Field Research Grants

Jeong Hyun Oh, Sociology 

In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the number of students enrolled in primary school more than tripled between 1990 and 2019. Although basic education is widely viewed as a great social equalizer, its social and economic consequences on inequality in SSA are not well documented. In light of the Education for All (EFA) movement, my research investigates whether educational expansion introduces new patterns of inequality and how these inequalities are experienced and regulated within communities. Set in Malawi – a country which underwent remarkable expansion of education yet with limited economic opportunities – I ask three central questions: 1) how do reciprocity norms within the community shape distribution of resources among its members? 2) does the emergence of education-based status promote collective wellbeing? and 3) how does demographic shifts in kinship affect intergroup inequality? I argue that social and moral aspects of inequality – such as trust, jealousy, kinship obligations, and the concerns for status – are particularly relevant in SSA, where class boundaries are being constantly reformulated under the twin conditions of rapid educational expansion and economic instability.

Johanna's interests center on new and persistent dimensions of inequality in sub-Saharan Africa and their relationships to key demographic events. She studies labor market stratification in light of the Education for All (EFA) movement, asking if and how inequality gets regulated within local communities. She is especially interested in the subjective dimension of inequality – how individuals perceive their social positions – and how these perceptions inform phenomena like health, optimism, and social mobility.