Dr. Alexandra Brewer joined the faculty of Wake Forest University in the Fall of 2020 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology. Dr. Brewer is a medical sociologist whose work engages with questions of social inequality in the healthcare system. In her research, she examines how organizational and economic pressures inform medical decision-making, doctor-patient interactions, and career trajectories in ways that reproduce disadvantages based in race, class, and gender.
Dr. Brewer’s current project focuses on the case of pain management in the context of the opioid crisis. Drawing on a two-year hospital ethnography, this work investigates (1) how structural, cultural, and organizational forces impact healthcare workers as they attempt to objectively assess the subjective experience of pain, (2) how resource limitations shape ideas about whether patients “deserve” pain relief from opioids, and (3) how racial biases get written into seemingly neutral hospital policies and protocols. In another line of research, Dr. Brewer draws on performance evaluation and interview data to investigate the production of gender inequalities in the workplace and in medical education, with a focus on emergency medicine.
Her scholarship has been published in the American Sociological Review and Social Science & Medicine and has received awards from the American Sociological Association and the Society for the Study of Social Problems. She earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago in 2020 and a BA in Sociology from Barnard College in 2011.