Skip to main content
Department ofSociology


Judith Li

Judith Li

Judith Li '23

Research with Prof. Di helps her understand contextualization is not only capturing a cross-section of contemporary time, but also considering how history shapes a community with common memory.

Hi there! My name is Judith Li. I am a junior double majoring in sociology and economics, minoring in sustainability. This spring and summer I did research with Professor Di on the relationship between religion and science in tech companies. There have been numerous studies on how religion and science coexist in academic communities, but we want to learn about whether and how religion influences tech workers’ perception of ethics, which is still a blank for now. The research also expands the study field from America-only to America and China. We compare how tech workers in China and the US  interpret ethics under different milieux, including religious, cultural and business environments.

I was so excited about this research because this is my first cross-national study with my professor. I was raised in one of the study fields. It feels that fate brings me to this research, giving me another look into the city that raised me and an opportunity to learn about the region that educates me.

Conducting interviews is an interesting and engaging part for me. I am always nervous before the interviews begin. It is the same nervousness that you will begin a new journey. Yes, for me, listening to my interviewees’ stories is like a journey. They tell me their life experiences which shape their perceptions of ethics. They share their worries and hopes for the past and the future. They open a world that I may never have a chance to get into, a tech world that is so close to but also too far from me.

Additionally, I have a better understanding of contextualization through these interviews. Although I have learned in sociology that we should study and understand our objects through their contexts, I realize that contextualization is not just a matter of capturing a cross-section of the contemporary time they live in. Sometimes we may also need to extend the timeline and see how history shapes a community with common memory. My Chinese interviewees' perception of tech ethics is influenced by what they have experienced and observed over the past 30 to 40 years.   While their stories are personal, their experiences are also patterned. As sociologists, we need to travel back half a century to understand how individuals construct their perceptions and beliefs.

Every person that makes up society is unique in their own ways but they also share some common points with the community in other ways. No one in society is entirely alone; no one is entirely ordinary. The more I learn about sociology, the more I realize that society is consecutive and humans are complex. Sometimes we need to go beyond our limit of cognition and the limit of time and space to understand a contemporary phenomenon.