Do You Shower Before or After Work?

A steamy summer day at the UW-Madison Arboretum was the setting for the Bascom Hill Society Showcase Luncheon featuring Associate Professor of Political Science Katherine Cramer Walsh.

Katherine “Kathy” Cramer Walsh got an earful about who is doing “hard work” in Wisconsin. According to those who live in “outstate” Wisconsin (meaning outside Madison and Milwaukee), folks who have to shower after work do hard work—not those who shower, then drive to the office. Walsh told the story of her current research project, the Wisconsin Public Opinion Study, which has taken her to 27 communities throughout Wisconsin to listen to conversations in gas stations, diners and houses of worship.

While Walsh’s research findings may be hard for some to hear, it is helping us understand how people make sense of politics and whom they blame for current problems. Her studies in these communities show, among other issues, that resentment toward public employees was growing as early as 2007, long before the protests of winter 2011.

Walsh is associate professor of political science and a faculty research scholar with the Morgridge Center for Public Service. Her expertise is teaching and researching democracy, public opinion, political participation and civic engagement.