About Me

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. My research areas include cultural reproduction, higher education, and stratification. More concretely, I examine college admissions’ roles in social inequality and how students adapt to admission reforms in a college-for-all era to secure offers from selective universities. 

While existing research suggests that reproduction occurs through implicit cultivation, my research addresses explicit adaptation in which students comply with admission standards to secure admission offers. Specifically, I ask, how students adapt to admission reforms and changing criteria of talent to spot an opportunity in selective universities, and how parents, teachers, and counselors assist them. Three chapters speak to the mechanisms of cultural reproduction and how it operates through conscious (re)confirmation than the unconscious cultural affinity between individuals and institutions. I term mechanisms as opportunity envisioning, self-prediction, and cultural matching. This research has been funded by Fulbright, the Midwest Sociological Society, Association for Asian Studies, and Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation. My work has received numerous paper awards from the Society for the Studies of Social Problems, Midwest Sociological Society, and Comparative & International Education Society (CIES). My work has appeared in International Studies of Sociology of Education and Ethnography. My main chapters are currently under review in Social Problems and American Sociological Review. 

Before coming to Madison, I published my first book, Let The Timber Creek: An Alternative School’s Utopia for Coming Generations, named one of the ten most influential books of 2016 by China Times. This book draws on my five-year ethnography in an alternative school to investigate how adults empower teens to self-govern themselves and the tensions between freedom and control of this power dynamic. I used ethnographic and historical archives from the student court and the student council to unveil the power dynamics between freedom and control across four periods of school changes. Before pursuing my Ph.D. degree, I worked in the Taiwanese Congress as an educational specialist and was selected as one of the eight Fulbright scholars studying social science. 

You can view CV_Feb2023_Liu and contact me via mikki.liu@wisc.edu. Follow my Twitter handle for further updates. My google scholar and ORCID offer updates on my work.