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Graduate Students on the Job Market

ELIZABETH M. ARMSTRONG - Bridging the Intimate: Partner Violence and Alcohol and Other Drug Use Intervention Fields

  • Co-Chairs Elizabeth A. Armstrong and Beth Glover Reed (Social Work & Women’s Studies)
  • Jason Owen Smith
  • Eve Garrow (Social Work)
  • Michelle McClellen (History & Women’s Studies)

This dissertation considers the relationship between the intimate partner violence (IPV) and alcohol and other drug use (AOD) intervention fields. IPV and AOD frequently co-occur in individuals and failing to address both together may limit the effectiveness of interventions for either one. While models exist to guide hybrid interventions, few organizations do this work and those who attempt report challenges. I argue that this service gap and the difficulties hybrid organizations face result from differences in each intervention field’s institutionalization. Using archival materials and interviews with experts in either field (n=27), I trace the emergence of both fields in period since the 1960s, focusing on metro Chicago, a region that has historically had high level of support for this type of organizational hybridity. Using a unique dataset on the characteristics and practices of all known IPV and AOD organizations in the nine-county Chicago metropolitan area (n=383), I show how the divergent histories of IPV and AOD shape current practices and limit hybrid services. I also examine relationships between organizations’ status in their primary field and the incidence and form of hybrid service provision, uncovering field-specific relationships between status, hybridity, and hybridity strategy. In addition to contributing to scholarship on organizational fields and hybridity, this project yields concrete recommendations for policymakers and practitioners working at the juncture of IPV and AOD.

Armstrong's Personal Website

PATRICIA CHEN - Talk of Rights : The Rise and Fall of Collective Bargaining in China


  • Kiyoteru Tsustui (chair)
  • Mary Gallagher
  • Howard Kimeldorf
  • Sandra Levitsky

Chen's research asks how bottom-up collective bargaining emerged as a repertoire of contention for low-wage manufacturing workers in Souther China. This alternative means for dispute resolution can be compared to legal action== a a state-supported activity that atomizes workers through the law. In contrast, bottom-up collective bargaining, represents an extra-institutional activity, but one that enables workers to engage collectively and offers an alternative perspective on their rights as workers. To understand the rise--and fall-- of bottom-up collective bargaining, Chen's work considers the intricate relationships among workers, companies they work for, the state, and civil society organizations.

DANIELLE CZARNECKI - Modern Crosses: How Christian Women Navigate Maternal Desire, Religion, and Assisted Reproductive Technologies 


  • Renee Anspach and Karin Martin,Co-Chairs
  • Genevieve Zubrzycki
  • Elizabeth Roberts (Anthropology)
    My dissertation examines how religion shapes women's experiences with infertility in the U.S., a country with an unregulated in vitro fertilization (IVF) industry and uniquely high levels of religiosity among developed countries. I conducted a total of 80 interviews with Catholic and Protestant infertile women in order to better understand how women pursuing motherhood navigate cultural messages about gender, technology, and religion when making decisions about using assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). While conservative Protestants and the Catholic Church have been vocal about protecting the embryo in their opposition to abortion and stem cell research, their positions regarding ARTs diverge. Protestant denominations generally support the use of IVF and have largely remained silent about ethical or moral concerns. Catholicism, on the other hand, is the most restrictive world religion in its position on ARTs. I examine how Christian women navigate the moral dilemmas that emerge when the pursuit of biological parenthood leads to encounters with technologies that threaten what they consider to be sacred—the human embryo.

    Personal Webpage

HEIDI M. GANSEN - Building Blocks of Difference: How Inequalities are (Re)Produced through Disciplinary Practices and Interactions in Preschool

Karin A. Martin (Chair)
Elizabeth A. Armstrong
Fatma Müge Göçek
Sheryl Olson (Clinical Psychology)

Heidi Gansen is a qualitative sociologist who studies sociology of education, gender & sexuality, and childhood. She is interested in questions of how inequalities are produced and reproduced through institutional practices in schools. Heidi’s dissertation uses data from ethnographic observations in three preschools (nine classrooms total), and 39 interviews with preschool educators, to examine how inequalities are constructed and perpetuated through disciplinary practices and interactions. Through examining how students’ social categories shape teachers’ disciplinary responses to less consequential behaviors such as disobedient and disruptive behaviors, she demonstrates how seemingly unintentional and implicit biases work on-the-ground, and across different preschool classroom contexts, through teachers’ disciplinary practices and interactions with students in preschool. She finds that teachers’ expectations for behavior and disciplinary practices reify one another in ways that translate to gender, race, and social class disparities in children’s disciplinary outcomes in early schooling. She also examines the gender gap in preschool, analyzing whether preschool is a feminized space that advantages girls, while disadvantaging boys. She finds that preschool is a disjointed bridge to elementary school for boys, in which’ boys’ perceived behavioral “needs” are accommodated, while girls receive increased disciplinary intervention for their behaviors. Her data suggests that teachers’ disciplinary practices and interactions with children in preschool, cultivate forms of gendered cultural capital and a gendered student role (or habitus) for boys, that may be at odds with the learning environments and expectations placed on boys in primary and secondary years of schooling. Heidi also examines the gendered sexual socialization children receive from teacher’s practices and reproduce through peer interactions (Sociology of Education, forthcoming). She finds that heteronormativity permeates preschool classrooms, where teachers construct (and occasionally disrupt) gendered sexuality in many ways, and children reproduce (and sometimes resist) these identities and norms in their daily play. Heidi’s dissertation contributes to extant research by identifying how institutional and interactional disciplinary practices in preschool, operate as mechanisms through which schools begin to construct and perpetuate inequalities, specifically those pertaining to gender, social class, sexuality, and race.

Heidi has published on how heteronormativity is constructed in preschool classrooms (Sociology of Education, forthcoming), and on qualitative methods with young children (Sociological Studies of Children and Youth). Heidi also received the 2017 David Lee Stevenson Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Award from the Sociology of Education Section of the American Sociological Association, for a chapter of her dissertation entitled, “Reproducing (and Disrupting) Heteronormativity: Gendered Sexual Socialization in Preschool Classrooms.” Heidi has additional interests, and experience, teaching courses on the sociology of deviance, sexualities, and criminology.

AIRAN LIU - Family SES, Non-cognitive Skills and Achievement Inequality in Children’s Early Life Course

• Yu Xie and Mary Corcoran Co-Chairs
• Sarah Burgard
• Jennifer Barber
• Brian Jacob (Public Policy)

The significance of non-cognitive skills in social attainment process has gained renewed interests in the past decades. However, much remains unknown about the interplay between these social psychological factors and family SES in shaping the educational inequality. Capitalizing on recent methodological development, my dissertation, entitled “Family SES, Non-cognitive Skills and Achievement Inequality in Children’s Early Life Course” investigates how family SES and children’s non-cognitive skills, including their attitudes and behaviors, work interactively to affect educational outcomes, and how they affect children’s development dynamically over time. Specifically, I investigate three questions: (1) How attitudes and behaviors interact with family SES to influence the Asian-White achievement difference? (2) Whether and how non-cognitive skills account for the growing SES achievement gap from kindergarten to fifth grade? (3)Whether and how non-cognitive skills moderate family SES’s effects on education achievement during early childhood and early adolescence? My work suggests that evolving non-cognitive skills after school entry have lasting effects on achievement over life course and account for the growing achievement gap. These individual-level skills also interact with family-level socioeconomic resources to determine children’s academic achievement. My research contributes to the current literature by bringing in an interactive and dynamic perspective to study the development of education inequality over early life course, and highlights the importance to consider the interaction between family-level and individual-level characteristics in studying inequality and stratification.

ERICA MORRELL - Knowledge, Power and the Contemporary Politics of Governance: A Comparative Analysis of Alternative Food Policy at the Federal (American) Level and in Detroit and Cleveland

  • Shobita Parthasarathy
  • Sandra Levistky
  • Rachel Best
  • Sara Soderstrom

In the dissertation, I analyze knowledge, power and participation in contemporary decision-making via a comparison of alternative food policy at the national (U.S.) level and in Detroit and Cleveland. I draw on more than seventy semi-structured interviews, over forty hours of observation, and extensive document analysis including federal and municipal government archives and food policy council/coalition records. Alternative food—organic and local, respectfully—originally privileged a similarly broad array of actors, values and forms of knowledge and expertise, representing a departure from the more technocratic logics characterizing the dominant food system. Yet I show that as legislation formed around these foods, they were defined and addressed very differently both from their original intent and between places. At the federal level, enduring technocratic approaches to governance ultimately came to shape organic food regulation, as it does the regulation of other kinds of food. Actors with qualified skills and standing presenting quantitative scientific and technical data, for instance, formed the basis of decision-making, and policymakers were held accountable through litigation. Meanwhile, in Detroit, local food governance was guided by a public distrust of the aforementioned logics favored nationally. Trust was instead placed in city residents, whose cultural, experiential and historic knowledge was considered the most relevant basis for local food policymaking. Decision-makers in the city were held accountable through popular protest and social action. Finally, in contrast to both of these places, Cleveland favored experts shaping local food policy, primarily professional stakeholders, whose relevant evidence included both quantitative and qualitative information from applied professionals, and accountability was ensured through electoral prospects. Thus, I find that politically-relevant knowledge-ways—civic epistemologies—differ between and across different levels of government. Furthermore, to account for these differences, I examine the disparate political cultures between the federal level and Detroit and Cleveland. The project concludes with a discussion of the implications of these dynamics for how we understand democratic engagement, social action and political change in the U.S. today, illustrating that as different political cultures and civic epistemologies foster alternative food policies between places, they hand-in-hand legitimize and institutionalize unique dynamics of engagement that (re)shape both society and food itself, including how it is produced, distributed and consumed.

Morrell's Personal Website

CHRISTOPHER NEAR - Bridging the Income-Parenting Gap: Three Papers on the Interrelationships of Household Income, Parenting Resources, and Child Outcomes

  • Professor Sarah A. Burgard (co-chair)
  • Professor Yu Xie (co-chair)
  • Professor Pamela E. Davis-Kean
  • Professor Elizabeth A. Armstrong

Past research has shown child cognitive and behavioral outcomes to be related to family income and a wide variety of other resources available to parents, but there is little consensus on how and why these resources and child outcomes are associated in the short and long term. I posit that high income provides access to many different “parenting resources” that influence child outcomes—time to spend with the child in discussion, organized activities, or school events; material resources to purchase stimulating toys and maintain a safe home environment; low family conflict and distress, perhaps resulting in more warmth; and financial resources to purchase high quality childcare from trained providers in safe and stimulating settings. In my dissertation I will complete three studies that explore the relationships between (1) parents’ levels of income, their access to parenting resources when their children are young, and their children’s cognitive skills and behavioral problems as tweens and teens; (2) changes in family income and subsequent changes in parenting resources and children’s outcomes; and (3) high quality non-parental childcare and children’s and teens’ outcomes.

MATTHEW B. SULLIVAN - The Rise of Deliberative Democratic Forms of Public Engagement in United States Science Policy


  • Professor Sandy Levitsky
  • Professor Renee Anspach
  • Professor Jason Owen-Smith
  • Professor Shobita Parthasarathy (Ford School of Public Policy)

My dissertation research intersects fields of political sociology and science and technology studies (STS). Using interviews, documentary data, and computational methods I am studying the rise of deliberative democratic forms of public engagement in United States science policy.

My pedagogical experience is somewhat broader than my research would suggest. I have taught several undergraduate courses including: introduction to sociology, introduction to theory, medical sociology, and sociology of science. I have also designed and taught a new course for our department aimed at pre-med students seeking to fulfill their MCAT sociology requirement. Finally, I designed and taught the course component for the Sociological Opportunities in Undergraduate Leadership (SOUL), our effort to serve the needs of first-generation college students. I am currently designing the second iteration of SOUL which I will teach in Fall 2017 and Winter 2018.