David Hutson, Ph.D.

David Hutson Headshot
Associate Professor of Sociology, Psychological and Social Sciences
Woodland, 236F
Penn State Abington
1600 Woodland Road
Abington, PA 19001

My research explores the connection between appearance and social status with a focus on the body, gender, health, and inequality. More specifically, I seek to understand how factors such as body weight, body size, muscle tone, and attractiveness influence an individual's opportunities in social life. Much of my research utilizes the framework of "bodily capital"—a multi-faceted concept that explains why individuals invest time, energy, and money into their bodies, and what they expect to receive in return. To investigate these processes, I examine cases of bodily change, as people alter how they look through activities such as exercise, dieting, weight loss, bodybuilding, clothing choices, and surgery.

Currently, I am concluding a project interviewing pregnant and recently pregnant women about the experience of putting on and trying to take off "baby weight," and beginning a new study on men who gain weight after becoming fathers.

Courses and Teaching

  • Introductory Sociology
  • Health, Disease, & Society
  • Sociology of Gender
  • Sociology of the Body
  • Sociology of Deviance
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Sociology of Sexuality

Health & Fitness; Medical Sociology; Gender; Body/Embodiment; Inequality; Culture; Qualitative Methods.

Hutson, David J. 2023. “Sociology of the Body and Embodiment.” Pp. 204-218 in Handbook of Teaching and Learning in Sociology, edited by S. Cabrera and S. Sweet. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.

 Gruys, Kjerstin and David J. Hutson. 2021. “The Aesthetic Labor of Ethnographers.” Pp. 327-344 in The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Body and Embodiment, edited by N. Boero and K. Mason. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

 Hutson, David J. 2020. “Reframing and Resisting: How Women Navigate the Medicalization of Pregnancy Weight.” Pp. 109-128 in Advances in Medical Sociology, Vol. 20: Reproduction, Health, and Medicine, edited by S. Markens, M. Waggoner, and E. Armstrong. Wales, UK: Emerald Publishing Group.

Hutson, David J. 2017. "Plump or Corpulent? Lean or Gaunt? Historical Categories of Bodily Health in Nineteenth-Century Thought." Social Science History, 41(2): 283-303.

Hutson, David J. 2017. "Teaching Critical Perspectives on Body Weight: The 'Obesity Epidemic' and Pro-Ana Movement in Classroom Discussions." Teaching Sociology, 45(1): 41-53.

Hutson, David J. 2016. "Training Bodies, Building Status: Negotiating Gender and Age Differences in the U.S. Fitness Industry." Qualitative Sociology, 39(1): 49-70.

Hutson, David J. 2013. "'Your Body is Your Business Card': Bodily Capital and Health Authority in the Fitness Industry." Social Science & Medicine, 90: 63-71.

Hutson, David J. 2011. "Looking Within from Without." Pp. xxix – xxxvii in Advances in Medical Sociology, Vol. 12: Sociology of Diagnosis, edited by P. McGann and D. Hutson. Wales, UK: Emerald Publishing Group.

Hutson, David J. 2010. "Standing OUT/Fitting IN: Identity, Appearance, and Authenticity in Gay and Lesbian Communities." Symbolic Interaction, 33(2): 213-233.

Martin, Karin A., David J. Hutson, Emily Kazyak, and Kristin S. Scherrer. 2010. "Advice When Children Come Out: The Cultural 'Tool Kits' of Parents." Journal of Family Issues, 31(7): 960-991.

Ph.D., 2012, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
M.A., 2009, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
B.A., 2004, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA