My sociological research began in the American Southwest where I’ve written about environmental justice issues surrounding forest management in northern New Mexico, and the multigenerational context of ongoing Mexican immigration in Santa Clara County, California and Maricopa County, Arizona. In each of these three settings, Mexican-origin identity means something very distinctive, ranging from long established rural communities with claims to centuries-old Spanish land grants to recent arrivals and the targets of heated anti-immigrant politics in a sprawling desert metropolis.
Since my arrival in Vermont, my research interests have shifted somewhat with a stronger focus on the effect of consumer behavior on environmental outcomes. I am particularly interested in how efforts at conservation might reduce human impacts on the natural environment. My more recent publications concern how community social ties, sometimes referred to as social capital, work to support local agriculture and alternative forms of transportation. An underlying theme in my research is that in a world where market forces see individuals in society as primarily a consumer source of profit, people fare much better when they have a variety of people to rely on for information, friendship and mutual support.