Elena G. van Stee

Elena G. van Stee

2019 Cohort Exchange Scholar, Harvard University (2023-2024)


Hello! I’m a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, currently visiting Harvard University for the 2023-2024 academic year. I’m also the blog editor for Contexts, the public-facing magazine of the American Sociological Association.

I study culture and inequality, focusing on social class, families, higher education, and the transition to adulthood. My dissertation explores how young adult college graduates (late 20s and early 30s) understand and negotiate parental support. The inspiration for this project stemmed from my previous study, which looked at college students’ relationships with their parents in the wake of COVID-19 campus closures (read my JMF article here and watch an interview with Contexts here).

My interviews during the lockdowns also inspired two collaborative projects that use data collected during the pandemic to examine (1) co-residence with parents as a private safety net for young adults (with Arielle Kuperberg and Joanie Mazelis) and (2) the racialized effects of a restrictive COVID-19 behavioral policy at a selective liberal arts college (with Alanna Gillis).

A second line of my research examines culture and inequality through the lens of religious institutions. One ongoing project with Evan Stewart examines the intersections of religion, race/racism, and vaccine hesitancy. Another collaborative project (with Melissa Wilde and Tessa Huttenlocher) uses historical census data to quantify wealth inequality across religious groups. In previous work, I studied multifaith chaplaincy on elite college campuses (with Wendy Cadge) and interfaith dialogue in the wake of the 2016 presidential election (with Roman Williams).


Research Interests

Culture, social class, morality, parenting, economic sociology, higher education, transition to adulthood, religion

Courses Taught

Sociological Research Methods (TA)

Intro to Sociology (TA)

Selected Publications

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

Roth, Wendy, Elena G. van Stee, and Alejandra Regla-Vargas. 2023. “Conceptualizations of Race: Essentialism and Constructivism.” Annual Review of Sociology 49.

van Stee, Elena G. 2023. “Privileged Dependence, Precarious Autonomy: Parent/Young Adult Relationships Through the Lens of COVID-19.” Journal of Marriage and Family 85(1):215-232. doi: 10.1111/jomf.12895

van Stee, Elena G. 2022. “Parenting Young Adults Across Social Class: A Review and Synthesis.” Sociology Compass. e13021. doi:10.1111/soc4.13021 

van Stee, Elena G., Taylor Paige Winfield, Wendy Cadge, John Schmalzbauer, Tiffany Steinwert, Shelly Rambo, and Elizabeth Clifford. 2021. “Assessing Student Engagement with Campus Chaplains: A Pilot Study from a Residential Liberal Arts College.” Journal of College and Character 23(3). doi:10.1080/2194587X.2021.1939721

van Stee, Elena G., Wendy Cadge, and Rebecca Barton. 2021. “How Do Colleges and Universities Support Multifaith Chaplaincy? The Causes and Effects of Different Institutional Approaches.” Journal of College and Character 23(2). doi:10.1080/2194587X.2021.1898981

Barton, Rebecca, Wendy Cadge, and Elena G. van Stee. 2020. “Caring for the Whole Student: How Do Chaplains Contribute to Campus Life?Journal of College and Character 21(2):67-85. doi:10.1080/2194587X.2020.1741392


Book Chapter

Williams, Roman R., William L. Sachs, Catherine Holtmann, Elena G. van Stee, Kaitlyn Eekhoff, Michael Bos, and Ammar Amonette. 2019. “Through One Another’s Lenses: Photovoice and Interfaith Dialogue.” Pp. 253–274 in Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion Volume 10: Interreligious Dialogue: From Religion to Geopolitics, edited by G. Giordan and A. P. Lynch. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.


Essays and Public Writing

van Stee, Elena G. In press. “No Place like Home?” Contexts 22(3).

van Stee, Elena G. 2023. “Who’s the grown-up here?” Contexts blog (here).

van Stee, Elena G. 2023. “3 things the pandemic taught us about inequality in college — and why they matter today.” The Conversation. (here).

van Stee, Elena G. 2022. “Social class matters at college. What happened when campuses shut down?” Work in Progress: Sociology on the Economy, Work, and Inequality (here). Reprinted in the ASA Children & Youth Section Newsletter, January 2023.


Academic Book Reviews

van Stee, Elena G. 2019. “Amplifying Islam in the European Soundscape: Religious Pluralism and Secularism in the Netherlands, by Pooyan Tamimi Arab.” Fieldwork in Religion 14(2):220-221.

van Stee, Elena G. 2019. “Keeping it Halal: The Everyday Lives of Muslim American Teenage Boys, by John O’Brien.” Fieldwork in Religion 14(1):99-100.

van Stee, Elena G. 2018. “The Urban Church Imagined: Religion, Race, and Authenticity in the City, by Jessica M. Barron and Rhys H. Williams.” Fieldwork in Religion 13(2):241-2.



Exchange Scholar, Harvard University (2023 - present)

Blog Editor, Contexts Magazine (2023 - present)

Predoctoral Fellow, Institute of Education Sciences Predoctoral Training Program, University of Pennsylvania (2021-present)

Graduate Research Fellow, Center for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Immigration, University of Pennsylvania (2020-2021 & 2023 - present)

Research Associate, Chaplaincy Innovation Lab, Brandeis University (2018-2020)

Research Fellow, Office of Institutional Research and Analysis, University of Pennsylvania (2022)

CV (url)