As a sociologist, I want to know how power works: who has it? what do they do with it? who doesn’t have it? and how can those without power get it? I have two broad lines of research: i) public policy and the power structure. Here, I study those with power to answer questions about how public policy is made, how business influences policy, and the effects of this on the democratic process. I also study ii) social movements and change, to understand how people without power organize collectively to get it. What tactics do and don’t work when people are shut out of formal positions of power? And specifically how does the world we live in today—one dominated by gigantic corporations and endless money in elections—change the strategies ordinary people can use to organize for change?
I am involved in a number of projects in these areas including a book out this summer on public policy and social change called Levers of Power: How the 1% Rules, and What the 99% Can Do About It (with two fabulous colleagues, Kevin A. Young and Michael Schwartz); a large-scale project on the revolving door between Congress and paid lobbyists; as well as other papers on the Civil Rights movement and the War on Poverty; corporate social responsibility; media coverage and its impact on social change; and how large corporations navigated the social movement upsurge that resulted from the 2008 financial crisis.
As a researcher, I believe sociology is an applied science and its application ought to be towards enabling positive social change. That is, it is our moral and professional duty to do research that matters for the public good. As a teacher, I strive to inculcate in my students an appreciation for the intricate (and often hidden) social forces that shape our lives and to see that a sociological understanding can help us organize for a better world. I teach graduate and/or undergraduate classes around topics such as social movements, organizations, social problems, research methods, and statistics.
Fields of Interest
- Public policy
- Social movements
- Corporate political behavior
- Social networks
- PhD, SUNY- Stony Brook, 2015