I am Professor of Sociology at Duke University. (→ Read a short biosketch.)

Recent Work



Recent Writing

The Politics of Disorder

3 June 2020 The wave of protest and unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by the police shows little sign of abating just yet. Unrest nationwide is, if anything, increasing as protesters are met with repression by the police. Civil unrest of this scope is unusual. The conjunction of mass protest and widespread disorder should be worrying to those in authority. When property damage and theft happens as a side-effect of real mass protest, authorities in a democracy cannot baton, tear gas, or shoot their way to legitimacy.

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Get Apple's Mobility Data

23 May 2020 I’ve been maintaining covdata, an R package with a variety of COVID-related datasets in it. That means I’ve been pulling down updated files from various sources every couple of days. Most of these files are at static locations. While their internal structure may change occasionally, and maybe they’ve moved once or twice at most since I started looking at them, they’re generally at a stable location. Apple’s Mobility Data is an exception.

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The Kitchen Counter Observatory

21 May 2020 Every day begins in the same way. I get up. I make my coffee. I look at the data. Everything about this is absurd. To begin with, there’s the absurdity that everyone with a job like mine faces each day. Locked down at home with the kids, trying to get things done, unable to properly teach, write, or think. The household is like a little spacecraft, drifting in the void. Occasionally you venture outside to get supplies, or to check the shields.

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Covid Concept Generator

9 May 2020

To save everyone some time, here’s a generator for the next five years of conceptual advances in social theory. Choose once at random from each column to secure your contribution.

Column 1 Column 2
Sequenced Stratification
Algorithmic Differences
Automated Capital
Robust Contagion
COVID Masking
Epidemiologic Others
Viral Politics
Rhizomatic Inequality
Infectious Sexualities
Compartmentalized Classification
Pandemic Causality
Epizootic Discrimination
Transmissible Polarization
Leucocyte Paradox
Intersectional Bodies
Corona Disparities
Liquid Isomorphism
Genomic Populism
Nucleotide Interdependence
Masked Colorism

New Orleans and Normalization

28 April 2020 My post about Apple’s mobility data from a few days ago has been doing the rounds. (People have been very kind.) Unsurprisingly, one of the most thoughtful responses came from Dr. Drang, who wrote up a great discussion about the importance of choosing the right baseline if you’re going to be indexing change with respect to some time. His discussion of Small Multiples and Normalization is really worth your while.

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