Lindsey Ibanez

Ph.D. Level
Graduate Students

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My current research examines network processes at the micro level. I investigate the emotional, cultural, and symbolic content of personal relations and how the meaning of ties shapes network mobilization. My dissertation, which is supported by a National Science Foundation dissertation grant, analyzes the structural and interactional forces involved when job-seekers attempt to mobilize their personal networks for job leads. For this project I collected in-depth qualitative interviews with more than 100 workers and job-seekers in the low-wage labor market of Leon, an urban municipality in Western Nicaragua. I find that in Leon's reputation economy, low-wage workers rely heavily on referrals and recommendations from network members, so job-seekers must carefully manage impressions and relationships. Their strategies are part of a reputation game, the outcome of which has weighty consequences for their employability.

Another research project, with Steven Lopez, examines social support among the unemployed. Drawing upon 86 in-depth qualitative interviews with men and women who were unemployed during the Great Recession and the slow recovery that followed, we argue that emotional and instrumental social support has an identity-related dimension, which is subjectively experienced by recipients as positive or negative. Importantly, the identity-relevant implications of support can affect whether the unemployed accept or reject support that is offered by network members. This project is part of my broader research agenda, which seeks to uncover the factors that influence the mobilization of social resources.

My earlier research investigated the role of institutions in local development. Through a case study of the dairy sector of Santiago Rodriguez, a rural province of the northwest Dominican Republic, I find that positive local development there is the result of a multi-level system of institutions that span the global to the local. I argue that institutional forms cannot be labeled a priori as facilitating or inhibiting development; rather, it is the way that institutions at each level -- global, national, and local -- structure power relations between actors that matters most. The findings suggest that successful rural development depends upon institutions that encourage cooperation between more-powerful and less-powerful actors.

Areas of Expertise
  • Work, Economy, & Organizations
  • Poverty & Inequality
  • Qualitative Methods

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614 292-6681
614 292-6687
The Ohio State University
Department of Sociology
238 Townshend Hall
1885 Neil Avenue Mall
Columbus, Ohio  43210-1222