About

Talia Shiff

I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University and a Lecturer in Harvard’s Sociology Department. I received my Ph.D. in Sept. 2018 from the Sociology Department at Northwestern University, as well as my J.D. from Northwestern’s School of Law in Sept. 2018.

My scholarship is at the nexus of the sociologies of law, culture, politics, gender and immigration. I am at once a cultural sociologist who studies how processes of evaluation and decision-making are shaped by rules and institutions, and an organizational, legal and political sociologist who studies the cultural processes through which state institutions and rules are enacted and applied. Empirically, I focus on a burning topic of immediate relevance to current debates in American society: the politics of asylum status determinations. This focus serves as a point of entry to study issues of category formation, moral schemas, law in practice, and expanding global patterns of inequality. My work intervenes in sociological debates concerning the effects of moral schemas on social action, the conditions that enable change within highly institutionalized organizations, and how frontline state actors draw on gender and race when evaluating clients’ eligibility for rights and benefits. My research has implications for our understanding of how the state, through its core legal and regulatory institutions, evaluates and regulates its subjects.

My research has been supported by the Josephine de Karman Fellowship Trust, the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, the National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant, as well as by a number of internal Northwestern University grants.

Photo by Zoshua Colah on Unsplash