Elizabeth Armstrong

Sociology and Public Affairs

I teach in the sociology department and the Woodrow Wilson School; I’m also a faculty associate at the Office of Population Research, the Center for Health and Wellbeing, and the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies. My research focuses on the history and sociology of medicine; I’m especially interested in ideas about risk and reproduction. The core questions that drive my work are “How do culture and medicine influence each other?” and “How do we know what we know?” My first book, Conceiving Risk, Bearing Responsibility: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the Diagnosis of Moral Disorder (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003) examined the history of ideas about pregnancy and drinking. I’m currently working on a book that explores the transformation of ideas about pregnancy, birth and fetal personhood over the last century. I’ve also written papers on adolescent mothers, medical mistakes, agenda setting in the mass media, bioethics, contraceptive decision-making, pregnancy, childbirth, and the profession of obstetrics. I teach undergraduate classes on the sociology of medicine, maternal and child health policy, and culture and reproduction. I have a B.A. in English from Yale, an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School, and a Ph.D. in sociology and demography from the University of Pennsylvania. In my next life, I’m planning to be a pastry chef. I also love to run (slowly: think tortoise, not hare), knit, and read poetry. You may see me at theater and dance performances with my 16-year-old daughter, Lilly, or at baseball or basketball games with my 11-year-old son, Henry. We’re always happy to have company for dinner if you see us in the dining hall!