Dissertation project

My dissertation project investigates the construction of the mid-20th century civil rights agenda. I examine how liberals in the Democratic Party responded to pressures from constituents, interest groups, and social movements when constructing their response to the “race problem” from the 1930s to 1960s. By identifying plausible alternative issue domains and policy design, this project aims to (1) more accurately characterize the content of racial liberalism as it emerged among white Democratic Party elites and; (2) explain the mixed consequences of racial liberalism for the trajectory of racial inequality in the U.S.

Below is a short overview of my dissertation project, presented at the American Bar Foundation Speaker Series in September 2020:

Civil rights and social welfare policy

This set of projects examines the impact of civil rights law and policy on social policy in the United States after the 1960s.

The first study investigates the distinctive gender-neutral and broad-coverage design of US family and medical leave policy, arguing that its origins lie in contestation over civil rights law. This study is published in Studies in American Political Development (ungated version here). I also wrote a summary on the 3Streams blog.

The second study systematically examines the impact of civil rights law on social policy in the United States. I presented a working paper at the 2019 NU APD/Social Policy Workshop and the 2020 Law & Society Association Conference.

Urban politics

I conduct ongoing research with colleagues at the Chicago Democracy Project, examining local and hyper-local politics in Chicago.

This has included designing and implementing the Chicago Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Survey (CMANS), which included oversamples of rapidly changing neighborhoods and suburbs. CMANS was a collaborative effort with Tom Ogorzalek, Matt Nelsen, Reuel Rogers, and Traci Burch.

These efforts have contributed to the following research and writing:

  • A collaborative project with Tom Ogorzalek and Matt Nelsen on political attitudes and behavior in gentrifying neighborhoods.
  • A collaborative project with Tom Ogorzalek on how elected officials use social media as a site of local politics, with a focus on how local officials engage with national politics in constituent communication. We presented a working paper from this project at the Midwestern Political Science Association Conference (Chicago IL, May 2018).
  • Blog posts on the Chicago Democracy Project website analyzing local politics and election results in Chicago (see links here).

Immigrant political participation

Asian American political participation

In a study co-authored with Natalie Masuoka and Jane Junn on Asian American political participation in 2016, we argue that rates of participation among Asian Americans must be interpreted in light of structural barriers that the large proportion of non-citizens in this group face. This study is published in Political Research Quarterly. We summarized the findings at the LSE US Centre’s American Politics and Policy blog.

Non-citizen voting rights

This proposed project, in collaboration with Matt Nelsen, examines non-citizen political participation in two types of Chicago elections in which they are enfranchised (participatory budgeting and local school councils).

White racial attitudes

Criminal justice policy frames and white racial attitudes

This collaborative project with Denzel Avant and Brianna White examines the impact of knowledge about racial disparities on support for criminal justice policies among whites. We presented working papers at the 2018 Midwestern Political Science Association Conference, the 2018 Law & Society Association Conference, and the 2018 American Political Science Association Conference.

For a full list of working papers and conference presentations, see my CV.