Skip to main content

Fall 2017 Activities

Welcome to the new semester! Before it ramps up in earnest, I want to give you a brief overview of what has been happening at CSI over the summer, and also give you advance notice of the many activities and events that we have planned for Fall. You will be receiving periodic e-mails about these events as each one approaches, but I encourage you to save the dates on your calendars now.

Staffing Additions and Changes
I’m delighted to welcome two new staff members to CSI: Mary Newhart, our new Assistant Director, and Dave Nelson, our new program assistant. Mary comes to us with extensive experience in both research and administration, most recently on the e-Rules project at the Law School, and will be helping us to plan and implement CSI’s transformation as the AP grant proceeds. Dave is taking over many of the administrative tasks associated with running the undergraduate minor, and will also help organize speakers’ visits. Clara Elpi is now full-time as Communications and Programming Coordinator, and is expanding her activities in the domain of research communication and dissemination. All three are fabulous, energetic, and eager to help support faculty and student with research and research dissemination in any way that they can.

Faculty Research Grants
Congratulations to the winners of CSI’s first round of Faculty Research Grants!

Children, Gender, and Politics: A Developmental Approach to Understanding Inequalities in Democracy
Katherine D. Kinzler (Psychology and Human Development), Melissa Ferguson (Psychology), Zachary Clopton (Cornell Law School), and Andrei Cimpian (Psychology, New York University)

Experimental Evidence on the Long-run and Intergenerational Impacts of Welfare Reform
Jordan Matsudaira (Policy Analysis and Management), Zhuan Pei (Policy Analysis and Management), and Pauline Leung (Policy Analysis and Management)

The Political Causes and Consequences of Unequal Civil Legal Representation
Jamila Michener (Government, Cornell University) and Mallory SoRelle (Government and Law, Lafayette College)

The Long Run Impacts Of Head Start:  Creating a New Funding Panel Dataset, and New Evidence on the Program’s Effectiveness in Promoting Equality of Opportunity
Douglas Miller (Policy Analysis and Management)

Linking NYC Administrative Data to Estimate Parental Incarceration’s Effects on Children
Chris Wildeman (Policy Analysis and Management) and Maria Fitzpatrick (Policy Analysis and Management)

We will be disseminating the RFP for the second round of grants soon, in anticipation of a December 2017 or January 2018 application deadline. More details about the program can be found at the link, above.

Fall Welcome Mixer
Friday, September 1, 2017
Center for the Study of Inequality, Institute for the Social Sciences, and Cornell Population Center Welcome Reception
3:30PM-5:00PM, CHE Commons
(no RSVP required, appetizers and refreshing beverages served)

Fall 2017 Conferences
Thursday, November 2 – Friday, November 3, 2017
Stanford University
The Sociology and Economics of Public Goods, Commodification and Rising Inequality: An Interdisciplinary Conversation
In partnership with the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality.

Over the last twenty-five years, wealth and income have become less equally distributed, and more goods and services must be purchased on the market. This second trend, which economists discuss in terms of public goods and sociologists discuss in terms of “commodification,” affects all domains of life. In the past, childcare, domestic services, after-school education and co-curricular activities, elder care, financial advising, and many other services were provided within the family, neighborhood, or social group or, as in higher education, heavily subsidized by the state. Today, these services must be purchased, with the highest quality going only to those who can afford it. This has created a double disadvantage for the poor, because just as the economic distance between the poor and the middle class is growing, the poor are losing access to resources that would allow them or their children to rise out of poverty.

This conference will bring together leading economists and sociologists to explore the relationship between economic inequality, public goods, and commodification, and to identify market-based or policy solutions that can break the downward cycle of rising inequality and growing commodification. In the process, it will catalyze greater conversation between economists and sociologists on these issues.

The conference organizers are David Grusky (Sociology and Director of Stanford’s Center on Poverty and Inequality at Stanford University) and Ravi Kanbur (Economics and Faculty Affiliate of Cornell’s Center for the Study of Inequality). Kim Weeden (Chair of Sociology and Director of CSI) and Vida Maralani (Sociology; CSI Executive Committee) will be featured participants. The complete list of speakers and logistical information will be posted soon; contact Clara Elpi ( for details.

Thursday, November 9 – Friday, November 10, 2017
Statler Ampitheater, Cornell University
Criminalizing Immigrants: Border Controls, Enforcement, and Resistance in Comparative Perspective
In partnership with the Cornell Population Center and sponsorship from the Frank  H. T. Rhodes Annual Symposium Fund.

Today, nearly 245 million people live outside their country of birth, typically to escape dire economic conditions, political suppression, or wars at home. In many cases, their arrival in their host countries has not been met with complete enthusiasm, and in fact led to efforts to curtail the inflow of immigrants by implementing more restrictive immigration policies and stricter enforcement of existing policies. This “criminalization” of immigration affects migrants and their families, neighborhoods and communities, employers and labor markets, and sending and receiving nations.

This conference will examine the causes and the consequences of the criminalization of immigration, drawing on empirical projects from around the globe and from a range of disciplines. Topics include: the impact of immigration enforcement on economic well-being and community cohesion; the responses of migrants, their families, and employers to increased efforts to detain and deport migrants; new patterns of inequality that emerge from greater enforcement; and state, municipal, and “third sector” responses to the changing needs of immigrant communities affected by detention and deportation.

The conference organizers are Shannon Gleeson (Labor Relations, Law, and History, ILR School; CSI Affiliated Faculty), Filiz Garip (Sociology; CSI Affiliated Faculty), and Matthew Hall (Policy Analysis and Management; CSI Affiliated Faculty). Clara Elpi (CSI) can answer logistical questions about the conference (

“Controversies about Inequality” Lectures
“Controversies about Inequality,” the capstone course in the Minor and a University Course, will be taught by Anna Haskins (Assistant Professor of Sociology) again this year. As usual, she invited several leading scholars of inequality to discuss their recent books. These guest lectures are open to the public:

Alexes Harris (Sociology, University of Washington): A Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as Punishment for the Poor [Tuesday, September 19, 1:25PM-2:40PM, Klarman Hall KG70 (Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium)]

Carla Shedd (Sociology, Columbia University): Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Injustice [Thursday, October 19, 1:25PM-2:40PM, Klarman Hall KG70 (Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium)]

Lisa Wade (Sociology, Occidental College) American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus [Thursday, November 16, 1:25PM-2:40PM, Klarman Hall KG70 (Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium)]

Other External Speakers
Eric Chyn (Economics, University of Virginia): Moved to Opportunity: The Effect of Public Housing Demolition on Labor Market Outcomes of Children [Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 1:15-2:45pm, Mann 102]
Co-sponsored with the Cornell Population Center and the Institute for the Social Sciences.

Sasha Killewald (Sociology, Harvard University): Mother’s Employment Patterns and Consequences for Adolescent Outcomes [Friday, September 22, 12:00PM-1:15PM, 142 MVR Hall]
Co-sponsored with the Cornell Population Center and the Institute for the Social Sciences.

Asad L. Asad (Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for the Study of Inequality): From System Avoidance to System Embeddedness: How ‘Legal’ Immigrants Perceive the Risk of Immigration Law and Enforcement [Friday, October 6, 3:30PM-5:00PM, Uris Hall G08]

Jenna Nobles (Sociology, University of Wisconsin – Madison): Title TBA [Friday, October 13, 12:00PM-1:15PM, 142 MVR Hall]
Co-sponsored with the Cornell Population Center and the Institute for the Social Sciences.

Michel DeGraff (Linguistics, MIT): Title TBA [Friday, October 20, 3:30PM-5:00PM, Uris Hall G08]
Co-sponsored with the Department of Linguistics.

Charles Payne (Social Service, University of Chicago): Educational Inequality in the Age of Trump [Thursday, October 26, 3:30PM-5:00PM, McGraw Hall 165]

Tyson Brown (Sociology, Duke University): Life Course Lens on Health Inequality: The Intersection of Race, Nativity, and Aging [Friday, November 17, 12:00PM-1:15PM, 142 MVR Hall]
Co-sponsored with the Cornell Population Center and the Institute for the Social Sciences.

Bridget Goosby (Sociology, University of Nebraska – Lincoln): Discrimination, Dynamic Stress Processes, and Health Risk across the Life Course [Friday, December 1, 12:00PM-1:15PM, 142 MVR Hall]
Co-sponsored with the Cornell Population Center and the Institute for the Social Sciences.

Inequality Discussion Group
Our Monday Inequality Discussion Group provides a forum for faculty and students to receive feedback on their work in progress and to learn about other inequality research on campus. It is open to faculty and graduate students from any field or department. Presenters this fall include: Gary Evans (Elizabeth Lee Vincent Professor, Design & Environmental Analysis and Human Development) and Marianella Casasola (Associate Professor, Human Development) [September 18], Emily Sandusky (PhD Student, Sociology) [October 2], Alyssa Goldman (PhD Student, Sociology) [October 16], Karen Levy (Assistant Professor, Department of Information Science) and Solon Barocas (Assistant Professor, Department of Information Science) [October 30], and Joanne Muller (Fulbright Scholar, CPC) [November 27].

If you are interested in presenting your work in spring 2018, please contact Clara Elpi This group meets biweekly on Mondays at 11:45-1pm in the CSI Conference Room (Uris Hall 360) and lunch is provided.

Welcome to our newest CSI affiliates!
Welcome to our new CSI faculty affiliates: Ifeoma Ajunwa (Organizational Behavior), Solon Barocas (Information Science), María Cristina García (Howard A. Newman Professor of American Studies, History, Latino Studies Program), Katherine D. Kinzler (Psychology and Human Development), Neil Lewis, Jr. (Communication), Douglas Miller (Policy Analysis and Management),and Evan Riehl (Economics).

The Undergraduate Minor
The Minor in Inequality Studies is launching its 17th year. Before graduation last spring, we had 337 Minors enrolled in the program, and we hope to exceed that this year. Clara and Dave may be contacting those of you who are teaching large lecture courses in the social sciences about advertising the Minor in your classes. (One or both can come in and speak, or just send a slide for you to show before class.) We’re also updating and expanding our list of electives in the Minor; let Clara know if you are teaching a new class that you think might be appropriate.

Spring 2017 Conference Recap
This past April, CSI was proud to host world-class scholars from academia, non-partisan policy institutes, and private foundations to discuss the causes and consequences of changing patterns of social mobility in an increasingly unequal world. Our keynote speakers, David Grusky (Stanford) and Adam Gamoran (WT Grant Foundation), kicked off the event with discussions of new research on mobility and new initiatives to try to increase equality of opportunity. Other participants included a mix of local talent (Steven Alvarado, Dan Lichter, Vida Maralani, Laura Tach, Kim Weeden) and outside speakers from academia and policy research organizations (Deirdre Bloome, Michelle Jackson, Pamela Morris, Fabian Pfeffer, Sue Popkin, Luke Shaefer, Florencia Torche, Herman van der Werfhorst)

My thanks to all who presented, introduced the speakers, participated in the conversation, and otherwise helped to make the event a success!

Featured Affiliates’ Research
There are more than 100 faculty affiliates of CSI. In an effort to make more cross-campus connections and introductions, we’ll be featuring 1-2 faculty affiliates’ research on our web page and in this newsletter. If you have new research that you’d like us to help disseminate, please don’t be shy about bringing it to our attention.

Anna Haskins (Sociology)
Schools as Surveilling Institutions
Anna and her colleague Wade Jacobsen (Criminology, University of Maryland) recently published a paper entitled, “Schools as Surveilling Institutions? Paternal Incarceration, System Avoidance, and Parental Involvement in Schooling,” which uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to assess the relationship between fathers’ incarceration and their involvement in their children’s school activities. Currently incarcerated fathers may find it difficult to be engaged in their children’s school activities for logistical reasons. Formerly incarcerated fathers, too, may be less involved, whether because they want to avoid contact with formal institutions of the state (aka, “system avoidance”) or because they want to avoid the social stigma and embarrassment associated with incarceration. Their analysis shows that fathers who have been incarcerated are about 40% less likely to attend parent-teacher conferences, be involved in the PTA, or volunteer at their children’s school, even adjusting for other observable predictors of parental involvement. However, they are not less likely to be involved in home-based schooling activities, like helping their child with homework. This is consistent with the idea that fathers are avoiding schools as surveilling institutions, not that they are inherently less likely to be involved in their children’s education.

Jamila Michener (Government) and Julilly Kohler-Hausmann (History)
Why We Shouldn’t Drug Test Poor People
In June, CSI Affiliates Jamila Michener (Government) and Julilly Kohler-Hausmann (History) published an OpEd in the New York Times on drug-testing welfare recipients, a recent proposal by Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin. They point out that Medicaid is one of the few healthcare resources available to low-income individuals who want to kick drug habits. Forcing them to be “clean” before they can receive Medicaid is not only an invasion of their privacy, but enormously counterproductive. Michener and Kohler-Hausmann argue that mandatory drug-testing, like earlier reforms to welfare embedded in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families act, often leads to a vicious cycle of stigmatization and program retrenchment. Because program use is associated with moral failures (e.g., drug use, unemployment), the public becomes less willing to support the programs. Users are stigmatized, and those who need and would be eligible for the program become less willing to use them. Punitive restrictions, stigmatization, and low take-up rates then become justification for politicians to claim that the program is broken, needs to be reformed or privatized, or, in an extreme version, needs to be eliminated altogether. This cycle ultimately weakens the social safety net, to the detriment of the most vulnerable members of society.

We wish you all the best for a fantastic, productive spring semester!



Donate to CSI