Alexandra Brewer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Wake Forest University. She earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago in 2020 and a BA in Sociology from Barnard College in 2011.
As a medical sociologist, Professor Brewer engages with questions of social inequality in the healthcare system. Specifically, her research 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. Professor 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, Professor 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.