92R Program - Faculty Research Assistantships

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.

Beginning January 2020, all 92r projects that are accepting new students will be posted here. Please review the project descriptions below and follow the application steps. You may apply for more than one opportunity. For questions about specific projects, please contact the professor in charge. For questions about the overall process, please contact hholbrow@fas.harvard.edu.

 

  1. The deadline to apply is 12pm, Tuesday, January 21.
  2. Faculty will review applications. You may be asked to interview by phone or in person.
  3. Faculty will contact selected students by email as soon as possible, but no later than 5pm, Thursday, January 30.
  4. Please ACCEPT or DECLINE faculty offers by email, with cc to hholbrow@fas.harvard.edu and lthomas@wjh.harvard.edu by 4pm, Friday, January 31.
  5. Once you have accepted an offer by email, please petition to enroll in SOCIOL 92r on my.harvard ASAP.

 

Sociology 92r: Faculty Research Assistant

Students gain research skills along with an understanding of the production of sociological knowledge through work on faculty research projects. Work is arranged and directed by faculty members, who supervise and meet with students regularly (every 1-2 weeks). The specifics of the intellectual goals for the student and the research tasks involved will vary. The student and faculty member will consult on this in advance and will outline the following on the 92r Registration Form: 1) the specific skills to be learned, 2) how the course will engage students with the discipline, and 3) the specific work product. What students produce will depend on the kind of research involved. It is expected that students will work 8 to 10 hours per week on the course. Students may engage with data collection, data analysis, literature reviews, or other aspects of a faculty project.

Note: This course must be taken SAT/UNSAT.

 

 

Spring 2020 92R Opportunities

Faculty Name: Tally Amir

Project Title:  Immigration Vetting on Social Networks

Project Description: The goal of the project is to learn about the ways different countries use information individuals post, share or like in immigration vetting, and think critically about the use of social media as a vetting instrument. The project will provide an opportunity to conduct comparative research and examine the legality and morality of exclusion decisions in immigration law. The project may also provide the students an opportunity to get experience and exposure to legal texts.

Research Tasks and Final Work Product: The student will research examples of use of social media to vet migrants in different countries; look into how those cases were challenged by human rights organizations and individuals in courts; and to conduct a critical analysis of these cases. Student might also interview immigration lawyers on their experience with social networks vetting.

Required Skills/Background: Previous experiences with legal texts or databases may be helpful, but is not required. Knowledge of additional languages might also be helpful.

To Apply: Please send an application to tamir@fas.harvard.edu, with cc to holbrow@fas.harvard.edu including your 1) name, email, and college year; 2) 1-2 paragraphs explaining reasons for interest in the project; and 3) 1-2 paragraphs describing relevant coursework (if any), relevant work/research experience (if any), or reasons for interest in learning more about research via this project.

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Faculty Name: Yael Berda

Project Title:  What is cultural appropriation? Theory and empirical tests in US & Israel

Project Description: the project seeks to understand what makes cultural boundary crossing, cultural borrowing and sharing into cultural appropriation. The student will have the opportunity to work on an exciting new project in which we are testing  a new theory on exclusionary boundary crossing in the domains of cuisine and music  in Israel and the US, where Palestinians and African-Americans occupy, respectively, similar socioeconomic positions. The reseach includes interviews, big data analytics drawing on multiple datasets and an experiment intended at identifying individual-level mechanisms. 

Research Tasks and Final Work Product: The student, depending on skills can participate on multiple aspects of the project. Through interviews of cultural workers and producers, researching media scandals around cultural appropriation, writing literature reviews on various aspects of the project or assisting with coding/analysis of large data sets.

Required Skills/Background: curiosity, commitment, ability to organize information, preferable with some knowledge and interest in popular culture.

To Apply: Please send an application to yberda@g.harvard.edu. with cc to hholbrow@fas.harvard.edu including your 1) name, email, and college year; 2) 1-2 paragraphs explaining reasons for interest in the project; and 3) relevant work/research experience (if any), or reasons for interest in learning more about research via this project.

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Faculty Name: Shai Dromi

Project Title: The Causes and Mechanisms of US Based Activism in Relation to Foreign Regional Conflicts.

Project description: Why do some social issues spark fervent debates on our campuses when others get little attention? How do students mobilize to turn attention to less-known social and political struggles? This project aims to understanding student activism, in particular as it pertains to conflicts that occur outside that United States (such as the Rohingya crisis, Tibet, or the Kurdish struggle). The student will use secondary literature to trace student activism on specific conflicts in recent decades, and will thus learn about the causes and consequences of the differences in student attention between different conflicts.

Description of Research Tasks:

1. Using Harvard library resources to identify literature on activism on foreign regional conflict (specific conflicts will be determined once we begin the research).

2. Identifying the main mechanisms that the literature ascribes to activism on behalf of distant conflicts.

3. Synthesizing these literatures into a coherent review.

Work Product: The final product will be a review on the literature and historical background of U.S. activism surrounding one regional conflict, with a focus on the different mechanism that motivate and facilitate such activism.

Required Skills / Background: Familiarity with scholarly search engines such as Hollis and Sociological Abstracts.

To Apply:  Please send an application to shai.dromi@g.harvard.edu, with cc to hholbrow@fas.harvard.edu including your 1) name, email, and college year; 2) 1-2 paragraphs explaining reasons for interest in the project; and 3) 1-2 paragraphs describing relevant coursework (if any), relevant work/research experience (if any), or reasons for interest in learning more about research via this project.

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Faculty Name: Hilary Holbrow

Project Title:  Fading at Dusk? Blurring Status Hierarchies in a Shrinking Japan

Project Description: This project looks at gender and ethnic inequality in Japan, and seeks to understand why gender inequality is so persistent, while ethnic inequality is becoming less severe under the conditions of Japan’s demographic decline.

Research Tasks and Final Work Product: The student will review interview transcripts in English and Japanese, looking for common themes and interesting stories. The student will review survey respondents’ free-written responses to the questions about their career opportunities and create a classification system for various types of responses. The student may also conduct other tasks relating to data analysis and literature review.

Required Skills/Background: Fluent or advanced Japanese language skills are required.  

To Apply: Please send an application to hholbrow@fas.harvard.edu including your 1) name, email, and college year; 2) 1 paragraph describing relevant coursework or experience (if any); 3) a self-assessment of your Japanese language ability and experience working with or in Japanese.

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Faculty Name: Manja Klemenčič

Project Title:  Students in Service to Higher Education institutions (SISHEI)

Project Description: This project seeks to map and model student campus employment and service opportunities in different higher education contexts to contribute to our understanding of student impact on college. It explores what impact students in service roles have on their higher education institutions, how accessible these positions are to students, how student work and voluntary service is valuated by the institutions, and how student campus employment and service work influences student outcomes. This international collaborative research project encompasses 10 participating sites in 8 countries: the US, China, Japan, Nigeria, Argentina, Russia, Slovenia, and UK.  Student researchers will have opportunity to learn about higher education practices and student experiences in different cultural contexts and the conduct of international comparative research in sociology of higher education.

Research Tasks and Final Work Product: Student researchers will identify and conduct content analyses of institutional policies and documents, and manual coding of anonymized interview data. Instead of coding they will have an option to conduct quantitative analyses of institutional data (e.g., student engagement survey data) to produce tables of descriptive statistics and basic statistical models.  If interested, students will have an option (if obtained CITI training) to sit in or conduct interviews with student subjects in participating sites in Boston area or via skype in participating sites abroad. The final product(s) will be a table with an overview of institutional policies and relevant provisions on student employment, and coding of transcript records of interviews with 10 student campus employees (about 30 pages in total) from the same site OR a table of descriptive statistics and basic statistical models on one set of institutional data (e.g., student engagement survey).

Required Skills/Background: Completed SOCIOL128 or taken in parallel (or other social science methods course or completed SOCIOL1104, SOCIOL1130 or GENED1039). Familiarity with OLS regression and a standard statistical software package if interested in quantitative analyses of institutional data instead of coding.  If interested in conducting interviews, CITI training is required (via CUHS).  Knowledge of Mandarin, Japanese, Spanish, or Russian needed if interested in working on one of the sites abroad.

To Apply: Please send an application to manjaklemencic@g.harvard.edu , with cc to hholbrow@fas.harvard.edu including your 1) name, email, and college year; 2) 1-2 paragraphs explaining reasons for interest in the project; and 3) 1-2 paragraphs describing relevant coursework (if any), relevant work/research experience (if any), or reasons for interest in learning more about research via this project.

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Faculty Name: Jonathan Mijs

Project Title:  America Coming Apart

Project Description: One of the reasons why Americans aren’t as worried about economic inequality as scholars and commentators would expect, is that the rich and poor are increasingly insulated from one another. In the absence of interactions across economic fault lines, people cannot see the true extent of inequality. The goal of the project is to learn about the forces driving rich and poor Americans apart. The student(s) will systematically document the extent and forms of socio-economic segregation in education, work, neighborhoods and social networks. If desired, they will also have an opportunity to statistically analyze data on Americans’ changing social networks and beliefs about inequality, and to work toward an academic paper.

Research Tasks and Final Work Product: Student(s) will find, summarize and analyze academic research on the topic. The final product will be a literature review. Optionally, student(s) will also statistically analyze data using Stata or R. Their work will contribute to, and be acknowledged in, a new book on this topic.

Required Skills/Background: Interest in social science research. Optional: familiarity with Stata or R.

To Apply: Please send an application to mijs@fas.harvard.edu (with cc to hholbrow@fas.harvard.edu) including your 1) name, email, and college year; 2) a paragraph explaining your interest in the project; and 3) a paragraph describing relevant coursework (if any), relevant work/research experience (if any), or reasons for interest in learning more about research via this project. If interested in doing statistical analysis, please state and briefly describe your relevant background/experience.

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Faculty Name: Adaner Usmani

Project Title: The Origins of American Mass Incarceration

Project Description: Sociologists know that American mass incarceration is exceptionally punitive, but there is some disagreement about when this exceptionalism began. Some argue that it began in the 1970s. They note that America, in the 1960s, incarcerated a share of its population that was similar to the share incarcerated in other developed countries today. Others, however, point out that all countries incarcerated fewer people in the 1970s, so, perhaps, America was exceptional all along.

This is an empirical disagreement that has significant theoretical implications for scholars of American punishment. The goal of this project to resolve this confusion by collecting three kinds of historical data on punishment regimes in comparable countries (i.e. the US and a number of other advanced capitalist countries.) First, data on the number of people in prison or prison-like facilities. Second, data on police employment. Third, data on the amount of money spent by governments on prisons, police, and the courts.

Research Tasks and Final Work Product: The RA will be responsible for collecting these data, which will involve trawling online, emailing scholars in the field, and searching the library for relevant sources. This continues research done by a previous RA in the fall semester, so there is already something to build on. I ask that you write weekly summaries of what you have accomplished and in how many hours, which we will meet once a week to discuss.

Required Skills/Background: Spreadsheet and basic quantitative skills to curate and maintain the dataset. Experience with more advanced skills (regression, coding/programming, etc.) and some familiarity with the facts of American punishment would be a plus.

To Apply: Please send an application to ausmani@fas.harvard.edu, cc’ing hholbrow@fas.harvard.edu, 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.

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Faculty Name: Elke Winter

Project Title:  The Race for “Global Talent” at Times of Increasing Social Inequality

Project Description: The objective of this project is to examine the race for talent and skilled migrants as a means of economic nationalism in the United States, Canada and Europe against the backdrop of increasing social inequality and populism in the receiving societies. Students will assist with the collection, categorization, and analysis of new data (academic literature, grey literature, statistics). If available (this is NOT a mandatory part of the course), students will be invited to attend a conference at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs in early May, where they will be able to see how their research feeds into a wider discussion by international scholars on these very same issues.

Research Tasks and Final Work Product: The students will help with producing 3 country reports on economic immigrants and their reception/perception by native-born populations in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Required Skills/Background: Strong analytical and writing skills are required. A minimal understanding of statistical analysis (reading tables, graphs, etc.) is necessary in order to collect and make sense of the relevant data (e.g. having taken SOC 128 or an equivalent class). Having taken classes on immigration, race and ethnicity, comparative sociology/policy studies is an asset.

To Apply: Please send an application to [ewinter@fas.harvard.edu, with cc to hholbrow@fas.harvard.edu] including your 1) name, email, and college year; 2) 1-2 paragraphs explaining reasons for interest in the project; and 3) 1-2 paragraphs describing relevant coursework (if any), relevant work/research experience (if any), or reasons for interest in learning more about research via this project.

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For further information on faculty research and publications, please visit: http://sociology.fas.harvard.edu/pages/featured-publications.

Previous 92R Students

Stephanie Wu

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

 

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

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

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