My research addresses the cultural and political facets of markets. I am interested in what it means to think of markets as social orders, and in exploring how markets shape people's sense of what is moral, desirable, and even possible in their lives.I am currently at work on a book manuscript that examines some of the commonly overlooked political roots of the current securitization market. Drawing from archival research, I analyze a key moment in the 1960s when the Johnson Administration spun-off Fannie Mae and decided to promote the market for mortgage-backed securities. I use this case to address a set of related questions about the relationship between markets and governments in the United States: why officials get involved in markets in certain ways and not others; why credit programs are a centrally important tool of statecraft in the U.S.; why government involvement in markets is so often overlooked; how seemingly-obscure accounting changes in the federal budget can have lasting and dramatic ramifications for economic and social policy.
My previously published research examined the changing moral construction of death in the secondary market for life insurance (American Journal of Sociology, 2008, reprinted in the 3rd edition of Granovetter & Swedburg's The Sociology of Economic Life). With Lynne Gerber, I have also written about the cultural economy of body size in the U.S.
At the University of Washington I teach sociological theory and economic sociology to undergraduates. I also teach a graduate course on the sociology of culture. I have a special interest in teaching writing, having co-edited Writing for Sociology, a guide for undergraduate majors (with Jennifer Jones and Hana Brown, available online: http://sociology.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/documents/student_serv...).
I have a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley (2010). Before joining the faculty at the University of Washington I spent two years at the Michigan Society of Fellows in Ann Arbor.