Areas of Expertise & Civic Involvements
Bruch's research focuses broadly on social stratification and public policy. In particular, she focuses on integrating theoretical insights from relational and social theorists into the empirical study of inequalities. She brings this approach to the study of social policy, education, race, politics, and citizenship. Her work has been published in leading academic journals including the American Sociological Review, Sociology of Education, Journal of Marriage and Family, and Child Development. Her current research includes three streams. The first focuses on U.S. social policies, examining their social and distributional impacts as well as their consequences for civic and political life. The second focuses on schools as organized sites of racialized authority relations that shape life trajectories and function as formative experiences of citizenship. The third focuses on the interplay of racial and economic inequalities, seeking to clarify how they relate to each other, how they are connected to state policy choices, and how they are produced through specific relational and policy mechanisms.
Argues that schools operate as sites where individuals have their first, formative experiences with the rules and cultures of public institutions, authority relations and their uses by officials, and what it means to be a member of a rights-and-obligations-bearing community of putative equals. Develops a novel account of how schools construct citizens and position them in the polity. Shows, first, how race (in conjunction with class and gender) structures experiences of school relations and, second, how these experiences matter for citizens' positions and dispositions in the polity.
Argues that school context moderates the benefits of self-affirmation for black and Hispanic students’ grades, with partial support among standardized achievement outcomes. Suggests that self-affirmation reduces the very large racial achievement gap in overall grade point average by 12.5 percent in high-threat school contexts and has no effect in low-threat contexts.
Suggests that discrimination in school discipline goes beyond broad categories of race to include additional distinctions in skin tone.