(Sociology & Social Policy)
Ph.D. Date: May 2020 (Expected)
Dissertation Topic: “Jobbing It” On & Off-Reservation: How Tribal Fathers with Criminal Records Find Work
Dissertation Committee: William Julius Wilson (Chair), Mario L. Small, Alexandra A. Killewald, and Megan Comfort
Research/Teaching Interests: Tribal communities; Unemployment; Prisoner Reentry; Concentrated Disadvantage; Rural Poverty; Neighborhood Effects; Qualitative Methods; Database Creation & Management; Social Policy; Urban Sociology; Race & Ethnicity; Contemporary Theory
Blythe George is a member of the Yurok Tribe, and she attends Harvard University as an Ashford Fellow. In 2014, Blythe received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for her Masters’ project, where she examined the intersection of unemployment, gender, and crime on the Yurok and Hoopa Valley reservations, located in Northern California.
For her dissertation, Blythe uses in-depth interviews and ethnographic observation on the Yurok and Hoopa Valley reservations to document the effects of prisoner re-entry on the reservation communities of Hoopa and Klamath. She finds that thick social embeddedness, a high exposure to adverse experiences, and fundamental “world renewal” worldviews based on tribal practices shape the job search process for tribal fathers with criminal records as they return to the work force. Blythe adds a new lens to studies concerned with concentrated disadvantage by describing how the “reservation” represents both a physical space and a social institution shaping contemporary inequality. This theoretical insight nuances considerations of how social networks and informal employment shape male labor force attachment.
Blythe’s dissertation was awarded a 2018 NSF Sociology Program Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grant. The project builds on her efforts to document the extent of prisoner reentry in tribal communities with the Far North Tribal Offender Registry, a confidential database for the twelve tribal nations of Humboldt, Del Norte, and Siskiyou counties of Northern California that uses tribal enrollment and county jail records to track tribal members who are incarcerated in local jurisdictions. This pilot database serves as a template for a statewide database and tribal notification system. Blythe’s work on prisoner reentry in tribal communities has been supported by the Social Science Research Council’s Mellon Mays Initiatives, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, the Harvard University Native American Program, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Association for American Indian Affairs, and Indigenous Education, Inc.
Blythe graduated from Dartmouth College in 2012 with a BA in Sociology. At Dartmouth, she was a Mellon Mays Fellow and won the national Beinecke scholarship as a junior and was one of two students to complete the College’s interdisciplinary Senior Fellow opportunity. As part of this extended year-long project, she conducted quantitative and qualitative research on Native student performance in northern California and continued this research after graduation as a data consultant and guidance counselor for area schools.