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Mariana Craciun Assistant Professor Department of Sociology Tulane University

Mariana Craciun

Assistant Professor

220J Newcomb Hall


Ph.D., University of Michigan


Research Interests

Sociology of Medicine, Expertise and Professions, Social Studies of Science, Sociological Theory, Qualitative Methods, Immigration

Current Research Projects

My research examines the construction and legitimation of knowledge in the field of mental health. I am working on a book, tentatively titled Chasing Freud's Dream: Psychotherapy between Science and Emotion. The project is organized around two complementary questions: first, how did methods for establishing the efficacy of pharmaceutical interventions, namely randomized controlled trials, come to characterize research about the efficacy of talk therapy? and second, how has this regime of evidence impacted power struggles and clinical work in the field? I draw on a variety of documentary, institutional, and observational data to examine how notions of "evidence" and "efficacy" have changed in talk therapeutic research, shifting the fortunes of two competing camps: those (self-)identified as "evidence-based" or "empirically-supported" conducting cognitive behavioral psychotherapy and those aligned with psychoanalytic ideas and techniques.

One of my key findings is counterintuitive: while psychoanalytic research has fallen behind in the fight for "evidence-based" recognition, psychodynamic ideas and techniques continue to hold sway in practice—even among clinicians who disavow them. In addition to filling an empirical gap in the literature on mental health and illness, the book contributes a theoretical account of how methods travel between domains and are empowered to set the standards by which the "scientific" nature of a field is established. In doing so, I bring insights from organizational theories of diffusion to bear on questions of enduring interest in science and technology studies. Lastly, the book also speaks to current scholarly debates about professional jurisdiction and autonomy in medicine.

I have published three articles related to this research that build on ethnographic observations and interviews I conducted for my dissertation. The first, forthcoming at the American Journal of Sociology, draws on a comparison of psychoanalytic and cognitive behavioral practices to elaborate a theoretical framework that better accounts for the role of emotions in expert work. The second article, published at Qualitative Sociology, examines the role of time in how mental illness is conceptualized and treated. A third article, published at Theory and Society, focuses on the cultural practices by which psychoanalytic psychotherapists maintain their group's institutionalized charisma.

Selected Publications

Craciun, Mariana. Forthcoming. "Emotions and Knowledge in Expert Work: A Comparison of Two Psychotherapies." American Journal of Sociology.

Craciun, Mariana. 2017. "Time, Knowledge, and Power in Psychotherapy: A Comparison of Psychodynamic and Cognitive Behavioral Practices." Qualitative Sociology 20(2): 165-190.

Craciun, Mariana. 2016. "The Cultural Work of Office Charisma: Maintaining Professional Power in Psychotherapy." Theory and Society 45(4): 361-383.

Craciun, Mariana. 2013. "Moral Bricolage and Immigrant Identification: The Case of Romanian Americans." Ethnic and Racial Studies 36(5): 729-746.