Greggor Mattson

  • Professor of Sociology
  • Chair of Sociology


  • BA, sociology, George Washington University, 1997
  • MPhil, sociology, Oxford University, 1999
  • PhD, sociology, University of California, Berkeley, 2008


Professor Mattson teaches courses on sexuality, cities, culture, and nightlife. He researches the spatial dynamics of sexuality, including small-city gay bars , LGBTQ communities and gentrification, and subcultures and alcohol.

He recently published a book about recent changes in American gay bars, launching the book at The Stonewall Inn in New York City. His work has also appeared in Gender, Place, and Culture; the American Journal of Cultural Sociology , and the Annual Review of Sociology. He conducts the biannual gay bar census in the United States, a project for which he continues to hire undergraduate research assistants.

Spring 2024

American Urbanism — SOCI 241
Serving the Public: Labor & Place in Cafes Bars & Restaurants — SOCI 387
Serving the Public: Labor & Place in Cafes, Bars, & Restaurants — SOCI 387OC

Fall 2024

Introduction to Sociology: You're Not the Boss of You — SOCI 112
Feminist Research Methodologies — GSFS 305


Greggor Mattson and Charis Stanek ’18 Copublish Sociology Honors Project

August 23, 2023

Charis Stanek ’18 and Greggor Mattson published the results of her Sociology Honors Project in Deviant Behavior. Her mixed-methods study investigated if individuals in high-resource, low-stigma environments experience any benefits from disclosing their mental illness. Data included a survey (N = 384) and 50 in-depth interviews about stigma on campus, mental illness disclosure, and students’ social capital. Charis is the Clinical Research Coordinator at Nationwide Children's Hospital and is starting the Joint MSW-Ph.D. Program in Social Work at The Ohio State University in the Fall.

Greggor Mattson Book Launched in New York

June 27, 2023

Greggor Mattson published the book Who Needs Gay Bars? Bar-Hopping through America's Endangered LGBTQ+ Places (Redwood Press 2023). The book was launched at The Stonewall Inn in New York City on May 30 hosted by Murray Hill, and it received press in The Washington Post, Eater, Passport Magazine, and GayCities.

Greggor Mattson discusses gay bars and resilience in Dallas Public Radio Interview

September 2, 2021

Associate Professor of Sociology Greggor Mattson was a featured guest on KERA Dallas Public Radio discussing why gay bars matter, how they have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and what their vulnerabilities and resilience tell us about their future.

Greggor Mattson publishes research on alcohol and culture with three alumni

July 15, 2021

Associate Professor of Sociology Greggor Mattson recently published an article of research designed and executed by three undergraduates in his Alcohol and Culture senior seminar.

Alexandra Hamada '13, Han Guel Jung '14 , and Karl Orozco '13 conducted interviews and focus groups with Asian and Asian American students about the alcohol flush reaction (AFR). AFR describes the symptoms experienced people with a variant allele for processing alcohol in the body, resulting in symptoms ranging from blushing of the face, neck and chest; to nausea, dizziness, headache, and vomiting. The students found that Asian students had strong meanings attached to the trait, while white students didn't notice it—even when they themselves possessed it. These findings challenged existing research on AFR and revealed deeper insights about anticipated stigma and self racialization.

Greggor Mattson Publishes Essay on COVID-19's Impact on Gay Bars

April 21, 2020

Associate Professor of Sociology Greggor Mattson published an essay about COVID-19's impact on gay bars for the Conversation. It was picked up by the AP Wire and republished on more than 40 news sites, including the Houston Chronicle, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Business Insider, and the San Francisco Chronicle

Greggor Mattson Publishes Journal Article

April 1, 2020

Associate Professor of Sociology Greggor Mattson published a journal article on his research on small-city gay bars in City & Community, a journal of the American Sociological Association. This research, on which several Oberlin undergraduate research assistants worked, is the first description of the qualities of gay bars outside large-city gay neighborhoods. The paper explores the similarities of 55 lone small‐city gay bars to each other and the challenges they pose to the sexualities and urban literatures.

Greggor Mattson Gives Invited Lecture

February 10, 2020

Associate Professor of Sociology Greggor Mattson gave an invited lecture at the University of Kentucky's Geography Department on February 7, 2020. Titled "Queer Places Without Queer Politics: Small City Gay Bars," the talk drew upon Mattson's research on recent changes in American gay bars, a project that has included several Oberlin undergraduate research assistants.

Greggor Mattson Presents

August 29, 2018

Associate Professor of Sociology Greggor Mattson presented two papers and was on one invited panel at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) and the pre-conference of the ASA Section on Sexualities, August 9-14, 2018. His research papers covered his current book project on gay bars in the United States, including the fates of bars in small cities and those owned by or serving LGBT people of color. The panel was about how to share sociological insights with the general public via blogging and journalists.

Mattson Essay on Artificial Intelligence and "Gayface" Widely Quoted

September 20, 2017

Associate Professor of Sociology Greggor Mattson's critique of a study about face recognition technology and sexual orientation was widely quoted. The study, conducted by two researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Business, claimed that artificial intelligence could detect gay and lesbian faces more accurately than humans and was evidence of a prenatal hormonal cause of homosexuality. Mattson critiqued the methods used to train the algorithms, the outdated concepts that motivated them, and "the stunning tone-deafness" of the authors' defense of their ethics. The piece was quoted by such English-language outlets as Inside Higher Ed, Vice's Motherboard, and Outline, and it was quoted in German by Wired and Süddeutsche Zeitung. Read Mattson's critique "Artificial Intelligence Discovers Gayface. Sigh."

Greggor Mattson Presents at Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference

September 12, 2017

Greggor Mattson, associate professor of sociology, presented about the decline of gay bars on a panel at the Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference in London. Mattson examined the characteristics of bars in small cities as a corrective to research that overwhelmingly focuses on LGBTQ places in large metropolises with gay neighborhoods. Based on site visits and interviews with bar owners, he shows how these bars' successes provide insights for those other bars which are a small minority of the total number of gay bars. Read the abstract of his talk and slides.

Greggor Mattson Interviewed for Publication

March 29, 2017

Greggor Mattson, associate professor of sociology, was interviewed about his research on Dutch prostitution politics by the Brazilian publication Veja, the largest weekly news magazine in Brazil and Latin America. The interview focused on a recent interpretation by government ministers that exchanging sex for driving lessons, while "undesirable," did not constitute prostitution.

Taylor L. Field ’15 Coauthors Article with Associate Professor Greggor Mattson

April 18, 2016

Taylor L. Field ’15 coauthored an article in the Journal of GLBT Families with Greggor Mattson, associate professor of sociology and gender, sexuality, and feminist studies.

The piece, “Parenting Transgender Children in PFLAG,” grew out of Field’s independent research that eventually became her sociology honors thesis and GSFS capstone. The article analyzes 14 of her interviews with the parents of transgender children drawn from PFLAG, a national support group that provides a model of "activist parenting" and was one of the first national organizations to include transgender in its mission statement.

In the piece, the parents of transgender children recounted four ways in which their parenting experiences were more difficult and isolating than those of the parents lesbian, bisexual, or gay children: the physical changes their children undergo, the lack of media representations of transgender lives, the effect of their child’s gender transition on their identity as a parent, and the tensions involved in their child’s successful transition in public settings.

Parental isolation may be alleviated, however, by recognizing four unrecognized similarities shared among parents of GLBT children: adjusting to changes in their child’s appearance, the process of grief and mourning, the tendency to hierarchically rank parental difficulties, and fears of being a bad parent. The isolation faced by parents of transgender children is imposed not only by anti-trans prejudice and lack of information, but also by the unacknowledged and undiscussed ways in which a child’s gender transition affects parental gender identities.

Taylor Field is currently a graduate student in sociology at the University of Michigan, where her project recently earned her a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Greggor Mattson Article a Top Download of 2015

December 10, 2015

The article The Modern Career of the Oldest Profession, and the Social Embeddedness of Metaphors by Greggor Mattson, associate professor of sociology and gender, sexuality, and feminist studies, is the second-most downloaded social science article in 2015 from publisher Palgrave. The article tracks the diffusion of this euphemism for prostitution from its coinage by Rudyard Kipling in 1888. From the 17th century to the 1960s, many careers were the oldest profession, including pirates, lawyers, clowns, doctors, and the lady embalmers of Cincinnati.

Greggor Mattson Presents at EU Prostitution Policy Conference

April 28, 2015

Associate Professor of Sociology Greggor Mattson was invited to present at the European Union-funded prostitution policy network conference Troubling Prostitution: Exploring Intersections of Sex, Intimacy, and Labour in Vienna, Austria, on April 18. Conference attendees, who included researchers, sex workers rights activists, and journalists from 52 countries, were welcomed in the town hall by representatives of the mayor and city council.

Mattson presented his paper, entitled "States of Vulnerability: Prostitution Reform as a Symptom of EU Integration," which was taken from his forthcoming book on the cultural politics of European prostitution reform. The book argues that the European Union funding mechanisms to create a European-wide civil society laid the groundwork for competing networks of prostitution policy advocates, polarizing reforms around two options and leading to a scramble of national reform proposals during the period of European expansion 1998-2004.

The contemporary struggle between advocates of prostitution legalization and those who support the criminalization of buying sex crowds out alternative policy solutions, obscures the national differences among those policies, and yet reflects the success of EU efforts to build a continental civil society.


Sparking Interest in Sexual Health Education

November 29, 2017

Just a few months after graduating, Tory Sparks ’17 has landed her dream job as a community outreach educator with Planned Parenthood. She’s stationed in the organization’s Washtenaw County location in Michigan, where she works with high schoolers.