I am broadly interested in the alignment of social and cultural boundaries as well as the emergence and profound transformation of fields. This page provides information on a few of my projects.
For my dissertation, I investigate the emergence of neurology in France. I ask in particular why individuals who pursued neurology formed relationships with one another and how these relationships evolved. I am interested in understanding what attracts intellectuals to certain ideas, how neurological concepts related to political and philosophical debates of the time, and how these processes relate to the formation of social networks among founding researchers. I am presently collecting data from archives in Paris as well as at the Countway Library in Boston, and I will use this data to reconstruct networks among medical researchers during French neurology’s emergence (1840-1900).
In addition to my dissertation, I am working on two papers concerning field formation. I ask in the first, why did Émile Durkheim succeed in founding French sociology? This question has received much attention, but no currently proposed answer can rule out why every other competitor failed.
Originating as an invited presentation at the 2016 Social Science History Association annual meeting, another paper seeks to explain the disappearance of network analysis within the sociology of science only a decade and a half after its introduction and the enterprise’s sudden reemergence in the 1990s.
Cultural tastes, personality, and social network formation:
My master's thesis examined how cultural tastes (in particular, music preferences) affect the formation of relationships, and I found that two different taste-based mechanisms coupled in interesting ways. I call these couplings distinction forms and use them to help clarify the ways in which cultural tastes operate on social networks. Another paper (published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion) looks at how non-religious identification influences relationship formation within a religious context. A paper currently in preparation with colleagues at iCeNSA looks at how the Big Five personality traits are associated with relationships that incoming first year university students form, and another attempts to parse out the relative effects of cultural tastes and personality traits.