I am a Croft Assistant Professor of Sociology and International Studies at the University of Mississippi. I am also an honorary Research Associate with COES − Centre for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies in Santiago, Chile, where previously I held a Postdoctoral Fellowship. I completed a PhD in Sociology and Peace Studies (with a minor in Gender Studies) at the University of Notre Dame.
My work deals with cultural stratification (ethnic, national, regional, religious, ideological, gender, etc.) as a challenge to global society. I am particularly interested in the factors that lead to participation in political violence and in the conditions that underlie distinct notions of civility. I have conducted research on Africa, on the Americas, and on Eastern Europe. These interests have led me to engage in theoretical debates in the areas of Collective behavior and social movements, Comparative and historical sociology, the sociology of Culture, the sociology of Gender, Global and transnational sociology, the sociology of Language, Peace, war/violence and social conflict, Political sociology, and Theory.
My research agenda is multifold. In one line of research I focus on violent political participation. I am interested in the contributions that institutional theory and practice theory can make to our understanding of political violence. I am also interested in how the study of political violence can enrich institutional theory and practice theory. These efforts have led to an article recently published in Sociological Forum and to a paper with a Revise and Resubmit from the Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour.
In my dissertation, I examine the distinct forms of social organization and civic engagement under Eastern European state-socialism. My goal is to shed light on the social conditions instituted in the region during state-socialism and trace the implications of the political culture created during this period for contemporary developments such as corruption and migration.
Both my dissertation research and my political violence research also deal with the issue of global stratification. My work has a particular focus on the cultural foundations of global stratification. I offer the concept of global institutional logics and the comparative study of civility as two fruitful strategies for examining global cultural stratification. The first strategy has yielded the Sociological Forum article mentioned above and a paper I was invited to present at the Junior Theorists Symposium-JTS of the Theory Section of the American Sociological Association in August 2015. A third project aiming at evaluating the connection between institutional logics and low-intensity political violence in Chile is underway. The second strategy of addressing global stratification consisting of developing the comparative study of civility is grounded in my dissertation findings. I plan to further pursue this strategy in my future work.
Another research goal of mine has been to examine the possible theoretical and empirical connections between the private sphere of family and gender relations and the public sphere of politics. In that regard I offer two approaches in the papers on political violence mentioned above. The first approach links persons with gendered social structures associated with violence through a micro-institutionalization mechanism consisting of coupling of practices and self-identifications with institutional logics such as the patriarchal logic. The second approach proposes habitus, which as an embodied structure produced by a person’s involvement in multiple fields is also a mechanism effecting a link between distinct domains, for example between the private sphere of family and gender relations and the public sphere of politics.
Prior to becoming a sociologist, I was a foreign language teacher. I grew up in state-socialist Bulgaria, was educated in democratic Bulgaria and the United States, and have worked in capitalist Bulgaria, United States, and Chile. My research led me to becoming an Esperantist. Occasionally, I blog at Mobilizing Ideas.