I am an Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of New Hampshire. My research focuses broadly on family and gender issues, particularly family formation, gender and class stratification, and the role of relationships and family in the life course. I am particularly interested in the uncommon and changing ways individuals form families, and what that might mean for them. This includes older adult singlehood and repartnering; patterns of women’s work and family organization; and the elements of delaying or foregoing marriage and parenthood. I take a qualitative approach to these topics, primarily using interviews to gather primary accounts of meanings and behaviors.
In recent works, I highlight the experience of cohabitation and its relationship to marriage and family formation. Using interviews with each member of 23 partnered couples, I explore the commonality of cohabitation. I show how even committed, middle-class couples who cohabit as a precursor to marriage are experiencing rising requirements to marriage. These couples were not testing their relationship or cohabiting. While prior work had found a rising bar to marriage for low-income couples, this research finds the surprising link between cohabitation and marriage requirements for middle-class couples intending to marry (Harris 2021). In a separate piece on the construction of kinship in nonstandard family forms, my co-authors and I cluster family formation into distinct groups: variations on formal marriage or its absence, alterations to the reproduction process, and formation of voluntary bonds. We find a growing acceptance of non-standard family forms and a borrowing of vocabulary and scripts from standard family forms (Furstenberg, Harris, Pesando, and Reed 2020).
I completed a PhD in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2022. My dissertation explores the experiences and processes of singlehood, dating, and (re)partnering among older adults. As the single older adult population grows – due to longer lifespans, widowhood, and growing divorce rates – little is known about how older adults adapt to changing dating scripts and how a different position in the life course impacts meanings and attitudes toward singlehood. To investigate these issues, I interviewed 100 women and men ages 60-83, recruiting from various online dating websites. Respondents spoke to such topics as gender roles, online dating use, adult children, age and sexuality, and COVID-19.
Prior to earning a PhD, I worked as a Survey Specialist at Mathematica Policy Research, focusing on survey design and data collection for social program evaluations. During that time, I earned an MA in Applied Sociology and graduate certificate in Survey Research from the University of Massachusetts at Boston.