U-M Sociology is proud to announce that graduate student Jun Zhou has been awarded a 2024 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowship. The program supports doctoral students in the humanities and interpretive social sciences as they pursue bold and innovative approaches to dissertation research.

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) launched the program in 2023 with the support of the Mellon Foundation to advance a vision for doctoral education that prioritizes openness to new methods and sources, underrepresented voices and perspectives, and scholarly experimentation. The awards are designed to accelerate change in the norms of humanistic scholarship by recognizing those who take risks in the modes, methods, and subjects of their research.

Zhou has been recognized as one of 45 awardees, selected from a pool of more than 700 applicants through a rigorous, interdisciplinary peer review process. Zhou's research takes an integrative "micro-macro" approach to investigate the experiences of feminized digital workers in the platform economy within the expansive context of women’s labor history. By examining the evolving landscape in China, the study analyzes how digitalization affects the dynamic between humans and machines while exploring the impact on workers' subjectivities and resistance in the workplace. Through a combination of ethnography and archival research, Zhou’s project reveals the reinforcement of existing power dynamics through digital technologies and speculates on potential liberating roles for such technologies.

“We look forward to following the progress of these remarkable emerging scholars as they explore new research methodologies, forge collaborative partnerships in the co-creation of knowledge, and engage new audiences for humanistic scholarship,” said John Paul Christy, Senior Director of US Programs at ACLS. “Each of these awards is an opportunity for the sector to learn about approaches to fostering the evolution of doctoral education.”

Each fellow receives an award of up to $50,000, consisting of a $40,000 stipend for the fellowship year; up to $8,000 for project-related research, training, professional development, and travel expenses; and a $2,000 stipend to support external mentorship that offers new perspectives on the fellow’s project and expands their advising network. With fellows pursuing their research across the country and beyond, ACLS will also provide opportunities for virtual networking and scholarly programming throughout the fellows’ award terms.

Congratulations again to our very own Jun Zhou!