Ken Hanson

Doctoral Candidate in Eugene, OR

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Kenneth R. Hanson is a doctoral candidate at the University of Oregon. His research focuses on collective sexual practices with emerging technology and new media. He has taught courses on social-psychology (SOC 328 Self & Society), and culture, technology and new media (SOC 317 Sociology of Mass Media). This summer (2021) he is teaching the sociology of sexualities course (SOC 457 Sex & Society).

His dissertation, The Silicone Self: An Ethnography of the Love and Sex Doll Community, is a multi-site digital ethnography funded by internal grants and awards from The University of Oregon Department of Sociology. In it, Ken explores a subcultural community that has arisen as a result of heterosexual men, women, and LGBTQ+ people purchasing love and sex dolls to either permanently act as relationship partners, or augment their existing sexual relationships. The Silicone Self captures the nuances of a deviant subculture that encourages its community members to reflexively engage with their intimate histories and adopt a situated identity that plays with gendered and sexual norms by personifying and role-playing with life-size love and sex dolls. Ken's dissertation not only explores the material and ideological history of love and sex dolls, but is a leading empirical study on this niche community. He approaches this study by drawing on insights from symbolic interactionism, queer theory, sexual fields theory, and digital ethnographic work.

For Ken's M.A. in sociology he studied heterosexual dating app users. This research was his first empirical foray into sociology and was published Sexuality & Culture.In this study, Ken examined how heterosexual dating app users navigated ambiguous online interactions as they became proficient dating app users. Another article from this study, published in Sociological Inquiry, examined how racial and gender inequalities present in hookup culture are collectively reproduced within the interactional norms of heterosexual dating app users peer groups.

Ken's research on dating apps has piqued the attention of journalists. He has been interviewed for features in The Burr Magazine and The Baltimore Watchdog.

In addition to his academic writing on sexuality and technology, Ken has reviewed books for the journals Gender & Society and Men &Masculinities, contributed to the American Sociological Association's TRAILS library, and Contexts.

  • Education
    • University of Oregon, PhD
    • Kent State University, MA
    • Seattle University, B.A. magna cum laude