Tricia Wins Academia

The other big news this month is that Tricia Bromley was hired at the Graduate School of Education at Stanford.

One look at her CV, and you’ll know why Stanford wanted Tricia back.  She has been producing great papers like crazy — such as her recent ASR with Amanda Sharkey on actorhood among US firms and her stream of outstanding comparative papers on school curricula.

Huge congrats to Tricia!

Stanford is quite a place to build a career, especially if you can come in with a big leg-up on tenure, as is the case here.  The status and resources are a enormous… but the really amazing thing about Stanford is the phenomenal people that are there or always coming across the transom.  A huge win for Tricia…

And, it is great to see the world society tradition staying so vital at Stanford, with John and Chiqui showing no signs of slowing down and two outstanding younger people (Tricia and Christine Wotipka) who bring lots of energy.

By coincidence, we are fortunate that Tricia will be visiting UCI this week to give a talk… something that was set up before the Stanford job came through.  Hopefully the trip won’t interrupt all her packing…

Soo-yong Byun tenured at PSU!

First, some wonderful news:  Last week Soo-yong told me he was promoted to associate professor with tenure at Penn State!

If anyone deserves tenure it is Soo-yong.  He is incredibly bright and motivated, and has a stunning publication record.  Last time I looked he had something like 40 refereed publications and almost a dozen chapters, with terrific pieces in Soc of Ed, Comparative Ed Review, AERJ, and so on…  He has already established himself as a leading scholar of comparative education, who has really contributed to our understanding of social capital, shadow education, and several other important topics.  But even if tenure is expected, it is always very exciting when the final news comes through.

Soo-yong is the very first student that I worked with who has earned tenure.  I had the pleasure of co-chairing his dissertation with Dave Chapman a the U of Minnesota.  It has been incredibly rewarding to watch Soo-yong launch his career right in front of my eyes.

Congratulations, Soo-yong!  Your accomplishments are well-deserved!

Back from the salt mines…

I’ve decided to get back to blogging again! I stopped mainly because I was feeling very much behind on things. I can’t say that I’m fully caught up — or even close to caught up — but I’ve cleared out several old projects that were really hanging over me.

So, more time for fun stuff!

Professor Shorette!

More good news:  Kristen Shorette will be joining SUNY Stony Brook next year as an assistant professor of sociology!

Kristen recently finished up her PhD here at UCI, having written a terrific dissertation on the global emergence of Fair Trade markets.  Stony Brook has had strength in global/transnational sociology for a long time.  Kristen, will find herself right at home there.

Kristen’s interview brought back some memories:  I actually had my very first job interview at Stony Brook, long ago.  I was very nervous, and didn’t get the job… but I nevertheless enjoyed the visit.  I got to meet people like Jackie Smith, Said Arjomand, Dianne Barthel, etc.  Since then, Stony Brook has continued to hire really smart global people like Tim Moran, Kiyo Tsutsui (now at Michigan), John Shandra, etc.  The Stony Brook department is a great fit for Kristen (and vice versa).

Congratulations Kristen!

Congratulations Shawn Wick

Belated congratulations to Shawn Wick, who successfully defended his dissertation earlier this fall!

The dissertation is titled “Missionaries of Modernization and Managers of Myth:  Organizational Legitimacy in the Field of International Development.”  The project takes the Peace Corp as a site to examine how development organizations describe themselves and craft narratives to maintain organizational legitimacy in the eyes of external constituencies as well as members of the organization.

The title gives hints at what drew Shawn to this project.  A Peace Corp volunteer prior to entering graduate school, Shawn was struck by the religious-like fervor common to many people and organizations in the development community.  This basic insight — that development is a culturally-infused domain — set the stage for his analysis of organizational narratives and the basis for the Peace Corp’s legitimacy.  Shawn finds that the original narrative developed at the Peace Corp’s inception has really stuck with the organization, and shaped how it has adapted to new political pressures in path dependent ways.

The dissertation is a great read.  Shawn is a terrific writer, and really conveys the feel of the milieu that the Peace Corp was operating in over the decades.

The Ron Aminzade and I were co-advisors, and Ann Hironaka and David Chapman were also on the committee.

I think all my University of Minnesota dissertation committees are wrapped up.  It has been great to see all the terrific students coming out of Minnesota… and to participate in some small way.  The grad program is really impressive (not to mention the faculty!).

Shawn is an assistant professor at Central College in Iowa… and now a PhD!  Congratulations, Shawn!

Mayumi Uno Defends!

We have another new PhD!  Mayumi Uno successfully defended her dissertation at the University of Minnesota.  The project is entitled:  “National Institutional Context and Educational Inequality: A Multilevel Analysis of Variation in Family SES Effects on Academic Achievement across OECD Countries.”

Mayumi pursues a question that is of great interest to me:  How does institutional context and the organization of national education systems affect schooling?  In particular, she focuses on educational inequality, operationalized as the slope linking family background (SES) and achievement — which captures the extent that schools reproduce existing inequality.  The dissertation examines a wide range of national-level institutional variables that might influence inequality, including differentiation, sources of funding, private tutoring, labor market incentives, and even welfare state variables.

The dissertation has a ton of interesting findings.  For one thing, strong state control over the educational system is associated with less SES-based inequality.  If the state controls all the funding and curriculum, and if there are more instructional hours in the school year, family effects are reduced.

That makes a lot of sense.  The simplest way to eliminate the influence of family SES would be to send all kids to state-run boarding schools year-round.  Obviously, no country does that…  but there are real differences in the length of the school year, centralized funding of education, etc, which appear to be very consequential for inequality.

The dissertation also has some surprising results.  For instance,  the prevalence of tutoring/shadow education in a country is associated with less SES-related inequality.  Mayumi expected the opposite, and so did I.  You’d think that family resources would translate into much better tutoring.  But, inequalities are greater in societies where there isn’t much tutoring.  Perhaps tutoring has the biggest payoff in societies where few people can afford it?  Like any good dissertation, the project raises new questions to be studied…

The study is a multilevel analysis of the PISA dataset, looking at math achievement among 15-year olds.  The quantitative analysis is superb.  Among other things, Mayumi carefully parses out the within-school vs. between school components of the SES effects… which yield a whole other set of interesting findings.  For instance, the prevalence of private schooling is associated with bigger school-level (contextual) SES effects but smaller within-school SES effects.  It makes sense one I started thinking about it… but I definitely didn’t know that before.  VERY interesting.

I co-chaired the dissertation with Teresa Swartz.  Jeylan Mortimer and Ann Hironaka were also on the committee.  Mayumi also worked with Karen Bradley at Western Washington, where she did her MA.

Congratulations, Mayumi!  You did a terrific job!

Kristen Shorette, PhD

Kristen Shorette finished up her dissertation, entitled:  “Institutional Foundations of Global Markets: The Emergence and Expansion of the Fair Trade Market across Nations and over Time”

The project looks at the emergence of “Fair Trade” in the international system.  Fair trade refers to goods (coffee, handicrafts) that are produced and traded in a environmentally and socially responsible manner.  Fair trade usually takes the form of a certification, done by an independent organization, that provides assurance that the goods are produced and traded in “fair” manner.

Fair Trade Coffee Image

The project is mostly quantitative, analyzing the proliferation of Fair Trade certification organizations and fair trade producers, globally.

The dissertation is at an the intersection of institutional theory, globalization, and economic sociology, where lots of people are doing interesting work (e.g., Tim Bartley, Alwyn Lim, Kiyo Tsutsui, Wes Longhofer).

The dissertation shows how much economic sociology has to say about the formation of new markets.  One simple hypothesis is that Fair Trade will simply grow up around existing market relations…  but that isn’t the case at all.

Rather, fair trade emerges from a global web of personal ties, including Peace Corp volunteers and missionaries who begin to import fair trade goods to the US and Europe.  Kristen actually went out and collected data on the destinations of Peace Corp volunteers, and finds that those connections predict the emergence of Fair Trade producers in later years.

After fair trade catches on, a more formal “fair trade regime” emerges — with large international organizations managing the certification process.   In later years, personalistic ties (e.g., Peace Corp volunteers) cease to be important.  Instead, conventional organizational ties (e.g., country-level INGO membership) are predictive of fair trade activity.

This just scratches the surface.  The dissertation is a big, rich project with lots of interesting findings.  But, it really shows how world society research can speak to economic sociology.

Nina Bandelj and I co-chaired the dissertation, and Ann Hironaka also served on the committee.

Congratulations Kristen!