Jonathan Jan Benjamin Mijs
Ph.D. Date: May 2017
Dissertation Title: Institutions as Inferential Spaces: How People Learn About Inequality
Dissertation Committee: Jason Beckfield (Chair), Lawrence D. Bobo, and Devah Pager
Research/Teaching Interests: Stratification (mobility, education), Political Sociology (inequality beliefs, populism), Theory (meritocracy, social inference), Research Design
Jonathan J.B. Mijs is a Lecturer on Sociology at Harvard University and a Visiting Fellow at the International Inequalities Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, where he previously held a post as Postdoctoral Research Fellow.
He studies the cultural and cognitive dimensions of inequality: how (young) people learn about inequality, and how they make sense of it. Inequality has risen dramatically in the West, yet the trend has not been accompanied by growing popular concern. His work describes how people living in more unequal societies in fact express less concern about inequality than those in more egalitarian societies. To understand why, his research looks at the role of socializing institutions, like schools and neighborhoods, through which young people learn about who gets what and why.
Specifically, Jonathan studies (a) how economic inequality impacts social segregation in neighborhoods, schools and workplaces; (b) how social distance between the rich and poor shapes how they come to (mis)perceive and explain inequality; (c) how meritocratic perceptions and explanations of inequality reinforce social cleavages; and (d) what kind of information or interventions are (un)likely to change people’s understanding of inequality.
His research to date has been published in Sociology of Education, Socio-Economic Review, and the European Sociological Review, among other publications, and has been featured in The Washington Post, The Guardian, Financial Times and at TEDx London.
During the 2019-20 academic year, Jonathan teaches a lecture course on Social Inequality (Fall) and a seminar on Understanding Meritocracy (Spring). He has previously taught Research Design and Sociological Theory, for which he twice received the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching.