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.
Faculty Name: Frank Dobbin
Project Title: The Diffusion of Sexual Harassment Training Legislation in U.S. States and Municipalities
- Description: The goal of the project is to collect data on the timing of state and local laws requiring employers to provide sexual harassment training to supervisors and workers. California first required training for supervisors in 2005. In recent years five other states, and many more municipalities, have required training. Why do states and municipalities require training in the face of evidence that voluntarily adopted training is ineffective? Does the legislation lead to reductions in the incidence of harassment? These are the principal questions to be addressed.
Research Tasks and Final Work Product: The student would collect data on the timing of sexual harassment training mandates in states and localities, and on the specifics of the law. Does it specify that supervisors or all employees must be trained? How frequently? Does it specify required features of the training programs? How is the law enforced. The student would build a dataset in Excel, and begin to explore why states and cities adopted laws, and particular features, when they did in simple statistical models.
Required Skills/Background: Familiarity with Excel. Familiarity with OLS regression and a standard statistical software package would be helpful. Ability to work on a team, in this case made up of 3 graduate students and two faculty members.
To Apply: Please send an application to [firstname.lastname@example.org with cc to email@example.com] including your 1) name, email, and college year; 2) a paragraph explaining reasons for 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.
Faculty Name: Christina Cross
Project Title: Racial Differences in the Impact of Family Structure on Children’s Life Chances
Project Description: The goal of the project is to examine how and why the impact of family structure on children’s life chances differs by race. Specifically, it explores the extent to which the benefits of growing in a two-parent family are weaker for Black youth than their White peers and why the returns to this family structure are lower for Black youth. The student will have the opportunity to engage in historical and quantitative research. Through the examination of legal documents, newspaper articles, and social media posts, they will investigate how, over time, the two-parent family emerged as the primary strategy among policy makers for promoting child wellbeing and eliminating racial inequality. Through the analysis of survey data, they will also assist in documenting the disparities in life opportunities between Black and white youth raised in this family structure. In doing so, they will learn about important sociological and demographic concepts such as family formation, parental socialization, racial inequality, and family privilege.
Research Tasks and Final Work Product: The student will assist in gathering data (e.g., compilation of legal documents), data cleaning, and analyses. The final work product will be a brief report that provides historical context about the research topic, as well as tables of descriptive statistics and basic statistical models.
Required Skills/Background: Familiarity with OLS regression and a standard statistical software package.
To Apply: Please send an application to Christina Cross (firstname.lastname@example.org), with cc to email@example.com 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.
Faculty Name: Manja Klemenčič (https://scholar.harvard.edu/manja_klemencic)
Project Title: Student Impact on Higher Education Globally (SIHEG)
Project Description: SIHEG research project investigates student agency in higher education, maps existing opportunities for students to influence higher education and societies more broadly, and explores student impact. The guiding research questions for this research project are twofold: (1) How do students enact agency in higher education (and society at large)? (2) How student organizing, student representation and student politics compare across institutions and countries worldwide? The objective of the research project is to advance the understanding of student agency in higher education and the impact students have on higher education and their societies. The research project is the first large-scale global collaborative research on student agency and impact on higher education globally. SIHEG is conducted by Manja Klemenčič in partnership with researchers from the Global Student Forum (https://www.globalstudentforum.org/). The Global Student Forum is a joint initiative of the All-Africa Students Union (AASU), Commonwealth Students’ Association (CSA), European Students Union (ESU) and Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU) and the Latin-American Student Organisation (OCLAE) and national organisations and movements which together cover 196 Unions from 119 countries.
Research Tasks and Final Work Product: Undergraduate RAs will have three main tasks:
(1) September: editorial comments to the draft introductions (review of literature and history of student politics) of the chapters on student politics. These introductions were written by mostly student leaders/representatives/activists whom Dr. Klemencic trained to conduct research in their country and author a chapter for an edited volume “Student Politics Globally”. The task will be to comment on clarity, structure, missing details, definitions, etc. The chapters are written for non-specialist.
(2) October: conduct desk research (via HOLLIS and Google Scholar) to identify secondary literature on student politics – student activism – student representation for the 40+ countries involved in the research project. Many contributors do not have access to well-resourced libraries and have difficulties identifying relevant secondary literature. The literature they found will be already included in the draft introductions. However, RAs will do another round of desk research to see if further literature could be identified, and if – possible – download it into the SIHEG project library.
(3) November: writing support to chapter writers finalising their chapters. Chapter writers will have collected survey data. RA would have office hours for chapter writers to offer personalised advising concerning data analysis (from a survey, interviews, content analysis of formal documents) and suggestions on writing up the chapters, and to communicate any unresolved issues to the principal investigator.
Depending on the number of RAs, each RA would be expected to read through about 12 chapter introductions (about 5 pages each), conduct desk research on secondary literature in about 12 countries, and offer peer-advising to writers from these 12 countries. Countries included in this project come from all world regions: Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and Pacific.
So far the US is not yet covered in the project, but Canada is included. We also cover countries that rarely occur in higher education research, such as Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Mauritius, Fiji, etc.
Required Skills/Background: Ideally you would have completed SOCIOL128 or take it in Fall 2021 (or other social science methods course or research-intensive course, such as SOCIOL1104, SOCIOL1130 or GENED1039), but this RA is possible without prior social science methods course (you will get training from PI). I especially need RAs for French-speaking African countries (plus chapters on France and Haiti), Spanish-speaking Latin American countries plus Latin American Portuguese (for the chapter on Brazil). So students with these language skills are strongly encouraged. Most country chapters will be in English, so plenty to do for English-speakers also.
To Apply: Please send an application to firstname.lastname@example.org including your 1) name, email, college year, concentration(s), foreign language skills (if any); 2) 1-2 paragraphs explaining any relevant experience, academic coursework and interests. Deadline: 9am, Thursday, August 26. Selection made by 5pm, Thursday, August 26.
More about the Sociology 92R Program - Faculty Research Assistantships: https://sociology.fas.harvard.edu/faculty-research
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.
I’m working on a book project titled Upgrading the Nation: Promise and Peril of Techno-Developmentalism in China. The project aims to understand the formation, consequences, and evolving features of China’s techno-developmentalism. Currently, the book project is under contract with Princeton University Press. I have published articles about platform economy and automation from the project: https://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/UEMUXGAUUKTDYREP8QVT/full; https://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/FGUKS7J2RCBDACAMHRT2/full.
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