September/October 2012 Issue • Volume 40 • Issue 7

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ASA Awards Second Cohort of NSF-Funded Postdoctoral Fellowships in Economic Sociology

Beth Floyd, ASA Minority and Student Affairs

ASA, along with its university partners, is pleased to introduce the recipients of the second cohort of the ASA/NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship. Out of a highly competitive pool of applicants, 13 finalists were selected and ultimately five are participating in the program for 2012-2014. All five have begun their fellowships at their respective host institutions this fall. In addition to managing the application and selection process, ASA is conducting research on the contexts, expectations, and trajectories of those selected for the program and those who were not. The research and evaluation is being led by Roberta Spalter-Roth, ASA Director of Research. According to Spalter-Roth, the “research component will provide new evidence on the role of postdoctoral training as the discipline moves forward, with the help of ASA’s new Task Force on the Postdoctorate in Sociology, which will begin its work in 2013.”

The fellowship is funded by a grant in economic sociology from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and consists of awards at each of the following institutions: Cornell University, Harvard University, Princeton University, University of California-Berkeley, and University of Wisconsin-Madison (with a placement still pending at Stanford University). Over the next two years, the new fellows will conduct research on understanding the social impacts of the current economic crisis. The fellows each proposed a unique scholarly project in their application and they were paired with the institution that will best complement their interests. They will be assigned a faculty mentor who can provide both career and research guidance. Furthermore, they will also be required to teach one course as a member of the department during their award. The new fellows met each other for the first time at the 2012 ASA Annual Meeting, where they also met the outgoing fellows from the first ASA/NSF cohort, relevant ASA staff members, Patricia E. White (NSF Program Director), and Principal Investigators from each institution. The new fellows are:

Victor Tan Chen

victor tan chen

Victor Tan Chen

Postdoctoral Placement: University of California-Berkeley

Victor Tan Chen recently completed his PhD in sociology and social policy from Harvard University. He co-authored (with Katherine S. Newman) The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America (2007), which was selected by Library Journal as one of the Best Business Books of 2007. He also contributed to Newman’s book Chutes and Ladders: Navigating the Low-Wage Labor Market (2006). His dissertation, “Meritless: Unemployed Autoworkers, the Social Safety Net, and the Culture of Meritocracy in America and Canada,” draws on in-depth interviews and observation in Detroit and Windsor, Canada, during the economic crisis. It examines the worsening position of unskilled, unemployed autoworkers in the U.S. and Canadian labor markets, and applies a cross-national comparative method to assess the impacts and limitations of social policies in maintaining workers’ well-being and retraining them for new careers. It found that many blue-collar workers still believe that society is basically a meritocracy, making them reluctant to support political responses to rising inequality. Victor is the founding editor of In the Fray magazine, an award-winning online publication devoted to personal stories on global issues. Previously, he worked as a reporter for Newsday, and his writing has appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, among other publications. He grew up in New Jersey, studied history and literature as an undergraduate at Harvard University, and lives with his wife and two young sons in the Bay Area.

Barry Eidlin

barry eidlin

Barry Eidlin

Postdoctoral Placement: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Barry Eidlin recently completed his graduate training at the University of California-Berkeley. His dissertation, “The Class Idea: Politics, Ideology, and Class Formation in the United States and Canada in the Twentieth Century,” explains why, despite many cross-border social and economic similarities, working-class organization today remains stronger in Canada than in the U.S. Arguing against theories that stress long-standing differences in political cultures or differences in laws and party systems, Barry argues that this difference in working-class power resulted from different processes of working-class political incorporation in the 1930s and 40s. During his fellowship, he will be revising his dissertation for publication as a book, as well as laying the groundwork for his next project, which will be a comparative and historical analysis of the politics of fiscal austerity in Europe and North America. Barry was born and raised in Guelph, Ontario, received his AB from Oberlin College in 1996, and spent seven years as a union organizer prior to embarking on his academic career. His time in the labor movement led to an abiding interest in the complex interplay between political institutions, organizations, and social action. He first explored this interplay in his masters’ thesis, which examined the relationship between state policy, intra-class conflict, and organizational transformation in the Teamsters Union in the 1930s and 40s. This research was published in Labor History and received awards from the ASA Sections on Labor and Labor Movements and Marxist Sociology.

Roman Galperin

Roman Galperin

Roman Galperin

Postdoctoral Placement: Cornell University

Roman Galperin completed his PhD in Economic Sociology at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is interested in expert work performed on a large scale in organizations; his dissertation focuses on the tensions that arise between professions and organizations when the economies of scale are pitted against the traditional features of professional work: discretion and reliance on the professional’s own expertise. In two empirical settings—health care and tax accounting services—Roman studies how organizations influence the division of expert labor and how professionalism affects work in organizations. His study of the retail health clinics industry in the United States shows that organizations are capable of capturing professional jurisdiction, along with the related monopolistic rents, by following a strategy—using technology to control expert workers and exploiting the problem of collective action to recruit “front-men” professionals. In his study of tax preparation services, Roman approaches the phenomenon from another direction, showing that professionalism may arise in organizations in the context of routinized, unskilled work, among workers who lack professional credentials and training. The pseudo-professionalism influences the cost of labor, workers’ motivation and disposition towards organizational risks. At Cornell Roman will build on this work; starting a project that explores the relationship between professionalism and organizational risk. The study will contribute to our understanding of risk delegation and systemic failures in organizations and markets.

Margaret Gough

Margaret Gough

Margaret Gough

Postdoctoral Placement: Harvard University

Margaret Gough recently completed her PhD in sociology at the University of Michigan, where she was also a Population Studies Center trainee. Her research applies a social demographic approach to questions at the intersection of family sociology and social stratification. In her dissertation, she uses survey data to illustrate the roles that family and labor market play in individuals’ everyday lives. In three papers, Margaret examines the following questions: How do couples adjust their division of housework when one partner becomes unemployed? Does the timing of a second birth contribute to the motherhood penalty for women with more than one child? Is there a negative association between parental separation and children’s test scores, and if so, can accounting for children’s non-cognitive skills mediate this association? In other work she has studied the relationship between wives’ earnings and their time in housework, gender differences in the marriage and parenthood premiums, and ethnic enclaves and immigrants’ wages. Her work has been published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, Social Science Research, and Demography. In future work she will explore how unemployment impacts other aspects of family life beyond housework, such as health and children’s behavioral and educational outcomes. Margaret received a BA in social welfare and sociology from the University of California-Berkeley in 2005, and she received an MA in sociology in 2009 and an MA in statistics in 2010, both from the University of Michigan.

Besnik Pula

Besnik Pula

Besnik Pula

Postdoctoral Placement: Princeton University

Originally from Kosovo, Besnik Pula received his BA in political science at Hunter College and his MA in Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University. In 2011, he completed his PhD in sociology at the University of Michigan, specializing in comparative historical analysis. Besnik’s dissertation focuses on the politics of legal reform in the newly secularizing state of Albania of the early 20th century, particularly how the disintegration of the Ottoman agrarian regime radically recomposed the political and social dynamics of agrarian mobilization in the soon-to-be communist-ruled country. His dissertation was funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education, the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), and the American Council for Learned Societies and received Honorable Mention for the Theda Skocpol Best Dissertation Award from the ASA Section on Comparative and Historical Sociology. Besnik’s Postdoctoral Fellowship research will examine globalization and the decline and transformation of state socialism in Eastern Europe. The research consists of two concurrent projects. The first project examines the rise of globalized finance and its effects in the reform processes of state socialist countries in Eastern Europe in the period preceding and following the debt crisis of the 1980s. The second project examines the re-composition and reconstitution of state-led development in post-socialist Eastern Europe in the aftermath of the financial and economic crisis of 2008 in the context of a changing European and global political economy.

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