Empirical Research

Critical Juncture, 2017 Photo Credit:  Sam VanHorn

Critical Juncture, 2017
Photo Credit: Sam VanHorn


Dissertation & Theses

Doctoral Dissertation (Working Title)

Tops, Bottoms, and the Ghost of HIV: An Investigation of the Impact of Collective Memory on the Behavior-Group Identity Relationship Among Gay Men


MA Thesis

“Client Power and Condom Negotiation: Dyadic Conflict and Social Structure in the Post-Apartheid Sex Work Industry”

BA Thesis*

A Guided Tour

*Instead of a traditional Bachelor's thesis, much to the chagrin of my Honors committee (sorry!), I wrote and produced on a play about memory, mental health, and sexuality. The play was inspired my English, Sociology, and Psychology coursework, and my secret passions for theatre and playwriting.

My academic interests are rooted in, as is true with most researchers, my own history and story. My knee-jerk reaction was to tell the story about how I came to this career. But, much like my research on collective memories, the history of each project is filled with numerous, often contradictory stories.

Instead, I want to use this space to share my research experience, agenda and skills. I hope to let you, the reader, know what I mean when I define myself as a researcher.

In my sociological work, I conceptualize social life as operating like a haunting; regardless of how much it seems like an interaction or event or trauma has ended, it often still continues to exist. Much of this continued existence works through a continued felt impact, the referential afterlife of the event.

As a researcher, my goal is to investigate the ways in which trauma, especially health-related trauma, influences how individuals understand who they are and how groups remember the trauma and incorporate it into their shared history.

Selection from CV


Vaughn, Michael Patrick. 2019. “Client Power and the Sex Work Transaction: The Influence of Race, Class, and Sex Work Role in the Post-apartheid Sex Work Industry.” Culture & Sexuality. doi: 10.1007/s1211:

Vaughn, Michael Patrick. 2018. “Who Killed Cecil Palmer? The Role of Memory in Night Vale’s Self-Narrative Rupture.” Pp. 95-107 in From Weather to the Void: Critical Approaches to Welcome to Night Vale, edited by J. A. Weinstock. Palgrave.


Vaughn, Michael Patrick. August 2018. “Meaning-Making and Trauma: Tensions in HIV/AIDS Discourse within Gay Collective Memory.” Panel Presentation: Interpretive Sociology Pre-Conference at the American Sociological Association Conference, Philadelphia, PA.

Vaughn, Michael Patrick. April 2018. “Hegemonic Masculinity as Capital in Drag Queen Music Videos.” Session Presider: Southern Sociological Society Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA.