Greggor Mattson in purple button down shirt.
  • Associate Professor 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, law, prostitution, and nightlife, and also coordinates the Cleveland Immersion Program. He researches the spatial dynamics of sexuality, including small-city gay bars , LGBTQ communities and gentrification , bars and subcultures , and sex work and prostitution in the European Union .

His work has also appeared in Sociological Science , the American Journal of Cultural Sociology , and the Annual Review of Sociology , among others. His work has been supported by the Fulbright Program and the National Science Foundation.

With Libby Murphy, he is working on a book and digital humanities archive about prostitution in early 19th century Paris. He is also writing a book about recent changes in American gay bars , a project for which he has hired many undergraduate research assistants.

Fall 2018
  • SOCI 50. Cleveland Immersion Program
  • SOCI 275. Enacting the Law
  • SOCI 386. Nightlife, Place and Identity

  • The Cultural Politics of European Prostitution Reform: Governing Loose Women (Palgrave, 2016).
    I have employed undergraduate research assistants to help on my book project and articles. This book analyzes recent European conflicts over prostitution regulation, research that was funded in part by a Fulbright Scholarship to the European Union and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
  • Currently, Professor Libby Murphy and I are engaged in curating a digital humanities archive about prostitution in early 19th century Paris. 


  • 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.