I use qualitative methods to study public opinion, and my main research areas include perceptions of justice, wealth, poverty, family, and religion in the U.S. South.
This means I'm often drawing on research in the areas of stratification and cultural cognition, and my research agenda has addressed the continuation of class-based rituals, perceptions of the U.S. welfare state, churches' responses to public violence, and the relationship between religious beliefs and policy preferences.
Undergraduate Honors Thesis
My research agenda was first sparked during my undergraduate studies at UNC. In 2014, I revisited my experience as a North Carolina debutante and asked how young women and their families understood the ball's purpose today. My undergraduate honors thesis resulted in a rich qualitative project showing how institutions, such as families and clubs, interlock to ensure that group membership is passed on to members of the next generation. My thesis received highest honors, and I presented my research at the 2015 Southern Sociological Society conference. Importantly, countless strangers have contacted me over the years to tell me they read my UNC-archived thesis and found that my deep analysis of debutante rewards and sacrifices helped them better understand their own experiences.
For my master's thesis, I interviewed 30 middle-income North Carolinians who received at least one CARES stimulus check payment. My study focuses on the tension that arises between ideology and self-interest and uncovers ways that people seek to resolve this tension. I defended my MA in March of 2023, and I have had the opportunity to present my work for feedback at the 2023 Southern Sociological Society conference and the 2023 American Sociological Association conference.
Up Next: Dissertation
My dissertation examines how memories of regional contention have been passed down through Southern families. I am particularly interested in intergenerational cultural memory as an understudied component of socialization among American families. My project received an Honorable Mention from the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Program Fellowship.