My Story

Growing up as a Mormon girl during the national debate over ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and later, LGBTQ Rights, my attention was focused early and often on the dynamic relationship between religion, gender, and identity. I found sociology in a book on group dynamics as a teen, and was hooked when I found myself in a college class on gender and culture. Sociology provided me the theory and research tools to make sense of ways in which meaning is constructed, maintained, negotiated, and transformed. As a scholar I am deeply interested in social inequalities, and my research examines gender and sexuality in new religions, especially in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism). My recent work explores Women in New Religions (NYU Press 2015), the charismatic religious founder, Ellen White, and debates in Adventism and Mormonism regarding women’s ordination.

Laura Vance
Laura Vance with dog


  • B.A. and M.A. in Anthropology, Western Washington University
  • Ph.D. in Sociology, Simon Fraser University

Research Interests

  • Gender and sexuality
  • New religious movements
  • Social Inequalities

Courses Taught

  • SOC 3100: Media and Social Inequality
  • SOC 3510: Sociology of Religion
  • SOC 4020: Research Craft

Crews and Other Activities

  • work with nonprofit groups to address food insecurity and poverty
  • work with students to develop poverty simulations used to educate people about structural inequalities

Contact Dr. Vance

(828) 771-5851
Jensen 111
WWC CPO 6206

PO Box 9000

Asheville, NC 28815-9000
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