I was playing with some county-level data from the U.S. general election, partly out of a spirit of honest inquiry and partly out of a feeling of morbid curiosity. Because I had some county-level census data to hand, I took a look at the results using some extremely basic demographic information—the two variables that structure America’s ur-choropleths, namely population density and percent black. I focused on the counties that flipped from their vote in the 2012 general election.

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Yesterday I had a conversation on Twitter with Josh Zumbrun that followed on from this tweet: This is one of the most horrifying graphics I've ever seen:https://t.co/wM0VJZn0Wg pic.twitter.com/qaUaNFtRPl — Josh Zumbrun (@JoshZumbrun) September 28, 2016 The striking maps he linked to tracked the rise in deaths due to drug-related overdoses over the past 15 years, caused in large part to the surge in use of heroin and synthetic opiates. The details are in the WSJ report on the problem.

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Recent Papers

  • “Repugnance Management and Transactions in the Body.” American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings. Abstract  pdf
  • “Seeing Like a Market.” Socio-Economic Review. Abstract  pdf
  • “Transformative Treatments.” Abstract  pdf
  • “Foreword” to Viviana Zelizer, Morals & Markets: The Development of Life Insurance in the United States, Legacy Edition. Columbia University Press. Abstract  pdf
  • “The Plain Person's Guide to Plain Text Social Science.” Abstract  pdf

Current Teaching


I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.



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