Kristin Turney is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine. Her research, stemming from a rich tradition of social stratification inquiry, investigates the complex and dynamic role of families in creating, maintaining, and exacerbating social inequalities. In unraveling puzzles about family inequality, and about how the institution of the family interacts with other societal institutions (e.g., the educational system, the penal system), she uses a variety of theoretical perspectives, methodological strategies, and population-based data sources.

Much of Turney’s current research examines the consequences of criminal justice contact for family life. In this vein, she investigates the deleterious, beneficial, and inconsequential repercussions of criminal justice contact on the wellbeing of children and families over time; considers heterogeneity in the relationship between criminal justice contact and family inequality; and evaluates the processes through which criminal justice contact fosters resilience. She is currently working on a book-length manuscript, What Doing Time Does to Families: Incarceration and Family Life in the United States. In other ongoing work, she and a team of graduate students interviewed people incarcerated in jail and their family members—including current and former romantic partners, children, and mothers—both during their incarceration and after release.

Other research projects examine the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and wellbeing throughout the life course; the consequences of relationship churning for family and child wellbeing; and how parental physical and mental health contributes to wide-ranging inequalities within and across generations. These substantive interests are accompanied by a methodological interest in causal inference.

At UC-Irvine, Turney has a joint appointment in the Department of Criminology, Law, & Society. She is also a faculty affiliate of the Center for Population, Inequality, and Policy, the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy, and the Initiative to End Family Violence. She is also a research affiliate at the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin. She received her B.S. in Journalism and Sociology from Northwestern University and her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania, and went on to complete a fellowship at the University of Michigan. Her research has been supported by a number of sources including the National Science Foundation, the William T. Grant Foundation, the Foundation for Child Development, the Spencer Foundation, and the American Educational Research Association. In 2019-2020, she was a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation.