Summer Institute on Inequality
ALTHOUGH NOT AN EVENT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, Penn SSPF is proud to host our Summer Institute on Inequality in mid-June each year. This program furthers SSPF’s mission of fostering policy-relevant scholarship at every stage of development by helping ten graduate students in the predissertation phase of their work to discover new topics and refine their research goals.
We have received a great response from students across the nation, making it difficult indeed to choose ten out of the dozens of highly qualified applicants. They have been matched by some of the leading scholars in the field, to whom the program is deeply indebted.
Inequality was chosen as the subject of the Summer Institute both because it was a central theme in this each year's SSPF themes--the Global Economic Crisis, Immigration and Citizenship, and Poverty and Opportunity. Indeed it is a highly relevant topic in good times and bad, and there is such a rich body of interdisciplinary scholarship to draw from. The program will provide a mix of visiting speakers, seminars, and workshops featuring cutting-edge qualitative and quantitative research on a variety of topics related to inequality, including poverty, labor force participation, income and wealth disparities, the impact of race and ethnicity, spatial dynamics, educational gaps, and social and economic policies that address inequalities.
Finally, the Fels Institute of Government deserves a special thanks for letting us use their lovely facilities each year.
2014 Faculty and Students
Thomas J. Sugrue
David Boies Professor of History and Sociology and Director of Penn SSPF, University of Pennsylvania
A specialist in twentieth-century American politics, urban history, civil rights, and race, Sugrue was educated at Columbia; King's College, Cambridge; and Harvard, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1992. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, President of the Urban History Association, President of the Social Science History Association, and has been a fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Institute for Advanced Study.
He is author of several books, including Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race (Princeton University Press, 2010); Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North (Random House, 2008), a Main Selection of the History Book Club and a finalist for the 2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and The Origins of the Urban Crisis (Princeton, 2005), winner of the Bancroft and several other prizes. He has published more than three dozen scholarly articles in such places as the Journal of American History, the Journal of Urban History, and the American Behavioral Scientist, and his op-eds and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and in many other newspapers and magazines.
John D. Skrentny
Professor of Sociology and Director, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, University of California, San Diego
John Skrentny received a Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University and a BA in Sociology and Philosophy from Indiana University. His research focuses on public policy, law and inequality, especially as they relate to immigration, civil rights, jobs and opportunity. Skrentny is Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies (CCIS) at UC-San Diego.
His research has sought to bring a cultural approach to the fields of historical institutionalism and American political development. Starting with the premise that no policy is developed without the decisions of policy makers, Skrentny has focused his research on the worldviews and actions of policy-making elites, situating them in their historical, local and global contexts.
Skrentny's books have included After Civil Rights: Racial Realism in the New American Workplace (2013), which examines the meaning of race in the workplace and the relevance, or lack of relevance, of civil rights law in regulating equal opportunity in employment; The Minority Rights Revolution (2002), which won the Distinguished Book Award from the Political Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association and was a finalist for the Liberty Legacy Foundation Award of the Organization of American Historians; and The Ironies of Affirmative Action: Politics, Culture and Justice in America (1996), a study of the development and politics of affirmative action in employment for African Americans.
Professor of Politics, Princeton University
Martin Gilen's research examines representation, public opinion, and mass media, especially in relation to inequality and public policy. Professor Gilens is the author of Affluence & Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America (2012, Princeton University Press) and Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy (1999, University of Chicago Press), and has published on political inequality, mass media, race, gender, and welfare politics in theAmerican Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science,The Journal of Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, Public Opinion Quarterly, and the Berkeley Journal of Sociology. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California Berkeley, and taught at Yale University and UCLA before joining the faculty at Princeton. His research has been supported by the Russell Sage Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the Social Science Research Council.
Professor of Public Policy, Georgetown University
Harry Holzer served as Associate Dean from 2004 through 2006 and was Acting Dean in the Fall of 2006 for the Georgetown Public Policy Institute. He is also currently a Senior Research Fellow at the American Institutes for Research, a Senior Affiliate at the Urban Institute, a Senior Affiliate of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan, a National Fellow of the Program on Inequality and Social Policy at Harvard University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a Research Affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He is also a faculty director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy.
Over most of his career, Professor Holzer's research has focused primarily on the low-wage labor market, and particularly the problems of minority workers in urban areas. He has also written extensively about the employment problems of disadvantaged men, advancement prospects for the working poor, and workforce policy more broadly. He is the co-author of Where are All the Good Jobs Going? What National and Local Job Quality and Dynamics Mean for US Workers and Against the Tide: Household Structure, Opportunities and Outcomes among White and Minority Youth.
Stanley I. Sheerr Term Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology, Penn
Annette Lareau examines the impact of social stratification on the life chances of Americans. She unpacks how social structural forces do, and do not, shape crucial aspects of daily life. Her book, Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life (2011, 2003) is based on participant-observation of a total of twelve white and African-American families with children in third and fourth grade. The work suggests that all parents want their children to be healthy and happy. Middle-class parents, however, see their children as a project. They seek to develop their talents and skills through a series of organized activities, through an intensive process of reasoning and language development, and through close supervision of their experiences in school. By contrast, working-class and poor families work hard to feed, clothe, and protect their children. But they also presume that their children will spontaneously grow and thrive. Thus the children “hang out” by watching television and playing with cousins rather than being in organized activities, are given directives rather than being engaged in reasoning, and are given independence in schools and other institutions.
She has also recently co-edited a volume, Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools: Residential Segregation and the Search for a Good School (2014), examines whether a series of policy shifts over the past decade has in fact changed how Americans decide where to send their children to school.
Bruce G. Link
Professor of Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences (in Psychiatry) and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Social Inequalities and Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Dr. Bruce Link's interests are centered on topics in psychiatric and social epidemiology. He has written on the connection between socio-economic status on health, homelessness, violence, stigma, age, and discrimination. Currently, he is conducting research aimed at understanding health disparties by race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status, the consequences of social stigma for people with mental illness, and the connection between mental illness and violent behaviors. He is also director of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program; the Center for Youth Violence Prevention, and co-director of the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program Columbia site.
Dr. Link was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2002, and was winner of the 2007 Leo G. Reeder Award from the American Sociological Association's Medical Sociological Association, which recognizes distinguished scholarly contributions to the field of medical sociology, as well as excellence in teaching, mentoring, and training. He also received the American Public Health Association's 2007 Rema Lapouse Award for outstanding contributions to the scientific understanding of the epidemiology and control of mental disorders.
His background and publications are interdisciplinary: he was trained as a biostatistician and a sociologist and his articles have appeared in major journals in medicine, public health, criminology, sociology, and psychiatry.
Robert J. Sampson
Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences, Harvard University and Director of the Boston Area Research Initiative
Robert Sampson's research and teaching cover a variety of areas including crime, disorder, the life course, neighborhood effects, civic engagement, inequality, "ecometrics," and the social structure of the city. He is the author of numerous articles and several books, including the groundbreaking Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect, the culmination of over a decade of research based on the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN), which Sampson served as Scientific Director. The book, which combines the PHDCN research with his own unique personal observations about life in the city, demonstrates the powerfully enduring impact of place, from Cabrini Green and the Robert Taylor Homes to Trump Tower and Millennium Park. He discovers that neighborhoods influence a remarkably wide variety of social phenomena, including crime, health, civic engagement, home foreclosures, teen births, altruism, leadership networks, and immigration. Even national crises cannot halt the impact of place, Sampson finds, as he analyzes the consequences of the Great Recession and its aftermath.
Sampson was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2008 and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Society of Criminology, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
Heather Ann Thompson
Associate Professor of History and African American Studies, Temple University
Heather Ann Thompson has emerged as one of the leading scholars of the carceral state, prisons, and racial justice. A member of the National Academy of Sciences Commitee on the Causes and Consequences of High Rates of Incarceration, she contributed to its landmark study, published this year. Thompson has written extensively on the current crisis of mass incarceration, with articles including “Why Mass Incarceration Matters: Rethinking Crisis, Decline and Transformation in Postwar American History,” Journal of American History (2010); “Downsizing the Carceral State: The Policy Implications of Prisoner Guard Unions” (Criminology and Public Policy, August 2011); “The Prison Industrial Complex: A Growth Industry in a Shrinking Economy“ (New Labor Forum, Fall 2012); “Rethinking Working Class Struggle through the Lens of the Carceral State: Toward a Labor History of Inmates and Guards (Labor: Working Class Studies of the Americas, Fall 2011); “Criminalizing Kids: The Overlooked Reason for Failing Schools” (Dissent, October 2011); and “How Prisons Have Changed the Balance of Power in America” (The Atlantic, October 2013).
She is currently writing the first comprehensive history of the Attica Prison Rebellion of 1971 and its legacy for Pantheon Books. To recover this story Thompson has immersed herself in legal, state, federal, prison, and personal records related to the Attica uprising and its aftermath (some never-before-seen) located in archives, governmental institutions, and various individual collections around the country and the world. Her other books include, Whose Detroit: Politics, Labor and Race in a Modern American City (2001) and an edited collection, Speaking Out: Protest and Activism in the 1960s and 1970s (2009). She will be joining the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2015 as Professor of African American Studies and History.
Maurice P. During '22 Professor in Demographic Studies and Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University
Marta Tienda’s research has focused on race and ethnic differences in various metrics of social inequality – ranging from poverty and welfare to education and employment – to address how ascribed attributes acquire their social and economic significance. Through various studies of immigration, population diversification and concentrated poverty, she have documented social arrangements and life course trajectories that both perpetuate and reshape socioeconomic inequality. She recently completed a decade-long study about the effectiveness of social policy in broadening access to higher education and is currently developing two research initiatives about age and immigration. One is a comparative study of child migration in traditional and new immigrant nations; the second focuses on late-age immigration to the United States.
Tienda has contributed to numerous publications as an author and editor, recently as co-author of "Delayed Enrollment and College Plans: Is There a Postponement Penalty?" in the Journal of Higher Education (2013) and as co-editor of a special issue of the Annals of the American Academy of Political Science (Sept. 2012), “Migrant Youth and Children of Migrants in a Globalized World.” She is herself the subject of a biography geared to young adult readers, People Person: The Story of Sociologist Marta Tienda, which describes her childhood as the daughter of an illegal Mexican immigrant and her later work to better understand the roots of inequality.
Dorian T. Warren
Associate Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Dorian T. Warren specializes in the study of inequality and American politics. He teaches and conducts research on labor organizing and politics, race and ethnic politics, urban politics and policy, American political development, community organizing and social movements, and social science methodology. Prior to coming to Columbia, Professor Warren spent two years as a visiting scholar at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago and spent 2008-2009 as a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation.
Warren's publications include “The American Labor Movement in the Age of Obama: The Challenges and Opportunities of a Racialized Political Economy” (in Perspectives on Politics); “Re-establishing a Workers’ Rights Agenda” (in the volume, Mandate for Change); and “The Politics and Practice of Economic Justice: Community Benefits Agreements as Tactic of the New Accountable Development Movement” (in the Journal of Community Practice).
Warren is a Fellow of the Roosevelt Institute, a board member of the Applied Resarch Center and also at the Center for Community Change. He is also a regular commentator and guest host on MSNBC.
2014 Students [Top]
Education and Psychology, University of Michigan
Erin Bogan is a doctoral candidate and Rackham Merit Fellow in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include individual and contextual factors influencing cognitive development in low-income children and youth. More specifically, she is interested in the development of executive function and social-emotional competencies, particularly those skills that contribute to academic and psychological resiliency in the face of stress. Her current work as a member of the Basic and Applied Cognition Lab and Achievement in Context lab focuses on designing cognitive training interventions that build foundational cognitive skills in low SES kindergarteners as a way to reduce early disparities in academic outcomes.
Erin holds a BA in English and in Social Welfare from the University of California Berkeley, and her MSEd in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Her work in the field with children throughout the country and internationally has played a critical role in her thinking around issues of equity in education. Her research goals are to conduct research that informs policy and classroom based practices.
Sociology, Northwestern University
Vontrese Deeds is enrolled in a joint Ph.D. program in the departments of Sociology and Management and Organizations at Northwestern University. Her research interests include organizations, inequality, and education. Her M.A. thesis explored the disruptions that occur during urban school closures, based on an original data set including district administrators, teachers, parents, and students. She is also involved in three ongoing team projects. These research projects explore: 1) the evolution of social support and networks of incoming graduate students; 2) how neighborhood and organizational density impact the support networks of low-income mothers; and, 3) the effects of pro bono work on corporate participants. Her dissertation will focus on corporate philanthropy. Prior to graduate school, Voni was the director of an education nonprofit in Newark, NJ. She received a B.A. from the University of Michigan in Sociology and American Culture as well as an M.A. in Management and Organizations and Sociology from Northwestern.
Political Science, University of Washington
David Lopez is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science and a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at the University of Washington. His research interests include comparative political economy, education reform, welfare states, and the political economy of development. David's current project examines the politics of education reform in the Nordic countries within the broader context of welfare state retrenchment since the 1970s. In particular, he is interested in the effects of institutional constraints on reform strategies among key actors, and the distributional consequences of decentralization and competition in public education. He hopes to expand his comparative focus to the U.S. and Latin America in future work. David is also interested in the impact of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) on education politics and policy reforms in participating OECD and non-OECD countries.
Previously, David taught 6th Grade Social Studies in Houston as a Teach For America corps member. His experience as a charter school teacher in the now shuttered North Forest Independent School District was formative in developing his present research agenda. David holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Florida where he studied international relations and Latin American politics.
Sociology, Brandeis University
Alexis Mann is a PhD student in the joint Social Policy and Sociology program at Brandeis University and a Graduate Research Assistant at the Institute on Assets and Social Policy. With a background in mixed methods research, her interests focus on the how regional and city context shapes economic inequality. In particular, Mann plans to study how families living in deindustrial cities build and sustain economic security, in the face of increasing rates of economic insecurity nationally, and declining or stagnant environments locally.
Currently, Alexis works with Professor Thomas Shapiro as part of a team examining trends in the racial wealth gap. Drawing from both the PSID and a longitudinal dataset of interviews, the project examines trends in household mobility, and offers a unique glimpse into how middle and working class families leverage institutional and family resources to buffer against economic shocks.
Social Psychology, UCLA
Ivuoma Ngozi Onyeador is a PhD student in Social Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research centers around how intersectional identities affect person perception and intergroup conflict. Her master's thesis examined how the race and gender of targets and observers affects perceptions of pain of varying severities. In a related project, she is conducting a content analysis of crime news stories and public service announcements about intimate partner violence. She is interested in applying this work to media, criminal justice, and health care contexts. Since completing her master's work, she has started another line of work examining perceptions of diversity awards and ethnic hierarchy in organizations.
Ivy was born in Nigeria and raised in southern California. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Psychology with distinction from Yale University. Among other honors, she is a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow and the Vice President for Academic Affairs of UCLA's Graduate Student Association. In her free time she enjoys posting thought-provoking articles on Facebook and daydreaming about how to integrate her copious Facebook activity with her academic career.
Social Anthropology, Harvard / MD, University of Chicago
Eric Reinhart is an MD candidate at the University of Chicago and a PhD candidate in Social Anthropology at Harvard. His research interests lie at the nexus of healthcare, welfare, and the politics of institutional/individual responsibility and ethics in contexts of urban inequality. He researches the relationships between urban academic medical centers in the United States and the poor, minority communities that often surround their hospitals. He is also pursuing research at the intersection of welfare and disease through a multi-sited study of the relationship between poverty, HIV, and access to social services in the United States and South Africa. His other areas of interest include comparative studies of urban enclaving, public-private urban planning, and the creation of infracities in both the Global North and South.
Jessica Schirmer is a PhD student in the Sociology department at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests focus on local government, residential segregation, and economic inequality. For her master’s project, she is studying municipal fiscal stress in California’s Central Valley following the 2007-2008 mortgage crisis. She is also working with Professor Margaret Weir on a study of social service disparities across US regions and metropolitan areas. Prior to coming to Berkeley, Jessica worked in social policy evaluation, where she specialized in data management.
History, UC-Santa Barbara
Samir Sonti is a PhD student in the Department of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on changes in the structure of capitalism, and the impact that process has had on the nature of work, workplace struggles, and political activity in the twentieth-century United States. In his dissertation, Sonti examines an economic issue that occupied a central place in U.S. politics from World War II through the early-1980s, but which has since been largely forgotten: inflation. In particular, he demonstrates that federal policymakers, domestic business interests, and international investors' preoccupation with controlling inflation during these decades turned the issue into one of the principal regulators of labor relations and worked to quite narrowly delimit ideas about social policy. The study begins from the premise that making sense of the alarming level of inequality in the U.S. today requires understanding the history of organized labor in this country. And that understanding labor history means taking seriously questions of political economy.
Dept. of Politics, Princeton University
Adam Thal is a PhD student in the Department of Politics at Princeton University. His research focuses on American politics, with specific interests in political psychology, political behavior, economic inequality, and the politics of higher education. Adam’s current work focuses on the consequences of decreasing social contact between affluent Americans and those of lower socioeconomic status. In solo and co-authored projects, he has explored the effects of this withdrawal on the political behavior of affluent Americans across various contexts, including economically segregated cities and homogeneously wealthy college campuses. In his dissertation, Adam plans to use experimental methods to understand how affluent Americans use interactions across lines of social class to inform their beliefs about economic inequality and the policies that might alleviate it. Prior to entering graduate school, Adam earned a BA in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked as a conflict resolution instructor in New York City’s public school system.
Health Behavior & Health Education, University of Michigan
Adrienne Wilson is a second year PhD student in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. Her research interests revolve around issues associated with the social determinants of health, structural inequalities, cancer disparities, and patient-provider relations.
Prior to pursuing a doctoral degree, she worked as a lecturer in the Department of Health Education and the Department of Elementary Education at San Francisco State University. She also served as a Health Education volunteer for the U.S. Peace Corps in the East African nations of Tanzania and Ethiopia. Adrienne holds a B.A. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley as well as an M.P.H in Health Education from San Francisco State University.