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Dr. Linda Zhao
Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Chicago


I am a sociologist at the University of Chicago. I spend most of my time conducting research. In particular, I am interested in how the population composition of contexts (such as levels of diversity or inequality) shapes the emergent network dynamics that underlie social cohesion. I am also interested in using network structure to analyze the intergroup ties that in turn influence behaviors and attitudes. My work spans many kinds of contexts (for example, I have studied classrooms, workplaces, neighborhoods, and quasi-experimental populations). I am usually driven by a theoretically-motivated empirical research question that I then investigate using cutting-edge quantitative methods. My current research projects analyze intergroup dynamics, inequality, and social influence in networks within the areas of immigrant integration, policing, and public health. I also teach courses on applied statistics, academic writing, and social network analysis.

Research Questions

1. How does population heterogeneity (and in particular, consolidation) shape social outcomes such as inequality, intergroup dynamics, and social cohesion?

2. What can we learn about immigrant integration and inclusion using properties of social networks?

  • Zhao, L. "Network Topology and Immigrant Inclusion." Working paper

  • Zhao, L. and L. Drouhot, 2024. “The Grandchildren of Immigrants in Western Europe: Patterns of Assimilation Among the Emerging Third Generation” Demography. [Read More]

  • Zhao, L. 2023. "Networks in the Making: Friendship Segregation and Ethnic Homophily." Social Science Research. [Read More] 

3. How do officer networks and diversity in police workforces shape outcomes such as the risk of misconduct?

  • Zhao, L. Working paper. “Networks at Work: Officer Diversity, Racial Homophily, and Police Misconduct.”

  • Zhao, L. and A.V. Papachristos. 2024. “Threats to Blue Networks: The Effect of Partner Injuries on Police Misconduct.” American Sociological Review. [Read More]

  • Zhao, L. and A.V. Papachristos. 2021. "Network Position and Police Who Shoot." The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. [Read More] 

4. How can we use longitudinal data on networks and neighborhoods to understand the interplay between social inequalities and health outcomes?

  • Zhao, L., Hessel, P., Thomas, J.S. and J. Beckfield. 2021. “Inequality in Place: Effects Exposure to Neighborhood Level Economic Inequality on Mortality.” Demography. [Read More]

  • Hong, C.S., and Zhao, L., Working Paper. “Network Mechanisms for Health Disparities” 

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