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Simone Ispa-Landa

Associate Professor of Human Development and Social Policy

PhD, Harvard University, 2011

Ispa-Landa's scholarship concerns the sociology of education, race and gender, and punishment and stigma. Her work advances theoretical models about how race, gender, and inequality are linked within schooling and criminal justice contexts. She is interested in understanding how individuals and groups respond to stigma and discrimination, maintain the meaning systems that support it, and seek to overcome its negative consequences.  

Ispa-Landa holds a PhD in sociology from Harvard University. The National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the W.T. Grant Foundation have provided funding for her work.

Current Research

Elite Identities: The cultural restructuring of society has required elites to embrace the moral imperative of an open and inclusive society. In light of this cultural restructuring, sociologists of the elite have turned their gaze toward the question of how elites manage the contradiction between their moral commitments to openness and fairness, on the one hand, and the guarded protection of their privilege, on the other. In this project, Ispa-Landa is examining how students at an elite university make sense of campus networks that have varying degrees of openness and inclusivity. 

School Discipline: In another project, funded by the W.T. Grant Scholars Program, Ispa-Landa is examining how three aspects of a high school setting — a restorative justice program, a police presence, and parents' intervention into school disciplinary matters — co-exist and interact to shape well-being among a racially and socioeconomically diverse sample of adolescents. Her study will address two broad and interrelated challenges in public education: school disciplinary climates that, on the one hand, promote racial disparities in punishment, and, on the other, expose students (and especially non-white students) to developmentally inappropriate disciplinary practices. 

Selected Publications

Ispa-Landa, S., and Mariana Oliver. 2020. Hybrid Femininities: Sorority Rankings and Reputation. Forthcoming in Gender & Society.

Ispa-Landa, S., and S. Thomas. Forthcoming. The emotional context of the principal role: Race, gender, and emotion work among school principals. Gender & Society33(3): 387-409.

Ispa-Landa, S. 2018. Persistently harsh punishments amid efforts to Reform: Using Tools From Social Psychology to Counteract Racial Bias in School Disciplinary Decisions. Educational Researcher 1–7. 

Ispa-Landa, S., and C. Loeffler. 2016. Indefinite punishment and the criminal record: Stigma reports among expungement-seekers in IllinoisCriminology 54(3): 387–412.

Ispa-Landa, S. 2016. Legitimizing family management: The role of adolescents' understandings of riskJournal of Marriage & Family 78(2): 516–30.

Ispa-Landa, S., and J. Conwell. 2015. "Once you go to a white school, you kind of adapt": Black adolescents and the racial classification of schoolsSociology of Education 88(1): 119.

Ispa-Landa, S. 2013. Gender, race, and justifications for group exclusion: Urban black students bussed to affluent suburban schoolsSociology of Education 86(3): 218–33.