Margaret S. Kelley

American Studies
Director of Graduate Studies
Ph.D., Sociology, New York University
Primary office:
Bailey Hall, 213H
University of Kansas
1440 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045-7594


Professor Kelley is a Kansas native and attended Wichita State University. She traveled to New York for graduate work and Northern California for research. Professor Kelley returned to Kansas in 2016 to join the Department of American Studies after teaching at the Universities of Miami, Oklahoma, and Illinois.

Professor Kelley's work focuses on broad issues of gender, health, and marginalized populations. Her newest research is an investigation of women, guns, and American culture. It involves a national survey of gun ownership, attitudes, and behaviors for women, along with an ethnographic study of women and gun identity. Another of Professor Kelley's recent projects involves collecting and analyzing data on the role of "natural mentors," specifically teachers and coaches, in delinquency outcomes for adolescents. Finally, Professor Kelley is continuing to study the role of gender schemas for career choice in cross-cultural and international settings. Professor Kelley has conducted research on a number of health-related topics including illicit drug use, drug treatment, needle exchange, HIV/AIDS risk behaviors, problem alcohol use, and sports. She teaches about drugs and alcohol on a regular basis. Professor Kelley's multi-method approach to these topics draws on theories from deviance, criminology, and medical sociology with a focus on social learning and community connections. She has recently written and published articles about college drinking, gender, delinquency, and sports. Professor Kelley is a faculty affiliate in the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and the Leadership in Diversity & Inclusion Master's Program, and holds a courtesy appointment in Sociology.


Ph.D., Sociology, New York University


Professor Kelley teaches American Gun Culture, Being Deviant in America, On Drugs (a First Year Seminar), Drugs and Crime: The American Experience, and Research Methods.


For most of my career I have specialized in drug studies, an interdisciplinary field that I approach from both criminological and medical perspectives within sociology, utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methods. My research has focused primarily on illicit drug users and the effectiveness of drug treatment. A key theme in my work has been examining the interaction of drug users with both formal and informal organizations, and the subcultures and networks that develop around illicit drug use. My theoretical work with subcultures has focused especially on power, autonomy, and control in the social environments of drug use. My current projects continue these themes and expand into a wide variety of issues related to the intersection of drugs and crime for youth and adults. In particular, I have moved into analyses of women, guns, and American culture.

Recently published articles have appeared in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Gender & Education, Social Science & Medicine, Deviant Behavior, and Journal of Drug Issues. Dr. Kelley is the editor of Readings on Drugs and Society: The Criminal Connection (2005, Allyn & Bacon).

Research Interests

  • Gun culture
  • Deviance
  • Drugs and Society
  • Alcohol
  • Research Methods
  • Sports
  • Gender and Education
  • Natural Mentors

Selected Publications

Kelley, Margaret S., and Christopher G. Ellison. “Who Might Buy a Gun? Findings from the Guns in American Life Survey.” Sociological Inquiry, 2021.
Vegter, Abigail, and Margaret S. Kelley. “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Gun Ownership.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, vol. 59, no. 3, 2020, pp. 426–540,  Podcast -- When Experts Attack! #21: “Gun owners don’t really want to use their guns” (Media Mentions  Podcast -- When Experts Attack! #21: “Gun owners don’t really want to use their guns” (
Kelley, Margaret S. “Using Prosocial Schema and Beliefs about Gender Roles to Predict Alcohol Use for Engineering Majors.” Sociological Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 2, Apr. 2019, pp. 245–64, doi:10.1080/00380253.2018.1547172.
Kelley, Margaret S., and Meggan J. Lee. “When Natural Mentors Matter: Unraveling the Relationships with Delinquency.” Children and Youth Services Review, 2018,
Kelley, Margaret S. “Student Perceptions of a New Campus Alcohol Policy: Linking Deterrence and Blame Attribution.” Journal of Drug Issues, Apr. 2017,
Kelley, Margaret S., and Kimberly Bryan. “Gendered Perceptions of Typical Engineers across Specialties for Engineering Majors.” Gender and Education, vol. 30, no. 1, Nov. 2016, pp. 22–44, doi:10.1080/09540253.2016.1262007.
Kelley, Margaret S., and Jan Sokol-Katz. “Examining Participation in School Sports and Patterns of Delinquency for Adolescents Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.” Sociological Focus, vol. 44, no. 2, 2011,
Spivak, Andrew L., et al. “Religiosity and Delinquency: The Deterrent Effects of Informal Sanctions.” Deviant Behavior, vol. 32, 2011, pp. 672–711,
Kelley, Margaret S., et al. “Deterrence Theory and the Role of Shame in Projected Offending of College Students against a Ban on Alcohol.” Journal of Drug Education, vol. 39, no. 4, 2009, pp. 421–39.
Kelley, Margaret S. “Negotiating Gender for Couples in Methadone Maintenance Treatment.” Neither Villain nor Victim: Empowerment and Agency among Women Substance Abusers, edited by Tammy Anderson, Rutgers University Press, 2008, pp. 117–33.
Shukla, Rashi, and Margaret S. Kelley. “Investigating How Decisions to Use Marijuana Change over Time.” Substance Use and Misuse, vol. 43, 2007, pp. 1–25,
Sokol-Katz, Jan, et al. “Re-Examining the Relationship between Interscholastic Sport Participation and Delinquency: Type of Sport Matters.” Sociological Focus, vol. 39, no. 3, 2006, pp. 173–92,
Kelley, Margaret S., et al. “Doing Syringe Exchange: Organizational Transformation and Volunteer Commitment.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, vol. 34, no. 3, 2005, pp. 362–86.
Van Gundy, Karen, et al. “Gender Role Orientations and Alcohol Use among Moscow and Toronto Adults.” Social Science and Medicine, vol. 61, 2005, pp. 2317–30,
Kelley, Margaret S. Readings on Drugs and Society: The Criminal Connection. Allyn and Bacon, 2005.
Kelley, Margaret S., and Dale Chitwood. “Effects of Drug Treatment for Heroin Sniffers: A Protective Factor against Moving to Injection?” Social Science and Medicine, vol. 58, no. 10, 2004, pp. 2083–92,
Murphy, Sheigla, et al. “The Health Benefits of Secondary Syringe Exchange.” Journal of Drug Issues, vol. 34, no. 2, 2004, pp. 245–68,
Greenberg, David, et al. “The Generality of the Self- Control Theory of Crime.” Advances in Criminological Theory: Crime and Social Organization, vol. 10, 2002, pp. 49–94.
Kelley, Margaret S. “The State of the Art in Substance Abuse Programming for Women in Prison.” The Incarcerated Woman: Rehabilitative Programming in Women’s Prisons, edited by Susan Sharp and Rosalyn Muraskin, Prentice-Hall, 2002, pp. 119–48.
Kelley, Margaret S., et al. “A Cultural Impact of Needle Exchange: The Role of Safer Injection Mentors.” Contemporary Drug Problems, vol. 28, 2001, pp. 485–506.
Kelley, Margaret S. “Toward an Understanding of Responses to Methadone Maintenance Treatment Organizational Style.” Research in Social Problems and Public Policy, vol. 8, 2001, pp. 247–73.
Niego, Starr M., et al. The PASHA Field Test: A Window on the World of Prevention. Sociometrics Corporation, Program Archive on Sexuality, Health and Adolescence, 1998.
Rosenbaum, Marsha, et al. “Treatment as Harm Reduction, Defunding as Harm Maximization: The Case of Methadone Maintenance.” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, vol. 28, no. 3, 1996, pp. 241–49.
Kelley, Margaret S., et al. “Violence: A Barrier to Methadone Maintenance Treatment for Injecting Drug Using Women.” International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 16, no. 5/6, 1996, pp. 156–77.
Kelley, Margaret S., et al. “What Matters to You Matters: Natural Mentors and Self-Valuation in School Sports.” Sociological Inquiry.

» Show All Publications

  • Listen to Margaret Kelley discuss it's not just fear of violence or belief in the second amendment and gun rights prompting gun ownership.  On this episode of WhenExpertsAttack she explains that concerns about Armageddon and "supernatural" evil also are at play.  
  • Congratulations to Bobby Cervantes for being awarded the Harry Middleton Fellowship in Presidential Studies!
  • Read about Afro-Puerto Rican illustrator Eric Velasquez in this piece written by William García-Medina for Teaching For Change.
  • Geoffrey Newman did a podcast for the journal Kansas History that was broadcast on 91.9 KSDB-FM.  It is available online here.
  • Congratulations to Sam Steuart for being named KU's 20th Truman scholar!
  • This article, written by Geoffrey Newman, was published in the August edition of the Kansas History Journal. Congratulations Geoffrey!
  • Congratulations to Ph.D. candidate Kathryn Vaggalis for being awarded the American Studies Association's 2018 Gene Wise-Warren Susman Prize!
  • KU-AUMI InterArts was recently featured by the Commons in a video on improving inclusive communities at KU. You can watch the video, which features our own Sherrie Tucker amongst other founders of the movement at KU, and learn more about AUMI here!
  • Congratulations to Professor Robert Warrior on being elected to a member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • This articlewritten by Ph.D. candidate Hannah Bailey, was published in the latest edition of Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Congratulations, Hannah!
  • We would like to recognize Patrick Sumner, 2005 alumni, for his work in this article about the defacement of the John Brown memorial in the Quindaro area of Kansas City, Kansas.
  • Please read this article about Professor Robert Warrior titled: Native scholar uncomfortably at home in American studies field.
  • Congratulations to Daniel Carey-Whalen, an alumni that was recently promoted as UTEP's Centennial Museum director.
  • Congratulations to Josh Parshall, an alumni who was recently featured in this article.
  • How a motion-tracking musical software is breaking down barriers for people with disabilities: click here to read more about the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument (AUMI), a one-of-a-kind piece of inclusive technology that promotes musical improvisation. The article recognizes Professor Sherrie Tucker, who started AUMI jam sessions and helped to bring the grant and symposium for it to Lawrence. Written by Omar Sanchez
  • KU Special Education Department: With Ray Pence
  • Tribute Or Tribulation? How do we commemorate history? What is the best way to remember a conflicted and painful past? And who gets to decide? Listen here »
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