Students in field

Introducing Dr. Michael Reay, Professor of Sociology

September 11, 2018

Michael Reay Sociology

Finlandia University is pleased to welcome Dr. Michael Reay as the new Assistant Professor of Sociology.

Reay comes to Finlandia with over 20 years of higher educational teaching experience. He earned his BA in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge and his Master’s and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago. He began his teaching career at the University of Chicago and has taught at a number of other universities including Reed College, Colorado College, Swarthmore College and, most recently, the University of Pennsylvania.

Reay will be teaching Intro to Sociology, Research Methods and Social Theory this coming semester.

Sociology as a career

“I got into sociology because I reacted against everything becoming market-based in the 1980s,” said Reay. “If you see life only in terms of markets and psychology, you miss a lot of collective-level things that affect your experiences in profound ways. Sociology studies those collective things.”

His primary interests include theories of knowledge and skill-based authority, political economy and finance, science and technological change, the influence of neoclassic economics, misperceptions of inequality, and the social causes and functions of humor. He has written over seven publications including his most recent How did the Washington Consensus Move Within the IMF? Fragmented Change from the 1980s to the Aftermath of the 2008 Crisis. His current research focuses on public epistemic culture in America today, which is an analysis of today’s internet- and television-based treatment of knowledge and expertise.

Reay chose Finlandia because he was looking  for a teaching-intensive job at a small liberal-arts school. When asked to describe his teaching style, Reay said he focuses on getting the basic insight across to students so they can process it themselves.

“I’m not a fan of making people memorize lists of factoids, which is something that you often see in sociology textbooks, unfortunately,” said Reay.

Pickled Herring and Comic Books

Reay, a Scotland-native raised in England, said he is excited to be in a community surrounded by nature and with a unique Finnish history about it.

“I like nature and exploring small towns,” Reay said. “The industrial history is interesting to me also. I’m looking forward to living in a place where the supermarkets sell party size tubs of pickled herring. My paternal grandmother was from Shetland – the Northern most Scottish islands – so I was exposed to some Scandinavian traditions from an early age.”

Reay’s hobbies vary from car camping to comic books to running, which he said might turn into snowshoeing in the winter.

“I’m a fan of a number of different comic books, including online ones produced by independent artists,” said Reay. “One of my favorite free online comics right now is actually by a Swedish-speaking Finn, Minna Sundberg. It’s called “Stand Still, Stay Silent,” and is a post-apocalyptic adventure where a mixed Scandinavian group of survivors try to find books in the ruins of Europe and avoid getting killed by trolls, giants and the plague that created them.”

Reay also has a trademark look that will help students recognize him immediately.

“I like wearing hats of various kinds,” he said. “It’s a pity they mainly went out of fashion in the 1950s, except for baseball hats.”

Reay can be reached at michael.reay@finlandia.edu.

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