Professor Smith tends to ask research questions that blur disciplinary lines; many of the questions she poses can only be answered by considering bodies of literature, theoretical frameworks, and methodological strategies found in Sociology, Political Science, Psychology and Public Policy. Her research interests focuses on American political behavior and Racial and Ethnic Politics. Here, she focuses on individuals’ and groups’ policy preferences, particularly around social policies that exacerbate or ameliorate disparities and inequality between groups.
Dr. Smith uses both qualitative and quantitative methods to answer research questions. This mixed-method approach is best illustrated in her first book Black Mosaic: The Politics of Black Pan-Ethnic Diversity (NYU Press, 2014). Her work also appears in journals like the Annual Review of Political Science, The Journal of Black Studies, and Politics, Groups & Identities as well as in edited book volumes.
Currently, Candis Watts Smith is working on a book length manuscript focused on the political attitudes, behaviors, and preferences of the Millennial generation. This book aims to answer questions like: Should we expect cohort replacement to continue to liberalize Americans’ racial attitudes as it has done historically? To what extent are the levels, structure and nature of Millennials’ racial attitudes different from members of older generational cohorts? How has the incorporation (or resistance) of colorblindness influenced their preferences on policies concerning racial minorities and racialized groups like low-income people and immigrants?
In addition to being an Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Dr. Smith is also an Adjunct Professor of African and African American Diaspora Studies. Prior to joining the UNC community, Professor Smith taught at Williams College and was also a Postdoctoral Fellow at Texas A&M University. She received her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University.