Jeffrey S. Debies-Carl, Ph.D.

Jeffrey Debies-Carl Headshot

Psychology Department and Sociology Program
College of Arts and Sciences

Ph.D., Sociology, Ohio State University
M.A., Sociology, Ohio State University
B.A., Sociology/Anthropology, Kent State University

About Jeffrey

One foundational lesson of sociology is that context matters. My research builds on that principle by investigating the physical and virtual environments in which social life occurs. Whether they are tangible, digital, or increasingly a bit of both, the places around us are partly the product of social action and partly an influence on those actions. We create these environments based on our needs and desires but, once created, they can exert their own influence back on us. My work examines how they influence our feelings, thoughts, behaviors, social organization, and culture, as well as how these in turn shape the environment itself. To examine these processes, I use diverse methodologies ranging from quantitative applications to ethnographic methods. Substantively, I have examined the role of environmental context across a diverse range of specific topics. For example, my work has addressed many questions like the following:

  • How are urban legends, which people traditionally discuss face-to-face, disseminated and transformed in online forums?
  • Why do internet conspiracy claims influence real world behaviors?
  • Do urban environments nurture inclusive attitudes for the people who live in them?
  • Why do microbreweries feature physical environments so prominently on their product packaging compared to larger firms?
  • How do subcultural enclaves structure their physical and virtual worlds to accommodate their distinctive norms and values?

My overarching goal in this research is to improve our understanding of the significance of the environment in everyday life and, in the process, invigorate sociology’s contributions to this interdisciplinary concern.

As an educator, it is my mission to cultivate and encourage the inherent drive to learn new things and apply these lessons to the world around us. I believe learning should not be a chore, that it should emphasize the relevance of lessons to our lives or other interests, and that whenever possible it should occur through experience. I teach a wide variety of courses, ranging from Introduction to Sociology and Social Psychology to Qualitative Methods and Simulations, to name a few examples. I am also an enthusiastic supporter of student research and am always pleased to advise, mentor, or otherwise encourage emerging researchers.

Practice with research is important to cultivate the ability to produce and not simply consume knowledge. However, experience with the methods and logic of scholarly inquiry are beneficial for everyone, not just aspiring researchers. A strong familiarity with these tools empowers us all by allowing us to evaluate critically whatever claims we hear and to make informed decisions in our everyday lives.

  • Debies-Carl, Jeffrey S. (In press). If You Should Go at Midnight: Legends and Legend Tripping in America. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.
  • Debies-Carl, Jeffrey S. (In press). “Thinking Socially About Conspiracy Theories.” In Jeffrey Webb (ed.), Conspiracy Theories: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.
  • Debies-Carl, Jeffrey S. 2021. “Click ‘Here’ to Post a Comment: Legend Discussion and Transformation in Online Forums.” Journal of Folklore Research 58(2):31-62.
  • Debies-Carl, Jeffrey S. 2021. "Introduction to Qualitative Analysis: A Coding Exercise Using the Material Culture of College Students." TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.
  • Debies-Carl-Jeffrey S. 2020. “Punk Legends: Cultural Representation and Ostension.” Pp.57-78 In Thierry Verburgh and B.S. van der Steen (eds.) Researching Subcultures, Myth and Memory. New York: Palgrave.
  • Debies-Carl, Jeffrey S. 2019. “Beyond the Local: Places, People, and Brands in New England Beer Marketing.” Journal of Cultural Geography 36(1): 78-110.
  • Wranovix, Matthew, Jeffrey S. Debies-Carl, and Kathleen Mercury. 2019. “Catan” in Karen Schrier (Ed.). Learning, Education & Games: 100 Games to Use in the Classroom and Beyond. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon University, ETC Press.
  • Debies-Carl, Jeffrey S. 2017. “Pizzagate and Beyond: Using Social Research to Understand Conspiracy Legends.” Skeptical Inquirer 41(6): 34-7. (cover feature).
  • Debies-Carl, Jeffrey S. 2017. Ghostly Encounters: The Hauntings of Everyday Life by Dennis Waskul with Michele Waskul (Book Review). Contemporary Sociology 46(5): 612-3. (invited).
  • Debies-Carl, Jeffrey S. 2015. “Print is Dead: The Promise and Peril of Digital Media for Subcultural Resistance.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 44(6): 679-708.
  • Huggins, Christopher M. and Jeffrey S. Debies-Carl. 2015. “Tolerance in the City: The Multilevel Effects of Urban Environments on Permissive Attitudes.” Journal of Urban Affairs 37(3): 255-69. (recipient of Honorable Mention Award for Best Article Published in the Journal of Urban Affairs in 2015).
  • Debies-Carl, Jeffrey S. 2014 (paperback edition, 2016). Punk Rock and the Politics of Place: Building a Better Tomorrow. New York: Routledge.
  • Debies-Carl, Jeffrey S. 2013. “Are the Kids Alright? A Critique and Agenda for Taking Youth Subcultures Seriously.” Social Science Information 51(1): 110 -33.
  • Buettner, Cynthia K. and Jeffrey S. Debies-Carl. 2012. “The Ties That Bind: Bonding vs. Bridging Social Capital and College Stud ent Party Attendance.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 73(4): 604-12.
  • Debies-Carl, Jeffrey S. 2011. “Mapping the Residual Landscape: Abandonment, Dilapidation, and Ruin.” Environment, Space, Place 3(2): 51-81.
  • Debies-Carl, Jeffrey S. 2010. The Idea of North by Peter Davidson (Book Review). Cultural Analysis 8: R8-9.
  • Debies-Carl, Jeffrey S. and Christopher M. Huggins. 2009. “‘City Air Makes Free’: A Multi-Level, Cross-National Analysis of Self-Efficacy.” Social Psychology Quarterly 72(4): 3 43-64.
  • Debies-Carl, Jeffrey S. 2009. Black Rock: A Zuni Cultural Landscape and the Meaning of Place by William A. Dodge (Book Review). Western Folklore 69 (2/3): 303-5.

In the Media

In the Media

Parade Magazine: Turn It Off! Belgium Is the Latest Country To Legally Allow Employees the Right To Disconnect After Work Hours

Three professors, Amy Baker, professor of psychology and assistant chair of psychology and sociology; Jeffrey Debies-Carl, associate professor of psychology and sociology; and Mo Cayer, distinguished lecturer and coordinator of the M.S. in Human Resources program, comment on the importance of separating work from off-hours in order to be more productive professionally and personally.