Alex Kindel

PhD Candidate
Deparment of Sociology
Princeton University

127 Wallace Hall
Princeton, NJ 08540

CV Code


I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at Princeton University.

I study knowledge. Most of my work is oriented toward understanding the cultural authority of knowledge and its roots in social institutions. My general areas of interest include economic sociology; historical sociology; science and technology studies; and computational social science.

My dissertation project investigates the development of methodology in the postwar social sciences. Leveraging a wide range of archival data, I describe how methodological thought transformed the culture of social measurement in the 20th century United States. Chapters include a historical sociology of "validity" as a technical device; a descriptive study of data cleaning procedures recorded in social science replication code; and an assessment of the causal effect of typesetting on the evaluation of scientific research.

I am also interested in building and improving computational research infrastructure in the social sciences. In past and ongoing work, I have built software tools to support collaborative data collection, preparation, and analysis. I am particularly interested in developing measurement tools for novel kinds of social data (e.g. code, font).

My research is generously supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and has been featured by NPR.

Recent and in-progress work

  • Measuring the predictability of life outcomes with a scientific mass collaboration (with Matthew Salganik, Ian Lundberg, Sara McLanahan, and 108 co-authors). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [publisher's version] [replication materials]
  • Improving metadata infrastructure for complex surveys:
 Insights from the Fragile Families Challenge (with Vineet Bansal, Kristin Catena, Thomas Hartshorne, Kate Jaeger, Dawn Koffman, Sara McLanahan, Maya Phillips, Shiva Rouhani, Ryan Vinh, and Matthew Salganik). Socius, online. [publisher's version] [website] [code]
  • Introduction to the Special Collection on the Fragile Families Challenge (with Matthew Salganik, Ian Lundberg, and Sara McLanahan). Socius, online. [publisher's version]
  • Engineering the Credential Society:
 Educational credentialing as strategic action in US higher education (with Mitchell Stevens). Revise and resubmit, Theory and Society. [preprint]
  • The Font in Our Stars: LaTeX and the aesthetic stratification of economic knowledge. In preparation; working paper available by request.
  • Code as Data: Adapting statistical models of text for analyzing code. In preparation; working paper available by request.
  • Inventing Validity: Quantifying expert subjectivity in the postwar US applied human sciences. In preparation.