My most up-to-date CV can be found here.
My work strives to integrate cultural and cognitive sociology with the broader, interdisciplinary field of judgment and decision-making sciences. I aim to clarify and strengthen core concepts in culture like “schemas” and “logics.” My research bridges the distinct subfields of the sociology of culture (which focuses on patterns of cultural consumption and production) and cultural sociology (which examines how frames, values, toolkits, and repertoires shape social action).
My American Sociological Review article (forthcoming), coauthored with Mary Beth Fallin Hunzaker, demonstrates that schemas can be measured as cognitive associations. Using a new data collection method and drawing on techniques from network analysis, this study operationalizes key ideas from culture and cognition like “cultural anchoring” and “relational meaning,” providing a quantitative way to measure these concepts and showing how they undergird preferences and attitudes.
My Poetics article, coauthored with Stephen Vaisey, sketches the unique contributions cultural sociology has to make in the field of judgment and decision-making, and outlines some ways that these two parallel fields can speak one another’s language.
My Social Forces article, coauthored with Patricia Homan and Emi Weed, demonstrates that schemas can be conceptualized as generative, shared, interpretive frameworks that contain both a “who” component and a “why” component. These schemas can then be used to predict social policy preferences and attitudes.
My dissertation work, presently under review, advocates for an operationalization of the concept of “cultural logics.” I argue that, at the individual level, a logic can be understood as a judgment containing a set of criteria, each having a valence and weight. In these studies, I show how logics can be concretized using Latent Class Regression, and how this approach can reveal substantial heterogeneity in worldviews — heterogeneity that was previously overlooked and has important implications for how people navigate mainstream American institutions, such as the labor market.
Inequality and stratification.
In all of my work, I aim to illuminate the ways that both gatekeepers and actors draw upon their beliefs and perceptions of the social world in order to produce, challenge, and reproduce inequality.
In my American Sociological Review article (forthcoming), I show that liberals and conservatives have distinct cognitive associations about poverty. I also show that these associations help explain an important part of the stark partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans in terms of their divergent policy preferences and attitudes related to welfare and poverty.
In my Social Forces article, I show that Americans differentiate between the downwardly mobile as compared to the intergenerationally poor, and that this distinction — as well as which group one envisions when thinking about ‘the poor’ — shapes subsequent welfare preferences.
In my dissertation work, I argue that symbolic valuation is an important but overlooked way that inequality is (re)produced in the occupation structure. I show that there is a “segregation premium” which rewards the gender segregation of jobs with occupational prestige. I also show that different people perceive the occupational structure in strikingly different ways, with a mere minority of Americans considering a “good” job to be a simple linear function of required education and pay. This dissertation work also reveals that more educated people draw upon an occupation’s racial composition when judging its prestige, suggesting that more educated people are not “more enlightened” regarding racial discrimination than their less-educated counterparts.
In my Social Problems article, coauthored with Elizabeth Stearns, Martha Bottia, Elenora Alvarez, Roslyn Mickelson, and Stephanie Moller, I provide evidence that greater exposure to female role models, operationalized as a high proportion of a girl’s math/science high school teachers, leads women to be more likely to go on to major in a STEM field and graduate with a STEM degree from college.
In my Social Currents article, coauthored with Stephanie Moller, Elizabeth Stearns, and Roslyn Mickelson, I show that the perception that STEM fields are not family-friendly drives away a substantial portion of otherwise STEM-capable college students. I find that while female students are more likely to be concerned about work/life balance in relation to their college major, this concern is equally likely to dissuade both men and women from pursuing STEM fields.