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Lehman College

Department of Sociology at Lehman College

Susan Markens

I joined the Sociology Department at Lehman College in September 2007.  I am currently serving as Deputy Chair of the department.  Additionally, I’m affiliated with Women’s Studies Program at Lehman, and am also Affiliated Faculty with the Sociology Department and Women’s and Gender Studies Programs at The Graduate Center.  Prior to arriving at Lehman I taught at Temple University, and have held Mellon and NIH post-doc positions at Rutgers University, Brandeis University and UCLA.  I received my Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA, and my B.A. in Sociology from Brandeis University. 

The main course you will find me teaching every semester is Sociological Perspectives of Gender and Society (Soc. 228).  I have also taught Fundamentals of Sociology (Soc. 166), Sociology of Gender & Reproduction (Soc. 322), and Sociology of the Family (Soc. 227).  Most of my courses are cross-listed with Women’s Studies courses, and I often teach sociology sections that are cross-listed with the Lehman’s Honor’s Program.  

My research focuses on the proliferation of reproductive practices and biomedical and genetic technologies as they shape and are shaped by ideologies of gender, race and class, notions of kinship relations, risk discourse, medicalization processes, and conceptions of health and illness.  My book, Surrogate Motherhood and the Politics of Reproduction, was published by University of California Press.  In this study, I explored how social actors and institutions came to define, and respond to, the “social problem” of surrogate motherhood in the late twentieth century. As a follow-up to the book I also published two articles in which I analyze recent U.S. media accounts of transnational surrogacy and the racialized and stratified assumptions that continue to permeate discourses about reproduction and mothering.  

In most of my other published research to date I have pursued my interests in reproductive issues, particularly with respect to the medicalization of pregnancy and women's bodies, as well as the geneticization of health.  I am the lead author of several papers that address the extent to which contemporary pregnant women comply with a biomedical vision of their pregnancies and ask to what degree women control decisions about prenatal care and activities.   Currently, I am working on a project interviewing and observing genetic counselors who work in various fields from prenatal and cancer to the biotechnology industry.  As a result, my research has shifted from studying patients to examining this new type of medical professional, a relatively understudied and important translational player, as genetic science moves from the lab to the clinic.   

Selected Recent Publications

  • Markens, Susan. 2016. “I’m Not Sure If They Speak to Everyone About This Option”: Analyzing Disparate Access To and Use of Genetic Health Services in the U.S. From The Perspective of Genetic Counselors.  Critical Public Health, DOI: 10.1080/09581596.2016.1179263 
  • Markens, Susan. 2016.  Third-Party Reproductive Practices: Legislative Inertia and the Need for Empirical Data.  Journal of Law and the Biosciences, doi: 10.1093/jlb/lsw040 
  • Markens, Susan. 2013. “Is This Something You Want?”: Genetic Counselors’ Accounts of their Role in Prenatal Decision Making.  Sociological Forum 28 (3): 431-451 (lead article). 
  • Markens, Susan.  2013. “It Just Becomes Much More Complicated”: Genetic Counselors’ Views    About Genetics and Prenatal Testing.  New Genetics & Society 32 (3): 302-321.  
  • Markens, Susan.  2012.  The Global Reproductive Health Market: U.S. Media Framings and Public Discourses About Transnational Surrogacy.  Social Science & Medicine(Special Issue on Gender & Health) 74 (11): 1745-1753. 
  • Markens, Susan.  2010/2011.  Interrogating Narratives about the Global Surrogacy Market.  The Scholar & Feminist Online, Special Issue “Critical Conceptions: Technologies, Justice, and the Global Reproduction Market.”  9(1)-9(2): http://www.barnard.edu/sfonline/reprotech/print_markens.htm 
  • Markens, Susan, C.H. Browner and H. Mabel Preloran. 2010.  Interrogating the Dynamics between Power, Knowledge and Pregnant Bodies in Amniocentesis Decision-Making.  Sociology of Health & Illness 32 (1): 37-56. 
  •  My office is in B-61 Carman, and the easiest way to get in touch with me is via email, at susan.markens@lehman.cuny.edu .

CV (PDF)