Stephen Ostertag Associate Professor Department of Sociology Tulane University

Stephen Ostertag

Associate Professor, Sociology
220F Newcomb Hall


Ph.D. University of Connecticut


Selected Publications

Ostertag, Stephen F. and David G. Ortiz. 2013. “The Battle over Meaning: Digitally Mediated Processes of Cultural Trauma and Repair in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina.” The American Journal of Cultural Sociology. 1(2): 186-220.

Ostertag, Stephen, F. 2014. “Becoming Pure: The Civil Sphere, Media Practices and Constructing Civil Purification.” Cultural Sociology. 8(1): 45-62.

Ostertag, Stephen F. 2016. “Expressions of right and wrong: The emergence of a cultural structure of journalism.” In The Crisis of Journalism Reconsidered: Democratic Culture, Professional Codes, Digital Future. Jeffrey C. Alexander, Elizabeth Breese, and Maria Luengo (eds.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Ostertag, Stephen F. and David G. Ortiz. 2017. “Can Users of Social Media Produce Enduring Social Ties? Affordances and the Case of Katrina Bloggers.” Qualitative Sociology. 40(1): 59-82.

Ostertag, Stephen, F. and Lucas Dìaz. 2017. “A Critical Strong Program: Cultural Power and Racialized Civil Exclusion.” American Journal of Cultural Sociology.5(1): 34-67.

Ostertag, Stephen F. 2020. “News as Relational Social Practice.” International Journal of Communication. Available online (invited submission for a special issue on media practices).

Ostertag, Stephen F. 2021. “Social Drama and the Cultural Affordances of Social Media.” Cultural Sociology. Available online.

Courses Taught

I have taught a number of courses in media and cultural sociology, criminology, and deviant behavior, as well as several special topics courses (e.g., Media, Crime and Justice; Cognitive Sociology; Race, Crime and Control). I also taught a range of different students, including both traditional and non-traditional, and students of various intellectual strengths, ages, and social/cultural backgrounds (including an introductory sociology course at a New Orleans public high school). Finally, I teach two service-learning courses; a Criminology course in which students work with the Orleans Public Defenders on indigent defense in New Orleans, and a special topic course titled Race, Crime and Control, in which students work with the Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana on reentry and recidivism practices and policies.

Public Sociology and Social Entrepreneurship

Outside the academy, I served on the board of The Lens, a New Orleans-based online news organization that emerged in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. I taught an introductory sociology course at McDonogh 35 high school, a well-known New Orleans public high school located in the city's Treme neighborhood, and was a panelist at the 2011 annual Rising Tide conference, which is a city-wide event organized by "Katrina bloggers" to critique the city's rebuilding and recovery efforts. Finally, I have contributed to a number of more mainstream news outlets, including discussing youth homelessness on WDSU evening television news and New Orleans homicides in The Louisiana Weekly (the city's traditionally African-American weekly newspaper).


Cultural Sociology, Media Sociology, Cognition, Crime and Incarceration, Social Control.


Blogging, Networking and Offline Community Engagement

My current research is a multi-method longitudinal study examining the growth of a post-hurricane Katrina blogosphere in New Orleans and its impact on city-wide civil and political institutions. With my colleague David G. Ortiz, I examine why a number of residents started blogging, the networks, shared identities and sense of community that developed among them, and the on and offline interactions, associations, and collective actions these bloggers took part in as they seek to influence city-wide policy making and institutions. This research will help scholars better understand questions about the relationships among digital media, collective action and civil/political society, as they develop overtime and through a variety of indirect channels.

Blogs, Morality Stories, and Civil Society

In conjunction with the aforementioned research, I am also in the process of analyzing how "Katrina blogs" frame and highlight different social problems. This project draws on theoretical developments in civil society theory, cultural psychological work in Moral Foundations and the media anthropology of news and folklore to discuss digital media content, civil society, and processes of civil exclusion and inclusion.