Faculty Research

Below is a list of ongoing projects conducted by UAlbany Sociology Department faculty members. If you click the faculty member's name you will be directed to their profile page.

Elizabeth Popp Berman

  • Thinking Like an Economist: The Normative Impact of a Positive Discipline on U.S. Public Policy – This project examines how the discipline of economics shaped U.S. public policy in three domains—science, antitrust, and antipoverty policy—from 1960 to 1985. Using a variety of historical methods, it argues that the spread of the intellectual tools of economics in policymaking encouraged a bipartisan shift toward thinking of policy as a means of managing the economy, and toward evaluating policy success in economic terms.
  • Creating the Market University: How Academic Science Became an Economic Engine -- This research asks how and why academic science became more tied to the marketplace after the late 1970s. It looks at the emergence of market-oriented practices in universities, including the patenting of faculty inventions, biotech entrepreneurship by faculty, and the creation of university-industry research centers. It argues that government action, motivated by new ideas about the impact of scientific and technological innovation on economic growth, transformed universities’ resource environment in ways that allowed such practices to thrive.

Angie Y. Chung

  • New Immigrant Growth Machines: The Politics of Development in Koreatown and Monterey Park (co-P.I. Sookhee Oh, University of Kansas City-Missouri and Jan Lin, Occidental College). The project takes a look at the transnationally-linked political groups and processes that have contributed to the entrepreneurial expansion of Koreatown and Monterey Park, Los Angeles. Our general aim is to understand how the economic and spatial landscape of these globalizing ethnic economies have been shaped by the way pro-growth immigrant entrepreneurs and capitalists are incorporated into local urban/ suburban political regimes.
  • The Dynamics of Mothering and Educational Achievement among Asian, Black, and White Americans. Based on in-depth interviews with 90-100 women, my study will examine how working-class and middle-class White, African American, and Asian American mothers navigate the highly competitive educational systems of urban (Manhattan) and suburban (New Jersey) neighborhoods. In today's post-industrial economy, mothers face a number of parenting challenges related to changing family structures, work-family conflicts, unequal division of household labor, and increasing workplace demands amidst competing ideologies that approach motherhood as a vital and all-consuming responsibility of all women. Depending on race/ ethnicity, class resources, and family structure, I examine how mothers respond to these contradictory pressures in the processes of preparing their children for school.
  • Globalizing” Higher Education in the Knowledge Economy: A Case Study on Universities in South Korea. (co-P.I. Soohan Kim, Korea University) The project examines how the so-called "globalization" of higher education in Seoul, South Korea restructures power dynamics in the educational system of rapidly modernizing nations like Korea. The general objective of this study is first to determine how these concurrent reforms have restructured classroom dynamics and the broader university power structure through new hierarchies based on “English language capital”. In particular, we will see how the dynamics of gender, class, race, and nationality play out in this settings and how this has prepared them for study overseas.

Glenn Deane

  • Sibling influences on parent-adult child relations – This research (with Profs. Spitze and Ward) extends work on how relations between parents and adult children are imbedded in and influenced by relationships with other adult children. Innovative methods are applied to examining the processes by which families allocate intergenerational support between parents and multiple adult children, focusing on family structure and the network of family relations to look directly at how parent-child relations affect other parent-child relations.

Joanna Dreby

  • The Daily Lives of Children Growing Up in Mexican Immigrant Households -- This study is a three-year ethnographic study funded by the Foundation for Child Development that explores the daily life experiences of young children ages growing up in Mexican immigrant households. It involves ethnographic interviews and participant-observation in two social settings, one--in Ohio-- which new immigrants are dispersed in the community and another--in New Jersey--where they are concentrated. The study focuses on children’s experiences in immigrant families with varying legal statuses, including those who have experienced a family member’s deportation. The study reveals how two main features of the contemporary immigrant experience—legality and new destination settlement patterns-- have consequences for young children, in terms of their access to social services, peer group affiliations, identity, and their early educational experiences.
  • The Effects of International Migration on Mexican Children -- To date, most research on parent-child separation due to migration highlights the emotional difficulties parents and children experience during periods of separation and the strains such separations place on family relationships. We have less information, however, on how parental migration affects the experiences of children as compared to their peers. This research analyzes 400 drawings collected from elementary school children and over 3000 surveys from children in middle and high school. The goal is to compare the educational outcomes, ideas of family and perceptions of the United States of Mexican children with migrant parents to those of other children in their schools.
  • Mexican Transnational Families -- Every year, over 500,000 hundred thousand Mexicans migrate to the United States. Tens of thousands leave children behind in Mexico when they do. For these parents, migration is a sacrifice. What do parents expect to accomplish by dividing their families across borders? How do they manage living apart? More importantly, do their expectations bear the intended results? This four year ethnographic study draws on fieldwork and interviews with over 140 members of Mexican transnational families including migrant parents in Central New Jersey and children in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca and children’s caregivers.

Samantha Friedman

  • Housing Tenure and Residential Segregation – This study is the first to examine the segregation of minority homeowners and renters from whites. Analyses reveal that the segregation of black renters relative to whites is significantly lower than the segregation of black owners from whites, contrary to the notion that homeownership represents an endpoint in the residential assimilation process (published in Demography August 2013, v50).
  • An Estimate of Housing Discrimination Against Same-Sex Couples – This is the first, national U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) study to examine housing discrimination against same-sex couples in the private rental market (June 2013). http://www.huduser.org/portal/publications/fairhsg/discrim_samesex.html
  • Residential Attainment and Health – My research team and I are engaged in ongoing research examining the residential attainment of households that have children with asthma and those with disabled persons of all ages.

Brandon Gorman

  • Identity and the Global Order -- This project examines why, and under what circumstances, individuals develop identities and attitudes that are supportive of international cooperation using historical, statistical, and computational methods. We show that group is a primary driver of these identities and attitudes, especially in developing countries.
  • Media Coverage of Foreign Leaders -- This project uses web scraping and hybrid machine learning / qualitative content analysis methods to examine coverage of foreign leaders in the US news media from 1950-2008. We investigate both amount of attention and depictions of leaders by merging new datasets with existing cross-national data.
  • Sympathies for Terrorist Organizations in Online Communications -- By analyzing millions of online communications scraped from Arabic-language online forums, this project investigates how religious extremist movements gain popular support by framing violence as a necessary tool against existential threats posed by foreign powers’ aims of global domination.

Hayward D. Horton

  • Critical Demography Project -- Critical Demography is a new and exciting paradigm that has the potential of revolutionizing the study of population. Critical Demography facilitates the development of theories, methods and concepts that do not neatly fit within the boundaries of the prevailing paradigm, conventional demography. Critical Demography makes explicit the manner in which the social structure differentiates dominant and subordinate populations.

Ronald N. Jacobs

  • Professor Jacobs’s areas of interest include social theory, cultural and political sociology, mass media, and civil society. His research has examined racial crisis, the sociology of news production, the relationship between African-American and “mainstream” public spheres, and the use of narrative methods for studying discourse. He is currently working on two new research projects investigating media and the public sphere. The first is a study of media opinion and commentary, while the second is an examination of television, entertainment media, and the aesthetic public sphere.

Richard Lachmann

  • The Decline of Dominant Powers: Early Modern Europe and the Contemporary United States -- This project examines the factors that cause the loss of economic and geo-political dominance by hegemonic powers, both historically and in the present-day United States. I am focusing on (1) the sources of state fiscal crises, (2) how decline effects the extent of political democracy, and (3) how geo-political and economic policies are made in dominant and declining states.
  • Media Depictions of War Casualties - Americans in the Vietnam and Iraq Wars, Israelis in the 1967 Six Day and 2006 Lebanon Wars, and Russians in the Afghan and Second Chechen Wars.

Zai Liang

  • China International Migration Project -- The major goals of this project are to conduct a survey of international migrants in China's Fujian province and to involve undergraduate students in research.
  • Complex Interactions among Policies, People, and Panda Habitat in the Wolong Nature Reserve Landscape -- The major goals of this project are to assess interactions among three policies and local people, to evaluate relationships between local people and panda habitat, to examine the need for feasibility of policy modification and improvement, and to model and simulate multi-scale interactions among policies, people and panda habitat across space and time.
  • Interrelationships between Population and Environment -- The major goals of this project are to examine the relationships between fuelwood consumption and household demography and to understand population processes and dynamics
  • Market Transition and Migration in China -- The major goals of this project are to measure patterns of migration in China transition and migration networks.

Karyn Loscocco

  • Cultural constructions: The gendered context of marriage -- This collaboration with Susan Walzer (Skidmore College) uses multiple methods and an inductive approach to examine how gender, as an ongoing process embedded in culture, defines heterosexual marital roles. Analyses focus on cultural artifacts and data from interviews with the purveyors and recipients of cultural messages about marriage. The study examines how gender intersects with race and class in the production and contestation of idealized images of wives and husbands.
  • Gender, Work and Family: The Upstate New York Small Business Project -- This project examines key questions about gender, work and family in the context of small business ownership, a growing sector of the economy which women have been entering in record numbers. The study is organized around two related questions: How do structural and individual variables contribute to inequality between men and women who employ themselves? How does family intersect with work to shape the economic and personal lives of people who control their own labor? Extensive data were collected through structured, confidential face-to-face interviews with equal numbers of women and men who own businesses in the upstate New York area.

Aaron Major

  • Professor Major studies the relationship between structures of global capitalism and their effects on national states. He has conducted research on American welfare state policy making in the 1960s in relationship to the postwar international monetary system. He is also interested in the relationship between business and state elites, and is currently conducting research on the emergence of business conservatism as a defining force in American politics. Professor Major is also conducting research on changing patterns of defense spending since the end of the Vietnam War and their effects on American political and economic development.

Steven F. Messner

  • Theorizing Social Institutions and Crime -- This research focuses on developing an institutional perspective for understanding the causes of crime. It elaborates and expands arguments originally proposed as part of "intuitional-anomie theory."
  • Crime and Social Control in Contemporary China -- These research initiatives adapt and modify theories and analytic frameworks developed in the West to the distinctive socio-cultural setting of contemporary China. Specific topics include the relationships between various dimensions of social integration and violence, and the role of residents' committees in controlling disorder in urban neighborhoods.
  • Community Context and Criminal Offending -- This research considers the importance of considering "persons in context" for understanding criminal offending. Specific topics include the ways in which neighborhood disadvantage conditions the effects of gender and peer groups on participation in violence.
  • Spatial Analyses of Crime in Germany -- This research uses the techniques of Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA) and spatial regression modeling to analyze violent crime rates across districts in Germany. The analyses examine spatial clustering of violent crime rates and the correlates of these rates, as well as the varying effects of covariates across regions.

Scott South

  • Resources and Opportunities for Neighborhood Attainment -- Examines the effects of household wealth and metropolitan-area characteristics on migration between neighborhoods of varying socioeconomic status and racial/ethnic composition. (R01 HD054502, Kyle D. Crowder, Co-PI)
  • Spatial Dynamics of Neighborhood Effects -- Uses data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and several U.S. censuses to examine the effect of extra-local neighborhood conditions on nonmarital fertility, marriage, and school dropout. (R03 HD052542, Kyle D. Crowder, Co-PI)
  • Sex Ratios and Family Life in China -- Uses data from the Chinese Health and Family Life Survey and several China censuses to examine the impact of imbalanced sex ratios on family life in China. (R21 HD057289, Katherine Trent, Co-PI)
  • Family and Health Consequences of Imbalanced Sex Ratios in India -- Uses data from the India Human Development Survey, the National Family and Health Survey, and several India censuses to examine the impact of community sex ratio imbalances on health and family-related behaviors (R01 HD067214, Katherine Trent and Sunita Bose,Co-PIs).

Kate Strully

  • Earned Income Tax Credits and Health -- In recent decades, federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) have been expanded, and today the EITC is the largest anti-poverty program in the United States. This work explores how this growth in EITCs has impacted infant and child health.
  • Social Contexts, Sexual Networks and Racial-Ethnic Disparities in STDs – Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this project explores how racial and ethnic segregation and inequality in the U.S. contribute to large disparities in HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Katherine Trent

  • Family and Health Consequences of Imbalanced Sex Ratios in India – This project uses data from the India Human Development Survey, the National Family and Health Survey, and several India censuses to examine the impact of community sex ratio imbalances on health and family-related behaviors.
  • Adult Sibling Relationships -- This research uses data from the National Survey of Families and Households to examine patterns of contact, closeness, and help given and received among adult siblings. The project also examines the effects of having siblings on other aspects of adult lives.
  • Sex Ratios and Family Life in China – This research project uses data from the Chinese Health and Family Life Survey and several China censuses to examine the impact of imbalanced sex ratios on family life in China.

David Wagner

  • Daring Modesty: The Generation, Analysis and Development of Sociological Ideas -- This is a comprehensive, book-length consideration of four basic questions regarding the construction of sociological theories:
      • What is the purpose of theorizing?
      • From what sources do sociological theories come?
      • How can we tell whether our theories are "good" or "bad?"
      • How do we go about making our good theories better?
  • The Attribution of Instrumental and Expressive Task Roles -- This work involves a series of experiments testing whether patterns of behavioral interaction (rather than gender differences, as is traditionally assumed) predict the attribution of instrumental and expressive roles in task groups.
  • Characteristics, Objects, and Information: An Integrated View of Instrumental Task Behavior -- This work involves the extension of status characteristics theory and the performance of several experiments to account for the effects of group members' differential possession of task-relevant objects, abilities or information on task performance.      

Tse-Chuan Yang

  • Professor Yang’s substantive research interests are spatial demography, mortality, and health disparities. Specifically, he investigates whether, and if so, how social and built neighborhood environment factors explain the gaps in a range of health outcomes across racial/ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic dimensions.
  • His methodological interests focus on developing geographic information systems and spatial statistical methods. His current projects explore the determinants of breast and colorectal cancer patients’ care in Appalachia and investigate how an individual’s distrust of health care system and perceived discrimination contribute to health inequalities.
  • Echoing his methodological interests, he is developing a probability-based randomization method to address the data sharing/confidentiality issue in social sciences and a spatial quantile regression method that simultaneously explores both statistical and spatial heterogeneity.