University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Chen-Shuo Hong



Graduate Student Dissertation Award

School or College: 

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences


Mark C. Pachucki


Chen-Shuo Hong is a PhD candidate in Sociology. Under the mentorship of his advisor, Dr. Mark Pachucki, his research broadly focuses on inequality, social networks, and social determinants of health. His dissertation will examine the ways in which social networks intersect with biological factors and shape health inequality. His dissertation will explore how network structures differentially influence health behavior and outcomes throughout the life course, and how certain networks may serve as possible remedies to counter childhood adversities and other stratification systems such as race, gender, and social class.


Health disparity is one of the most important forms of inequality. Although past research has shown that people’s social relationships are related to health and well-being, only a few studies have examined whether the patterns of social ties may increase or reduce health disparities. In other words, we know relatively little about under what conditions and for whom the forms of networks are more salubrious for health than others. By analyzing survey and digital trace data and focusing on obesity, I will examine (1) whether occupying marginalized network positions in earlier life stages, especially for those in minority groups, is associated with worse weight control and BMI trajectories over time? (2) whether having more interactions with peers who enrolled into a health intervention program is associated with healthier eating behavior? (3) whether in more socially cohesive environments people are more likely to be influenced by their peers, especially those who have a high BMI genetic risk? Given there are increasing endeavors applying network interventions to improve health, I will also use simulations to examine to what extent we can leverage social networks to counter adversities. This research will be of interest to health practitioners, education reformers, and organizations who are stakeholders in health promotion and health inequalities. 


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