. In 2008 I began work on the Fringe Performance Archive, to be filmed each August in Edinburgh, Scotland, and constituting a rolling annual record of performance art for the English-speaking art world (housed in the National Library of Scotland).

Research Interest

My primary interest has been the sociology of science and technology, particularly in the developing world.


  • Rackin, Heather and Brasher, Melanie. 2016. “Is Baby a Blessing? Wantedness, Age at First Birth, and Later-life Depression.” Journal of Marriage and Family. Vol. 78 (5), pp. 1269-1284.

  • Rackin, Heather. 2016. “Comparing Veteran and Non-veteran Racial Disparities in Health and Well-being.” Population Research and Policy Review. Online first.

  • Rackin, Heather, and Gibson-Davis, Christina. “Low Income Young Adults’ Marriage and Fertility Frameworks.” Journal of Marriage and Family. Forthcoming.

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