The holistic approach of sociology has allowed me to study different parts of society as my interests have changed over time, including politics, economics, and culture. Although my empirical work has mainly focused on Russia, I have also done research on other countries of the former Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States.
I teach with a comparative focus because learning about other societies broadens the mind and sharpens critical thinking. I approach my research from a structural perspective. I am interested in small-scale structures, like networks of persons and organizations, because they are important building blocks for larger-scale social processes.
The main focus of my research has been on elite networks. I have studied local elites in post-Soviet Russia and corporate elites in Britain. I use social network analysis to understand elite structures and their relationship to such processes as democratization and class power.
I am also interested in the structure of language and how people use language to criticize and praise others. I am studying the repertoire of letter writing to power in the Soviet Union. I use content analysis to catalogue how citizens frame their criticism and praise. I also collaborate on a comparative project about democratization in the former Soviet Union. We are mapping out changes in coalitional structures to trace different routes to and from democracy.
More recently, I have been examining the origins of socialism in New Harmony, Indiana and what lessons can be learned from the Owenites who conducted one of the earliest socialist experiments there. I am also working on a project about the sociology of creativity. I am mapping out collaboration networks in the production of popular music from 1962-1991.
Click on the publications tab that pulls out from under my name to get references to some of my publications.
When not doing sociology, I can usually be found spending time with my family, reading non-fiction, listening to baseball, spinning records, or playing guitar.