Work in Progress

The Hidden Face of Power: Local Appointed Boards in the United States

This book project examines the power and purpose of local appointed boards and commissions in the United States. In the manuscript, I argue that these boards provide a veneer of democracy by allowing cities to placate residents via powerless volunteerism and to transfer controversial decisions to boards without electoral accountability. In the project, I combine information on the membership and powers of boards and commissions in large US cities with interviews, text analysis, participant observation, and survey data.

Political Communication

Voters evaluate political leaders not just by what they say, but also by what they look like and how they communicate emotions. But men and women are constrained by gender role expectations in how they express emotions. In a series of projects with Constantine Boussalis, Travis Coan, and Stefan Müller, we employ machine learning, computer vision, and text analysis of images and videos of men and women in public life to understand how gender both constrains the behavior of those seeking political power and shapes the reactions of voters to these emotions.

Children's Political Socialization

Working with Celeste Lay, Angie Bos, Zoe Oxley, and Jill Greenlee, we ask: How do young children (grades 1-6) understand politics? At what age do gender differences in political interest, engagement, and enthusiasm start? What do children think about political leaders? Using interviews and surveys of 1500+ children and innovative methods (including the Draw A Political Leader activity), we provide the first comprehensive update to the literature on children's political attitudes in the United States since the 1960s.