May/June Issue • Volume 42 • Issue 5

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Sociologists Appointed Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Scholars

Six sociologists are among the 18 leading social scientists recently appointed 2014–2015 Visiting Scholars at the Russell Sage Foundation. During their tenure at the Foundation, Visiting Scholars will pursue research and writing projects that will promote the Foundation’s commitment to strengthening the social sciences. All Visiting Scholars undertake timely social science research and apply their research to significant social problems. While Visiting Scholars typically work on projects related to the Foundation’s current programs, a number of scholars whose research falls outside the Foundation’s active programs also participate.

Richard D. Alba (City University of New York-Graduate Center) will write a series of articles about the demographic transformation of working-age Americans and its impact on the ethnic and racial composition of the upper tiers of the workforce. The project will evaluate the nature and significance of the growing diversity in top-tier occupations such as finance.

Zai Liang (State University of New York-Albany) will write a book on patterns of employment and settlement among recent Chinese immigrants in the United States. The book will examine the role of employment agencies in the process of immigrant settlement in non-gateway destinations, as well as the challenges of securing jobs and operating businesses for immigrants in these locations.

Ann Morning (New York University), working with Marcello Maneri, will complete a book comparing the ways that Americans and Italians assess group differences such as race and nationality. She will look at how national conceptions of culture and biology shape individuals’ beliefs about what distinguish ethnic groups from one another. She finds that due to increasing non-white immigration to the United States, Americans’ conceptions of racial difference are starting to resemble those held by Italians and other Western Europeans.

Sean Reardon (Stanford University, Education) will write a book about the recent patterns in racial and socioeconomic academic achievement gaps in the United States, focusing on achievement trends in metropolitan school districts. He will assess the extent to which achievement gaps can be attributed to socioeconomic disparities between groups. He will also estimate the effects of a set of education policies on ameliorating these gaps.

Aliya Saperstein (Stanford University) will write a book on how changes in racial status are related to changes in social status. The book builds on her research on the fluidity of racial perceptions, including analyses of how people self-identify racially, how they are classified by others, and how conceptions of race shift both within and across generations. She finds that these micro-level changes carry significant implications for the persistence of racial inequality.

Susan Silbey (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) will employ 10 years of ethnographic research to write a book that examines the growing tension between federal law and laboratory science. She finds that new federal lab regulations and audits, often implemented in the name of safety, threaten the autonomy of scientific practice and establish precedents for the legal surveillance of similar innovation-based professions.

One of the oldest American foundations, the Russell Sage Foundation was established by Margaret Olivia Sage in 1907 for “the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States.” In its early years the Foundation undertook major projects in low-income housing, urban planning, social work, and labor reform. The Foundation now dedicates itself exclusively to strengthening the methods, data, and theoretical core of the social sciences as a means of diagnosing social problems and improving social policies. The Foundation is the current publisher of volumes in the ASA Rose Series in Sociology. For additional information on the Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Scholars Program, visit /


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