St. Thomas senior and Young Scholars Program participant Julia Hatler, right, shared the results of her research on the roots of high-risk social activism. Her faculty adviser was Dr. Ellen Kennedy, left.

The Sociology Department recently inaugurated a series of lunchtime programs with a talk by St. Thomas senior Julia Hatler on "The ‘Red Diaper’ Phenomenon: Socialization to Religious Activism."

The talk was based on a paper Hatler completed as a UST Young Scholar last summer. The research investigated why members of St. Rita’s parish in Cottage Grove participate in high-risk activism in partnership with a church in Chambote, Peru.

Hatler’s research modeled Douglas McAdam’s famous study of the "Freedom Summer" of 1964. McAdam documented the experiences of more than a thousand white, Northern college students who, under extremely dangerous circumstances, registered Southern blacks to vote.

Hatler found that the same conditions motivating those college students appeared to motivate the parishioners from St. Rita’s: They were socialized to believe that they could create significant social change and engaged in low-risk activism earlier in their lives. Like the Freedom Summer workers, the St. Rita’s parishioners had a left-leaning political ideology (hence the "red diaper" — leftist politics at an early age) and were involved in social networks with others who shared their political philosophy. These factors of socialization and network involvement predisposed them to move toward high-risk activism.

Hatler interviewed participants from St. Rita’s and also traveled to Chimbote to interview and observe on-site. The results of her research will be submitted to the Midwest Sociological Association’s student paper competition this winter and will be presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in the spring. She shared information about her study in the recent "Inquiry at UST" poster session.

Her adviser for the project was Dr. Ellen Kennedy, Marketing and Sociology departments.


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