I am a sociologist who seeks to understand the social construction of difference. I use a combination of quantitative, qualitative, and computational methodologies and data, including longitudinal interviews, national survey data, and custom text datasets. In my dissertation, From Deviance to Diagnosis: Cultural Meanings of Mental Health, I explore mental health and illness as an axis of difference that has shown dramatic change over time. I use computational text analysis to analyze discourse around mental health in the news media and on social media, focusing on how mental health and illness are normalized and “otherized” in the cultural imagination.

I’m also passionate about equitable and inclusive teaching, particularly of quantitative methods and statistical software.

I have a BA from Wellesley College, where I majored in Sociology and Spanish. In addition to my work in the Stanford Sociology Department, I work as a Center for Teaching and Learning graduate student consultant, as a graduate research assistant at the Stanford VMWare Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab, and as a software consultant for Stanford Library’s Software and Services for Data Science (SSDS).

I am currently on the academic job market.

Contact me at aljohnson [at] stanford [dot] edu

My academic interests fall into three main areas:

Research on mental health

How are mental health and illness conceptualized in our cultural imagination?

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Research on gender

How do young people make sense of gender (inequality)?

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Teaching and learning

How can our sociology classrooms (especially our quantitative methods) be more inclusive and equitable?

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Recent Publications

*please contact me for access to paywalled papers

Changes in Mental Health and Treatment, 1997-2017

Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 62(1):53-68.

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The Agency Myth: Persistence in Individual Explanations for Gender Inequality

with Emily Carian. Social Problems. 69(1):123-142.

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Teaching for a Data-Driven Future: Intentionally Building Foundational Computing Skills

with Rebecca Gleit. Teaching Sociology. 50(1):49-61.

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All images courtesy of Unsplash.