Seth Abrutyn is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia. His work focuses on two interrelated processes: (1) using evolutionary theory, he asks how social environments, particularly their enduring structure and culture, are built up from collective efforts to transform the social world and (2) how these environments can become detrimental to emotional, mental, and social psychological health. He has authored or co-authored peer-reviewed articles in forums like American Sociological Review, Sociological Theory, Social Forces, and the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. In addition, he has edited the Handbook of Contemporary Sociological Theory and co-edited the Handbook of Classical Sociological Theory. Currently, he teaches courses on Sociological Theory, the Sociology of Emotions, and Social Psychology.
Sociological Theory; Adolescent Suicide and Suicide Clusters; Social Psychology and Emotions; Institutions
My current research is centered on understanding and explaining why and how some places, such as a high school, are sites of enduring suicide problems when others that look similar are not. My collaborator, Dr. Anna Mueller (Indiana University), and I in the midst of a large scale mixed-methods comparative case study of 10 high schools in two communities. Using in-depth interviews, focus groups, and observational methods, this work is breaking new ground in understanding and explaining how community-level structure and culture can shift from protective and healthy to problematic for youth and, potentially, adults. In addition to the focus on the community and its culture, this work has begun to delve into the role identity, status, and emotions play in learning to believe suicide is an option and to potentially choose suicide.
Abrutyn, Seth. 2014. Revisiting Institutionalism in Sociology: Putting the “Institution” Back in Institutional Analysis. New York: Routledge.
Abrutyn, Seth, ed. 2016. Handbook of Contemporary Sociological Theory. New York: Springer.
Abrutyn, Seth and Omar Lizardo, eds. Forthcoming. Handbook of Classical Sociological Theory. New York: Springer.
Abrutyn, Seth and Omar Lizardo. 2020 “Grief, Care, and Play: Theorizing the Affective Roots of the Social Self” Advances in Groups Processes. 37.
Abrutyn, Seth. 2019. “Toward a General Theory of Anomie: The Social Psychology of Disintegration.” European Journal of Sociology 60(1):109-36.
Abrutyn, Seth, Anna S. Mueller and Melissa Osborne. 2019. “Rekeying Cultural Scripts for Youth Suicide: How Social Networks Facilitate Suicide Diffusion and Suicide Clusters Following Exposure to Suicide.” Society and Mental Health DOI: 10.1177/2156869319834063.
Abrutyn, Seth and Anna S. Mueller. 2018. “Towards a Cultural-Structural Theory of Suicide: Examining Excessive Regulation and Its Discontents.” Sociological Theory 36(1):48-66.
Mueller, Anna S. and Seth Abrutyn. 2016. “Adolescents under Pressure: A New Durkheimian Framework for Understanding Adolescent Suicide in a Cohesive Community.” American Sociological Review 81(5):877-99.
Abrutyn, Seth and Anna S. Mueller. 2014. “The Socioemotional Foundations of Suicide: A Microsociological View of Durkheim’s Suicide.” Sociological Theory 32(4):327-51.
Abrutyn, Seth and Anna S. Mueller. 2014. “Are Suicidal Behaviors Contagious? Using Longitudinal Data to Examine Suicide Suggestion.” American Sociological Review 79(2):211-27.
Abrutyn, Seth and Kirk Lawrence. 2010. “From Chiefdom to State: Toward an Integrative Theory of the Evolution of Polity.” Sociological Perspectives 53(3):419-42.
Abrutyn, Seth. 2009. “Toward a General Theory of Institutional Autonomy.” Sociological Theory 27(4):449-65.