Sarah Brayne

Sociology and Social Policy, Ph.D. candidate

Graduate Associates

I am a PhD candidate in the Joint Degree Program in Sociology and Social Policy at Princeton University. I am interested in the criminal justice system, stratification and technological change. 

In my research, I use quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the social consequences of the intersection of two structural forces: the growth of the U.S. criminal justice system and the rise of so-called "big data." My research agenda consists of three main projects:

1) My dissertation, Stratified Surveillance: Policing in the Age of Big Data, examines surveillance practices within a large urban police department. I study how the adoption of big data analytics--new ways of collecting, analyzing and deploying data--are transforming police surveillance practices, and what the implications of such changes are for social inequality.
2) In a related study, "Surveillance and System Avoidance: Criminal Justice Contact and Institutional Attachment," I use quantitative methods to investigate the individual-level consequences of surveillance practices. I use nationally-representative datasets to demonstrate the relationship between involvement in the criminal justice system and attachment to medical, financial, educational, labor market, civic, and religious institutions. This research is published in the American Sociological Review. 
3) My third line of research extends the investigation of criminal justice surveillance into institutions typically not associated with crime control. To this end, I analyze the intersection of criminal justice and medical surveillance in a hospital emergency room. I seek to understand how data is shared across institutional boundaries, focusing on interactions and data sharing practices between legal actors (i.e., the police and lawyers), medical practitioners (i.e., physicians and nurses), and custodial patients (i.e., patients brought into the ER in police custody). 

I am in the Fellowship of Woodrow Wilson Scholars, affiliated with Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy and am a volunteer instructor with NJ-STEP, teaching college-credit sociology classes at state prisons in New Jersey. 


2014. Brayne, Sarah. “Surveillance and System Avoidance: Criminal Justice Contact and Institutional Attachment.” American Sociological Review. 79(3): 367-391. (Lead article.)

2013. Brayne, Sarah. “Explaining the United States’ Penal Exceptionalism: Political, Economic and Social Factors.” Sociology Compass. 7(2): 75-86. 

2013. Newman, Katherine S. and Sarah Brayne. “Downward Mobility.” In Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Work. Vicki Smith (ed.) Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.