My research examines how organizations transform and reproduce social inequality. Using ethnographic methods, interviews, and social network analysis, I have investigated these processes across several projects. To date, I have focused on two institutions that shape and are shaped in significant ways by unequal social conditions: education and philanthropy.
My work, which has received rewards from several sections of the American Sociological Association (Organizations, Occupations and Work; Sociology of Education; and Emotions), is published in Sociology of Education, Sociological Forum, Symbolic Interaction, and is forthcoming in the Du Bois Review. I have co-authored pieces with Annette Lareau (University of Pennsylvania) and Elliot Weininger (SUNY Brockport) that appear in Teachers College Record, The New York Times, The Hechinger Report, and Social Class and Changing Families in an Unequal America (Stanford University Press, edited by Marcia Carlson and Paula England).
To read about my publications, click the links above or the titles in the list on the left.
My prior projects include an ethnographic study of the summer session of a program that prepares low-income students of color to attend elite boarding schools.
My current projects include an ethnographic study of two organizations attempting to redistribute power across institutional roles—a family foundation seeking to transfer control over a portion of its grant-making to a community-based board, and a democratic school in which students and teachers have equal voice (one vote per person) in decisions.
I am also collaborating on a project with Rand Quinn (University of Pennsylvania) and Amy Steinbugler (Dickinson College) that investigates the school- and neighborhood-based social networks of parents sending their children to a school of choice.