Silva is assistant professor of sociology at Bucknell University and was the lead qualitative researcher for Robert Putnam's book, Our Kids. Her current book project, We’re Still Here: Pain and Politics in the Heart of America, examines working-class people’s political beliefs and behaviors in the coal region of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
The coal industry peaked in the mid-20th century and was characterized by high levels of class solidarity. Since the 1960s, manufacturing and mining jobs have been replaced by service jobs that are largely non-union, pay low wages, and offer few benefits. An influx of Hispanic and Black residents seeking safety and affordable housing has sparked racial tensions. Drawing on 120 in-depth interviews conducted from 2015-2017, Silva sheds light on how both longtime residents and newcomers cope with declining economic opportunity, a rural health crisis, and community change, focusing on the urgent question of how they politicize their struggles.
Silva earned a PhD from the University of Virginia and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. Her book, Coming Up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty (Oxford, 2013) examines the transition to adulthood for working-class youth. Her scholarship has appeared in the American Sociological Review, Social Forces, and the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Her research has been covered by The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Atlantic, Boston Review, and NPR’s On Point.