Sociology PhDs on the Job Market
- Elisabeth Anderson
- Kieran Bezila
- Amelia Branigan
- Victor Espinosa
- Theodore (Theo) Greene
- Stefan Griffin
- Ke-Hsien Huang
- J. Alex Kevern
- Charlie Jeong Kim
- Armando Lara-Millan
- Stacy Lom
- Elizabeth Onasch
- Jennifer Rosen
- Bienvenido "Ben" Ruiz
- Yordanos Tiruneh
- Lisa-Jo K. van den Scott
- Jill Weinberg
- Christine Wood
“Policy Entrepreneurs and Institutional Change: The Politics of Nineteenth-Century Child Labor Reform in Germany and the U.S.”
Areas of Interest:
comparative/historical sociology, political sociology, theory, sociology of childhood and youth, welfare states.
My research and teaching interests are in the areas of comparative/historical sociology, political sociology, sociology of childhood and youth, and theory. I have published two single-authored papers in Theory and Society, the more recent of which won the Charles Tilly prize for best article from the ASA’s Comparative and Historical Sociology section. My core research goal is to develop a historically grounded theoretical understanding of why states devote resources to protecting groups that seem politically, economically, and socially powerless. My dissertation, “Policy Entrepreneurs and Institutional Change: The Politics of Nineteenth-Century Child Labor Reform in Germany and the U.S.,” explores this question through an analysis of the political origins and development of nineteenth-century child labor regulation and factory inspection in Germany and the United States. Through four case studies, two in each country, I find that these policies came about not as a direct result of industrialization, working-class mobilizations, or institutional feedbacks—as existing sociological theories of social policy change propose—but as a consequence of middle-class policy entrepreneurs’ dedicated reform advocacy. Relying on in-depth inductive analysis of archival materials and published primary and secondary sources, I explicate the culturally-embedded normative paradigms that informed these reformers’ interpretive understanding of the child labor problem and motivated their political action. Furthermore, I identify the alliance-building strategies through which they forged coalitions to overcome political barriers and successfully effect institutional change. On the basis of this analysis I develop a theoretical model of policy entrepreneurship which challenges existing theories of welfare policy development by bringing actors, their ideas, and their creative political action to the fore. I use the model to show that similar policy outcomes need not have the same social-structural causes, and that the link between social-structural conditions and institutional change depends on the mediating intervention of agents who exercise judgment, creativity, and choice.
Kieran Bezila Ph.D.
“Situational Altruism: The Individual Logic of Pro-Social Behavior”
Areas of Interest:
Altruism and Cooperation, Organizations, Theory, Research Methods, Political Preferences, Cognitive Epistemology and Decision-Making.
My dissertation research advances new theories to account for altruistic behavior and tests them via group experiments. Altruistic behavior constitutes a puzzle across the social sciences: if people are rational, why would they engage in personally-costly behavior to help strangers? I review and challenge existing theories of altruism as a quirk of personality, as disguised selfishness, or as irrational conformity to social-structural pressures. Instead, I hypothesize altruism as a rational “pay it forward” strategy of investing in the common good – a strategy that trades direct and immediate personal costs in return for uncertain future collective gains. While this may seem irrational, I argue that altruistic practices of this nature are both exceedingly common and essential to the smooth functioning of society. I examine how structural factors facilitate altruistic and generous behavior, showing through multi-person experiments how altruistic and generous behavior spontaneously arises and is more dependent on common structural cues than personal beliefs or preferences.
Areas of Interest:
Social Inequality; Sociology of Education; Race and Ethnicity; Sociology of Health and Illness.
Amelia Branigan studies the relationship between elements of the physical body and socioeconomic inequality, with a particular focus on educational disparities. 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 social categories such as sex and race. She uses educational performance outcomes to assess the sociological relevance of two visible physical characteristics—skin color and body fat— addressing challenges of accurate measurement and of variation in the salience of these characteristics across cohorts. Through three studies using large national datasets, she demonstrates such within-sex and within-race variation in educational attainment and achievement by phenotype, and offers suggestions for better engaging the visible body in sociological research on inequality. The first of these studies is forthcoming in Social Science Research. A second line of work assesses the environmental contingence of the relationship between genes and educational attainment, and a meta-analysis of estimates of the heritability of attainment across sex, nation, and birth cohort is forthcoming in Social Forces. Amelia was a fellow of the Institute for Education Sciences’ Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences, and completed a second interdisciplinary certificate program in Society, Biology, and Health as part of Northwestern University’s Cells to Society Center.
Victor Espinosa Ph.D.
"Framing Martín Ramírez and the Van Gogh Effect: The invention of Outsider Art and the Reproduction of a Singularity Regime"
Areas of Interest:
Sociology of Art and Visual Culture; Outsider Art and Artistic Singularity; Latin American and Latina/o Art; Transnational Migration and Cultural Change; Ethnography and Qualitative Methodologies.
My doctoral dissertation is an in-depth historical case study of a Mexican immigrant and psychiatric patient who produced a large body of artwork while secluded in two California psychiatric institutions. My research uses information collected in archives, participant observation, and open interviews to delineate the actors and discourses crucial to understanding how a Mexican migrant worker without artistic credentials came to be defined by some scholars as a perfect paradigm of Outsider Art and hailed by influential New York art critics as simply one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Framing Martín Ramírez contributes primarily to the fields of Sociology of Art, Latino/Latin American Art History and Migration Studies. The reconstruction of this singular-yet-paradigmatic case contributes to the study of three cultural processes: the recognition and commoditization of cultural objects produced outside of the art world by marginalized self-taught creators; the paradoxes of the mainstream legitimization of “outsiders” as artists; and the reproduction of artistic hierarchies in the contemporary art world. I show how the discourse that values Ramirez’s outsiderness simplifies the conditions under which he produced his works and ignores the conflictive experience of transnational migration and seclusion that shape his visual production. When the work of an “Outsider” is displayed in contemporary art spaces dominated by framing practices that emphasis formalism over content, those practices involve what I call a “cultural covering” that dehistoricizes and decontextualizes the visual works produced by marginalized self-taught artists, silencing their attempts to communicate. Finally, I argue that Ramírez’s work is an early manifestation of “transnational art,” which cannot be neatly classified, using dehistoricized modernist or national frames.
Areas of Interest:
Urban/Community Sociology; Sociology of Sexualities; Race, Class, and Gender; Social Movements
Theo Greene is a doctoral candidate in Sociology and a graduate certificate candidate in the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. He holds a BA in English/History from Georgetown University and a MA from Northwestern. His research and teaching interests include urban/community sociology, sociology of sexualities, culture, race, class, and gender. His dissertation, “Not in MY Gayborhood: Gay Neighborhoods and the Rise of the Vicarious Citizen,” draws primarily on ethnographic, archival, and interview data collected from gay neighborhoods in Washington, DC, to develop a framework for understanding how community actors legitimate claims of ownership to a neighborhood community in the absence of residential, network, and material ties. In the context of gay neighborhoods, vicarious citizens represent a diversity of racial, socio-economic, and aged-based populations who legitimate their membership in community through a sense of shared identity with the local area and their participation in the social, cultural, and political life of the community. As a result, these stakeholders retain differing and sometimes conflicting perspectives on the functions of gay neighborhoods. Moreover, I use vicarious citizen to complicate prevailing theories on the declining salience of neighborhoods. The ever-changing composition of gay neighborhoods has not diminished their importance for many LGBT citizens who seek residence outside of them; those who claim vicarious citizenship engage in a variety of practices to protect their interests when their visions of community are threatened.
During his time at Northwestern, Theo has served in a variety of committees, including the Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee for the University’s Strategic Planning Committee, the Presidential Inaugural Committee for President Morton Shapiro, and the LGBTQI Network, the Graduate Leadership Council (where Theo served as chair for two years) and the Queer Pride Graduate Student Association (where Theo served as President for three years). As President of NU’s Queer Pride Graduate Student Association, he co-founded Queertopia! An Academic Festival: one of the nation’s first multi-disciplinary graduate student sexualities conferences.
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“The Role of Race and Gender in the Professional Development of Women Attorneys of Color”
Areas of Interest:
Racial and Ethnic Minorities; Race, Gender, Class; Work, Occupations, and Professions; Sociology of the Legal Profession; Race and Higher Education, particularly blacks and graduate education.
Women attorneys of color face continuing professional challenges and increased opportunities. I interviewed 56 women attorneys of color and asked them questions about their law school experiences, demographic or social structural constraints on career options and opportunities, mentor relations, job satisfaction, and work-life balance, and whether they would become a lawyer again. I examine their responses from race, gender, and class, organizational behavior, and symbolic interactionist perspectives. The accounts of my informants generally supported my hypothesis that social structural influences, such as race, gender, and class affect their careers. My informants understood their own agency and accepted the concomitant responsibilities. Informants were generally satisfied with their present legal work, despite the obstacles. I also interviewed two white male partners at a large, national law firm. They articulated the mainstream perspective on diversity, which emphasizes competition, meritocracy, ascribed characteristic neutrality, and a firm belief in a strong work ethic. Informants shared varying degrees of faith in the mainstream perspective, but felt their profession sometimes failed to live up to its professed ideals when it came to supporting their careers.
J. Alex Kevern
“Differential Fertility and Cultural Change”
Areas of Interest:
Quantitative Methods, Demography, Evolution and Society, Gene-Culture Coevolution.
I examine the various ways in which differential fertility can shape population level attitude change. My primary argument is that fertility can have a meaningful effect on population trends in attitudes under circumstances where attitudes exhibit a high parent child correlation and a correlation with large family size. The project is organized into three parts-- a theory section discussing the macro level consequences of attitudes correlated with fertility; a empirical chapter focusing on a quantitative analysis of abortion attitude change in the United States using 34 years of GSS data; and a simulation chapter investigating the short and long term consequences of fertility on cultural change using various models in NetLogo.
Charlie Jeong Kim Ph.D.
"Indigenous Collaboration under Foreign Occupation: Japanese-
Occupied Koreans from 1904 to 1945"
Areas of Interest: Political Sociology, Collective Memory, Sociology of Law, and Economic Sociology.
Charlie (Jeong-Chul) Kim’ research interests include political sociology (colonialism/empire), social psychology, law and society, economic sociology, and qualitative and quantitative methods. His dissertation examines Koreans who collaborated with the Japanese colonial power from 1910 to 1945. Using in-depth interpretation of archival data, he finds that Korean collaborators constantly produced political and cultural claims about the nation to navigate their challenging situations arising from foreign control. His dissertation lies at the intersection of social psychology and the sociology of colonialism/empires, and contributes to sociology broadly by linking the outcome of problematic micro-level processes and problematic macro-level outcomes. His research interests in culture, history, law, and Korea are also shown in a number of journals such as Memory Studies, and International Journal of the Legal Profession.
Armando Lara-Millan Ph.D.
"Redistributing the Poor: The Politics of Hospital and Jail Overcrowding in Los Angeles County"
Areas of Interest: Political Sociology, Health Policy/Medical Sociology, Criminal Justice/Mass Imprisonment, Urban Sociology, Organizations/Institutional Change, Historical Sociology, and Ethnographic Methods.
Armando’s work studies the intimate relationship between county jails and public hospitals. Currently, one article presenting this work is conditionally accepted by the American Sociological Review and another is in revise and resubmit status at the Law and Society Review. While each of these articles separately presents data on the criminalization of general patients in the public emergency room and the medicalization of inmates in the county jail, the book manuscript brings these two discussions together in order extend a perspective on contemporary poverty governance. It is entitled "Redistributing the Poor: The Politics of Hospital and Jail Overcrowding in Los Angeles County." The manuscript develops a theory of how overwhelmed and disorganized states successfully manage the social problem of poverty through the continuous “redistribution of the poor.” By transferring poor people between different institutional spaces, such as jails and hospitals, politicians and street-level officials are able to project the illusion of caseload mobility and policy success. The work draws on ethnographies of a public emergency room and a nearby county jail, as well as archival research of 30-years of policy-making in Los Angeles County. The research was supported by a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant and the Minority Fellowship Program at American Sociological Association. Armando’s work has been the recipient of awards from the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, the Art Stinchcombe award for Best Dissertation in Organizations Studies at SION, the Ford Foundation, honorable mention for the SSSP’s Health Division’s Best Graduate Student Paper Award, and the ASA’s Crime, Law and Deviance Section’s Distinguished Graduate Student Paper Award.
Stacy Lom Ph.D.
"Sometimes Less Is More”: The Development and Effects of Evaluative Cultures"
Areas of Interest:
Organizations, Culture, Knowledge, Evaluation, Qualitative Methods.
In my dissertation, I examine the development and effects of evaluative cultures (shared meanings and practices surrounding evaluation) through a comparison of evaluation in figure skating and classical music. Drawing on interviews, participant observation, and archival data, and focusing on the differences between formal and informal evaluation, I suggest that the institutional politics, trust, and controversy surrounding evaluative cultures help predict their formality and, in turn, how they affect judging and performance. I also argue that the more formal an evaluation system is, the more influential it is as far as changing performance or whatever the system was designed to evaluate, and the more likely it is to emphasize technical over artistic factors and to clearly distinguish between these two areas.
“Access to the Nation: Racialization and the French Reception and Integration Contract”
Areas of Interest:
Race and Ethnicity, Immigration, Comparative and Historical Sociology, Cultural Sociology, and Sociology of Knowledge
My dissertation examines the construction of national and racial identities in French civic integration programs for non-EU migrants. As EU member states increasingly require non-EU migrants to complete integration programs, it is important to understand how these programs represent the national communities to which migrants are required conform. By identifying the colonial origins of the programs' representations of the nation and the targeted populations, I argue that civic integration programs are the site of contemporary processes of racialization and boundary-drawing. The project relies on a combination of qualitative data, including an ethnography of the civic integration program, interviews with program participants and personnel, content analysis of policy documents, and secondary historical sources. In addition to locating the development of the French program within the broader context of EU governance, I compare the representations and experiences in the French program of migrants from three different regions –North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia. This comparison allows me to detail how different historical relationships with France affect the contemporary representations of different migrants. I also identify how the program represents different groups of migrants as being separated from the French by different constellations of symbolic boundaries, which appear to be more or less difficult to cross. The findings from this dissertation speak to the definition of European national identities in a context of increasing racial diversity and transnationalism and the translation of these definitions into policy.
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"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. 2013. “Gender Quotas: Symbolic Gestures or Effective Tools to Enhance Women’s Political Representation?” Under review at Social Forces as of May 16, 2013.
Rosen, Jennifer. 2005. “1979 March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights.” GLBT History. Salem Press: Pasadena, CA.
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)
Bienvenido "Ben" Ruiz Ph.D.
“A Multi-generational Perspective of Mexican American Social Mobility and Racial Formation”
Areas of Interest:
Race/Ethnicity; U.S. Latino populations; Sociology of Education; Inequality; Sociology of Education.
Bienvenido (Ben) Ruiz is a PhD candidate in sociology at Northwestern University. His research interests include race and ethnicity, social stratification, sociology of education, U.S. Latino populations and immigration. His dissertation, entitled “A Multi-generational Perspective of Mexican American Social Mobility and Racial Formation,” examines the evolving social identities of Mexican Americans for three generations after immigration using a combination of methods that include life and family histories and nationally representative survey data. This study emphasizes agency, social class and changing historical contexts to build upon the concept of racial formation and other recent developments in theories of immigrant assimilation.
Yordanos Tiruneh, Ph.D.
“HIV talks; it has a mouth": Lived Experiences and Illness Management of People Living with HIV/AIDS”
Areas of Interest:
Medical Sociology, HIV/AIDS, Reproductive Health, Health Disparities, Gender, Culture, Youth, public policy, Sociology of Immigration, Urban Sociology, Sociology of Deviance.
Yordanos M. Tiruneh is a sociologist with a background in public health, who employs diverse theoretical and methodological applications of mixed method research. Her areas of interest include medical sociology, public health, HIV/AIDS, sexuality, social policy, health care systems, urban poverty, culture, youth/adolescents, immigration, and program evaluation. Her dissertation is driven by an interest in examining how health and illness are diversely experienced and managed in different social systems and in what ways socio-economic conditions, culture, healing ideologies, public discourse, and the health care system shapes peoples’ narratives of physical health and illness management. The study relies heavily on in-depth interviews conducted with over 100 PLWHA and six months of ethnographic observation at the HIV clinic of an urban teaching hospital in Ethiopia. The findings revealed that despite global progress in biomedical HIV management and increased access to antiretroviral treatment (ART) in resource-poor settings such as Ethiopia, illness management and the lived experiences of PLWHA are deeply rooted in culturally specific behaviors and continue to be formulated inevitably by economic, social, and cultural realities of everyday life. Her dissertation advances theory and research along three substantial dimensions of medical sociology and public health: medication practices (adherence), health-seeking behaviors (healing ideologies), and disease stigmatization.
Areas of Interest:
Space/Place, Culture, Identity, Symbolic Interaction, 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 use their walls to express identity, as a locus for collective memory, for storage, and for privacy. She attends to changing conceptions of public and private, symbolically connected interior spaces, and how the divisions of rooms have affected the transmission of family as well as gendered knowledge. In addition, she finds that living within the 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.
Jill D. Weinberg
"Constructing Consent: Sex, Sports, and the Politics of Pain"
Areas of Interest: Sociology of Law, Criminology and Deviance, Sexualities, Research Methods.
Jill D. Weinberg is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Sociology, a Graduate Fellow in Legal Studies, and an instructor at Northwestern University. She holds a M.A. in Sociology from Northwestern, an M.A. in Social Sciences from University of Chicago, and a J.D. from Seattle University. She also is a Research Associate at the American Bar Foundation where she serves as an Associate Editor of Law & Social Inquiry.
Her dissertation, "Constructing Consent: Sex, Sports, and the Politics of Pain," which is funded in part by the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction and Northwestern University, draws on case law, ethnographic fieldwork, and 92 in-depth interviews of individuals engage in activities involve consent to pain: sexual sadomasochism (BDSM) and mixed martial arts (MMA). Her project reveals these communities that engage in consensually painful activities retreat into the shadow of law (and arguably beyond the law) in order to legitimate their consent. This project also shows that consent is explicit, highly self-regulated, and formulated using quasi-legal language and structure in communities defined by activities not recognized by the state. She also is a Co-Principal Investigator of a fully-funded American Bar Foundation mixed-methods project that compares how ordinary citizens and federal judges define discrimination.
She has published six articles in journals, including Sociological Methods & Research and Southern California Law Review. She is a regular a contributor for the “The Life of the Law,” a multimedia program devoted to discussions about law in everyday life. Opinion editorials based on her research have appeared in outlets such as the “Huffington Post,” and “the Advocate,” the largest U.S. circulating magazine devoted to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues (LGBT).
“Making Gender Matter. Gendered Opportunities, Contested Research Objects, and the Making of an Interdisciplinary Field: Women’s and Gender Studies in American Universities, 1970-2010”
Areas of Interest:
Sociology of Culture; Sociology of Knowledge/Science; Sociology of Gender; Theory.
My dissertation examines the development of research programs on women and gender in American universities since 1970. Knowledge production about gender has been shaped by complex historical transitions impacting higher education, as well as “ecological” conditions within individual programs and universities. Women’s studies programs began with similar intellectual goals: to address the lack of scholarship on women and sex stratification in traditional disciplines and to produce research on women. As interdisciplinary units spread scholars with varied perspectives on gender analysis redefined the focus of programs across institutions, incorporating diverse topics like masculinity and sexual orientation, leading to plural research agendas across contexts. The diversification of research agendas and program structures is the result of evolving ecological differences across local contexts, as well as the intellectually “supple” quality of objects of analysis like “women” and “gender,” which can be defined and used in different ways. My argument that programs began with homogenous content and became more distinct contributes a new model of disciplinary and organizational development. The argument is distinct from “new institutional” models which see organizations as increasingly homogenous despite distinct structural origins, as well as traditional models that see organizations as bearing the structural imprints of the their origins over time. I also present a case of “gendered” opportunities in academic research professions, by explaining how women’s studies programs opened opportunities for scholars to conduct research on women, gender, and sexuality and to pursue research careers in these areas. Data are archival records from 11 women’s and gender studies departments and programs, semi-structured interviews with professors, data on employment and career trajectories of scholars with appointments in programs, and content analysis of research output.
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