You can find my CV here.
My research examines how inequality structures everyday life in diverse contexts and how it is
reproduced over time. I take a broad re-combinatory approach to methodology and theory that draws upon a diverse array of quantitative and qualitative methods—ranging from zero-inflated negative binomial regression models of nationally representative health survey data to deep ethnographic immersion in urban communities—in addition to developing new hybrid methodologies and formal theory when necessary. My selection of topics, methods and contexts is grounded in the belief that social scientific innovation requires the deployment, reconfiguration and testing of existing ideas and research techniques across diverse (and often seemingly discrete) domains. It is my hope that by doing so, my body of work will aid in forging analytical constructs and methodological tools that can help illuminate how and why inequality is such a powerful organizing force across so many facets of social life (and how we might address its human consequences).
My recent empirical work focuses on understanding how the relationship between social
stratification, culture, and health shapes opportunities and outcomes in the United States. The End Game: How Inequality Shapes Our Final Years, my first book on this topic, was published by Harvard University Press in June of 2015. The End Game is both my most significant empirical work to date and broadly representative of my approach to ethnography, which centers on multi-level comparative-analytical designs and lengthy periods of in-situ data collection to systematically chart how mechanisms of inequality connect explanatory factors to outcomes. The book draws on two-and-a-half years of intensive participant-observation in four ethnically diverse urban neighborhoods along with sixty in-depth interviews to show how key mechanisms of social stratification— health disparities, neighborhood effects, wealth gaps, culture, and social networks— create an unequal “end game” that shapes the lives of older Americans. I use these data to demonstrate how durable inequalities continue to profoundly structure later life despite shared predicaments of aging and government entitlements, as well as what their operation can teach us about inequality and stratification more broadly.
I am currently working on two new book projects. The first is a comparative ethnography examining how bodyweight (in its typical and extreme manifestations) functions as part of a broader system of durable inequalities that stratifies opportunities, outcomes, and experiences over the lifecourse. The second is a new volume on comparative ethnography and ethnographic comparison co-edited with Neil Gong. The volume is under contract with Oxford University Press.
My scholarly articles have been published in sociological and interdisciplinary journals such as Sociological Methodology, Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, Health Affairs, Qualitative Sociology, Preventative Medicine Reports, Public Policy and Aging Reports, and the Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior. These articles advance my research agenda by examining a wide spectrum of empirical cases related stratification, culture and health. I have written on topics ranging from charting intra-race differences in perceived discrimination in healthcare, to showing how “adult day care” organizations deploy an infantilizing cultural logic to maintain and justify control over dementia patients, to explaining middle-class cagefighters’ participation in an activity that carried both physical risk and social stigma.
METHODOLOGICAL AND THEORETICAL PROJECTS
Engaging with longstanding theoretical and methodological issues— such as the connection between culture in action and the relationship between quantitative and qualitative approaches— is a central part of my larger intellectual project. On the theoretical front, I have published work synthesizing and operationalizing formally “competing” theories that connect the symbolic and material facets of inequality to experience, practices, and outcomes in different socio-historical contexts. I subsequently elaborated these models empirically in The End Game. Methodologically, I am currently working on methods for enabling the production of transparent large-scale multi-site ethnographic data sets. In this regard, I have worked to develop hybrid quantitative/qualitative approaches and computational tools that aim to improve analytical flexibility, rigor, transparency, and scaling in the collection, analysis, sharing, and representation of qualitative data more broadly. My collaborators and I were recently awarded a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Award to develop and test new methodological tools, in the context of American health care.