Rooted Innovation

Supporting creative grassroots interventions for meaningful social change

Rooted Innovation

Supporting creative grassroots interventions for meaningful social change

Personal Work – Dmitri Seals

Personal Work

This site is here to highlight and support the work of a wide range of partners but mostly organized by Dmitri Seals: I am a cultural sociologist of inequality focusing on how differences of race, class, and gender intersect and impact life outcomes. My passion is for community-led, research-based social justice work that equips people to analyze the problems that face them, design their own interventions, and follow through to secure lasting change.

As a scholar, I pursue intersectional mixed-methods research that supports a practical program of social justice and inclusion. As a professor, I work with colleagues at Cal State LA to build models that increase motivation and content learning by connecting social research to practical action. In my practical work, I support movements and organizations committed to building community leadership to equalize cultural, economic, and political power.

I am co-founder and past Executive Director of BAUDL and SVUDL and a co-founder of CaSIG and LEEAF. I have found myself both a critic of the nonprofit industrial complex and an advocate who has raised millions for causes I believe in – because life is complex!  I’m also a proud papa, husband, musician, school volunteer, and neighbor. For more info, explore below.

see also Teaching and Consulting

My research traces struggles over intersectional political inequality in everyday practice, working to reveal how patterned interactions at the micro level can scale up to create and reinforce large-scale disparities of participation and power.My dissertation, titled Identity/Politics: Intersectional Distinction in Digital Publics, used the explosion of political discourse online during the 2016 election cycle as the springboard for three interconnected empirical studies of the role of intersectional prejudice in establishing and enacting political identity. The three articles from this research identify broad patterns with quantitative “big data” discourse analysis of over 50 million posts and use qualitative analysis to show how macro patterns manifest in individual action.

Other lines of research in progress:

  • Micro-stratification in political participation. This thread explores the micro basis of political stratification, using observation to reveal how political systems and conversations reinforce or challenge racial inequalities of participation and power. Its first article, Resonance in Public Action: Race, Class, and the Microstructure of Political Opportunity draws data from two years of observation exploring public meetings in Oakland and Berkeley as an arena of emotionally charged struggle over racialized political inequality.
  • Field theory, cultural capital, and symbolic boundary. The concepts of cultural capital and symbolic boundary are incomplete without tools of theory and method that allow us to identify and track with precision how cultural schemas wield symbolic power in social fields. A large part of the dissertation is devoted to this, and a follow-up using closed captions from the over 1 million TV news broadcasts the American Television Global Knowledge Graph is in progress.
  • Research on teaching: Student-led, action-oriented, and intersectional.  An article in press and another invited article are the start of a research agenda centered on building, evaluating, and spreading model courses to increase motivation and content learning to support first-generation college students.

I’m also an avid coder committed to mixed-methods research, a lover both of the broad quantitative sweep of computational sociology and the rich detail of qualitative work, fluent in the use of python, R, Stata, and Dedoose among others.

A few references give a sense of the work:

  • Dmitri Seals and Elianne Rodriguez, 2022. “Growing Equity, One Entrepreneur at a Time: The LEEAF Model.” Los Angeles Economic Equity Accelerator
  • Dmitri Seals, Anaid Villa, Vanessa Lagunas, Jorge Valenzuela-Felix, and Camilla Torres, 2022. “Needs, Strengths, and Trust: Listening to the Businesses of East LA”. Los Angeles County Department of Economic Opportunity.
  • Dmitri Seals, 2021. “Counterpublic, Deliberative Sphere, Incubator, Battleground: Emotion and Diversity in Online Publics.” Presented at Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, August 8.
  • Dmitri Seals, 2020. “The Intersectional Complexity of Class Distinction: How Online Boundary Work Challenges Narratives of Populism and the White Working Class.” Presented at Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, August 10.
  • Pamela Scott-Johnson, Hengchun Ye, Rene Vellanoweth, Dmitri Seals, Luis Nuño, and Jingjing Li, 2020. “Empower Community to Use LA City’s Data Portal and GeoHub for Public Good.” CSU Geospatial Review 17:3-13.