Ross Haenfler

Ross Haenfler

Offices, Departments, or Centers: Sociology , Digital Studies , Peace and Conflict Studies ,

Ross Haenfler is Professor of Sociology at Grinnell College where he teaches Social Movements, Deviance and Social Control, Sociological Theory, Men and Masculinities, and introductory sociology courses. He loves teaching and tries to teach classes that create possibilities for students to live more engaged and fulfilling lives.

Haenfler’s research focuses on how people engage in social change as participants in subcultures and loosely organized social movements. Since most people do not consider themselves “activists,” he is interested in how they create changes in their own lives that reflect their values and how they believe that these individual actions add up to social change. Along with his colleagues he developed the concept of “lifestyle movement” to explain ongoing, diffuse change efforts seeking cultural (rather than policy) change, enacted largely in daily life rather than the streets. Examples include voluntary simplicity, slow food, locovores, green lifestyles, and abstinence pledgers.

Haenfler writes widely on subcultures, especially punk, hardcore, and straight edge. These scenes profoundly impacted him as a young person and continue to inspire him today. Much of his work addresses the complicated masculinities that emerge in subcultures and music scenes, as well as how young subculturists transition to “adulthood” - work, family, and careers. Ross has been invited to speak on subcultures in Australia, Estonia, Portugal, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom, as well as many places across the United States.

Outside the College, Haenfler chairs the board of Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA), a nonprofit organization serving children and families impacted by poverty. He has written on misogyny for and The Conversation, discussed Bart Simpson on a Slate podcast, and done various interviews on involuntary celibates, or “incels.” Haenfler appeared in a documentary about online misogyny for the Canadian Broadcasting Company and in the National Geographic special “Inside Straight Edge.”

Ross can be helpful to students who

  • Want to use qualitative methods to conduct original research.
  • Have interests in social movements and change.
  • Study issues around youth, gender, masculinities, and sexualities.
  • Have an interest in deviant subcultures and music scenes.


Subcultures: The Basics (Routledge)

Goths, Gamers, and Grrrls: Deviance and Youth Subcultures (Oxford)

Straight Edge: Clean-Living Youth, Hardcore Punk, and Social Change (Rutgers)

The Better World Handbook: Small Changes that Make a Big Difference (New Society)

Selected publications:

“Does Location Matter in the Context of a Moral Panic? Considering Regional Differences in Attitudes About School Shootings Among College Students.” 2021. Elsass, H. Jaymi, Jaclyn Schildkraut, Ross Haenfler, Brian Kocke, Eric Madfis, and Glenn Muschert. In a special issue of Sociological Inquiry on Guns and Society.

“Sold Out or Bought In? Complexities of the X Swatch as Subcultural Accessory for the Straight Edge Scene.” 2020 Sklar, Monica, Jessica Strübel, and Ross Haenfler.

Journal of Fashion, Style & Popular Culture DOI:

“Changing the World One Virgin at a Time: Lifestyle Movements, Abstinence Pledgers, and Social Change.” 2019. Social Movement Studies 18(4): 425-443.

“The Entrepreneurial (Straight) Edge: How Participation in DIY Music Cultures Translates to Work and Careers." 2018. Cultural Sociology 12(2): 174-192.

“Punk, Hardcore, and Globalization.” 2015. Pp. 278-295 in The Handbook of Popular Music, Andy Bennett and Steve Waksman, eds. London and New York: Sage.

Straight Edge – Minor Threat.” 2015. In Rebel Music: Resistance Through Hip Hop and Punk, Priya Parmar, Anthony J. Nocella II, Scott Robertson, and Martha Diaz, eds. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishers.

“Countercultures.” 2013. In The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social and Political Movements, David Snow, Donna Della Porta, Bert Klandermans, and Doug McAdam, eds. Oxford: Wiley/Blackwell.

2012. “Lifestyle Movements: Exploring The Intersection of Lifestyle and Social

Movements.” With Brett Johnson and Ellis Jones, in Social Movement Studies 11, 1:1-20.

2012. “‘More than the X’s on My Hands’ - Older Straight Edgers and the Meaning of

Style.” In Ageing and Youth Cultures: Music, Style and Identity, Andy Bennett and Paul Hodkinson, eds. Oxford: Berg.

2010. “Why I’m Still Straight Edge.” In Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics. Oakland, CA: PM Press.

2010. Hutcherson, Ben and Ross Haenfler. “Musical Genre as a Gendered Process: Authenticity in Extreme Metal.” Forthcoming in Studies in Symbolic Interaction.

2009. “Sociology and Social Change: Creating a More Just and Sustainable World.” With Brett Johnson and Ellis Jones, in Sociological Odyssey: Contemporary Readings in Introductory Sociology, edited by Patricia A. Adler and Peter Adler. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage.

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