About Michelle Napierski-Prancl

Michelle Napierski-Prancl, PhD is Professor of Sociology and Faculty Director of the Women’s Institute at Russell Sage College. She teaches both sociology and women’s studies courses and is program director of the Sociology major and Women’s Studies minor. Her research interests focus on gender, family, work, and popular culture and her publications include essays on the portrayal of gender in popular literature and articles on teaching pedagogy. Her first book, Mothers Work: Confronting the Mommy Wars, Raising Children, and Working for Social Change (2019) explores the institution of motherhood, mothering, and the mommy wars by sharing the voices of experts on the topic: the mothers themselves.

She is also the co-editor of Persevering During the Pandemic: Stories of Resilience, Creativity, and Connection (2022) which includes her chapter, “The Class of 2020: Parents’ Perspective of the Pomp and Terrible Circumstance.” This chapter focuses on parents of high school seniors in the Class of 2020, and their experiences as the pandemic closed schools and altered rituals like prom and graduation. In addition, Dr. Napierski-Prancl is often called on by journalists, bloggers and podcasters for commentary about baby names because of her research that explored the possible influence of popular music on names. In 2016, she  published “Brandy, You’re a Fine Name: Popular Music and the Naming of Infant Girls from 1965-1985” in the journal Studies in Popular Culture.

Recent Courses Taught

SOC 101: Introduction to Sociology
SOC/WST 206: Sociology of Families
SOC/WST 208: Race & Ethnic Relations
SOC/WST 209: Gender & Sexuality
SOC/WST 222: Women, Health & the Body
SOC/ANT 248: Culture, Childhood & Sesame Street
SOC/WST 248: Feminism and Childhood
SOC 304: Sociology of the Media
SOC/WST 318: Women & Work
SOC 337: Research Methods for Sociology
SOC 350: Research for the Professions
SOC/CRJ 403: Senior Seminar
WST 405: Women’s Studies Forum
SOC 410: Honors Project in Sociology

Research Interests

Gender, work, family, media, and popular culture

Selected Publications

  • Persevering During the Pandemic: Stories of Resilience, Creativity and Connection, with D. A. Macey and D. M. Staton (co-editors). was published in 2022 by Lexington Books, a division of Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Mothers Work: Confronting the Mommy Wars, Raising Children and Working for Social Change was published in 2019 by Rowman & Littlefield.
  • 2016  “Brandy You’re a Fine Name: The Intersection of Popular Music and the Naming of Infant Girls from 1965-1985.” Studies in Popular Culture.
  • 2014 “Viewing 90210 from 12203: Affluent TV teens Inspire a Cohort of Middle Class Women.”  How Television Shapes Our World View: Media Representatives of Social Trends and Change,  edited by D. A. Macey,  K. M. Ryan & N. J. Springer. NY: Lexington Books, a division of Rowman and Littlefield.

Educational Background

Ph.D., University at Albany
B.A., Siena College