Sarah Quinn is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington, an affiliate faculty of Urban@UW, and a current Member of the Institute for Advanced Study. She uses historical research and case studies to investigate how political institutions affect the development of financial organizations and technologies. She also studies processes of moralization and classification. These studies are united by her abiding interest in how social categories interact with systems of power.
In American Bonds: How Credit Markets Shaped a Nation (Princeton University Press, 2019), Quinn investigates the effect of political institutions on mortgage markets. Drawing from a mix of original archival research and secondary sources, the study shows how U.S. lawmakers have repeatedly turned to land, housing, and credit in an elusive search for widespread economic opportunity that comes without the attendant costs of political conflict, financial risk, or large-scale redistribution.
Quinn's ongoing research investigates the development of federal credit programs (supported with a grant from the Institute of New Economic Thinking), the complex style of American political institutions, and the moralized systems of social classification. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in economic sociology, sociological theory, culture, and qualitative methods.
Quinn has a BA in Sociology from Smith College, and a PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. After receiving her PhD in 2010, she spent two years with the University of Michigan Society of Fellows.