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Jienian Zhang

Postdoctoral Scholar



Jienian Zhang received her PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2022. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow on the Social Worlds & Youth Wellbeing Study (PI: Anna Mueller). Her work explicates the micro-sociological processes (with a focus on the emotional aspect) involved in reproducing racial inequalities in education and in the youth mental health crisis in schools. Her research is driven by the research question, how do youth make sense of life’s misfortunes and social inequalities? By revealing the complex emotional aspects of schooling, the goal of her research is to gain a better understanding of how schools as organizations shape youth’s life chances. She draws on insights from social psychology, sociology of emotion, sociology of education, race and ethnicity, small group culture, and mental health. Methodologically, she primarily uses ethnography and has experience with mixed methodology, survey design, and community-engaged research.

Her research can be found in Social Psychology Quarterly and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. She is currently working on a book manuscript based on her ethnographic project about Latinx/Latine long-term English Learners.