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Income inequalities poster


This area brings together scholars who focus on race and ethnicity; poverty, class and stratification; gender and sex; and sexuality and LGBTQ studies. Our research uses an array of methods, ranging from secondary analysis of large nationally representative data sets to in-depth interviews and ethnographies of small groups, to explore the social construction of race, gender and sexuality, the ways in which these structure the broader social world, and the causes and consequences of social inequalities in the U.S. and abroad. 

Globalization, Immigration and Transnational Studies

Globalization, migration and the transnationalization of more geosocial spaces and life experiences have generated a rich diversity of research questions and, in some instances, entirely novel areas of investigation. A number of overarching, but pressing, questions inform the research and teaching taking place. These inspire research and teaching that examine both (1) discontinuities and continuities with the past and (2) new social configurations of global/local interactions in societies around the world. Faculty interests range from investigations into contentious debates about the political and economic origins of globalization or the continued viability of nation-states to empirical studies about the impact of migration on domestic societies and on migrants themselves.

Barbed wire fence
Illustration of faces

Population and Place

This exciting area brings together scholars across multiple subfields within sociology, such as urban sociology, rural sociology, life course, family, and demography. We examine provocative questions about how and why places and their populations change over time, and why some places and populations are more advantaged than others.

Faculty members in this area use a wide range of research methods and data, from quantitative analyses of large national datasets to rich ethnographic analyses of local communities. Many faculty members in this area regularly communicate with policymakers, the media and local organizations to make positive change.

Policy, Place and Population Health Lab

The P3H Lab is a vibrant hub of interdisciplinary research and training on how places and their policies shape population health. A central focus of the lab is to investigate how U.S. state and local environments affect people’s health and life expectancy. It is co-directed by sociology faculty members Jennifer Karas Montez and Shannon Monnat.


Policy, Place and Population Health Lab
Masked student in class with a laptop

Education and Family

Faculty in this focal group have interest in the sociological studies of education and family, and the relationship between family and schools, in shaping educational processes and outcomes. They employ both quantitative and qualitative methods, and study domestic and international issues. We have two subspecialties: education and inequality; and family.

Health, Aging and Life Course, Disability

This area brings together scholars in medical sociology; aging and the life course; disability in society; sociology of population; mental health; and alcohol, drugs and tobacco. Collectively, we are concerned about the health and well-being of individuals of all ages, with a particular focus on social processes that generate disparities in health and health-related outcomes across the life course.

Our research uses primary and secondary data to examine topics including: care work and grandparenting; early-life influences on later-life outcomes; health and mortality among persons with long-term disability; intergenerational relationships; opioid use and deaths of despair; morbidity and mortality trends; the effects of state and local policies on health; racial/ethnic and socioeconomic differences in health; sexuality and sexual health; and veteran’s health.

Multi-generational family on couch
Aging studies institute

Aging Studies Institute

ASI is a collaborative initiative of the Maxwell School and Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. With over 65 faculty affiliates from more than 17 departments, its mission is to coordinate and promote aging-related research, training and outreach at the University. Janet Wilmoth, chair and professor of sociology, serves as its director.


Power, Capital and Politics

Faculty members in this area draw on a variety of methodological approaches, interdisciplinary literatures and theoretical perspectives to interrogate the relationship between the state and capital, the impacts and implications of social policies, and the punitive as well as productive effects of power throughout society. We pay particular attention to the ways in which race, class, gender and citizenship both shape and are shaped by ongoing political struggle. Faculty members in this cluster are especially concerned with linking macro-analyses of political economy to questions of culture, identity, experience and struggle.

Protesting in Washington DC

Collaborative in research and teaching

Person presenting at the front of a classroom


We have a large number of faculty with deep expertise in both qualitative and quantitative methods. During the Ph.D. program, all graduate students take core courses in both qualitative and quantitative methods and then specialize in one or more methods through advanced coursework. Students not only learn the methods in the classroom, they also gain invaluable experience applying these methods through coursework and collaborations with faculty.


Theory lies at the heart of the sociological imagination and an analysis of how social structures and individual lives are intimately connected. How is history embedded in everyday social relations? What are the links between our own social locations and the forms of sociological knowledge we value or produce?

Faculty with a special interest in social theory focus on critical theories of power, colonialism, the body, hegemony, globalization, immigration, intersectionality, labor, social movements, and nationalism. Drawing on diverse bodies of scholarship including Marxist and Gramscian thought, Bourdieu's work on culture and capital, feminism and critical race theory, and postcolonial thought, faculty engage both sociological and interdisciplinary trajectories of theory.

Professor Purser teaching in front of a classroom

Faculty Books

Maxwell's Department of Sociology faculty members publish award-winning books on a wide range of topics. Scroll a sample of recently published works below, or visit the Maxwell Faculty Bookshelf for more.

Aging Families in Chinese Society

Merril Silverstein

Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2024

Aging, Child & Elder Care, China, Disability, Gender and Sex, Mental Health


Have Repertoire, Will Travel: Nonviolence as Global Contentious Performance

Selina Gallo-Cruz

Cambridge University Press, 2024



Fighting Better: Constructive Conflicts in America

Louis Kriesberg

Oxford University Press, 2022

Government, United States


Constructive Conflicts: From Emergence to Transformation, Sixth Edition

Louis Kriesberg, Bruce W. Dayton

Rowman & Littlefield, 2022

Foreign Policy, International Affairs


The SAGE Handbook of Social Studies in Health and Medicine

Edited by Susan C. Scrimshaw, Sandra D. Lane, Robert A. Rubinstein, Julian Fisher

Sage Publications, 2022

Aging, Gender and Sex, Health Policy, Natural Disasters, Race & Ethnicity

Edwin Ackerman Origins of the Mass Party

Origins of the Mass Party: Dispossession and the Party-Form in Mexico and Bolivia in Comparative Perspective

Edwin Ackerman

Oxford University Press, 2021

Government, Latin America & the Caribbean, Political Parties

Sean Drake Academic Apartheid

Academic Apartheid: Race and the Criminalization of Failure in an American Suburb

Sean J. Drake

University of California Press, 2022

Civil Rights, Gender and Sex, Race & Ethnicity, Social Justice

Amy Lutz Parenting in Privilege or Peril

Parenting in Privilege or Peril: How Social Inequality Enables or Derails the American Dream

Amy Lutz

Teachers College Press, 2021

Civil Rights, Parenting & Family

Book cover for Life-Course Implications of US Public Policies by Wilmoth and London

Life-Course Implications of US Public Policy

Janet M. Wilmoth and Andrew S. London

Routledge, 2021

Health Policy

Sociology Department
302 Maxwell Hall