Expertise:Race and Ethnic Politics, Ethnopoltical Sociology, Race and Ethnicity, Ethnopolitics, Urban Sociology, Sociology of Development, Nationalism, Southeast Asian Geopolitics, Solitude, Social Movements, Isolation, Quarantine, Social Distancing
Jack Fong focuses his research on the broad question of how individuals and societies respond to crisis situations. He particularly is drawn toward examining alternative or “new” responses expressed by people who seek to build, repair, or enhance their community under stress or when their social systems malfunction as during war or health crises. His research highlights the power individuals have in shaping and establishing community even as a variety of publics around them fall into disarray. By pointing out patterns of cultural and community survival, his sociology makes visible new sources of human empowerment that allow them to prevail beyond circumstances.
Fong’s examination of the benefits and drawbacks of solitude spans the impact of isolation orders in a pandemic and the different impact of social versus physical isolation, to people who attempt to temporarily delink themselves from unnecessary social scripts in a variety of ways. His research on Death Cafes–how communities form to talk about death and dying–has garnered much interest in online readerships such as California Health Report. His recent examination of solitude has garnered interest from Vox, the Atlantic, Elle, Folks and Real Simple. His work utilizes sociological and philosophical perspectives—especially through existential thought—to examine peoples’ desires for empowerment on their own terms.
- “Mourning a Late King through Portraiture: Articulations of the Sacred and Profane in the Primate City of Bangkok,” Journal of Asian and African Studies (hard copy release in mid- 2019; SAGE 2018 OnlineFirst release, 2018)
- The Death Cafe Movement: Exploring the Horizons of Mortality (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)
- “Sentiments and Perspectives of Academics about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs),” Journal of Excellence in College Teaching 28(1):49-76, 2017
- “Making Operative Concepts from Murray Schafer’s Soundscapes Typology: A Qualitative and Comparative Analysis of Noise Pollution in Bangkok, Thailand and Los Angeles, California,” Urban Studies 53(1):173-192, 2016
- “The Role of Solitude in Transcending Social Crises–New Possibilities for Existential Sociology,” in A Handbook of Solitude: Psychological Perspectives on Social Isolation, pp. 499-516 (R. Coplan and J. Bowker, eds., Wiley-Blackwell Publishers, 2014)
- “Political Vulnerabilities of a Primate City: The May 2010 Red Shirts Uprising in Bangkok, Thailand,” Journal of Asian and African Studies, 48(3):332-347, 2013
- “The Politics of Burmese Indigeneity: Karen Transcommunalism as Revolutionary and Development Force” in Indigeneity: Collected Essays, pp. 111-157 (J.B. Childs and G. Delgado, eds., New Pacific Press, 2012)
- “Dying for a better life: The pandemic year has taught us that facing the specter of our own demise is the best way to live,” Boston Globe, Aug. 1, 2021
- “Adapting to living in isolation,” CBS This Morning, May 17, 2020
- “How to be alone,” Vox, April 11, 2020
- “How to Find More Times lone – Without Feeling Lonely,” Real Simple, Jan. 22, 2019
- “Overcoming the Fear of Solitude,” Psychology Today, Aug. 6, 2017
- “Walking can improve learning, memory – and possibly delay Alzheimer’s,” The Big Issue, July 13, 2017
- “The Virtues of Isolation,” The Atlantic, March 30, 2017
- “Sylvester Turner calls Houston nation’s most diverse city,” Politifact.com/Texas, Sept. 23, 2016
- “The Death Café: Step Right In,” California Health Report, March 28, 2016
- “So-Called Death Cafes Help Grieving Talk Openly about Taboo Topic,” KTLA News, May 21, 2014
B.A., Communications, Cal Poly Pomona
M.A., Sociology, San Jose State University
M.A., Ph.D., Sociology, University of California Santa Cruz
Conversationally fluent in Thai, Mandarin and Cantonese.