James Chu

Assistant Professor, Sociology

My research is concerned with how social institutions and policy interventions lead to inequality and conflict, even when they are designed to do the opposite. What role do ranking systems play in the reproduction of inequality in access to higher education? Do reputations introduce self-fulfilling cycles that widen gaps in student achievement? Do status hierarchies insulate people from aggression, or expose them to it? My work uses social network analysis, field experiments, and other quasi-experimental methods of causal inference to rigorously test answers to these sociological questions. Prior to graduate school, I designed and evaluated education programs for children living in rural China.