PRIYA FIELDING-SINGH portrait
  • Assistant Professor, Family And Consumer Studies
801-581-6521
http://priyafs.com

Research Statement

I am a sociologist of health and inequality, with a focus on gender, race/ethnicity, and the social safety net. My research uses qualitative and quantitative methods to advance knowledge of both the structural and contextual factors that fuel health disparities in the United States. I have two central research streams. The first examines the structural determinants of nutritional inequality and diet-related disease, with a focus on maternal and adolescent health. The second investigates the causes of and interventions to tackle maternal health disparities. 

Central to the first stream is the research that informs my new book, How the Other Half Eats: The Untold Story of Food and Inequality in America. The book, published in November 2021, reveals new pathways through which social and environmental factors drive disparities in diet and diet-related disease. My research asks: why and how does being rich or poor impact healthiness and quality of the food American families eat? Leveraging years of ethnographic research I conducted on families’ diets, I argue that dietary disparities cannot simply be explained by differences in people’s financial or geographic access to food. Rather, I show that tackling diet disparities requires understanding how families’ divergent contexts and resources impact what food means to them – psychologically, symbolically, and emotionally – because these meanings are key drivers of how and what families eat. 

In a second research stream, I identify causes of and implement solutions to reduce women’s health disparities. Core to this work is my research program on maternal health. I am currently the Principal Investigator of a mixed methods study of traumatic childbirth and maternal postpartum health and well-being; the project utilizes in-depth interviews and surveys of mothers to examine how childbirth experiences, the healthcare system, and social and institutional supports drive racial/ethnic and socioeconomic inequities in maternal health outcomes.

Geographical Regions of Interest

  • United States