Faculty and Staff

headshot of Melissa Hardesty

Melissa Hardesty

Associate Professor and Director of the BSW Program

CCPA Social Work


Dr. Hardesty's research explores family, gender, and sexuality. Her ethnographic study of child welfare workers at a concurrent planning foster care and adoption agency focused on the nature of professional expertise in child welfare and the role of money in state-mediated family-making. She has also collaborated on a series of studies exploring the impact of market capitalism and globalization on sexual relationships in Vietnam and co-authored several papers about qualitative research methods.

Dr. Hardesty’s recent study of political selfies posted by feminists and anti-feminists on Tumblr used visual narrative analysis to study the relationship between actual people and digital representations of people in cyberspace. Her current project traces the production of adoption photolistings—digital profiles of children in search of adoptive parents—and asks how child welfare workers represent real-life children in the digital world.

Dr. Hardesty also works with the Binghamton University Sexualities Research Laboratory.


  • PhD, University of Chicago
  • MSW, Indiana University Northwest
  • BS, Indiana University-Bloomington

Research Interests

  • Gender
  • Child welfare
  • Parenting
  • Kinship
  • Ethnography
  • Epistemology
  • Emotional/affective labor