Her research and teaching focuses on comparative historical sociology, Japanese society, economic sociology and the sociology of culture. Her current work focuses on public spheres in comparative perspective, civility, state formation and capitalism in Japan, and identities, network, and social change. She is the author of The Taming of the Samurai: Honorific Individualism and the Making of Modern Japan, and Bonds of Civility: Aesthetic Networks and Political Origins of Japanese Culture, which won five book prizes in fields from cultural and political sociology to Asian studies.
She has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and at the Center for Scholars and Writers, New York Public Library. Before coming to The New School she held positions with Yale University and Nihon Keizai Shinbun (The Japan Economic Journal) in Tokyo. In 2003, she was elected to the chair of the Comparative Historical Sociology the section of the American Sociological Association.