My research is motivated primarily by theoretical questions surrounding the assignment and consequences of cultural classifications. This focus is reflected in my research on legitimacy, which examines how legitimacy and illegitimacy are evaluated (for examples, see here and here), established (e.g., here and here), and invoked (e.g., here), and how these classifications affect socially significant outcomes (e.g., here, here, here, and here). I explore these questions through the study of contentious politics, and in that context I am engaged in substantive research spanning sociology, international studies, and political science. For example, I have published research examining why armed conflicts recur, the social and contextual factors that influence counter-state organizations’ behaviors (also see here), and the unintended consequences of legal activism. I am also interested in methodology. As a comparative historical sociologist, I use a variety of methods in my work, and I am broadly interested in multi- and mixed-methods approaches to social research. These interests motivate work advancing new methods and approaches to measurement (representative publications are available here).

Work In Progress

My ongoing work builds on and integrates these foci. I am currently writing a book (under contract with Cambridge University Press) with David Melamed and Ronald Breiger titled Regression Inside Out, which presents a novel approach to regression decomposition and details its applications.

For another project, I am in the process of conducting interviews with ethnographers of Turkey to explore variation in the everyday role of politicized social categories across time, space, and social contexts. Through this work, I am also exploring the processes and practices of ethnographic fieldwork in comparative perspective.

In a third project, with my collaborator Colin Beck, I recently completed data collection for a new dataset of media coverage of 1,229 extremist organizations across 592,335 news articles from 1970 through 2013. We are using this data to examining why certain organizations are classified as terrorists, while others are not.