Dr. Wilkins' research centers on identities and social reproduction, especially among youth and young adults. Her work has examined race, class, and gender among young adult cultural projects (Christians, goths, and Puerto Rican 'Wannabes'), and among Black students in predominantly white institutions. She is concerned with the dilemmas young people face as they transition to adulthood, and how they use symbolic resources, especially sexuality and emotions, to manage those dilemmas. She focuses on the ways status positions (race, class, and gender) complicate the generic dilemmas young people face, while also providing resources for solving those dilemmas. Her work contributes to theoretical and empirical development of intersectionality (the mutual constitution of race, gender, and class). She also researches sexuality and sexual norms among high school and college students, examining the ways young women use 'cheating' and ideas about self-esteem to manage gendered sexual dilemmas.
gender, race, class, intersectionality, children and youth, transition to adulthood, sexuality, emotions, higher education, identities, qualitative methods, symbolic interactionism