Marketing the Missing: Missing Persons and the Economy of Concern in the United States


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




Despite its prevalence, missingness remains a deeply neglected topic of sociological inquiry, with little known about the social response these absences engender. Recent studies, substantiating anecdotal data, have begun to demonstrate disparities in the resources law enforcement agencies and the media devote to different kinds of missing persons cases. Yet there exists minimal research about who is most affected by missingness and how these inequalities in response are produced. To fill this gap, my dissertation answers the entwined questions of who becomes missing, how families of missing persons marshal resources for searches, and why different missing persons cases receive dramatically different levels of public attention and institutional support—why, in effect, are some people more missing than others.