About Michael Johnston

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.

Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University.

Michael's website

NBN Episodes hosted by Michael:

Daniel Skinner et al., "The City and the Hospital: The Paradox of Medically Overserved Communities" (U Chicago Press, 2023)

February 21, 2024

The City and the Hospital

Daniel Skinner, Jonathan R. Wynn and Berkeley Franz
Hosted by Michael Johnston

An enduring paradox of urban public health is that many communities around hospitals are economically distressed and, counterintuitively, medically un…

Matthew Wolf-Meyer and Denielle A. Elliott, "Naked Fieldnotes: A Rough Guide to Ethnographic Writing (U Minnesota Press, 2024)

February 17, 2024

Naked Fieldnotes

Matthew Wolf-Meyer and Denielle A. Elliott
Hosted by Michael Johnston

Ethnographic research has long been cloaked in mystery around what fieldwork is really like for researchers, how they collect data, and how it is anal…

Dustin Kiskaddon, "Blood and Lightening: On Becoming a Tattooer" (Stanford UP, 2023)

February 4, 2024

Blood and Lightening

Dustin Kiskaddon
Hosted by Michael Johnston

Any tattoo is the outcome of an intimate, often hidden process. The people, bodies, and money that make tattooing what it is blend together and form a…

Brian Brown and Virginia Kuulei Berndt, "Body Art" (Emerald Publishing, 2023)

December 19, 2023

Body Art

Brian Brown and Virginia Kuulei Berndt
Hosted by Michael Johnston

Body art, especially tattoos and piercings, has enjoyed an explosion of interest in recent years. However, the response of many health professionals…

Leontina Hormel, "Trailer Park America: Reimagining Working-Class Communities" (Rutgers UP, 2023)

November 24, 2023

Trailer Park America

Leontina Hormel
Hosted by Michael Johnston

In rural northern Idaho in the winter of 2013-2014, Syringa Mobile Home Park’s water system was contaminated by sewage, resulting in residents’ water …

Colin McFarlane, "Waste and the City: The Crisis of Sanitation and the Right to Citylife" (Verso, 2023)

November 7, 2023

Waste and the City

Colin McFarlane
Hosted by Michael Johnston

In an age of pandemics the relationship between the health of the city and good sanitation has never been more important. Colin McFarlane, through Was…

Michael Serazio, "The Authenticity Industries: Keeping It Real in Media, Culture, and Politics" (Stanford UP, 2023)

October 31, 2023

The Authenticity Industries

Michael Serazio
Hosted by Michael Johnston

In recent decades, authenticity has become an American obsession. It animates thirty years' worth of reality TV programming and fuels the explosive vi…

Maitrayee Deka, "Traders and Tinkers: Bazaars in the Global Economy" (Stanford UP, 2023)

October 20, 2023

Traders and Tinkers

Maitrayee Deka
Hosted by Michael Johnston

Michael O. Johnston sits down with Maitrayee Deka, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Essex to discuss her new book Traders and Tinkers…

Sébastien Tutenges, "Intoxication: An Ethnography of Effervescent Revelry" (Rutgers UP, 2022)

October 19, 2023


Sébastien Tutenges
Hosted by Michael Johnston

For two decades, Sébastien Tutenges has conducted research in bars, nightclubs, festivals, drug dens, nightlife resorts, and underground dance parties…

Kristen M. Budd and David C. Lane, "Beyond Bars: A Path Forward from 50 Years of Mass Incarceration in the United States" (Policy Press, 2023)

October 13, 2023

Beyond Bars

Kristen M. Budd and David C. Lane
Hosted by Michael Johnston

The year 2023 marks 50 years of mass incarceration in the United States. This timely volume highlights and addresses pressing social problems associat…

Catherine Coveney et al., "Technosleep: Frontiers, Fictions, Futures" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023)

September 14, 2023


Catherine Coveney, Michael Greaney, Eric L. Hsu, Robert Meadows, and Simon J. Williams
Hosted by Michael Johnston

Technosleep: Frontiers, Fictions, Futures (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023) draws on a variety of substantive examples from science, technology, medicine, li…

Syed Ali and Margaret M. Chin, "The Peer Effect: How Your Peers Shape Who You Are and Who You Will Become" (NYU Press, 2023)

July 26, 2023

The Peer Effect

Syed Ali and Margaret M. Chin
Hosted by Michael Johnston

For decades, parents across America have asked their kids, “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” The answer is, “Duh, yes.” Peers, as pare…

Erik Kojola, "Mining the Heartland: Nature, Place, and Populism on the Iron Range" (NYU Press, 2023)

June 23, 2023

Mining the Heartland

Erik Kojola
Hosted by Michael Johnston

On an unseasonably warm October afternoon in Saint Paul, hundreds of people gathered to protest the construction of a proposed copper-nickel mine in t…

David A. Banks, "The City Authentic: How the Attention Economy Builds Urban America" (U California Press, 2023)

June 19, 2023

The City Authentic

David A. Banks
Hosted by Michael Johnston

The City Authentic: How the Attention Economy Builds Urban America (U California Press, 2023) is the first book to explore how our cities gentrify by …

Scott Timcke, "The Political Economy of Fortune and Misfortune: Prospects for Prosperity in Our Times" (Bristol UP, 2023)

May 25, 2023

The Political Economy of Fortune and Misfortune

Scott Timcke
Hosted by Michael Johnston

Luck greatly influences a person's quality of life. Yet little of our politics looks at how institutions can amplify good or bad luck that widens soci…

Alyson K. Spurgas and Zoe Meleo Erwin, "Decolonize Self-Care" (OR Books, 2022)

May 24, 2023

Decolonize Self-Care

Alyson K. Spurgas and Zoe Meleo Erwin
Hosted by Michael Johnston

For twentieth-century feminists, it was a rallying cry for bodily autonomy and political power. For influencers and lifestyle brands, it’s buying fanc…

Tim Simpson, "Betting on Macau: Casino Capitalism and China's Consumer Revolution" (U Minnesota Press, 2023)

April 11, 2023

Betting on Macau

Tim Simpson
Hosted by Michael Johnston

A comprehensive look into how Macau’s recent decades of gambling-related growth produced one of the wealthiest territories on the planet. Betting on …

Gary Alan Fine, "Fair Share: Senior Activism, Tiny Publics, and the Culture of Resistance" (U Chicago Press, 2023)

February 26, 2023

Fair Share

Gary Alan Fine
Hosted by Michael Johnston

If you’ve ever been to a protest or been involved in a movement for social change, you have likely experienced a local culture, one with slogans, jarg…

Fabio Duarte and Ricardo Alvarez, "Urban Play: Make-Believe, Technology, and Space" (MIT Press, 2021)

February 18, 2023

Urban Play

Fabio Duarte and Ricardo Alvarez
Hosted by Michael Johnston

Why technology is most transformative when it is playful, and innovative spatial design happens only when designers are both tinkerers and dreamers. …

Robin Bartram, "Stacked Decks: Building Inspectors and the Reproduction of Urban Inequality" (U Chicago Press, 2022)

January 29, 2023

Stacked Decks

Robin Bartram
Hosted by Michael Johnston

Though we rarely see them at work, building inspectors have the power to significantly shape our lives through their discretionary decisions. The buil…

Jenny L. Davis, "How Artifacts Afford: The Power and Politics of Everyday Things" (MIT Press, 2020)

December 20, 2022

How Artifacts Afford

Jenny L. Davis
Hosted by Michael Johnston

Technologies are intrinsically social. They reflect human values and affect human behavior. The social dynamics of technology materialize through desi…

Barbara Katz Rothman, "The Biomedical Empire: Lessons Learned from the COVID Pandemic" (Stanford UP, 2021)

December 11, 2022

The Biomedical Empire

Barbara Katz Rothman
Hosted by Michael Johnston

We are all citizens of the Biomedical Empire, though few of us know it, and even fewer understand the extent of its power. In this book, Barbara Katz …

Dan Immergluck, "Red Hot City: Housing, Race, and Exclusion in Twenty-First-Century Atlanta" (U California Press, 2022)

October 25, 2022

Red Hot City

Dan Immergluck
Hosted by Michael Johnston

Atlanta, the capital of the American South, is at the red-hot core of expansion, inequality, and political relevance. In recent decades, central Atlan…

Wendy Simonds, "Hospital Land USA: Sociological Adventures in Medicalization" (Routledge, 2016)

September 28, 2022

Hospital Land USA

Wendy Simonds
Hosted by Michael Johnston

In Hospital Land USA: Sociological Adventures in Medicalization (Routledge, 2016), Wendy Simonds analyzes the wide-reaching powers of medicalization: …