Jordan J. Brensinger

Jordan J. Brensinger

Research Interests


Jordan Brensinger is a Ph.D. student, Paul F. Lazarsfeld Fellow, and Harvey Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Columbia University. His research and teaching interests center on cultural sociological approaches to economic sociology, inequality, organizations, and science, knowledge, and technology. He leverages both qualitative and quantitative methodologies ranging from ethnography to computational and other statistical methods.

Jordan’s scholarship explores how organizations uniquely identify people and the implications of those processes for everyday life and inequality. Recent research shows how organizations use databases of personal information to calculate crime and child abuse risks, track and evaluate immigration status, and allocate resources like healthcare, credit, employment, housing, and public benefits. We know far less, however, about the substantial work that goes into linking data to people in the first place. In his dissertation, funded by the National Science Foundation (award #1921260), Jordan investigates identification processes by studying what happens when those processes break down. Drawing on a relational ethnography of financial identity theft—including 1) over 100 interviews with victims and professionals, 2) observations at industry events, a nonprofit call center, and the fraud department of one of the country’s largest credit unions, and 3) analysis of organizational and policy documents—he shows how markets produce unique consumer “identities” through the complex interplay of algorithms, expert judgment, and individual subjectivity. In the process, Jordan shows how organizational practice and regulatory frameworks burden individuals, particularly the poor and people of color, with new forms of labor and risk that threaten their material wellbeing, sense of security, and personal dignity in the digital age.

In addition to his dissertation, Jordan is working on a second empirical project (with Ramina Sotoudeh) relying on a different set of methods. The associated paper—winner of the Best Graduate Student Paper Award from the Political Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association—examines the organization and social foundations of attitudes towards social groups in the United States by applying computational and other statistical methods to the analysis of nationally-representative survey data.

More information on Jordan’s research and teaching can be found on his personal website (see the link above right).