Brian A. Hoey received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan in 2002 and B.A. in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic in 1990. In the fall of 2007, Hoey became an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Marshall University, where he is currently teaching and conducting research.
Hoey's ethnographic research encompasses a number of themes including personhood and place, migration, narrative identity and life-transition, community building, and negotiations between work, family, and self in different social, historical, and environmental contexts. Longstanding interests in career change, personal identity and the moral meanings of work lead to his project as a postdoctoral fellow from 2004-2007 at the Center for Ethnography of Everyday Life (an Alfred P. Sloan Center for Working Families) on “New Work,” unconventional arrangements of work, family and community life explored by so-called free-agents of a post-industrial economy.
Hoey's project in Northwest Lower Michigan has explored non-economic or “lifestyle” migration where downsized and downshifting corporate workers relocate as a means of starting over. As a Fulbright Scholar in Indonesia, he studied the contested nature of constructing personally and culturally meaningful space within the process of creating imagined and intentional community in far-flung agrarian settlements within a government migration program. Hoey's most recent projects have considered how therapeutic ideals are attached to particular physical settings–including purposive communities that range from 19th century moral treatment asylums to today’s new urbanist developments. He also continues work concerning migration, community development, and economic restructuring here in the Appalachian region of the United States. Despite a recent history of often bleak economic conditions and an continued mixed prospects, he has found that the communities surrounding Marshall University are, in many ways, perfect places to conduct research on new forms of work, entrepreneurship, community building, and the marketing of place according to emerging cultural and economic models that may stand in sharp contrast to the dominant order of the Industrial Era. In an area where plant closings and grim economic forecasts became commonplace over the past several decades, Hoey asserts that innovation which challenges conventional wisdom should not surprise us. Innovation is often born of necessity.