Jennifer M. Randles

Associate Professor of Sociology , California State University-Fresno

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About Jennifer

Randles researches low-income parenthood, gender inequality, marriage, and welfare policies that target family-formation trends. Her research on marriage education was the first ethnographic study of the implementation of healthy marriage policy for low-income families. Her current research is an ethnographic investigation of a responsible fatherhood program for low-income men of color. Her future research will explore the national diaper bank movement, low-income parents’ experiences with diaper need, and why state and federal efforts to create a diaper policy have failed. In each of these research projects, Randles analyzes how family policies and social programming shape poor parents’ abilities to meet their partnering and parenting goals in the context of social and economic constraints. She is a community partner with the Fresno County Economic Opportunity Commission and the Fresno First Five Early Childhood Initiative and a member of the Council on Contemporary Families. 

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In the News

"Government Marriage Education Programs Do Little to Address Gender Inequalities," Jennifer M. Randles, London School of Economics U.S. Public Policy Blog, October 17, 2016.
"The Frontlines of Welfare Reform: Why Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Programs Succeed or Fail," Jennifer M. Randles, Council for Contemporary Families, August 21, 2016.


"Redefining the Marital Power Struggle through Relationship Skills: How United States Marriage Education Programs Challenge and Reinforce Gender Inequality" Gender & Society 30, no. 2 (2016): 240-264.

Shows how U.S. government-supported marriage education programs’ focus on interpersonal relationship skills reinforces the invisibility of latent and hidden forms of marital power and gender inequality.

"The Marriage Movement" in Families as They Really Are, edited by Barbara J. Risman and Virginia Rutter (Norton, 2015), 308-320.

Traces the goals and strategies of the U.S. marriage education movement and discusses how the focus on individual-level interventions has undermined the marriage promotion and poverty-prevention goals of marriage policy. 

"Partnering and Parenting in Poverty: A Qualitative Analysis of a Relationship Skills Program for Low-Income, Unmarried Families" Journal of Policy Analysis & Management 33, no. 2 (2014): 385-412.

Analyzes how low-income parents benefited most from relationship skills programs when class lessons normalized their relationship problems as shared challenges of parenting in poverty and minimized parents’ tendency to individualize relational and financial strain.

"Repackaging the ‘Package Deal’: Promoting Marriage for Low-Income Families by Targeting Paternal Identity and Reframing Marital Masculinity" Gender & Society 27, no. 6 (2013): 864-888.

Theorizes marital masculinity by revealing how healthy marriage policy shapes ideas of successful fatherhood and paternal identity by teaching couples that marriage provides low-income men the greatest social incentive to become invested in a middle-class breadwinner ethic.

"The Feminist Ethnographer’s Dilemma: Reconciling Progressive Research Agendas with Fieldwork Realities" (with Orit Avishai and Lynne Gerber). Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 42, no. 4 (2013): 394-426.

Discusses the challenges feminist ethnographers face when respondents’ perspectives clash with feminist theoretical explanations and political commitments.

"Marriage Promotion Policy and Family Inequality" Sociology Compass 6, no. 8 (2012): 671-683.

Explains the logic and strategies of healthy marriage policy and why it fails to address the social and economic inequalities that often undermine individuals’ efforts to create stable intimate relationships, marriages, and families.