Dr. Seth Abrutyn is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia. He received his PhD from the University of California-Riverside (2009) in sociology with a specialty in general sociological theory. At the core of his research agenda are two of sociology’s most enduring questions: (1) how does the broader sociocultural environment as well as relationships embedded within it shape how people feel, think, and act, and thus their mental health? and (2) how can social action shift the broader sociocultural environment?
Abrutyn’s current research focuses on revitalizing the sociology of suicide. The underlying goal of this work is to increase sociology’s contribution to suicide prevention and the scientific understanding of why people (particularly youth) die by suicide. Though suicide is often understood as a deeply personal act, it is also eminently social in so far as suicide is an action replete with cultural meanings often directed at or learned from significant others. From a theoretical standpoint, his interests reside in bringing several different sociological subfields into dialogue with current streams of thought on mental health and medical sociology. In particular, this includes insights drawn from social psychological research on identity and interdisciplinary research on emotions. Empirically, he employs qualitative methods (in-depth interviews; participant observation; and historical-comparative) to explore the way identity and emotions like shame are linked to the local culture and structure.
Abrutyn’s research on suicide has received wide recognition for its unique contributions to knowledge, including the Eliot Freidson Outstanding Publication Award from the Section on Medical Sociology of the American Sociological Association as well as best publication awards from the ASA Sections on Sociology of Mental Health, Children & Youth, and Emotions. His work has been published in the American Sociological Review, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and Sociological Theory to name a few. In addition, he teaches courses on sociological theory, mental health, medical sociology, social psychology, sociology of emotions, and institutions.