Our undergraduates are part of an exciting and stimulating community of scholars who are at the top of their field and doing high-impact research. The Sociology Department offers many opportunities for undergraduates to work on faculty research projects in a variety of capacities. Research Assistant positions offer unique possibilities for intellectual growth, while giving students invaluable skills and experience. Please note: You may NOT be paid when taking a 92R for credit.
FALL 2022 OPPORTUNITIES
Project Head: Danilo Mandić
Project Title: Forced Migration and the Ukraine War
We invite students interested in being Research Assistants for a project on refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons) in the Ukraine-Russia war. RAs will be tasked with translating, transcribing, coding, content-analyzing and interpreting refugee testimonials recorded as audio files. Who are refugees? Where do they come from, and why? How are they displaced? What do they need? What happens when massive forced migrations in warfare reach the level of 1/3-1/4 of an entire population of 44 million, as is the case in Ukraine? Students will learn about the nature, causes and consequences of contemporary refugee waves through the case study of one of today's most formative conflicts.
Skills and Tasks:
Students will learn skills in qualitative methods, including basic coding, content analysis, the logic of comparative social science and sampling, archival digging, evaluating sources, differentiating factoids from context in testimonies, reviewing literature, and techniques for judging credibility of primary and secondary sources on politicized issues. RAs will train to become strong critical thinkers and analysts in a customized, small-group setting.
Meetings with the instructor will be every two weeks, and students are expected to produce assignments regularly and promptly (e.g. transcripts, coding schemes, etc.) as agreed. Refugee testimonials are extremely sensitive data, so there will be strict rules about handling the data and zero tolerance for distortion or politicization of the interviews. No prerequisite training is required, but knowledge of Russian and Ukrainian is recommended. Knowledge of Ukrainian history, culture, etc. advantage.
Faculty Name: Adaner Usmani
Project Title: Mass Incarceration in Comparative and Historical Perspective
Project Description: American mass incarceration is one of the major social problems of our times. The United States incarcerates more people than perhaps any other country in world history except for Stalin's Soviet Union. Those it incarcerates are disproportionately likely to be poor and nonwhite.
Scholars have offered various compelling explanations for American mass incarceration, but one of the weaknesses of most work on punishment is that it seeks to understand America by studying just America
This project seeks to bring comparative and historical perspective to the study of the American carceral state. We aim to gather several kinds of historical data on punishment, policing and violence in other countries (with a focus on other advanced capitalist countries and Latin America).
Research Tasks and Final Work Product: The RA will be responsible for collecting these data, which will involve reading and transcribing archival documents, trawling for new sources online, maintaining an existing database, emailing scholars in the field, and more. This continues research done by other RA's over the past two years, so there is a lot to do and a lot to build on. You'll be joining a team of RA's from Harvard and the University of Chicago, as well as some independent scholars.
I will ask that you write weekly summaries of what you have done. You will also meet once weekly with me and the rest of the research team.
Required Skills/Background: Spreadsheet and basic quantitative skills to curate and maintain the dataset. More advanced skills (programming, webscraping, regression analysis, etc.) would be a real plus.
To apply: Please send an application to firstname.lastname@example.org, cc’ing email@example.com, including your (1) name, email and college year; (2) a paragraph explaining your interest in the project; (3) a paragraph describing relevant coursework and experience.
Previous 92R Students
Stephanie Wu, Sociology, '19, working with Professor Orlando Patterson
"Working as a research assistant for Professor Orlando Patterson has been one of the best experiences of my college career!" Read more
Amira Weeks, Sociology, '18, working with Professor Frank Dobbin
"This project provided me with a first-hand look at how sociologists use data and models to produce conclusions." Read more
Rachael Stein, Sociology, 17, working with Professor Frank Dobbin
"I got to work directly with a professor on research that will have an incredible impact--both in the academic world and beyond. ...It was extremely rewarding to jump into a small team and conduct truly impactful research on a high-profile project. I was able to take things I was learning about in the classroom – organizations, businesses, inequality, discrimination, legal systems, and more – and see how these concepts interact in the real world." Read more
Max Whittington-Cooper, Sociology '17, working with Professor Devah Pager
"This research project truly allowed me to break out of the 'Harvard bubble' and explore regions of Massachusetts that I otherwise would have never visited." Read more