Sociology of Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility

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Jr. Faculty Spotlight


February 2016:  Ryan Finnigan


  1. What excites you most about your work right now?

A lot of my work right now is on racial/ethnic stratification in the US across various outcomes, notably employment, wages, and housing. The sizes of White-Black and White-Latino inequalities in these outcomes are fairly comparable. But I consistently find the factors driving them, at both the individual and macro level, are very different. A lot of great work in sociology covers this terrain already, but I’d like to add to our understanding of diverse racial/ethnic stratification processes. I also want to contribute to work on the connections between inequalities in different domains, like education, work, and housing.


  1. What is the best paper or book you’ve read recently, and why do you like/love it?


A paper that stands out in my memory from the last couple of years is “Contested Boundaries: Explaining Where Ethno-Racial Diversity Provokes Neighborhood Conflict,” by Joscha Legewie (NYU) and Merlin Schaeffer (University of Cologne), forthcoming in AJS. Legewie and Schaeffer use of edge-detection algorithms from imaging processing methods to measure the sharpness of neighborhood boundaries between racial/ethnic groups in New York City. I read the segregation literature a lot, and this paper comes from a different angle, uses a really novel method, and shows something new that more data and methods wouldn’t necessarily.


  1. What has surprised you most about life after graduate school?


One surprise has been how much my circle of colleagues and friends in sociology has expanded in such a short time. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know folks at Davis, and have tried to keep in touch with folks from my post-doc and grad school. One of my favorite parts of conferences now is the chance to see and catch up with so many people from so many different places. It also helps me feel more integrated into the discipline. Another surprise is how quickly I’ve had the opportunity to mentor and collaborate with graduate students, which I really enjoy.

Ryan Finnigan is an assistant professor of sociology and faculty affiliate of the Center for Poverty Research at the University of California, Davis. His PhD is from Duke University (2013), and he was a post-doctoral researcher at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. His research interests include stratification, poverty, race/ethnicity, health, and demography.

Recent publications

Finnigan, Ryan. 2014. “Racial and Ethnic Stratification in the Relationship Between Homeownership and Health.” Social Science & Medicine 115:72-81.


Brady, David, and Ryan Finnigan. 2014. “Does Immigration Undermine Support for the Welfare State?” American Sociological Review 79(1):17-42.


Brady, David, Regina Baker, and Ryan Finnigan. 2013. “When Unionization Disappears: State-Level Unionization and Working Poverty in the U.S.” American Sociological Review 78(5):872-96.

January 2016:  David Pedulla

Profile Photo for Faculty

What excites you most about your work right now?

I’m particularly excited about a new project I’m getting off the ground that examines how organizational policies, practices, and demographic composition shape discrimination in hiring. Over the past few decades, a lot of important research – often utilizing experimental methods – has documented employers’ demand-side preferences and discriminatory behavior during the hiring process. At the same time, in a largely separate literature, scholars have examined the organizational-level forces that influence inequality within workplaces. Limited research, however, has combined the powerful experimental techniques used to identify hiring discrimination with organizational-level data on company’s policies, practices, and demographic composition. Thus, much less is known about when, where, and why hiring discrimination emerges and the contextual, organizational-level dynamics that may account for this variation. As part of one of my new projects, I’m collecting and merging the types of data necessary to address this set of issues and I’m hoping that the findings will contribute to conversations in both social stratification and organizational behavior.

What’s the best paper or book you’ve read recently, and why do you like/love it?

 It’s so hard to pick just one. But, I’ve recently been trying to read outside of sociology a bit and was really excited by a field experiment published by Ryan Enos, a political scientist, in PNAS, entitled “Causal Effect of Intergroup Contact on Exclusionary Attitudes.” Enos finds an exceptionally innovative way to test the effect of intergroup contact on exclusionary attitudes toward outgroup members. For the experiment, he randomly assigned Anglo-white individuals to be exposed to Spanish-speaking (vs. non Spanish-speaking) individuals in their daily routines by targeting them while they were waiting for the train during their commute. This manipulation was designed to simulate, albeit imperfectly, some of the conditions of demographic change and increased intergroup contact. He then followed up with the Anglo-white individuals after they had been exposed (or not) to Spanish-speaking individuals to collect data about their exclusionary attitudes. Check out the article for the findings [link]. More than anything, I found Enos’s article to be a welcome push for social scientists to think creatively about generating new types of data to answer long-standing, difficult questions.

 What has surprised you most about life after grad school?

I think there have been two major surprises about life after graduate school. First, it’s actually really fun to be an assistant professor. I get to spend most of my time working on new and exciting research projects and collaborating with great colleagues and graduate students. And, it’s been rewarding to teach and work with the undergraduates at UT-Austin. There are definitely lots of new things to figure t as well as different challenges than there were in graduate school, but, overall, post-grad school life has been quite enjoyable. Second, it’s been interesting to see how important it is to have great assistant professor colleagues (and great colleagues in general) both in the Sociology Department, but also around campus. Other assistant professors, in particular, make a big difference in terms of figuring out how a department and university operate as well as having have great people with whom to discuss obstacles and challenges. And, of course, it’s nice to have these folks as friends to unwind with and talk about things other than research and writing.

David Pedulla is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and a Faculty Research Associate of the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. His research interests include social stratification, economic and organizational sociology, and experimental methods. Specifically, his research agenda examines the consequences of non-standard, contingent, and precarious employment in the United States as well as the processes leading to race and gender labor market inequality. David’s research has appeared in American Sociological ReviewAmerican Journal of SociologySocial Forces, and other academic journals. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the UC-Davis Center for Poverty Research and has been covered by The New York Times, National Public Radio, Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, and other media outlets. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy from Princeton University.

Pedulla, David S. Forthcoming [April 2016]. “Penalized or Protected? Gender and the Consequences of Non-Standard and Mismatched Employment Histories.” American Sociological Review.

Pedulla, David S., and Sarah Thébaud. 2015. “Can We Finish the Revolution? Gender, Work-Family Ideals, and Institutional Constraint.” American Sociological Review 80(1):116-139. [Link]

Pager, Devah, and David S. Pedulla. 2015. “Race, Self-Selection, and the Job Search Process.” American Journal of Sociology 120(4):1005-1054. [Link]


December 2015:  Anna R. Haskins


What excites you most about your work right now?

Having studied the intergenerational impacts of mass incarceration for almost a decade, what’s most exciting about my work now is the confluence of social, political and even economic backing for the topic.  The bipartisan support, public engagement and growing policy reforms being enacted around incarceration, policing and issues within the criminal justice system bring an added layer of purpose to my work.

What’s the best paper or book you’ve read recently, and why do you like/love it?

I’d love to say I’ve actually read (as in finished) Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, however I have only been able to start it; it sits eagerly waiting to be read on my nightstand.  What *has* been read in its place, over and over again each night, has been Peter Linenthal’s Look Look! which is my 11 month old’s favorite book.  Seeing him light up with joy at the recognition of each page and in the process develop a love for books is truly amazing.

What has surprised you most about life after grad school?

I think I have been most surprised by how much I actually know, while simultaneously realizing how much more I have to learn.

Anna R. Haskins is an assistant professor of sociology at Cornell University and an affiliate of the Cornell Prison Education Program, the Center for the Study of Inequality, and the Cornell Population Center. She received her PhD in 2013 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and her scholarly interests are in the areas of educational inequality, social stratification, race and ethnicity, and the intergenerational social consequences of mass incarceration. Her current research assessing the effects of paternal incarceration on children’s educational outcomes and engagement in schooling has been published in Sociological Science, Sociology of Education and Social Science Research in addition to being featured on and The Washington Post. Overall, her work aims to focus an eye toward understanding the persistence of racial and gendered disparities in outcomes and the role these inequities play in the transmission of inequality or opportunity from one generation to the next.

Haskins, Anna R. 2015. “Paternal Incarceration and Child‐Reported Behavioral Functioning at Age 9.” Social Science Research 52: 18-33.

Turney, Kristin and Anna R. Haskins. 2014. “Falling Behind?: Children’s Early Grade Retention after Paternal Incarceration.” Sociology of Education 87: 241‐258.

Haskins, Anna R. 2014. “Unintended Consequences: Effects of Paternal Incarceration on Child School Readiness and Later Special Education Placement.” Sociological Science 1: 141-157.



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