Anthony Chen (1994)

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Michigan.

After completing my dissertation in 2002 -- much to the relief of my long-suffering parents -- I took up a faculty position at the University of Michigan. My appointment there is divided between the Department of Sociology and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

I am a political and historical sociologist with interests in the political development of public policy in the United States, particularly in the area of civil rights, social policy, and health care. The centerpiece of my research agenda is a book manuscript tentatively entitled "The Fifth Freedom." Themanuscript is based on my dissertation, and it offers a new explanation for the emergence of affirmative action policies in employment. In collaboration with colleagues and students at Michigan, I am conducting related research on the politics of civil rights in the postwar urban North. With grant support from the Spencer Foundation, Lisa Stulberg (NYU) and I are beginning new research that investigates the origins of affirmative action policies in higher education. I am also completing a randomized field experiment that will be permit me to estimate the effects of racial and ethnic discrimination in a large metropolitan labor market. At the moment, I am a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at Berkeley, where I am studying the political influence of organized business on the politics of American health care reform.

As a student at Berkeley, I benefitted greatly from contact with all of the faculty, but I learned the most from my dissertation advisors, Margaret Weir and Jerome Karabel. They taught me the basic skills any scholar should have: how to spot worthwhile questions, how collect and analyze empirical evidence, and how to draw defensible inferences. At the same time, they also encouraged me to communicate my research to a general audience beyond the university. I feel incredibly fortunate for the opportunity I had to work with them. As all of us surely recognize, Berkeley is far from a Shangri-La for graduate students, but I personally had a great experience due in large part to the care and attention that my dissertation advisors paid to me and my training.

Dissertation Title
From Fair Employment to Equal Employment Opportunity and Beyond:Affirmative Action and the Politics of Civil Rights in the New Deal Order,1941-1972
Dissertation Book Title
The Fifth Freedom: Jobs, Politics, and Civil Rights in the United States, 1941-1972
Entry Year