I am Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at University of California, Santa Cruz. I received my PhD in Sociology from Yale University in May 2015. My primary research involves work & organizational culture, science & technology studies, sociological theory, and sound studies. The topics of my research tend to include some combination of technology, sound, music & the arts, education, environments, and animals.
My current research forms the book proposal Organizing Sound: An ethnographic investigation into the making of listening subjects and sounding objects. The book is a study of people who produce technologies and techniques related to sound. Two ethnographic studies – one of an audio engineering laboratory, the other a sample of music classrooms in public schools – demonstrate the processes by which sound comes to mean different things to actors interacting in organized settings. In each case, engineers and teachers apply norms for how to make good and bad sounds, and they translate this knowledge into the structure of technologies and techniques. Through this organized work, culture is reproduced through perception.
My next research project is a cultural analysis of environmental noise pollution as a social problem and public health issue. Science and policy has mostly approached noise as a measure of loudness, as in public noise ordinance meant to mitigate the “noise floor” of ambient sonic energy. Indeed, exposure to high volumes of sound can produce physical and psychic harm. But noise is not just material, but symbolic too. What the volume of sound does to us is often secondary to what that sound means to us. As the revival of urban living demonstrates, we share very similar sonic environments yet still diverge greatly in terms of those sounds we desire, and those which we respond to as a problem. To better understand how groups construct noise pollution, I will conduct an ethnographic study of sonic interactions across a sample of urban neighborhoods in order to understand how systems of meaning are realized in routine encounters of communities, personal technologies, and the built environment.
I have taught on a range of topics, including social theory, urban studies (people and places), crime & deviance, social problems, the history of public health, media and communication, and popular music. I have designed syllabi on sound studies and organizational theories of the environment.