Office Hour: Sociology Professor Gregory Elliott

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Welcome to Office Hour! I’m Aileen Seo, a first-year from San Diego, California and every week I’ll be sitting down with professors to talk about some of the cool things they are doing here at Brown! I’ll be writing about everything from their research to what they love most about teaching here, so stay tuned!

This week I took the (relatively) long trek from my dorm in Andrews to Maxcy Hall to meet with Professor Gregory Elliott from the sociology department. Rest assured—it was worth it.

Professor Elliott is a social psychologist looking at how humans learn to be human beings and how they orient themselves to the world. He is interested in how the specific contexts in which individuals are reared help them to understand themselves and their meaning to the rest of the world. Professor Elliott studies the social development of people and their attempt to integrate into society and the things that make it easier and harder for them to do so.

One of the topics of his research is the notion of “mattering” or the concept that an individual is significant to other people, institutions, and their communities. His work suggests that people who feel like they don’t matter, especially adolescents, tend to exhibit self-destructive behavior. Mattering can be examined in terms of attention (your social visibility), importance (investments in your welfare by others), and reliance (the tendency of others to rely on you).

We ended our talk not only because I had a morning seminar to get to, but also because Professor Elliott had a seminar to catch! Before he was off, he made it a point to mention that he loves teaching at Brown because of just how smart and engaged so many of the students are. They actively ask questions and push him, in the best sense of the word, by going beyond the readings to pose questions and discussions.

Intrigued with his research or just want to know more? You can learn more about Professor Elliott and his work here.

If you have any questions, comments, or just want to talk, you can reach me at


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