On the Market: Josef (Kuo-Hsun) Ma

Josef Ma


Ph.D., May 2016 (expected), Sociology, University of Connecticut
Ph.D. Student, 2008-10, Sociology, National Taiwan University
M.A., 2007, Sociology, National Taiwan University
B.A., 2005, Sociology, National Taipei University


Comparative Sociology (foci: Global Economy & Politics, Global Inequality & Poverty, Immigration)
Sociology of Education (foci: Stratification, School Contexts, Digital Inequality)
Sociology of the Family (foci: Life Course, Intergenerational Relationships, Gender, East Asia)
Quantitative Methodology (foci: Multilevel Models; Categorical Analysis; Methods for Panel and Longitudinal Data)


My research focus on student internet use and educational outcomes in cross-national comparative perspective, global inequality in digital use, and adolescent sexual behaviors.  My dissertation compares students’ digital learning (i.e., computer use for schoolwork, search for information on the Internet, etc.) across rich and poor countries, with a focus on the role of national context and educational policy in determining the quantity and quality of digital usage.  I have articles in the following publications; Social Forces, International Sociology, Sociological Forum, and the Journal of Taiwan Studies.  I am currently a Research Assistant in the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, where I process survey datasets and polls from the 1940s to 2000s in the data archive department.  In addition to my research, I teach courses in Sociology of Education, the Developing World, Social Problems, and Introduction to Sociology.


“The Inequality of Digital Learning among Middle-School Students between Rich vs. Poor Countries”


Simon Cheng (chair), Mary J. Fischer, Jeremy Pais, Michael E. Wallace, and David L. Weakliem


The rise of the knowledge economy and the rapid development of digital technologies worldwide have altered educational practices and drawn the attention of both researchers and politicians to a new social problem—the digital divide. However, despite the potential impact of digital use on students’ educational outcomes, research has yet to explain whether the use of digital technology helps reduce or reproduce existent educational inequality; we know little of how this relationship differs cross-nationally—especially between poor and rich countries. Compared to most of the previous research which is based on single-country observations, the primary contribution of this dissertation is to examine how the inequality of digital learning (i.e., computer use for schoolwork, search for information on the Internet) varies systematically across the nations. This dissertation applies multilevel models along with many useful international comparison techniques to analyze the 2009 data from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Equally important, I provide a comprehensive framework which incorporates a wide range of country-level and school-level explanations, and address how national context (e.g., national wealth, national commitment to education and technology advancement, etc.) and school characteristics (e.g., educational resources, digital infrastructure, etc.) affect the inequality of digital learning within nations.


Vachon, Todd and Josef (Kuo-Hsun) Ma. 2015. “Bargaining for Success: Examining the Relationship between Teacher Unions and Student Achievement.” Sociological Forum 30(2): 391-414.

Cheng, Simon, Josef (Kuo-Hsun) Ma, and Stacy Missari. 2014. “The Effects of Internet Use on Adolescents’ First Romantic and Sexual Relationships in Taiwan.” International Sociology 29(4): 324-347.

Cheng, Simon, Laura Hamilton, Stacy Missari, and Josef (Kuo-Hsun) Ma. 2014. “Sexual Subjectivity among Adolescent Girls: Social Disadvantage and Young Adult Outcomes.” Social Forces 93(2): 515-544.

Ma, Josef (Kuo-Hsun). 2010. “Close to Parents or Parents-in-Law? Comparing the Relationship of Adult Children to their Aging Parents and In-Laws in Taiwan.” Journal of Taiwan Studies 6: 45-82 (in Chinese).

Sheu, Tian-Ming, Jau-Wei Dan, Chin-Ju Mao, Pey-Ying Chen, and Josef (Kuo-Hsun) Ma. 2008. “Improving the Quality of University,” Pp. 27-92 in Raising the Quality of Higher Education: An Reflection, edited by Samuel S. Peng, published by Center for Research on Educational Evaluation and Development, National Taiwan Normal University (in Chinese).

Chen, Pey-Ying and Josef (Kuo-Hsun) Ma. 2007. “The Indigenous College Students’ Learning Conditions, Financial Burden and Educational Aspiration.” The Electronic Journal of Taiwanese Higher Educational Study 7 (in Chinese)


“Bridging the Digital Gap between Wealthier and Poorer Students? A Cross-National Analysis.” (with Simon Cheng and Todd Vachon)

“The Inequality of Digital Learning vs. the Academic Achievement Gap: Re-examining the ‘Heyneman-Loxley Effect’.” (with Mary Fischer)

“The Black-White Difference in the Effect of Non-Cognitive Traits on Educational and Economic Success.”