Joy L. Hightower

Joy L. Hightower's picture
Research Interests: 
black middle-class, marriage & family, intimacy, qualitative research methods

Joy Hightower is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a 2009 Top 10, summa cum laude graduate from Spelman College. In her past work, she used online ethnography to examine how members of an online lesbian niche dating site negotiated and achieved desirability. And, more recently, using in-depth interviews, she has begun to consider how the policing of Black men more generally enters into the intimate experiences of middle-class Black men, regarding dating, marriage, and fatherhood. Her work has recieved support from the Eugene Cota-Robles Graduate Fellowship, Lowenthal Chair’s Normative Time Fellowship, and the SSRC-Mellon Mays Graduate Research Grant. To date, her work is published in Sexualities and the Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy



2016. “Where Are the Brothas? How the Continued Erasure of Black Men’s Voices on the Marriage Question Perpetuates the Black Male Deficit.” Opinion Piece. Harvard Journal of African American Policy.

2015.  "Producing desirable bodies: Boundary work in a lesbian niche dating site." Sexualities Vol. 18(1/2) 20–36.
*Winner of the American Sociological Association Sex and Gender Section Sally Hacker Graduate Student Paper Award

PhD Date:: 
June, 2017
Dissertation Title: 
The Desired Unsung: Black Middle-Class Men and Relationships
Dissertation Committee: 
Raka Ray (Chair), Sandra Smith, Victoria Bonnell, Ula Taylor (Outside, African American Studies)