Other Research

Nelson, Jennifer L., and Amanda E. Lewis. 2016. “‘I’m a Teacher, Not a Babysitter:’ Workers’ Strategies for Managing Identity-Related Denials of Dignity in the Early Childhood Workplace.” Research in the Sociology of Work 29: 37-71.

In this study of how workplace context impacts early childhood educators’ identity strategies, my co-author and I conducted and analyzed ethnographic interviews with a sample of 27 preschool and preK teachers in the metro Atlanta area. We found that teachers navigate and solve identity problems they encounter in the course of doing their jobs by creatively converting these problems into resources with which to protect their occupational identities. However, the problems, resources, and identity strategies vary by work context (sector and school type).


Nelson, Jennifer L. 2017. “Pathways to Green(er) Pastures: Reward Bundles and Turnover Decisions in a Semi-Profession.” Qualitative Sociology 40(1):23–57. doi:10.1007/s11133-016-9348-1

In this study, my Master’s thesis, I conducted 40 structured interviews with urban school teachers and used Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) to examine how work rewards bundle together and influence these workers’ staying and leaving decisions. This study received the Blyler Graduate Student Research Award from the Department of Sociology at Emory in 2013.


Nelson, Jennifer L., Karen A. Hegtvedt, Jennifer L. Hayward. “Trust and Respect at Work: Justice Antecedents and the Role of Coworker Dynamics.” Revise & Resubmit.

In this project, with Karen Hegtvedt, Regine Haardoerfer, and Jennifer Hayward, we use survey data from my dissertation to examine how teachers’ reported perceptions of organizational justice in treatment from their managers (i.e., administrators) and colleagues impact their outcomes of relational trust and respect. We seek to answer the research questions: Which type of justice (distributive, procedural, interactional) affects lateral trust and respect the most, and do teacher dynamics mediate these contextual effects?


Nelson, Jennifer L., and Anand Swaminathan. “A State-by-State Study of Policy and Program Diffusion in Alternate Certification Programs, 1985-2012.” In progress.

This diffusion study, with Anand Swaminathan, seeks to understand what social-economic-political factors in each U.S. state predict its time of adoption of different forms of alternate route teacher certification laws. We use event history analysis to examine intrastate propensity factors versus interstate contagion factors that facilitate policy spread. Our unique dataset is drawn from annual volumes published by the National Center for Education Information (NCEI) for the years 1990-2010, and NCES, DES, Census, BLS, Statistical Abstracts, and Klarner for various state-level educational, social, economic and political statistics for those years.