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Dena T. Smith

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

VM 170


BA, Goucher College
PhD, Rutgers University, 2011

Areas of Scholarly Expertise and Interest

Sociology of Mental Health, Social Psychology, Sociology of Professions, Sociology of Suffering, Medical Sociology, Sociological Theory.

Recent Publications/Presentations/Performances

Smith, Dena T. "A Sociological Alternative to the Psychiatric Conceptualization of Suffering," Sociology Compass 5(5): 351-363, 2011. 

Rosenfield, Sarah and Dena Smith. "Gender and Mental Health: Do Men and Women Have Different Amounts or Types of Problems?" Pp 256-267 in A Handbook for the Study of Mental Health: Social Contexts, Theories, and Systems. 2nd Ed. Edited by Theresa Scheid and Tony Brown. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Smith, Dena T. "The Pharmaceutical Revolution in Treating Mental Illness and the Demise of Resistance to Medicalization in Psychiatry. Regular Mental Health Session," American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Denver, 2012.

Smith, Dena T. "A Socio-psychological Concept of Mental Suffering: Why Is it Necessary and What does it do?" Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting, New York, 2012.
Smith, Dena T. with Kathryn Burrows. "Sub-threshold Psychiatric Diagnosis and the Conceptualization of Mental Illness."American Sociological Association, Mental Health Regular Session, Las Vegas, 2011.


After receiving her B.A. from Goucher, Professor Smith went on to earn a doctorate in sociology at Rutgers University in 2011. Her interests are in the sociology of mental health and illness, cognitive sociology, and social psychology. She taught a range of courses in the Department of Sociology at Rutgers, as well as expository writing for the English Department. Dr. Smith has researched disparities in mental health care and the experience of mental illness based on race and gender, but her primary focus is on the social history of the mental health professions-particularly 20th-century American psychiatric constructions of illness and suffering. Her dissertation, titled "Meaning-making in a Medical World: The Art of Talk Therapy, the Science of the Biological Model and the Boundaries in Between," focuses on these issues from the perspective of mental health practitioners. Smith's recent work pertains to the role of sociologists in offering alternative models to the psychiatric conceptualization of mental suffering. At Goucher, Professor Smith teaches The Sociological Imagination (an introductory course), Sociology of Mental Illness, Sociology of Gender, Sociology of Domestic Violence, Sociology of Health and Illness, Social Psychology, and Research Methods. Dr. Smith was also one of the founding editors of the Rutgers Journal of Sociology: Emerging Areas in Sociological Inquiry and is also a former news editor for Sociology Lens.

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