Research

My research investigates the US race system, along with other aspects of American culture (like collective memory) and politics (like Presidential elections). I use a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods in my work. Here are a few clusters of interest:

On Racial Social Boundaries and Exclusion:

What role does race plays in the formation of social, economic, and cooperative ties? Michael Gaddis and I sent out replies to “roommate wanted” posts on Craigslist in several major metro areas, but varied the names and email addresses we used in order to signify race. Our findings suggest a steep hierarchy of opportunity.  White names receive the most responses, as do “Americanized” Chinese and “Americanized” Indian names. Americanized Latina names do next best, followed by fully Latina names and fully Indian names. African American, Arab, and fully Chinese names received the fewest replies, and must send out 50% more emails to get the same number of responses. One article from this project has been published in The Annals, while the main ongoing working paper, “Finding a Roommate on Craigslist: Color Lines and Culture Lines,” is available at the Social Science Research Network.

On Teaching about Race and Other Issues:

My co-authored article “Beyond Bigotry” (published in Teaching Sociology) introduces a method for teaching about unconscious or semi-conscious biases around characteristics like race, gender, and age, using online Implicit Association Tests. My co-authored article “Powerblindness” (in Sociology Compass) considers five reasons that people with power and privilege are frequently only dimly aware of that privilege. I also have work in progress on teaching college students how to conduct email-based audit studies and how to engage elected officials on topics of interest.

On Collective Memory of Past Racial Violence:

Another line of work addresses the role that historic racial violence plays in today’s politics and culture. Of the thousands of racially charged killings of African Americans that occurred between 1896 and 1954, several dozen have resurged in collective memory in the form of memorial  ceremonies, new historic markers, educational projects, and more. My article “Transforming Collective Memory” (in Theory and Society) explains why some of these projects have been more successful than others. Another article examines the impact of a local-level truth commission on collective memory of a historic racially charged incident in Greensboro, NC.

On Other Aspects of American Political Culture:

Other topics I have examined, either alone or in collaboration with others, include persuasion in debates about same-sex marriage (“Argument Forms, Frames, and Value Conflict,” in Cultural Sociology), social movement/state relations (“States Make Movements?” in Sociological Perspectives), protest participation (“A Social Movement Generation” in The American Sociological Review), and letters to the editor in presidential elections (with Jeff Larson, in progress).