Sociology PhDs on the Job Market
- Amelia Branigan
- Kiyona Brewster
- Natalia Forrat
- Spencer Headworth
- Joshua Kaiser
- Jeffrey Kosbie
- Gemma Mangione
- Elizabeth Onasch
- David Peterson
- John Robinson
- Jennifer Rosen
- Brian Sargent
- Lisa-Jo K. van den Scott
- Jill Weinberg
Areas of Interest:
Social Inequality; Education; Health and Illness; Crime and Deviance; Race and Ethnicity
Amelia Branigan studies the relationship between elements of the physical body and socioeconomic inequality, with a particular focus on education, health, and criminal justice outcomes. Her dissertation, “The Social Relevance of Visible Phenotypical Characteristics for Educational Outcomes,” argues that the visible body is itself a social fact, and that by omitting physical variation from quantitative analysis of inequality, social scientists render invisible systems of inequality that persist within categories such as sex and race. Through three studies using large national datasets, she demonstrates such within-sex and within-race variation in educational performance by phenotype, and offers suggestions for better engaging the visible body in sociological research on inequality. Amelia is currently the Frank H. T. Rhodes Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cornell Population Center at Cornell University, where she has completed a series of papers extending her dissertation work on obesity and educational performance, as well as new studies on the socioeconomic consequences of infertility and the relationship between skin color and criminal justice outcomes. She is currently training in spatial analysis for a new project on how the threat of violence between home and school affects health and education.
"Stepping Out on Faith: Family, Gender, and Religious Belonging in the African American Church"
Areas of Interest:
Sociology of Gender; Family Studies; Sociology of Religion; Feminist Theory; Microsociology; Qualitative and Quantitative Methods.
Kiyona Brewster is a PhD candidate in Sociology at Northwestern University where she is also pursuing a certificate in graduate teaching and gender and sexuality studies. Using ethnography, her dissertation research examines how gender and familial roles are defined and maintained within predominantly African American Protestant and Evangelical communities of faith. Data for her study were collected at two congregations that varied by denomination and ideological leaning located in a small suburb of Chicago, Illinois. Findings from her work demonstrate the ways in which gender beliefs are cultivated within ideologically opposed congregations and how congregants implement important religious values into routine family life. Within churches Kiyona's work presents the ways that meanings about gender and family are cultivated through sermon content; dress; small group meetings; and gendered spaces. Also through interviews and spending time with families outside of church life her work explores how religious teachings about gender are reconciled with decisions about work, parenting, and household labor. She identifies certain practical and rhetorical strategies couples may sometimes use to reconcile ideologies of submission and spousal power with the demands of modern life. Findings from Kiyona's research hold implications for larger discussions about the influence of contemporary congregations on perceptions of gender and family as well as feminist theories about race, religion, and women’s agency.
"Authoritarian Welfare State: Social Policy, Regime Resilience, and Infrastructural State Capacity in Putin’s Russia"
Areas of Interest:
Political regimes and the state, state institutions and capacities, state-society relations, social policy and political economy of authoritarianism, postcommunist countries
Natalia Forrat is a native of Russia who came to the US for graduate school on a Fulbright grant. Her research interests lie in the fields of political and comparative historical sociology with a focus on social policy, political economy, state-society relationships, and political regimes.
The main question of Natalia's dissertation is how social policy helps autocrats survive. By using the case of Putin's Russia, she challenges the idea that autocrats provide public goods for the sole purpose of securing a population's loyalty. Instead, she argues that authoritarian leaders use organizational hierarchies and networks of the public sector to manipulate, monitor, and repress the society regardless of buying loyalty. Using quantitative analysis of 80 Russian regions and fieldwork data from five case studies, she demonstrates that organizational leverage over schoolteachers enabled Putin's regime to implement massive electoral fraud in the 2012 presidential elections. Other areas of the public sector – social service organizations, hospitals, and universities – served as mobilization and surveillance tools. Such abuse of the infrastructural power of the public sector by the hegemonic regime was more difficult in the areas with strong local communities and competitive local politics, even though clientelistic political exchanges were more common there. The findings switch the focus of authoritarian social policy studies from redistribution to infrastructural power, reverse the causal link between state capacity and public goods provision, and uncover positive sides of clientelism as an alternative to a hegemonic authoritarian regime.
Over the course of her academic career in the US and Russia, Natalia has also completed research projects on cultural tolerance of youth, transformations of cultural practices and institutional structures of a post-communist academia, and the connection between governmental support for Russian research universities and Putin’s regime fears of the political mobilization of youth. In addition to Fulbright grant, she has received financial support from the Ford Foundation, Open Society Institute, and a number of institutional sources at the University of Michigan and Northwestern. Her research has been published as articles and book chapters in English and Russian.
"Policing Welfare: Detection, Investigation, and Punishment in Public Assistance"
Areas of Interest:
Crime, Punishment, Inequality, Law, Professions, and Organizations
Spencer Headworth is Graduate Research Coordinator at the American Bar Foundation and a Ph.D. Candidate in Northwestern University’s Department of Sociology. His dissertation, Policing Welfare, examines a novel intersection between the worlds of public assistance and law enforcement: dedicated welfare fraud control units. It draws upon a national overview of dedicated fraud control units and interviews with fraud control workers in five case study states: one state each from the Southwest, Gulf Coast, and Mid-Atlantic regions and two Northeastern states. The project demonstrates how political priorities and available detection and enforcement tools drive fraud control practice in an arena with vague legal requirements. The effort to build and defend legitimacy in this practice is headlined by the pursuit of impartial presentation, in which fraud control units employ mechanical objectivity and cultivated neutrality to signal fairness and equanimity. Fraud control workers construct images of program rule violators, including the establishment of tiers of blameworthiness and culpability and the development of an informal criminology of welfare fraud. These factors function in tandem with policy, unit workload, and case-by-case variations to shape fraud unit outcomes: who is pursued for what, and how are they punished.
Spencer’s other current projects include a study of the specialized field of health care for incarcerated populations and an investigation of the sociological job market with Jeremy Freese; findings from the latter project are forthcoming in Social Forces. He recently completed editing Diversity in Practice: Race, Gender, and Class in Legal and Professional Careers, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.
"The Hidden Sentence: Understanding the Historical Rise of a Broader, Lesser Known Form of Penal Control in the United States, 1907-2015"
Areas of Interest:
Law and Society, Criminology, Human Rights, Social Inequality, Political Sociology, Sociology of Knowledge, Public Policy, Mixed Methods
Joshua Kaiser is a Law and Social Science Fellow at the American Bar Foundation and a JD-PhD candidate in law and sociology at Northwestern University. His research focuses on state control and state violence across nations through mixed methodologies and a critical, sociological lens. His dissertation (chaired by John Hagan and advised by Laura Beth Nielsen, Bob Nelson, Heather Schoenfeld, and Jonathan Simon) compares the rise of mass incarceration in the late twentieth-century United States to the earlier but less visible rise of “hidden sentences,” meaning all legally imposed punishments inflicted upon criminalized people beyond their formally recognized, judge-issued sentences. Kaiser is the author of “Revealing the Hidden Sentence” and two other forthcoming articles on hidden sentences, of “Gendered Genocide” and two other articles that illuminate the social, multidimensional process of genocide, and of Iraq and the Crimes of Aggressive War and four articles on the sectarian displacement, criminal entrepreneurship, and legal cynicism caused by the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.
"Contested Identities: A History of LGBT Legal Mobilization and the 'Ethics of Impact'"
Areas of Interest:
Law and Society, Social Movements, Sexualities, Gender, Inequality, Institutional Theory
My research theorizes law as a field for constructing and contesting identities around gender and sexuality. I study how law creates and perpetuates inequalities and how it is used to challenge inequalities. I address this overarching problem from multiple disciplinary angles. I engage with legal literatures related to constitutional history and theory, civil procedure and federal courts, and queer and feminist legal theory. I engage with sociological literatures related to law and society, social movements, organizations and institutions, and gender and sexualities.
My dissertation uses original data to tell the history of the major LGBT legal organizations. Drawing on extensive interviews and archival research, I argue that internal organizational debates drive strategic decision making processes at these organizations. I received a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant to support this research. Other support includes a dissertation fellowship from the Sexualities Project at Northwestern University and Graduate Research Grant from The Graduate School at Northwestern University.
"Making Sense of Things: Access and Interpretation in Museum Gardens and Galleries'
Areas of Interest:
Culture; Art; Health and Illness; Organizations; Science, Knowledge, and Technology; Body and Embodiment; Disability; Museums; The Senses; Research Methods
Gemma Mangione’s work investigates the relationship of culture and health; she studies the interplay of humanistic and scientific ideas as they shape innovations in health practice. Her research uses organizational ethnography to engage with cultural sociology, the sociology of knowledge, and medical sociology. Her dissertation, Making Sense of Things: Access and Interpretation in Museum Gardens and Galleries, examines outreach program for people with disabilities in American art museums and botanical gardens. Drawing on ethnographic study of four institutions, she asks: How do people construct museum-going as “good” for our health? Rather than targeted medical interventions, she finds that museum wellness programs are closely tied to the different sensory practices museum and medical staff facilitate to engage visitors. These vary across places (mediating organizational goals), people (creating group boundaries that maintain and challenge social differences), and objects (which afford different interactions and interpretations due to their sensory properties). As the “health turn” in museum outreach gains traction in museum studies and cultural policy, the project offers a critical standpoint on health as both a legitimizing virtue and an affective state.
Gemma’s research has appeared in Poetics and Qualitative Sociology, and has been supported by fellowships from Northwestern University and the American Association of University Women. Her most recent manuscript theorizes aesthetic judgments as a form of local knowledge.
“Integration through Racialization: A Study of Symbolic Boundaries in the French Reception and Integration Contract"
Areas of Interest:
Race and Ethnicity, Immigration, Political Sociology, and Critical Race Theory.
Elizabeth Onasch’s work combines critical race theory with ethnographic and comparative historical methods to study how the interactions of racial and national identities define belonging and access to resources. Her dissertation drew on an ethnography of the French civic integration program for migrants, content analysis, and secondary historical research. Using these data, she frames the process of national definition in the program as the drawing of racialized boundaries that reiterate historical, constitutive relationships between Europeans and non-Europeans and conflict with the official goals of the integration policy. Her research has been supported by several grants and fellowships, including a Graduate Research Grant from The Graduate School at Northwestern University, a Northwestern University Sociology Research Fellowship, a Doctoral Exchange Fellowship from the L'Institut d'Etudes Politiques and two MacArthur Research Grants. She has also co-edited a volume, "Migrations and Welfare States: Policies, Discourses, and Institutions," in which she published a book chapter with Marjukka Weide, entitled, “Teaching Integration in France and Finland: A Comparison of National Discourses within Civic Integration Programmes."
Elizabeth just completed a one year postdoctoral fellowship at The New School for Social research, where she taught graduate and undergraduate classes on critical race theory, nationalism, and ethnographic methods, and began building an American comparison case that will be a part of the book based on her dissertation. She will be teaching in the Sociology department at Northwestern this year as a visiting assistant professor.
"The Human as a Research Object: Scientific Progress and the Meme of American Psychology"
Areas of Interest:
Theory, Science and Knowledge, Culture and Cognition, Health and Illness, Social Psychology, Economic Sociology
I study the dynamics of culture, practice, and knowledge with an emphasis on how social actors develop understandings of the world under conditions of complexity and contention. My current research investigates these issues at the frontiers of the social and natural sciences. However, I have previously published studies on how foreclosed homeowners conceptualized organizational agency during the recent economic crisis, the possibilities of multi-level models of health and illness, and the absolute limits of social constructionist theories. Although I have worked in a variety of subfields, my research is united by an abiding interest in how beliefs are adopted, amended, and abandoned by individuals and organizations.
My dissertation extends my research on complexity, uncertainty, and culture into the domain of scientific research through a multi-method study. Scholars have previously shown that a field’s “research frontier” is an ambiguous site of interpretation and negotiation. In my project, I investigated how scientific laboratories studying the mind and brain worked to either settle or avoid their research frontiers. One product of this research, my article “All that is Solid: Bench-Building at the Frontiers of two Experimental Sciences,” is forthcoming at the American Sociological Review. In addition to contributing to the sociology of science and knowledge, my dissertation participates in a larger dialogue about the role of the social sciences in modern life.
John N. Robinson III
“Poverty, Place and Portfolio: Managing Neighborhood Inequalities in the Finance-driven Economy"
Areas of Interest:
Economic sociology, public finance, urban sociology, law and society, race and poverty, organizational theory, geo-spatial analysis
John N. Robinson III is a PhD candidate and Legal Studies fellow in the Department of Sociology at Northwestern University. His research interests lie at the intersection of economic sociology, urban sociology, law and society and social policy. His intellectual work investigates public finance as a site for understanding how society manages poverty through the political construction of markets.
John’s dissertation project, entitled “Poverty, Place and Portfolio: Managing Neighborhood Inequalities in the Finance-driven Economy,” documents growing financial sector influence on social policy initiatives aimed at marginalized populations, with a focus on innovations in the housing field. The project links scholarship on the increasingly finance-driven American economy to questions of poverty, social policy and neighborhood inequality. Drawing on ethnographic observations, in-depth interviews and geo-spatial analysis, it elucidates the role of finance-driven reforms in shaping how various interests within the Chicago affordable housing industry together make decisions about how and where to produce housing affordable to low-income families. Findings from this project shed sociological insight on the broader debate on Fair Housing and the challenge of opening access for poor families to “neighborhoods of opportunity.”
2015 Special Trustees Award for Most Outstanding Project, Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy
2015 Dissertation Research Grant, Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy
2013 Visiting Scholar Grant, Paris Institute for Political Studies
2012 Ford Foundation Pre-doctoral Fellowship, The Ford Foundation
2011 MacArthur Foundation Collaborative Research Grant, Department of Sociology, Northwestern University (with Albert Hunter)
2011 Graduate Fellowship, Legal Studies Program at Northwestern University
"Explaining Women's Parliamentary Representation: Political Institutions, Development Thresholds, and Gender Equality in National Politics"
Areas of Interest:
Statistics and Mixed Research Methods; Sex and Gender; Political Sociology; International and Comparative Sociology; Intersectionality.
Women’s representation in national legislatures exhibits substantial variation across countries and over time. A particularly surprising aspect of this variation over the past twenty years is that many countries with low levels of socioeconomic development have outpaced developed democracies in enhancing the formal political representation of women. I argue that models designed to explain women’s enhanced representation are actually inadequate when applied to less developed countries, especially African and Latin American post-conflict societies. Using a nested research design, I construct and evaluate an original cross-national, time-series dataset (168 countries from 1992-2010). Next, I conduct two in-depth case studies (Tanzania and France) and 18 abbreviated case comparisons in order to understand how and why the factors identified by the statistical analyses matter.
My results show that two of most important variables identified in the literature -- gender quotas and electoral systems -- have different, even contradictory, effects on women’s political representation across development thresholds. Each component of the nested design provides consistent evidence that socioeconomic development interacts with key causal mechanisms, altering how they affect the political representation of women across levels of development. Given that the under-representation of women in politics may have serious consequences for political agendas, the articulation of women’s interests, and the legitimacy of democratic institutions, my research offers new insight into the best ways to promote gender balance in politics. The results also suggest that universal generalizations derived from large cross-national samples should be interpreted with caution, as they may not adequately represent the effects of key causal mechanisms.
Rosen, Jennifer. 2013. “The Effects of Political Institutions on Women’s Political Representation: a Comparative Analysis from 1992-2010.” Political Research Quarterly. 66(2): 306-321. http://prq.sagepub.com/content/66/2/306.abstract
Rosen, Jennifer. Forthcoming, June 2014. “Gender & Political Representation.” Network News. Sociologists for Women in Society: Lawrence, KS.
Rosen, Jennifer. “Gender Quotas for Women in National Politics: A Comparative Analysis across Development Thresholds.” Under review at Social Problems as of May. 27, 2014.
Rosen, Jennifer. 2005. “1979 March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights.” GLBT History. Salem Press: Pasadena, CA.
Honorable Mention, Political Research Quarterly Best Article Published in 2013. Western Political Science Association.
Northwestern University Presidential Fellowship (2010-2012)
Buffet Center for International and Comparative Studies Travel Grant (2011, 2009)
Northwestern University Research Improvement Grant (2011)
Graduate Dissertation Research Grant (2009)
Robert F. Winch Award for Outstanding Second Year Paper (2008)
Northwestern University Frisen Grant (2007, 2008)
"Enemies will be made: Organizational identity, governance, and community development policy implementation”
Areas of Interest:
Policy Implementation, Organizations, Urban Sociology, Economic Sociology, Political Sociology, Critical Theory
I am broadly interested in the intersection of organizational studies, policy implementation, politics and urban sociology. I have a particular interest in governance decisions made by organizations attempting to directly address systemic inequality in new ways. These attempts, whether successful or not, can contribute to scholarly understandings of the politics of policy implementation. My work also aims to directly address practical concerns in the fields of policy implementation and public management.
My dissertation examines the Federal Reserve’s early efforts to implement the anti-redlining enforcement policy, the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, with a specific focus on the relationship between organizational identity and governance in the policy implementation process. Most scholarship on the first decade of the CRA has characterized it as an ineffectual and inconsequential policy intervention. However, while it was unable to successfully enforce anti-redlining laws to increase access to credit among low- and moderate-income households, it was not without considerable influence. I demonstrate that the Fed's efforts to implement the CRA played an integral role in the injection of powerful market-based ideologies into community development politics. This finding is revealed through a unique analytical approach that emphasizes the roles of institutionally marginalized actors and seriously considers their influence in the policy implementation process. By focusing on the consequences of bureaucratic governance as a subjective experience, this project challenges standard paradigms of community development politics and complicates our understandings of bureaucratic governance.
"Geographies of Knowledge and Identity: Everyday Lived Experience and Features of the Home, Community, and Land, in a Post-Nomadic Arctic Hamlet"
Areas of Interest:
Space/Place, Culture, Identity, Symbolic Interaction, Boundaries, STS, Qualitative Methods
Lisa-Jo van den Scott’s dissertation examines the experiences of space and place, identity, and knowledge transmission in a Canadian Inuit hamlet. Permanent housing, and thus permanent walls, have only been introduced to this population within the last 50 years. Van den Scott examines how they relate to their walls and engage in identity maintenance and performance. She finds that living within the Western walls, apart from the locus of traditional knowledge, impacts how the Inuit not only perform identity work, but also relate to their own sense of ethnic identity, creating an awareness of knowledge and identity as interlinked. Having lived among the Inuit for five years, and having returned for additional research trips, van den Scott uses a combination of ethnography and formal interviews, as well as innovative uses of photography and cognitive mapping.
Van den Scott currently holds a postdoc in Visual Sociology and is working on a project entitled "Making/Re-Making Canadian Families," which explores family photography and "doing family." In addition, she is the treasurer for the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. She and Andrea Doucet are heading up this year's Qualitative Analysis Conference at Brock University. Van den Scott is also an associate editor for The Journal of Research on Human Research Ethics (JERHRE).
van den Scott, Lisa-Jo K. Forthcoming. “Mundane Technology in non-Western Contexts: Wall-as-Tool” in Sociology of Home: Belonging, Community and Place in the Canadian Context. Laura Suski, Joey Moore, and Gillian Anderson, eds. Canadian Scholars Press International.
van den Scott, Lisa-Jo K., and Deborah K. van den Hoonaard. Forthcoming. “The Origins and Evolution of ‘Master Status.’” in Everett C. Hughes. Rick Helmes-Hays and Marco Santoro, eds. Anthem Press.
van den Scott, Lisa-Jo K. In press. “Graduate Ethics and Graduate Ethics Boards: Socialization of Contemporary Students by Ethics Boards” in The Ethics Rupture. Ann Hamilton and Will C. van den Hoonaard, eds. University of Toronto Press.
van den Scott , Lisa-Jo K. 2015. “Introduction to the Special Issue. Qualitative Analysis Conference 2014: The Social Construction of Boundaries: Creating, Maintaining, Transcending, and Reconstituting Boundaries.” Qualitative Sociology Review. 11(3):6-9.
van den Scott, Lisa-Jo K., Clare Forstie, and Savina Balasubramanian. 2014. “Shining Stars, Blindsides, and “Real” Realities: Exit Rituals, Eulogy Work, and Allegories in Reality Television.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. DOI: 10.1177/0891241614545879
van den Scott, Lisa-Jo K. 2014. “Beyond the Time Crunch: New Directions in the Sociology of Time and Work.” Sociology Compass. 8(5):478-490.
van den Scott, Lisa-Jo K. 2013. “Working with Aboriginal Populations: An Attitude of Learning.” Planning Ethically Responsible Research 2nd Ed.. Joan Sieber and Martin Tolich, eds. Sage. P. 128-129.
van den Scott, Lisa-Jo K. 2012. “Science, Politics, and Identity in Northern Research Ethics Licensing.” Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics. 7(1):28-36.
Fine, Gary Alan and Lisa-Jo K. van den Scott. 2011. “Wispy Communities: Transient Gathering and Imagined Micro-Communities.” American Behavioral Scientist. 55(10):1319-1335.
van den Scott, Lisa-Jo K. 2011. Book Review: The Sea Woman: Sedna in Inuit Shamanism and Art in the Eastern Arctic by Frédéric Laugrand and Jarich Oosten. Northern Review. 33:168-170.
van den Scott, Lisa-Jo K. 2009. “Cancelled, Aborted, Late, Mechanical: The Vagaries of Air Travel in Arviat, Nunavut, Canada” in The Cultures of Alternative Mobilities: Routes Less Travelled. Phillip Vannini, ed. Surrey: Ashgate. P. 211-226.
van den Scott, Lisa-Jo K. 2009. “Inuit Wedding Ceremony.” in Canadian Families Today. David Cheal, ed. Toronto: Oxford University Press. P. 120-121.
Jill D. Weinberg
"The Regulation of Legal Consent: Policing Good and Bad Pain"
Areas of Interest:
Crime, Law, Deviance; Research Methods; Gender and Sexuality; Social Movements
Jill Weinberg is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at DePaul University, and an Affiliated Scholar at the American Bar Foundation. Her forthcoming book, Sex, Sports & the Politics of Consensual Violence focuses on the ways groups decriminalize activities through social process which she calls “social decriminalization.” Using two case studies where groups engage in acts of consensual violence – mixed-martial arts and sexual sadomasochism – the book reveals how both develop rules and norms to render their activities legally and socially tolerable. She is also a co-principal investigator on the Contested Construction of Discrimination project at the American Bar Foundation, and associate editor of Law & Social Inquiry.
Her research has been supported by the American Bar Foundation, the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction and Northwestern University. She has numerous articles in journals, including Sociological Methods & Research,Sociological Science, and Law & Social Inquiry. Opinion editorials based on her research have also appeared in outlets such as the Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, Truth-Out, and the Advocate.
NEED EXPERT ADVICE?
Our faculty advisers can help you select Sociology courses, even if Sociology isn't your major or minor.
Searle Center for Advancing Learning & Teaching provides a variety of programs and workshops for graduate students and faculty interested in developing their teaching practices. In addition, the Searle Center offers a variety of programs for graduate students seeking to develop their skills as Teaching Assistant (TA) and instructor , such as, a yearly conference for new TA's, a teaching certificate program and fellowship opportunities.
There are no upcoming events at this time.