Sandra Veronica Portocarrero

Sandra Veronica Portocarrero

Dissertation Review Committee

Research Interest


I am a 5th year Ph.D. candidate in sociology working on my dissertation. Across my research, I build theory drawing from participant observer and interview data, which I typically analyze through the lenses of organizational literature, cultural sociology, and the sociology of expertise.

In my dissertation project, I examine the everyday organizational lives of diversity, equity, and inclusion workers at a large U.S. university. I ask how organizational actors construct the notion of an ideal “diversity, equity, and inclusion expert”, and how different social processes and organizational / institutional arrangements lead to the emergence of a form of racialized expertise.

I’m also working on two additional projects. In the first one, I examine the mechanisms that led a group of national scholarship recipients enrolled in an elite university who, though once proud of holding this prestigious merit-based accolade, have become ashamed of it. I use participant–observer and interview data gathered through a two-year period (2017-2019) to show how well-intentioned initiatives designed to help disadvantaged students can have unintended consequences for individuals, groups, and organizations. This manuscript is currently under review.

In the second one (with James T. Carter at Columbia Business School), I examine how members of an elite U.S. university turn a positive status shift into a stigma. I seek to show that contrary to the popular belief that positive status shifts have only positive consequences in the people who experience it, a sudden positive status shift, such as winning a national merit scholarship, can have negative consequences for the social actors who experience this shift. My co-author and I are currently gathering data for this project


For a list of my scholastic activities, please refer to my CV.


  • M.A. in Sociology. Columbia University
  • B.A. in Sociology (High Honors). Distinction. University of California, Berkeley


  • Peer Reviewed:
  • 2012         Portocarrero, Sandra. “A Case Study of the Effects of Participation in an Organization in the Lives of Women: Post-Conflict Ayacucho, Peru.” Berkeley Undergraduate Journal, 25(2): 96-121

Non-peer reviewed

  • 2019                 Portocarrero, Sandra. “What Do We Talk About When We Talk about Diversity and Inclusion?” American Sociological Association Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility Newsletter, 5 (1): 8-9
  • 2017                 Portocarrero, Sandra and Francisco Lara-Garcia. “U.S. Universities: A New Site for Immigrant Struggles?” Global Dialogue, 7 (2): 35-36
  • 2015                 Portocarrero, Sandra. “Copper, Water, and Land: Mining in Piedra Alta, Peru.” Global Dialogue, 3(4): 35-36