Patricia Masters, born in Philadelphia, usually responds to the question "Where are you from?" by sharing her experiences as an Army "B.R.A.T." who traveled around the United States and to Germany and Iran with her family.
Professor Masters settled in Northern Virginia where she returned to school in the 1970s initially at he Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), as did many other women who were responding to the Women's Movement message that careers and family could be combined. C. Wright Mills, in his famous essay entitled "The Sociological Imagination" wrote about the intersection between private lives and historical circumstances. Professor Masters believes that her own life is an example of how biography and history come together. A committed Feminist, she responded to the ideas of the Women's Movement, but like many other women, she modified these new ideas to fit her unique circumstances. For many years, she maintained a somewhat chaotic balance between mothering and studying. (She was blessed with a cooperative second child; he was born during the winter break.)
Professor Masters completed her Associates Degree at NOVA and worked for a number of years as a writer and editor for professional associations and nonprofit research groups in Washington, D.C. She decided to return to school because of her interest in adolescent development, and enrolled at George Mason, where she majored in Sociology, receiving a B.A. degree in 1990. After graduation, she entered the American University in Washingron, D.C., where the received a graduate assistanceship. She completed her Master's Degree in 1993, and her Ph.D. Degree in 1998. Today Professor Masters works alongside many of the teachers who shared their knowledge and love of Sociology with her when she was a GMU undergraduate. Her areas of interest include Gender, Stratification, Social Psychology, Community, Criminology, Delinquency, and Qualitative Research.
Her doctoral dissertation focused on The Philadelphia Mummers Parade, a 100-year old neighborhood-sponsored and -organized folk event. The parade illustrates the importance of play as the basis for forming and reinforcing a sense of connection within neighborhoods. Her research used ethnographic techniques.
In addition to historical research and interviews with the Mummers, Professor Masters and her family were marshals in the Parade in 1996 and 1997. As a courtesy member of a small club that appears in the Parade, she not only learned a great deal about using a hot glue gun for attaching sequins, but also about the patterns of interaction among group members and tight linkages within the Mummer community. This research experience provided her an opportunity to learn about the ethnic history of Philadelphia, a city where her mother's family lived. She is presently modifying her dissertation for publication as a book. Since completely her dissertation, she has kept in touch with the developments in the Mummers' community with the intention of updating her initial research.
Professor Masters has taught at George Mason University since 1999. Courses she teaches include Introductory Sociology, Sociology of Marriage and Families, Sociology of Deviance, and Sociology of Delinquency at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. She also teaches Graduate Seminars on Qualitative Research, Juvenile Delinquency, and Criminology.
Professor Masters has been happily married for more than 35 years to the same man. She has two grown children who are both GMU alumni.
The most recent additions to her family are grandsons, infant Kieran and toddler Bradley (not yet Mason graduates, although older brother Bradley did successfully earn his first diploma in a toddler water safety course). Bradley visited the Mason campus last summer and has his eye on walking (with the graduating class of 2023). Consistent with today's trends toward blended families, Professor Masters' good fortune extends to having a teenage step-grandson, Alex. Her extended family provides a rich source of material on the challenges that face blended families.