I am a cultural sociologist who studies inequality and stratification. I use a cognitive approach to culture in order to understand how people form beliefs and perceptions about important institutions in society — like the occupation structure; the stratification system; schools and universities; and social movements and the media. I then try to understand how these beliefs and perceptions in turn shape inequality. My research employs a wide variety of methodological approaches, including survey-experiments, interviews, and analysis of secondary survey and administrative data.
My research has been published in Social Forces, Poetics, Social Problems, Economics of Education Review, and Social Currents, among other outlets. Findings from these studies were covered by the news media including U.S. News & World Report, Inside Higher Ed, and The Hechinger Report. My work has been generously supported by the National Science Foundation, Duke’s Interdisciplinary Institute for Education and Human Development, the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Bass Connections, and the Worldviews Lab, where I am presently affiliated.
I am currently involved in several projects. In one study, I am modeling the cultural logics of worth in the occupational hierarchy and examining heterogeneity in these judgments. In another study, I investigate how different depictions of social movements in the media are (or are not) persuasive for garnering support for their cause. A third project seeks to understand the role of education in shaping people’s reliance on racial segregation as measure of a job’s social standing.
I am passionate about teaching sociology to train future social scientists, health care professionals, business leaders, law practitioners, educators, and government officials in the importance of social inequality and scientific literacy. I have an excellent teaching record, which involves experience teaching substantive topical courses as well as foundational courses.