Sarah Whetstone

Sarah Whetstone

Assistant Professor of Sociology

    Bradley Hall 113
    (309) 677-2390


Ph.D., Sociology, University of Minnesota
B.A., Sociology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


Dr. Whetstone joined Bradley in 2016 as Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology, Criminology & Social Work. Her main teaching and research areas include social inequalities, sociology of deviance, sociology of health and illness, drugs and society, addiction studies, social theory, and qualitative research methods. When she’s not doing sociology, she enjoys long-distance running, karaoke, and concert-going.


Dr. Whetstone teaches the core inequality courses for the sociology program, Social Inequality (SOC 312) and an introduction to the Sociology of Race and Racism (SOC 313). She also teaches the introductory sociology course (SOC 100), the major’s required Social Theory course (SOC 320), and upper-level topics courses like Drugs and Society (SOC 390). Dr. Whetstone’s courses are counted as electives for many major and minor programs outside sociology—and they also help to support the Women’s and Gender Studies program, the African American Studies program, the Bradley Honors Program, and the LAS “First Year Seminar” Program.


Dr. Whetstone’s research focuses broadly on the impact of contemporary shifts in American governance on how we address poverty, homelessness, addiction, and crime. Her current work examines how race and class have shaped our understanding of addiction and structured vastly different experiences of treatment for recovering people across the social structure.

With co-author Teresa Gowan (University of Minnesota), Dr. Whetstone’s ongoing project, American Addict: Out of Control in the Treatment State, is a comparative-ethnographic study of the American recovery scene. It draws on more than six years of fieldwork and hundreds of interviews with recovering people in Minnesota to analyze how recovery is understood and experienced across the country’s different treatment paradigms, including “medical-restorative” rehab, carceral rehab, faith-based treatment, and harm reduction.

Selected Publications 

Whetstone, Sarah and Teresa Gowan. 2022. “Recovering Whiteness in Medical-Restorative Rehab.” Forthcoming in Sociological Forum.

Whetstone, Sarah. 2021. “‘Addiction Doesn’t Discriminate’: Colorblind Racism in American Rehab.” Social Problems. Online first,

Page, Joshua and Sarah Whetstone.  2014. “Beyond the Trial: Teaching About the Disproportionate Imprisonment of African Americans.” in Teaching Race and Anti-Racism in Contemporary America: Adding Context to Colorblindness. Edited by Kristin Haltinner. New York: Springer Publishing, pgs. 35-41.

Gowan, Teresa and Sarah Whetstone. 2012. “Making the Criminal Addict: Subjectivity and Social Control in a ‘Strong-Arm’ Rehab.” Punishment and Society 14(1): 69-93.

Gowan, Teresa, Sarah Whetstone, and Tanja Andic. 2012. “Addiction, Agency, and the Politics of Self-Control: Doing Harm Reduction in a Heroin Users’ Group.” Social Science and Medicine 74(8): 1251-1260.

Whetstone, Sarah and Teresa Gowan. 2011. “Diagnosing the Criminal Addict:  Biochemistry in the Service of the State” in Advances in Medical SociologyVolume 12:  Sociology of Diagnosis. Edited by P. J. McGann and David J. Hutson.  Howard House, UK: Emerald Publishing, pgs. 309-330.


Dr. Whetstone has served as the faculty advisor for Sociology Club and has been an active member of the Women’s and Gender Studies committee and the African American Studies committee. Her work in these roles has included developing curriculum to support Bradley’s mission of diversity, equity and inclusion; mentoring students to support their independent research interests; and creating campus programming that highlights issues of inequality and social justice.