As an ethnographer, Dr. Battle studies social policy, (un)deservingness, and the courts through a cognitive sociological framework. Her current book project (under contract with NYU Press), They’re Stealing My Opportunity to Be a Father, examines the impact of state intervention in the family in the child support system using courtroom observations, interviews, and analysis of texts related to the system. The findings illuminate the ways that shame and stigma are pervasive in social interactions, how parents both resist and reinforce the system’s bureaucratic apparatus, and the collateral consequences of enforcement. Ultimately, she demonstrates that the child support system functions as a neoliberal construct at the intersection of the welfare and criminal justice systems, and reinforces cultural messages about deservingness, morality, responsibility, and the desirability of traditional family structures.


Dr. Battle has also published articles/chapters in Journal of Marriage and FamilyJournal of Family Theory and Review, Symbolic InteractionThe Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Sociology, Journal of Qualitative Criminal Justice and Criminology, and Contexts. One recent paper, “‘They Look at You Like You’re Nothing’: Stigma and Shame in the Child Support System,” examines stigma and shame in three thematic areas: (1) shame in social interactions, (2) shame as a tool of social control, and (3) the social consequences of shame. She suggests that stigma and shame in the child support system, resembling that in the welfare and criminal justice systems, reinforces cognitive boundaries between parents perceived as “responsible” and those perceived as “deadbeats.”


Dr. Battle is currently working on three projects. One project, a collaboration with colleagues at Wake Forest Law School, Winston Salem State University, Wake Forest Por Bono Law Clinic, North Carolina Legal Aid, and Housing Justice Now (a grassroots tenants' rights organization), examines the effects of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's moratorium on evictions as a result of Covid-19. The second, a collaboration with a colleague at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, explores the pathways to abolition among activists and organizers. The last, a collaboration with another Wake Forest University Sociology faculty member, explores the experiences of individuals living under forms of state supervision (probation, parole, electronic monitoring, alternative-to-detention programs) in the criminal legal and immigration systems.


Check out Dr. Battle's CV for more on her research and scholarship.