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Kyla Bourne

Ph.D. Candidate & William Rainey Harper/Provost Dissertation Fellow

Dissertation Title: The Pace of Criminal Prosecution

Committee: Geoffrey Wodtke (chair), Robert Vargas, John Rappaport (University of Chicago Law School), Bernard Harcourt (Columbia University)

Under what conditions is the authority of law enforcement democratically legitimate? Can these conditions be achieved through incremental reform or do they require entirely new institutions? These problems are the core themes of my research career. For example, in my dissertation, I argue that a democratically legitimate criminal process— prosecution that is accurate, fair, transparent and accountable— must be neither too fast nor too slow. Drawing on theoretical vocabularies from sociology, criminology and legal scholarship, I apply event history methods to novel administrative data in order to explain and evaluate the pace of prosecution in Cook County, IL.


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Anjanette M. Chan Tack

Ph.D. Candidate & the Hutchins Center Fellow at Harvard University

Dissertation Title: Indo-Caribbeans in New York City: Negotiating Identity at the Black/Asian Interface

Committee: Andrew Abbott (chair), Wendy Roth (University Pennsylvania), Aisha Khan (NYU), and Marco Garrido

Anjanette's dissertation examines the ethno-racial incorporation of Indo-Caribbeans immigrants in New York City. Indo-Caribbeans are West Indians of South Asian descent. Although racially “Indian”, Indo-Caribbeans are ethnically both "Indian" and "West Indian", giving them ethnic options in the United States.  By investigating how Indo-Caribbean immigrants carve out identities in relation to New York's Black and South Asian American communities, Anjanette traces how factors such gender, culture, caste, and class contestations shape ethno-racial boundary drawing at the Black-Asian interface. Drawing from the Indo-Caribbean case, Anjanette's study develops a broad theoretical account of how ethno-racially ambiguous groups in the United States construct identities and coalitions in an era of increasing demographic diversity, racial fluidity, and complex migration.



Rebecca Ewert

Ph.D. Candidate

Dissertation Title: Where there's Smoke, there's Fire: The Social Inequalities of Disaster Recovery

Committee: Kristen Schilt (chair), Kathleen Cagney, D’Lane Compton (The University of New Orleans), Anna Mueller (Indiana University, Bloomington)

My dissertation explores how people of different classes and genders recover economically and emotionally from a megafire disaster in a predominantly white county in rural Northern California. My research sheds light on social, cultural, economic, and organizational factors which delay help-seeking among residents of rural places following a disaster. This work explains the processes by which disasters compound inequalities in emotional and material wellbeing. 

CV               Website 


Peter J. Fugiel

Ph.D. Candidate

Dissertation Title: Risk Governance and Precarity in the Scheduling Process: Three Studies of the US Labor Force and Retail Sector

Committee: Andrew Abbott (chair), Susan Lambert, Geoffrey Wodtke, Erin Kelly (MIT Sloan)

I am a sociologist of work interested in job quality, work-life interaction, political economy, and social inequality. I study working time as a lens on changing labor market institutions and broader patterns of stratification. My dissertation examines the origins, functions, and effects of unpredictable work schedules, focusing on the US retail sector.

CV               Website 

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Whitney Johnson

Lecturer in the Social Sciences

Dissertation Title: Learning to Listen: Knowledge of Value in Auditory Culture

Committee: Karin Knorr Cetina (chair), Andrew Abbott, Gary Alan Fine (Northwestern University)

My dissertation considered how sound artists and curators used their senses and language to understand the value of sound. Looking ahead, I'm curious how this abrupt transition to digital practices during the COVID-19 pandemic has affected that relationship. When multisensory environments transform into audiovisual streams projected by disembodied sound practitioners, what can we learn about aesthetic value, the senses, and culture?

CV               Website 


Wan-Zi Lu 

Ph.D. Candidate

Dissertation Title: Body Politics: Morals, Markets, and Mobilization of Organ Donation

Committee: Elisabeth S. Clemens (chair), John Levi Martin, Jenny Trinitapoli, and Kimberly Kay Hoang

My dissertation investigates how policymakers, medical professionals, and the public negotiate the moral boundaries to promote altruism and respond to the dire needs of organs for transplants. My dissertation begins with a quantitative analysis comparing the legalizing sequences of brain death and organ donation worldwide. I then trace why similar barriers against bodily giving generate different regulatory frameworks in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Based on archival research and interviews, I further explain the unanticipated results of these three donation programs —how the most restricted donation pool shows increasing donation rates whilst the most incentivized pool struggles to do so.

CV               Website 

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Moira O'Shea

Ph.D. Candidate

Dissertation Title: The Dialogic Nation: Nationalism and belonging in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Committee: Andrew Abbott (chair), Elisabeth Clemens, Marco Garrido, Emil Nasritdinov (American University of Central Asia)

In my dissertation project, I use ethnographic and archival methods to analyze processes of cultural nation-making in post-Soviet Bishkek—the capital of Kyrgyzstan—to answer the question: How are attachments to, and understandings of, the nation created by institutions and individuals?  I take up this question in three empirical sites that provide windows into different communities of nation-making practices: monuments and the symbolic landscape of Bishkek, the playing of an ancient nomadic game called kok-boru, and the export of monuments of Kyrgyz national heroes to Russia.  These projects provide evidence for heterogeneous ways in which the idea of the nation is always being made and remade, and how different spheres of nation-making activities engage diverse audiences, both at home and abroad, supporting a sociological theory of cultural nation-making that emphasizes the nation as a dialogic construct.


Sarah Outland

Sarah Outland

Ph.D. Candidate

Dissertation Title: The Connected Classroom: Juggling Technology, Distractions, and Expectations in High School

Committee: Kristen Schilt (chair), Anna Mueller (Indiana University, Bloomington), Forrest Stuart (Stanford University)

My dissertation investigates how schools negotiate the arrival of technology (school-provided laptops and student smartphones) into the classroom. The presence of technology, without careful assessments and check-ins, can exacerbate, rather than ameliorate, equity issues between students. I also found that teachers were just as likely as students to use their smartphones to distract themselves and goof off. Teachers also relied on technology to keep students disciplined in the classroom: When goofing off on a school-provided laptop gives students the appearance of diligently working (quiet and staring into a laptop screen), teachers are less likely to make sure they’re on-task and instead let distractions slide. 

Resume               Website 

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Georg Rilinger

Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute

Dissertation Title: Toward a Sociology of Economic Engineering: The Creation and Collapse of California's Electricity Markets between 1993 and 2001

Committee: Andrew Abbott (chair), Karin Knorr-Cetina, Gary Herrigel, Kimberly Hoang

My dissertation examines the creation and devastating collapse of the California electricity markets between 1993 and 2001. Viewing the crisis as a case of failed market design, I seek to understand why the markets were built in such a way that they created widespread opportunities and incentives for corporate crime. The case helps me to build a theory of the prospects and limits of market design as a form of social engineering. More generally, I am interested in the question to what extent economic processes can be subjected to social oversight and control. Here, I am particularly interested in questions about mutual perception between regulators and market actors, phenomena of secrecy, and the role that different kinds of expertise play in the regulation of market structures. 

CV               Website 

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Jonathan Schoots

Ph.D. Candidate

Dissertation Title: Novelty, Networks, and the Rise of African Nationalism: African Intermediary Intelligentsia and the Making of Political Innovation in Colonial South Africa

Committee: Andreas Glaeser (co-chair), John Padgett (co-chair), Andrew Abbott, Xolela Mangcu (George Washington University), Jacques de Wet (University of Cape Town)

I am a political and historical sociologist, focusing on historical moments of transformed political understanding and practice. My dissertation follows the emergence of proto-nationalist political organizing in colonial South Africa (1860-1910) and I combine the tools of intellectual history, social network analysis, and computational text analysis to follow the conditions which facilitated political innovation in this historic transformation.



Winnie Tong

Ph.D. Candidate

Dissertation Title: Older Adult Health Across Cultures: Determinants of Sexual Behavior and Sleep Quality

Committee: Linda Waite (chair), Kathleen A. Cagney, Xi Song (University of Pennsylvania)

During the course of my academic trajectory, I have conducted international research in the social sciences. My current dissertation work in health and demography examines older adult health in intergenerational households using longitudinal datasets, comparing U.K. and Korean populations (ELSA and KLoSA), as well as two cohorts in the U.S. (NSHAP). As a Global Health Fellow (Pritzker School of Medicine) in 2016, I created an original survey to evaluate the quality of life of medical residents at Wuhan University’s teaching hospitals in Wuhan, China, and presented this paper at ASA 2019 (Health Policy Section). Especially given the current global crisis, I would enjoy working in an environment where people of different cultures and backgrounds embody the spirit of collaboration.


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Wen Xie

Ph.D. Candidate

Dissertation Title: The Making of the Chinese Rust Belt: Life, Work, and Social Change in Northeast China, 1950s-2010s

Committee: Andrew Abbott (co-chair), Dingxin Zhao (co-chair), Gary Herrigel

Wen is a sociologist of social change with particular interests in generations, development, life course, work, and capitalist transformation. Her work is driven by a central commitment to understanding how generations of individuals experience through rapid social changes and how their life experiences matter for work, politics, culture, and socio-economic development. Her dissertation adopts a generational perspective to examine the capitalist transformation in Northeast China, which used to be the former socialist industrial heartland and is now the epitome of the Chinese rust belt.