Michael O. Johnston is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University. He received his Ph.D. of Public Administration from Walden University. He uses celebrations and festival as a lens to capture the sociology of both the body and place. He uses media representations from local newspapers and online videos to understand the local history and culture that people share and incorporate into their construction of place and identity.
His book, Community Media Representations of Place and Identity at Tug Fest (Lexington, 2022), is about media representations of an interstate tug of war festival that occurs annually between Iowa and Illinois. The interstate Tug Festival was founded as a recreational activity that also stirred economic growth in the two cities. Tug Fest was found to be embedded in environment, economy, local politics, and body politics (masculinity and young age in particular).
He also recently published The Queen and Her Royal Court: A Content Analysis of Doing Gender at a Tulip Queen Pageant (2020) in Gender Issues. This was a content analysis of responses to interviews that tulip queens and royal attendants over a 10-year-period shared with local news media. The article details the significance of social, cultural, and economic capital in having the proper clout to become a tulip queen or a royal attendant as a member of the royal court. The article, however, does not completely dismiss the tulip pageant as a tragic event that is in need of being cancelled. The findings of this study also show the positive outcomes for the girls who are part of the tulip pageant. The culmination of this article is an argument that celebrations and festivals (like Tulip Time Festival and Tulip Queen Pageant) are critical to the culture of cities and their heritage. The findings of this study recommend that stakeholders and residents of communities that host annual festivals must acknowledge and bring change to the exclusionary practices that have become part of their celebration.