I’m an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at UMass Lowell. I earned my PhD in Sociology at Texas A&M University in 2020, and MA in Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University in 2014.
I was born and raised in Connecticut by Puerto Rican teen parents. Everyday life in a state with such enormous income inequality shaped my concern for how people navigate structural barriers, especially at the intersection of race and gender.
I write and teach about how racism and sexism are created, lived out, and contested in the context of the everyday. I examine the strategies and ideologies social actors draw upon to navigate inequalities, and pay special attention to how emotional labor provides a mechanism for those inequalities to persist. I have predominately focused on these processes within online gaming and social media, but my more recent work explores the contexts of the university and the family.
My CV is linked in the menu above. I’m also happy to share syllabi or papers (email Stephanie_Ortiz@uml.edu).
Online Gaming and Trolling
In my Social Media + Society article, I argue that there is a disconnect between academic and lay definitions of trolling, which function to downplay how everyday users experience trolling as identity-based harassment
Using a cultural sociological approach, I explore how racist and sexist trash talking are key to the construction of gaming culture in New Media & Society
In my Sociological Perspectives article, I explore how men of color cope with everyday racism in online gaming and further develop the concept of “desensitization”
My chapter in The Oxford Handbook of Digital Media Sociology centers whiteness in the examination of masculinity in gaming, exploring how emotions, manhood acts, and peer socialization contribute to everyday racism. It also suggests ways to include an analysis of masculinity as a set of practices used by men of color to resist racism
I am currently writing about how Puerto Rican families use online gaming as a critical site to teach children about race, racism, and resistance
Feelings Rules and Emotional Labor
Chad Mandala and I explored how university LGBTQ resource center staff understand the raced and sexual orientation-based nature of their emotional labor. The Journal of Homosexuality article argues that the unhappy queer trope shapes feeling rules such that queer staff are expected to perform trauma
The second paper, published in the Du Bois Review, argues that these sexual orientation-based feeling rules are enforced differentially among white staff and staff of color, a process that reinforces diversity regimes
I am currently writing about how women partners of porn addicts navigate feeling rules in their intimate relationships and among other women partners of addicts online
Racism and Sexism Online
My Ethnic and Racial Studies paper assesses the claim that colorblind racism remains the primary interpretive framework in the current political climate. I find that young adults are more likely to defend others’ “right to be racist” (an example of Essed’s entitlement racism) than deny the centrality of race in their lives
Using an intersectional framework, my article in Social Problems asks how racism and sexism online retrench and contest the social order. I identify four agentic response categories to racism and sexism online, which I argue reveal how race and gender—as systems—organize social action onto specific trajectories
I have an R&R under review at Feminist Media Studies that examines how experiences of online sexism challenge young women’s adoption of postfeminist discourses
I am also currently writing about how institutions outside of the technology field contribute to the normalization of gendered racism online