Research

Below you will find a selection of my recent publications and works in progress:

Works in Progress:

Granted a contract in December 2011 by Springer to co-author a book with Kyle Saunders. The working title is The Politics of Energy Policy in an Age of Resource Depletion: Organized Interests, Partisan Polarization, and Shortsighted Policymaking.

Publications:

Is The Great Recession Only the Beginning? Economic Contraction in an Age of Fossil Fuel Depletion and Ecological Limits to Growth
2011. New Political Science. December. 33 (4): 555-575.

The conventional explanation for the “Great Recession” is that a pro-business administration advanced deregulatory policies in the mortgage industry and broader financial industries, leading to a predictable but temporary economic recession. In contrast, peak oil analysts find a deeper root cause of the Great Recession. Secure and reliable access to cheap fossil fuels is fundamental to our industrial and post-industrial world, and the rising costs of fossil fuels due to post-peak depletion in the face of escalating demand make difficult the realization of economic growth. However, as individuals, companies, and lawmakers insist upon continued economic growth, these actors pressure lawmakers to endorse riskier and more shortsighted techniques aimed at extending domestic and global economic growth a little bit longer. The Great Recession can be understood in part as a consequence of US consumption of massive quantities of petroleum at a moment in history during which global oil production approached and surpassed its peak.

The Resilience of Affirmative Action in the 1980s: Innovation, Isomorphism, and Institutionalization in University Admissions
2011. Political Research Quarterly. March. 64 (1): 132-144.

Abstract: This article applies neoinstitutional organization theory to uncover the central role of university officials in institutionalizing aggressive, race-based “affirmative admissions” procedures at three selective public universities from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. During this second stage of “affirmative action”, admissions and diversity officials at UC-Berkeley, UT-Austin, and UW-Madison began institutionalizing the diversity justification, the method of individual assessment, and the targeting of peculiar subsets of “official minorities.” At a time of increasing judicial and executive scrutiny and skepticism of “affirmative action”, university officials began building a model of organizational diversity policy from the discourses of identity politics and multiculturalism.

Where’s the Justice? Affirmative Action’s Severed Civil Rights Roots in the Age of Diversity
2008. Perspectives on Politics. December. 6 (4): 691-706.

Abstract: The institutionalization of race-conscious inclusion policies in employment, education, and contracting has largely endured in post-civil rights America despite predictions of their demise. However, scholarship has continued to mislabel many of the specific policies in these organizations and governments as “affirmative action” policies, even though many such policies lack the civil rights roots necessary to warrant this label. In this article, I explain how many organizations have recast, supplemented, and/or replaced their rights-based affirmative action policies with utilitarian diversity policies. While the conventional, civil rights framework for analyzing affirmative action obscures the rise of such organizational diversity policies, an alternative body of scholarship that employs a diversity framework has shed light on the causes, content, and consequences of this policy and political realignment. The Supreme Court’s 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision and the political activism surrounding Michigan’s Proposal 2 in 2006 both exemplify the trademark signs of this shift from rights-based affirmative action to organizational diversity policies. The article concludes by assessing the promise and dangers of this trend of rooting racial inclusion policies in a utilitarian diversity logic rather than a civil rights logic.

Embracing Diversity: The Institutionalization of Affirmative Action as Diversity Management at UC-Berkeley, UT-Austin, and UW-Madison
2007. Law & Social Inquiry. Fall. 32 (4): 985–1026.

Click link to read this article. Note: This is an electronic version of an article published in Law & Social Inquiry: complete citation information for the final version of the paper, as published in the print edition of Law & Social Inquiry, is available on the Blackwell Synergy online delivery service, accessible via the journal’s website at http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/lsi or http://www.blackwell-synergy.com.

Abstract: While affirmative action in universities is the subject of extensive empirical scholarship, little research has been conducted on the role of university officials in crafting, defending, and transforming race-based affirmative admissions. Through forty-five in-depth interviews with thirty-nine admissions officials and top administrators at three selective public universities between 1999 and 2004, this study uncovers how a near-consensus in favor of race-based affirmative action has emerged among these players. Whereas scholars, citizens, and activists debate the morality and legality of race-based affirmative action as an equal opportunity policy, admissions decision makers have come to view race-based affirmative action in addition as a central, diversity management technique. This article claims that interest group capture theory and judicial implementation theory are insufficient to explain the diversity consensus. I suggest that neoinstitutional organization theory has great potential to describe and situate the thought processes leading these key actors to forge this policy transformation.

“Affirmative Action as We Don’t Know It: The Rise of Individual Assessment in Undergraduate Admissions at UC-Berkeley and UT-Austin”

2001. In Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Ed. Austin Sarat and Patricia Ewick: 137-84. New York: Elsevier Science Ltd.

Abstract: This article argues that – despite legal bans – “affirmative action” is still alive at UC-Berkeley and UT-Austin in an alternate form. The primary contribution of this research is to challenge the common understanding that bans on race-conscious “affirmative action” result in the end of racial inclusion policies. Instead, I argue that creative, race-neutral policies that are designed with the goal of racial inclusion in mind (I call such policies “adversity policies”) are becoming institutionalized in university admissions policies facing bans on “affirmative action.” This article focuses on the rise of one particular form of “adversity policies” — individual assessment. The idea of individual assessment is that admissions officers attempt to evaluate the applicant “holistically” by qualitatively putting together the various pieces of the application puzzle. Even quantitative academic scores — standardized tests and grade point averages (GPAs) — are filtered qualitatively through the readers of the application, who in the end use their discretion to decide on two quantitative ratings for the applicant: an academic rating and a “comprehensive” rating. Through individual assessment, campuses can justify admitting applicants who are deemed to have overcome adversity despite test scores and grades that might otherwise result in being rejected. While race-conscious admissions is the most effective method of “shaping” a racially diverse class, universities have devised alternative race-neutral admissions policies that set out to restore the racial diversity levels achieved via race-conscious admissions. While individual assessment has been around for decades — indeed, Justice Powell praised Harvard’s individual assessment policy in his Regents of the University of California v. Bakke opinion in 1978 — such individual assessment policies took a back seat to administratively pragmatic formula-based admissions at most selective public universities in the 1980s and early 1990s. In the aftermath of Hopwood v. Texas and California’s Proposition 209, admissions and diversity professionals in universities saw in adversity policies such as individual assessment an opportunity to minimize the blow of the legal bans on the racial diversity of the student body.

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