Spring 2024 Colloquium Series: Frontiers in Sociology

The Department is happy to announce its new colloquium series, Frontiers in Sociology, to begin Spring 2024 with a slate of three fantastic speakers. The colloquium, building on past iterations, is an opportunity to bring the department together to hear and discuss cutting edge work by a leader in our discipline, regardless of substantive focus.

Thank you to Jennifer Lee, Gerard Torrats-Espinosa, and Andreas Wimmer for organizing the series!

Dalton Conley

"The Nature of Nurture: How Genetics Can Illuminate the Social Environment" 

Abstract: Over the past two decades, many social scientific surveys have collected genotypic data on their respondents. This innovation allows for researchers to develop a more complete picture of the genetic and environmental influences on human health and behavior. The present talk will focus on three aspects of genetic data that make them a useful methodological tool for addressing classical social science questions about the environment: 1. All behavior is at least moderately heritable; 2. Genotype is stable from conception to death; 3. Genotype is randomized conditional on parental genomes. Applications to be discussed include an examination of peer influence on adolescent smoking, children's effects on their parents' behavior, how darker skin tone leads to greater risk for hypertension among African Americans, and how veterans responded to serving in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War in terms of their lifetime smoking behavior. 

Bio: Dalton Conley is the Henry Putnam University Professor in Sociology and a faculty affiliate at the Office of Population Research and the Center for Health and Wellbeing.  He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and in a pro bono capacity he serves as Dean of Health Sciences for the University of the People, a tuition-free, accredited, online college committed to expanding access to higher education.  

Conley’s scholarship has primarily dealt with the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic and health status from parents to children.  This focus has led him to study (among other topics): the impact of parental wealth in explaining racial attainment gaps; the causal impact of birthweight (as a heuristic for the literal overlap of the generations) on later health and educational outcomes; sibling differences that appear to reflect the triumph of achievement over ascription (but which may, in fact, merely reflect within-family stratification processes); and, finally, genetics as a driver of both social mobility and reproduction.

He earned a M.P.A. in Public Policy (1992) and a Ph.D. in Sociology (1996) from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Biology from NYU in 2014. His books include Being Black, Living in the Red; The Starting GateHonky; The Pecking Order; You May Ask YourselfElsewhere, USAParentology; and The Genome Factor. He has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Russell Sage Foundation fellowships as well as a CAREER Award and the Alan T. Waterman Award from the National Science Foundation. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science as well as a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Marion Fourcade

Bio: Marion Fourcade received her PhD from Harvard University (2000) and taught at New York University and Princeton University before joining the Berkeley sociology department in 2003. A comparative sociologist by training and taste, she is interested in variations in economic and political knowledge and practice across nations. Fourcade is the author of Economists and Societies (Princeton University Press 2009), which explores the distinctive character of the discipline and profession of economics in three countries. A second book, The Ordinal Society (with Kieran Healy, forthcoming, Harvard University Press) investigates new forms of social stratification and morality in the digital economy. Other research focuses on the valuation of nature in comparative perspective; algorithmic societies (with Jenna Burrell; with Fleur Johns; with Henry Farrell); the digitization of states (with Jeff Gordon) and their moral regulation by financial markets (with Caleb Scoville); primitive accumulation in digital capitalism (with Daniel Kluttz); the comparative study of political organization (with Evan Schofer and Brian Lande); the microsociology of courtroom exchanges (with Roi Livne); the sociology of economics, with Etienne Ollion and Yann Algan, and with Rakesh Khurana; the politics of wine classifications in France and the United States (with Rebecca Elliott and Olivier Jacquet).

Fourcade is also an External Scientific member of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, and a past President of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (2016).

Lauren Rivera

Bio: Lauren Rivera is the Peter G. Peterson Chair in Corporate Ethics and Professor of Management & Organizations at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Her research unpacks how the way people define and evaluate merit shapes social inequalities. Her best-selling book Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs (Princeton University Press) investigates on-campus recruitment and hiring for elite professional service firms and the roles that social class, gender, and race play in this process. She is currently working on a variety of projects examining discrimination in education and employment. Dr. Rivera’s research has been featured in the AtlanticEconomistFinancial TimesFortuneHarvard Business ReviewNew York TimesWall Street Journal, and NPR and has received a variety of awards from the American Sociological Association. She was named one of the world’s top business school professors by Poets & Quants and Thinkers50. She received her B.A. in sociology and psychology from Yale University and her Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University. Before entering academia, she worked at Evite.com and Leo Burnett Hispanic, and was a Consultant at Monitor Group London.