Core Department Faculty Member

  • Portrait
  • Norah MacKendrick
  • Associate Professor
  • PhD, University of Toronto. 2011
  • Email:
  • Office: Davison Hall, Room 107
  • Website Link
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Norah MacKendrick’s research falls within the fields of medical sociology, environmental sociology, gender, science and technology studies, and consumer studies. In 2020 she became Chair-Elect of the Environmental Sociology section of the American Sociological Association.

    She is the author of Better Safe Than Sorry: How Consumers Navigate Exposure to Everyday Toxics, which identifies the rise of “precautionary consumption” in the United States. She finds that chemical body burdens are the consequence of decades of regulatory failure to properly assess the health consequences of environmental chemicals. The burden of addressing this failure has fallen to women and mothers who feel responsible for protecting their children from exposure to chemicals, and do so through cooking, grocery shopping, and management of the household. The book reveals how discourses of maternal responsibility and consumer empowerment circulate within the campaigns of environmental health advocacy groups, and as well as through the retail landscape for organic foods and ‘green’ products, particularly Whole Foods Market.

    Better Safe Than Sorry won the Best First Book Award from the Association for the Study of Food & Society (2019), and the Allan Schnaiberg Outstanding Publication Award from the Environmental Sociology section of the American Sociological Association (2020).

    In her other research, MacKendrick has examined the intersections of risk, individualization, and modern motherhood, as well as the dynamics of non-toxic consumption, “foodscapes” and science activism. Her research has been published in Gender & Society, Signs: The Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Sociological Forum, Socius, Journal of Consumer Culture, Food, Culture and Society, and Contexts.

    MacKendrick is working on several projects. The first examines the role of doctors in the wellness and self-help industries. The second is a collaboration with Endia Louise Hayes on Black foodways and the alternative food movement. The third is a new project examining public perceptions of risk around indoor air quality in areas impacted by urban air pollution and wildfire smoke.

  • In the Public Eye:
  • Faculty Article(s): Between Careful and Crazy: The Emotion Work of Feeding the Family in an Industrialized Food System
  • Faculty Bookshelf:
  • Better Safe Than Sorry: How Consumers Navigate Exposure to Everyday Toxics
  • Program Areas:
  • Culture and Cognition
  • Environment and Sustainability
  • Gender, Sexuality and Embodiment
  • Health, Population, and Biomedicine
  • Politics and Social Movements