I am Professor of Sociology at Duke University. (→ More about me.)

Some of my Work

  • Data Visualization. Princeton University Press. / Overview /  Buy on Amazon 
  • “Fuck Nuance.” Sociological Theory 35:118-127. / PDF
  • “Seeing Like a Market.” Socio-Economic Review, 15:9-29. / PDF
  • “The Performativity of Networks.” European Journal of Sociology, 56:175–205. / PDF
  • Last Best Gifts. University of Chicago Press. / Overview /  Buy on Amazon 


Recent Writing

Excess Deaths February Update

24 February 2021 Update Updated on March 3rd, 2021. The CDC continues to update its counts of deaths by cause for 2020 as data comes in from the jurisdictions that report to it. The data are by now fairly complete, though there are still significant gaps in several states due to delayed reporting. North Carolina, in particular, has yet to report almost any deaths for the entire final quarter of 2020. But I haven’t updated my gallery since last October.

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Income and Happiness

26 January 2021 People have been talking about this PNAS paper by Matthew Killingsworth: “Experienced well-being rises with income, even above $75,000 per year”. Here’s the abstract: Past research has found that experienced well-being does not increase above incomes of $75,000/y. This finding has been the focus of substantial attention from researchers and the general public, yet is based on a dataset with a measure of experienced well-being that may or may not be indicative of actual emotional experience (retrospective, dichotomous reports).

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What Happened?

8 January 2021 I don’t know what happened. But here’s my current theory of what the White House thought was going to happen. I don’t have any more information than you do, and here I’m not concerned with the broader question of how the country came to this end. I am just trying to make sense of what happened on Wednesday. From the moment he knew he’d lost the presidential election, Trump absolutely wanted to get the result overturned.

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Cross National Death Rates

18 December 2020 Data from the Short Term Mortality Fluctuations dataset compiled by the Human Mortality Database continues to be very interesting. When thinking about how to interpret the 2020 data in a cross-national and longitudinal context, it’s clear that there are several things to bear in mind. For example, and at a bare minimum: Countries vary widely in their average mortality rates Mortality rates, on the whole, tend to fall over time, so the further back in time we can get data the higher the mortality rate for those years will tend to be In the immediate context of the pandemic, countries differed substantially in their response to COVID Each of these things (and more besides) complicates the question of comparison, and also complicates the counterfactual for what counts as a “good” national response to COVID.

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Excess Deaths Overview

10 October 2020 Update Jurisdiction figures updated on October 25th with data up to week 37 (ending September 12th). Updated again on December 4th to include data up to week 45. Updated on February 24th, 2021. Updated on March 3rd, 2021. Recent posts on the CDC data have been getting a fair amount of traffic. This page is an overview of the things I’ve been doing with the data. Summarizing excess mortality in the United States this year so far An overview of mortality in the US in 2020

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