Amanda Barrett Cox

Faculty Advisors: 

Randall Collins, Charles Bosk, Rand Quinn (Penn GSE)

Research Interests: 

Organizations, social class, economic elites and philanthropy, sociology of education, sociology of emotions, social networks, microsociology, ethnographic methods


Amanda is a joint PhD student in the Department of Sociology and the Graduate School of Education.  Her research is broadly focused on social class, economic elites and privilege, and how organizations transform and reproduce social inequality. Prior to coming to Penn, Amanda was pursuing her PhD at Stanford University. Due to a family emergency, she relocated to the East Coast and continued her doctoral studies at Penn.  

Amanda’s prior work includes an ethnographic study of the summer session of a program that prepares low-income students of color to attend elite boarding schools.  In this project, she investigated how the program’s framing of relationships served as an organizational tool to increase students' commitment and loyalty to organizations, and how students' behavioral infractions came to be interpreted by the organization's staff as feeling-rule violations.  

Amanda's current work includes her emerging dissertation project, which is a multi-sited ethnographic study that focuses on how philanthropic foundations balance an interest in both economic and social returns as they engage in investing and grantmaking. She is also working on a project with Rand Quinn (Penn GSE) and Amy Steinbugler (Dickinson College) that investigates the school-and-neighborhood-based social networks of parents sending their children to a school of choice.

Before beginning graduate school, Amanda worked as a community organizer and a high-school Latin teacher. She holds an M.A. in Sociology of Education from Stanford University, an M.S.Ed. in Education, Culture, and Society from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in Classical Civilizations from Wellesley College.

Recent publications:
Cox, Amanda Barrett. 2017. "Cohorts, 'Siblings,' and Mentors: Organizational Structures and the Creation of Social Capital." Sociology of Education 90(10):47-63.

Cox, Amanda Barrett. 2016. "Mechanisms of Organizational Commitment: Adding Frames to Greedy Institution Theory." Sociological Forum 31(3):685-708.

Cox, Amanda Barrett. 2016. "Correcting Behaviors and Policing Emotions: How Behavioral Infractions Become Feeling-Rule Violations." Symbolic Interaction 39(3):484-503.

Lareau, Annette, Elliot B. Weininger, and Amanda Barrett Cox. Forthcoming. "Parental Challenges to Organizational Authority in an Elite School District: The Role of Cultural, Social, and Symbolic Capital." Teachers College Record.

Cox, Amanda. 2012. "Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth." Pp. 1225-1228 in Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education, edited by J.A. Banks. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Lareau, Annette and Amanda Cox. 2011. "Social Class and the Transition to Adulthood: Differences in Parents' Interactions with Institutions." Pp. 134-164 in Social Class and Changing Families in an Unequal America, edited by M.J. Carlson & P. England. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

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Photo Credit: Marcus T. Wright