Amy L Best

Amy L Best

Amy L Best


Sociology: Education, social inequalities, youth, identity and intersectionality, children's health, community sociology, micro sociology, cultural sociology, sociology of everyday life, consumer markets and commercial life, sociology of food, farm to school, food access and food insecurity, feminist and qualitative approaches to social research, ethnography, program evaluation

Amy L. Best is Professor of Sociology and Chair in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at George Mason University. Her research focuses on the study of youth, identity formation, culture, and social inequalities, with a particular interest in how gender, ethnicity, sexuality, race and class differently shape the social experiences of contemporary American youth. She is interested in qualitative and feminist approaches to social research and program evaluation. Best is author of Prom Night: Youth, Schools and Popular Culture (2000 Routledge), which was selected for the 2002 American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award and Fast Cars: Cool Rides: The Accelerating World of Youth and Their Cars (NYU Press 2006), and editor of Representing Youth: Methodological Issues in Critical Youth Studies. (NYU Press, 2007). Her most recent book is Fast Food Kids: French Fries, Lunch Lines and Social Ties (NYU Press, 2017), which was selected for a 2018 Morris Rosenberg Award by the DC Sociological Society.

Selected Publications

Best, Amy L. & Katie Kerstetter. 2020. “Connecting Learning and Play in Farm- to-School Programs: Children’s Culture, Local School Context and Nested Inequalities” Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition  15:2 DOI: 10.1080/19320248.2019.1588822 

Spalter-Roth, Roberta, Patricia White and Amy L. Best. 2018. “Bringing Sociology into the Public Policy Process: a Relational Network Approach”  American Sociologist 49:3 (434-447).

Best, Amy and J.L. Johnson. 2016. “Alternate Food Markets, NGOs, and Health Policy: Improving Food Access and Food Security, Trust Bonds, and Social Network Ties" World Medical and Health Policy. 8:2 (157-178).

Best, Amy L. 2014. “Youth consumers and the fast-food market: The emotional landscape of micro-encounters, Situations as guide for action.” Food, Culture and Society: An International Journal of Interdisciplinary Research 18:2 (283-300).
“Racing Men: Boys, Risk and the Politics of Race” 2014. reprinted in The Urban Ethnography Reader.  Eds. Mitchell Duneier and Philip Kasinitz, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Best, Amy L. 2013. “Racing Men: Cars, Identity and Performativity” Blackwell’s A Companion to Sport. David Andrews and Ben Carrington (eds.) New York: Blackwell-Wiley.
Johnson, J.L. and Amy Best. 2012. “Radical Normals:  The Moral Career of Straight Parents as Public Advocates for their Gay Children.” Symbolic Interaction 35:3 (321-339).
Best, Amy L. 2011. “Youth Identity Formation: Contemporary Identity Work.” Sociology Compass 5:10 (908-922).

Courses Taught

Qualitative Research Methods
Youth Culture and Society
Micro Sociology


Dissertations Supervised

Hale Inanoglu, Gender and Diaspora in the Making of Pious Subjectivity (2020)

Erin M. Stephens, Making #BlackLivesMatter: A Social Media Ethnography of Cultural Trauma (2018)

Virginia D’Antonio, “Vetting” The American Dream: Nostalgia, Social Capital and Corvette Communities (2017)

Jeffrey Johnson, “Meet Them Where They Are”: Social Movement Communication in a Culture of Personal Politics (2017)

Randall Lynn, Hardware, Software, and "Peopleware": Educational Technology and Embedded Struggles in U.S. High Schools (2016)

Kathleen Kerstetter, School Reform, Care Work, and Social Reproduction in Two Public Elementary Schools (2016)

Sara Moore, The Moral Landscape of Modern Motherhood: Ideology, Identity, and the Making of Mothers (2013)