Kevin Estep

Kevin Estep

Areas of Study

Political Sociology, Social Movements, Inequality, Race/ethnicity, Sociology of Health, Immigration, Religion


Kevin researches the impact of intergroup conflict (broadly defined) on politics, inequality, and public health. His dissertation tackles a topic that has puzzled public health officials: Why are more and more parents opting out of immunizations for their children, and why do they tend to be concentrated in certain communities? Many people suppose this is due to anti-science attitudes or to poor access to medical services, and that we would see lower vaccination rates in less educated or disadvantaged communities. Surprisingly, parents who do not fully vaccinate tend to be more educated, affluent, and are typically white. Kevin’s work shows how this puzzling trend is connected to what some call “The Big Sort,” the idea that people are increasingly sorting themselves into communities of people with similar political views, cultural tastes, socioeconomic status, and ethnic background. The high rate of vaccine exemptions among affluent whites, it turns out, has less to do with their level of education or income, and more to do with their efforts to transmit their social advantages to their children by isolating them from perceived threats.

Kevin has also written on the subject of immigrant inclusion, arguing that anti-immigrant collective action is, ironically, more likely in settings where immigrants are making the greatest gains in terms of assimilation. Before coming to Notre Dame, Kevin worked in Student Affairs at the University of Oklahoma for six years. In addition to his MA in sociology, Kevin has also earned a Masters in Higher Education (with a Training and Development emphasis) and a BA in Zoology.


Estep, Kevin. Forthcoming. “Constructing a Language Problem: Status-based Power Devaluation and the Threat of Immigrant Inclusion.” Sociological Perspectives.
—Best Graduate Student Paper (Cristina Maria Riegos Award)—ASA Latino Sociology Section

McVeigh, Rory, Bryant Crubaugh, and Kevin Estep. 2016 (November). “Plausibility Structures, Status Threats, and the Establishment of Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Centers.” American Journal of Sociology.

Myers, Daniel J. and Kevin Estep. 2012. "North Central Sociological Association 2012 Ruth and John Useem Plenary Address. Political Renewal: Occupations, Springs and Tea Parties." Sociological Focus.

Estep CV