The causes and consequences of inequality operate at multiple levels of analysis. How do different forms of inequality intersect to create these consequences, from the global to the individual? This question motivates my research in the areas of health, economic development, political economy, and stratification. I investigate this large research area through four distinct lines of inquiry: (1) resource gradients and health disparities, (2) social networks and health, (3) comparative political economy, and (4) foreign aid in the world polity. Much of my research is global and comparative in scope. However, I also explore outcomes at the subnational level, including those that affect networks and individuals.

Resource Gradients and Health Disparities

Sociologists and social epidemiologists have long explored the deleterious impacts of income inequality on health. This investigation has generated a large, contentious literature that often fails to consider factors that may influence the contours of this relationship. Moreover, health disparities exist in a complex milieu of place and time and warrant an empirical approach that accounts for the variation of inequalities in these contexts. My dissertation, “Health Disparities in Global Context: Income Inequality, Economic Development, and Resource Gradients,” takes these social facts as a point of departure. In it, I examine the concept of resource gradients, which reflect structural, material, and psychosocial inequalities that intersect to produce observed health disparities. This approach illuminates the interactions of different forms of inequality that amplify or attenuate the association between income inequality and poor health outcomes, from the global level to the individual level and across time and space. My first empirical chapter appears in the December 2018 issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. Please see Selected Publications and Data for a copy of the paper.

At the micro-level, I explore the concept of resource gradients further in my work-in-progress about invisible disability in the academy, supported by a UC – Riverside Healthy Campus Initiative grant. A project description is here. Through a campus-wide survey and in-depth focus group interviews of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with disabilities, I investigate how institutional- and personal-level resources shape frames of reference around the decision to disclose or conceal the nature of their disabilities.

Social Networks and Health

Through their extended social network, individuals may draw on a wider array of resources, changing the contours of individual resource gradients. In collaborative work published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, we explore the health-promoting effects of a mobile social network intervention for cancer survivors. Our results suggest that different channels of communication (e.g., blog, chat, etc.) attract distinct types of users. We also see an association between channel membership and more time spent engaging with coping skill exercises.

Comparative Political Economy

Variation in macrostructural context allows collaborators and I to explore key political and economic questions. Our work in this area contributes to the sociological literature on income inequality, globalization, immigration, redistribution, and automation. One paper (with Ronald Kwon) appears in the International Journal of Comparative Sociology. In the article, we consider competing explanations for the link between immigration and native support for redistributive policies. The key finding is that a country’s multicultural policies moderate the link between immigration and native support for certain types of redistributive policies. Another paper (with Matthew C. Mahutga and Anthony Roberts) also appears in the International Journal of Comparative Sociology. Here we present a novel dataset for use with Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) data that links occupations to measures of routine task intensity (RTI), or technological change, and offshorability (OFFS), or globalization. This public good will allow comparative sociologists to explore the drivers of occupational stratification and their relationship to inequality. Please see Selected Publications and Data for information about how to access this dataset.

Foreign Aid in the World Polity

Foreign aid allocation is fragmented and uneven. Prevailing narratives about aid allocation emphasize material concerns, such as geopolitical strategy. Recent insights from the neo-institutional perspective illustrates the salience of the World Polity in generating foreign aid inequalities. In this research, I explore how donor and recipient embeddedness in the World Polity shapes the contours of foreign aid allocation.