Doctoral Candidate

B.A. Freie Universitaet Berlin
MPhil Politics: Political Theory, University of Oxford

MA, Sociology, University of Chicago


Originally trained as a political theorist with a focus on the Frankfurt School, I aim to understand how market mechanisms generate undesirable outcomes for society. My main research interests circulate around the question of how structural conditions align to create opportunities for destructive behavior in different market settings. I approach this general issue with mixed methods and from a perspective that is informed by the sociology of knowledge.

In particular, I am interested in how political, regulatory and enforcement agencies perceive the market environment they are supposed to monitor and how this contrasts with the perceptions of market participants. I focus on the sources of perceptual mismatches between different parties in the hope that this might reveal what prevents or enables regulatory agencies to detect illegal activities in their environment. In this vein, my qualifying paper examines how a large-scale, corporate conspiracy in 1930s Chicago managed to avoid detection during several in-depth investigations by the F.T.C. and proposes a theory of ‘complex secrets’ to explain such cases.

My dissertation expands on this research by looking at the processes surrounding the restructuring of electricity markets in California and the PJM regions. Here, political and regulatory processes did not merely monitor, but design and implement the very market environments they subsequently monitored. Since these processes were informed by economic theory, the project asks under what conditions the blueprints provided by economists can be implemented successfully and under what conditions this fails. While the California markets became susceptible to gaming and failed catastrophically in 2001, the PJM markets continue to operate effectively. What explains the successful design and implementation in one case, and what explains the failure in the other? In pursuing this question, I am particularly interested in explaining how the structural conditions for systemic market 'gaming' emerged and persisted in California while PJM managed to resolve them. On a theoretical level, I am trying to develop a theoretical framework for a sociological analysis of market design as a new form of social engineering.

Master's Title:

Heideggerian Answers to Habermasian Problems: World Disclosure and Alienation


“Corporate Conspiracies and Complex Secrets: Structure and Perception of the Insull Scheme in 1930s Chicago” – American Journal of Sociology, volume 124, number 4 (January 2019)

“Methodenprobleme immanenter Kritik - Das Beispiel der Entfremdung” (“Methodological Problems of Immanent Critique – The Case of Alienation”)