Associate Professor in Sociology & Faculty Research Associate at the Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin
Shannon Cavanagh is an Associate Professor in Sociology and a Faculty Research Associate at the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Cavanagh’s research program consists of two general themes. The first focuses on the implications of family instability for children across the early life course. Her work documents children’s movement into and out of different family structure statuses and examines whether this instability, the characteristics of parents’ that select children into these unstable families, or a combination of both is most important to the health and well-being of children and adolescents. Most of her work to date has focused on the US context; Cavanagh is currently exploring the prevalence and implications of family instability in the UK and South Africa. The second area focuses on the role of pubertal timing in the lives of young women. Given the social value attached to the female body, the significance of this event often extends beyond the physiological and biological to include many other, non-physical changes in life. What interests Cavanagh most here are the ways that notions of gender, the body, and social context come together to shape how girls negotiate adolescence and the transition into adulthood.