"A Gift from God": Adolescent Motherhood and Religion in Brazilian Favelas
Recipient of the American Sociological Association Children and Youth Section's Graduate Student Paper Award, 2011
Recipient of Honorable Mention for the American Sociological Association Community and Urban Studies Section's Graduate Student Paper Award, 2011
Abstract: This study seeks to understand how young, unmarried mothers and mothers-to-be in the favelas (shantytowns) of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, have experienced religious morality as applied to themselves and other adolescents in their communities, as well as how religious leaders grapple with the moral issue of unmarried adolescent maternity in their midst. Drawing on more than 50 interviews conducted in Rio with young mothers, Catholic and evangelical religious leaders who work with the poor, and staff members of nongovernmental organizations, this paper seeks to understand the acceptance - or even approval - that unmarried pregnant teens and adolescent mothers usually encounter, which casts doubt on whether the issue is actually posing a moral dilemma for these religious institutions.
The realities of everyday life in Rio's favelas, most prominently the ever-present specter of violence, high rates of teen motherhood, strong popular opposition to abortion, the high value accorded to motherhood, and the intense competition of the religious marketplace appear to influence the ways in which favela residents and religious leaders understand and interpret morality. More generally, this study offers an example of how religious groups working in impoverished communities throughout the world might adapt traditional moral codes to suit their circumstances.
The Pursuit of Happiness in China: Individualism, Collectivism, and Subjective Well-Being during China’s Economic and Social Transformation (with Scott M. Lynch)
The final publication is available at springerlink.com: Social Indicators Research 2012
Abstract: This paper examines the consequences of China’s dramatic socioeconomic and political transformations for individual subjective well-being (SWB) from 1990 to 2007. Although many still consider China to be a collectivist country, and some scholars have argued that collectivist factors would be important predictors of individual well-being in such a context, our analysis demonstrates that the Chinese are increasingly prioritizing individualist factors in assessments of their own happiness and life satisfaction thus substantiating descriptions of their society as increasingly individualistic. While the vast majority of quality of life studies have focused on Westerners, this study contributes findings from the unique cultural context of China. Moreover, concentration on this particular period in Chinese history offers insight into the relationship between SWB and rapid socioeconomic and political change.
Pigmentocracy in the Americas: How is Educational Attainment Related to Skin Color? (with Edward E. Telles)
Pigmentocracia en las Américas: ¿cómo se relaciona el logro educativo con el color de piel? (con Edward E. Telles)
Abstract: This report addresses the question of whether educational attainment, a key indicator of socioeconomic status, is related to skin color in Latin America and the Caribbean. Based on data from the 2010 AmericasBarometer, our analysis shows that persons with lighter skin color tend to have higher levels of schooling than those with dark skin color throughout the region, with few exceptions. Moreover, these differences are statistically significant in most cases and, as we show in a test of several multiracial countries, the negative relation between skin color and educational attainment occurs independently of class origin and other variables known to affect socioeconomic status. Thus, we find that skin color, a central measure of race, is an important source of social stratification throughout the Americas today.
Terrorism in Xinjiang? (with Raymond C. Kuo)
Abstract: China rarely evokes images of radical Islam, bus bombings and mosque razings. Yet all of these elements have had a distinct impact on life in China's north-western province, Xinjiang. While the Chinese government has emphasized Islamic extremism and acts of terror to convince international actors that it is confronted with an international terrorist movement, human rights organizations have pointed out the high level of dissatisfaction pervasive among Xinjiang's Uighur population. The desperation among Uighurs in Xinjiang has spawned a significant terrorist movement. Were the numerous grievances of the Uighurs addressed by Beijing, the movement would lose its limited popular support, which is currently on the rise.