Publications and Manuscripts

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Brensinger, Jordan. 2023. “Identity Theft, Trust Breaches, and the Production of Economic Insecurity.” American Sociological Review 88(5):844-871. Accepted version.


Across various domains of social life, organizational reliance on personal data and exposure to unanticipated financial hardship have transformed Americans’ life chances and access to opportunities. This article examines an area where they intersect: the hardship caused by breakdowns in information systems. I focus on the case of identity theft, showing how that event—experienced by tens of millions of Americans annually—contributes to economic insecurity. To do so, I first develop a theory of insecurity that links feelings of precariousness to breaches of trust at three levels: interpersonal, organizational, and systemic. Drawing on an original qualitative study of identity theft resolution, I find that most victims worried about their financial lives because they could no longer count on certain people, organizations, or systems. Beneath this commonality, race and class informed feelings of insecurity and associated coping strategies following identity theft. Low-income people and people of color tended to direct suspicion at personal networks and report ending relationships and informal assistance. In contrast, middle- and upper-income and White individuals disproportionately blamed organizations and demanded their protection. These findings—along with the trustbased theory that helped make them visible—have important implications for the study of insecurity, inequality, and trust in the information age.

Brensinger, Jordan and Ramina Sotoudeh. 2022. “Party, Race, and Neutrality: Investigating the Interdependence of Attitudes Toward Social Groups.” American Sociological Review 87(6):1049-1093. Accepted versionSupplement. Replication materials.


Recent public and scholarly discourse suggests that partisanship informs how people feel about social groups in the United States by organizing those groups into camps of political friends and enemies. More generally, this implies that Americans’ attitudes toward social groups exhibit interdependence, a heretofore underexplored proposition. We develop a conceptual and methodological approach to investigating such interdependence and apply it to attitudes toward 17 social groups, the broadest set of measures available to date. We identify three subpopulations with distinct attitude logics: partisans, who feel warm toward groups commonly associated with their political party and cool toward those linked to the out-party; racials, distinguished by their consistently warmer or cooler feelings toward all racial groups relative to other forms of social group membership; and neutrals, who generally evaluate social groups neither warmly nor coolly. Individuals’ social positions and experiences, particularly the strength of their partisanship, their race, and their experience of racial discrimination, inform how they construe the social space. These findings shed light on contemporary political and social divisions while expanding the toolkit available for the study of attitudes toward social groups.

2021 Co-winner, Best Student Paper Award from the Political Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association

Brensinger, Jordan and Gil Eyal. 2021. “The Sociology of Personal Identification.” Sociological Theory 39(4):265-292. Accepted version.


Systems drawing on databases of personal information increasingly shape life experiences and outcomes across a range of settings, from consumer credit and policing to immigration, health, and employment. How do these systems identify and reidentify individuals as the same unique persons and differentiate them from others? This article advances a general sociological theory of personal identification that extends and improves earlier work by theorists like Goffman, Mauss, Foucault, and Deleuze. Drawing on examples from an original ethnographic study of identity theft and a wide range of social scientific literature, our theory treats personal identification as a historically evolving organizational practice. In doing so, it offers a shared language, a set of concepts for sensitizing researchers’ attention to important aspects of personal identification that often get overlooked while also facilitating comparisons across historical periods, cultural contexts, substantive domains, and technological mediums.


Other Writings

Reviews and Book Chapters

Brensinger, Jordan. 2021. “The Unforgiving Society.” Review of Sarah Esther Lageson, Digital Punishment. European Journal of Sociology 62(3):519-24.

Belyavina, Raisa and Jordan Brensinger. 2013. “Building Knowledge-Based Economies in Latin America: The Role of National Study-Abroad Scholarship Programs.” Pp. 39-53 in Latin America’s New Knowledge Economy: Higher Education, Government, and International Collaboration, edited by J. Balán. New York: Institute of International Education.

Public Writing

Sotoudeh, Ramina and Jordan Brensinger. 2023. “Partisanship is Not the Only ‘Logic’ Informing Americans’ Attitudes Toward Social Groups.USAPP – American Politics and Policy.

Brazzell, Nia, Jordan Brensinger, Shaanan Cohney, Sayash Kapoor, Mihir Kshirsagar, Katrina Liggett, Jonathan Mayer, and Arvind Narayanan. 2022. Commercial Surveillance ANPR R111004.

Brensinger, Jordan, Taylor Leaphart, Jorge Rosero, Raul De La O, Venitia Boyce, and Amina Kirk. 2021. “Who Should be Responsible for Personal Data?Change Machine Blog

Work in Progress

Brensinger, Jordan. Misidentified: Responsibility and Insecurity in the Data Economy.

Brensinger, Jordan. “Personal Data Work: Managing Personal Information in Everyday Life.” (Manuscript available upon request)

Brensinger, Jordan. “The Social Production of ‘Accurate’ Personal Financial Data.”

Brensinger, Jordan and Sarah Esther Lageson. “Credit Reports and Criminal Records.”

Brensinger, Jordan and Madisson Whitman. “Personal Data and Qualitative Research.”