I use mixed methods to study the sociological side of urban design, planning, and technology. These days, I mostly study things.
Things are always more interesting than we think, especially the boring ones. They have all kinds of ideas about society embedded in them. I study big things, like vacant suburban homes and lawns in public parks, but I also study small things, like folding chairs and mobile phones.
I also occasionally publish research on the sociology of culture and the media. Here is some recent and not-so-recent research I’ve been working on, in case you’re interested:
- In The Midst of Things: The Social Life of Urban Artifacts. This is a book I’ve been working on, which tells the story of five different everyday objects found in the public spaces of New York City and its suburbs. It’s mostly done at this point, and is under contract with Princeton University Press.
- “Where Inequality Takes Place: A Programmatic Argument for Urban Sociology” This came out in 2018 in City & Community. It was several years in the making, and is my best attempt to make sense out of how social inequality is reflected and reproduced at the local level.
- The Subway as Fourth Place: Anomie, Flanerie, and the ‘Crush of Persons’, with colleagues Peter Tuckel and Bill Milzarski and a talented group of applied social research graduate students. We sent our students into the subway to ride the rails and make systematic observations on subway etiquette. (Are you a “pole hog?”) The fancy academic version came out in Applied Mobilities in 2018, but the research project got some media coverage before that:
- “Taming a Chaotic Concept: Gentrification and Segmented Consumption in Brooklyn, 2002-2012” with Brian Lamberta and Erika Larsen, two brilliant former students of mine. A version of this article came out in Urban Geography in 2015. 37(4): 590-610.
- “Beyond the Sidewalk: Pedestrian Risk and Material Mismatch in the American Suburbs.” A version of this article was published in Mobilities in 2017.
- This research prompted an op-ed, co-authored with Kate Slevin, a long time ago: “Don’t Leave Pedestrians Out of Infrastructure Equation.” Hartford Courant. February 15. Editorial Page. (2009)
- “The Endangered Enclave: Hispanic-Owned Business Displacement in Brooklyn, 2002-2012.” in Metropolitics, with Brian Lamberta and Sarah Van Norden. (2015)
- “Hybrid Strategies: Allocating Involvement in the Digital Age” with a whole bunch of fine people. (2015) A version of this one was published in Symbolic Interaction. 38(3): 331-351.
- “Territories of Concern: Vacant Housing and Perceived Disorder on Three Suburban Blocks” (2014). A version came out in City & Community. 13(3): 191-213.
- “Bridging and Bonding in the Academic Melting Pot: Cultural Resources and Network Diversity.” This eventually ran in Sociological Forum 27(1): 46-69.
- “The Deviant Organization and the Bad Apple CEO: Ideology and Accountability in Media Coverage of Corporate Scandals.” (2010) A version of this one was published in Social Forces 88(5): 2189-2216.