Gong's research focuses on inequality, with particular interest in mental health care and social services in urban settings. Overarching themes in Gong's writings include how resources shape treatment provision, how cultural ideals of freedom operate in American institutions, and methodologically, how to best link rigorous qualitative research to other research methods. In a previous project, Gong researched a variety of "underground" combat sport and fighting subcultures.
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Considers how to best draw comparisons between sites, groups, or cases in ethnographic research. Advances a pluralistic vision of when and how different field research approaches can be most useful for different types of mixed-methods research.
Finds public safety net psychiatric providers may tolerate potentially negative client behaviors like drug use if contained in the right locations, as the goal is keeping people in housing and out of jail. Finds elite private care providers, on the other hand, engage in tighter surveillance and control of behavior because they have a contrasting goal of recovery and rehabilitation.
Notes recent mental health policy has argued that "impaired insight," or the idea that mental illness renders some people unaware of mental illness, is grounds to restrict psychiatric patient's rights for their own good. Examines the history and science behind the concept and finds it scientifically dubious, and argues that it must be heavily scrutinized before it is used in policy or legal debates.