Jessi’s research focuses on how families and schools maintain or alleviate social class inequality. Her past work, which won the ASA Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility section’s graduate student paper award and is published in Qualitative Sociology, examined how the interactions between preschool students and their teachers contributes to inequality. In her dissertation, Jessi considers how cross-class marriages by class-origin shape and are shaped by the cultural sides of social class inequality. This work makes four contributions. First, Jessi challenges theories that suggest that cross-class appreciation occurs despite classed processes rather than because of them. She shows that contradictions in class discourses contributed to respondents finding their cross-class partner appealing. Second, Jessi evinces that class sensibilities were deeply entrenched. Despite an average of over four thousand days together and despite upwardly mobile partners’ immersion in the middle-class through their marriage, education, work, and neighborhood, couples did not come to share their class sensibilities. Culture was then not transferrable even through very strong ties. Third, Jessi discovers that the class sensibilities of college-educated upwardly mobile and class-stable respondents are organized around a new binary opposition, one that has new implications for inequality. Fourth, she makes a series of contributions about how individuals’ class origins shape their ideas of money, work, housework, time, leisure, parenting, and emotions. She also demonstrates how these differences play out in cross-class relationships, and how they matter for class and gender inequality. Jessi has won the University of Michigan Department of Sociology best paper award for one piece of her work on cross-class marriages. Other parts of her work are under review in the form of articles and a book manuscript.
Additionally, Jessi is collaborating with Professor Alford Young, Jr. on qualitative studies of the hourly time bind for blue-collar workers and on blue-collar workers’ constructions of strong work ethics and good jobs. She is also working on a new project on how first-generation and multiple-generation college seniors represent themselves in their cover letters and résumés.