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Gretchen Purser

Gretchen Purser

Contact Information:

gwpurser@syr.edu

315.443.5848

400H Eggers Hall

Gretchen Purser

Associate Professor, Sociology Department


Research Co-Director, Advocacy and Activism

Senior Research Associate, Center for Qualitative and Multi-Method Inquiry

Senior Research Associate, Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration

Director of the Law, Society and Policy Integrated Learning Major

Courses

  • 2024 Spring
    • SOC 470 Experience Credit
    • MAX 499 Honors Capstone Project
    • SOC 800 Selected Topics - Work & Labor
  • 2023 Fall
    • SOC 816 Ethnography
    • SOC 406 Sociological Theory
  • 2023 Summer
    • PST/SOS 400/600 Selected Topics - Build Effective Social Movem.
  • 2023 Spring
    • MAX 302 Civic Engagement Research Seminar
  • 2022 Fall
    • SOC 334 Criminal Justice
    • SOC 495 Senior Thesis
  • 2022 Summer
    • PAI 670 Experience Credit
    • SOS 600 Selected Topics - Build Effective Social Movem.
  • 2022 Spring
    • SOC 816 Ethnography
    • SOC 300 Selected Topics - Sociology of Work and Labor

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley, 2009

Bio

Gretchen Purser is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She is also the research director on advocacy and activism for PARCC, where she coordinates the Labor Studies Working Group

She received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley and a B.A. in sociology from Smith College. Prior to joining the faculty at Syracuse, she was a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology at University of California at Davis. Purser has held fellowships at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is currently a fellow of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program.

Purser’s scholarship focuses broadly on precarious work and the low-wage labor market as well as the reproduction and lived experience of urban poverty in the U.S. She uses ethnographic and/or community-based research methods to explore the changing nature of work and workers’ movements, the housing struggles of the poor and the ground-level practices of neoliberal poverty management.

Her work has been recognized with a wide variety of publication awards from the American Sociological Association’s sections on Labor and Labor Movements, Marxist Sociology, Sociology of Human Rights, and Public Sociology. She is also a two-time recipient of the John Russo and Sherry Linkon Award for Best Published Article from the Working Class Studies Association. Purser is an Associate Editor for both Critical Sociology and Research in the Sociology of Work. She is a Commissioning Editor for both the Marxist Sociology Blog and Work In Progress, public sociology blogs of the American Sociological Association.

Purser teaches undergraduate and doctoral-level courses on sociological theory, urban poverty, work and labor, and ethnographic research methods. She also teaches a course on social movement organizing as part of the PARCC summer institute on creative collaboration and conflict resolution.

She is the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including the Meredith Teaching Recognition Award (2013), the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Research (2016), and the Excellence in Graduate Education Award (2020). In 2020-2021, Purser was the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Ralph E. Montonna Endowed Professorship for the Teaching and Education of Undergraduates.

Purser is deeply involved in community struggles for social and economic justice. Since 2012, she has served as chair of the board of the Workers’ Center of Central New York. She is also involved with the Syracuse Tenants Union

Areas of Expertise

Work and labor, urban poverty, law and punishment, housing and homelessness, precarity, social theory, ethnography, community-based action research

Research Grant Awards and Projects

"The Disparate Responses of Labor Unions to COVID Workplace Protections", Sponsored by Syracuse Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Engagement (SOURCE) Research Assistant Grant.

"The Sociology of Alt-Labour", Sponsored by Maxwell School Summer Project Assistantship Award.

"The Disparate Responses of Labor Unions to COVID Workplace Protections", Sponsored by CUSE Grants - Seed Grant.

"Interdisciplinary Research Leaders: Building Power for Community Health: A Study of Tenant Organizing in Syracuse, NY", Sponsored by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"Building Power For Community Health: A Study Of Tenant Organizing In Syracuse NY - Palmer Harvey", Sponsored by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"Building Power For Community Health: A Study Of Tenant Organizing In Syracuse NY", Sponsored by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Selected Publications

  • Book
    • "Ethnographies of Work." Delbridge, R., Helfen, M., Pekarek, A. and Purser, G. W. (eds.) Research in the Sociology of Work, 2023.
  • Journal Articles
    • Purser, G. W., Hamlin, M., "Bodies in the Building: Incarceration’s Afterlife in a Reentry Housing Facility." Social Service Review, 2022.
    • Hamlin, M., Purser, G. W., "A Program, Not the Projects: Reentry in the Post-Public Housing Era." Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 2021.
    • Hennigan, B., Purser, G. W., "Both Sides of the Paycheck: Recommending Thrift to the Poor in Job-Readiness Programs." Critical Sociology, 2021.
    • Purser, G. W., "Day Labor Agencies, Backdoor Hires, and the Spread of Unfree Labor." Anthropology of Work Review, 2019.
    • Purser, G. W., Hennigan, B., "Disciples vs. Dreamers: Job-Readiness and the Making of the Working Class." Dialectical Anthropology, 2018.
    • Hennigan, B., Purser, G. W., "Jobless and Godless: Religious Neoliberalism and the Project of Evangelizing Employability." Ethnography, 2018.
    • Purser, G. W., Hennigan, B., "Work as Unto the Lord: Enhancing Employability in an Evangelical Job Readiness Program." Qualitative Sociology, 2017.
  • Book Chapters
    • Purser, G. W., "‘You put up with anything’: On the vulnerability and exploitability of formerly-incarcerated workers." In Labor and Punishment: Work In and Out of Prison. Hatton, E. (ed.) University of California Press, 2021.
    • Purser, G. W., Ortiz-Valdez, F. and Sexsmith, K., "Immigrant Dairy Farmworkers in New York State: Milking Research for Social Change." In Collaborating for Change: A Casebook of Participatory Action Research. Rutgers University Press, 2020.
    • Purser, G. W., "Day Labor Agencies and the Logic and Landscape of Neoliberal Poverty Management." In The City is the Factory: New Solidarities and Spatial Strategies in an Urban Age. Greenberg, M., Lewis, P. (eds.) Cornell University Press, 2017.
    • Purser, G. W., "Day Labor." In Sociology of Work Encyclopedia. Smith, V. (ed.) Sage Publications, 2013.
  • Book Reviews
    • Purser, G. W., "Review of Furthering Fair Housing: Prospects for Racial Justice in America’s Neighborhoods edited by Justin P. Steil, Nicholas F. Kelly, Lawrence J. Vale, and Maia S. Woluchem (Temple University Press, 2021)." Contemporary Sociology, 2022.
    • Purser, G. W., "Review of When the State Meets the Street: Public Service and Moral Agency by Bernardo Zacka (Harvard University Press, 2017)." American Journal of Sociology, 2019.
    • Purser, G. W., "Review of Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor by Virginia Eubanks (St. Martin’s Press, 2018)." The Journal of Working-Class Studies, 2018.
    • Purser, G. W., "Review of On the Line: Slaughterhouse Lives and the Making of the New South by Vanessa Ribas (University of California Press, 2015)." In European Journal of Sociology. , 2016.
    • Purser, G. W., "Review of Consuming Work: Youth Labor in America (Temple University Press, 2014)." In Contemporary Sociology. , 2015.
    • Purser, G. W., "Review of Conflicting Commitments: The Politics of Enforcing Immigrant Worker Rights in San Jose and Houston by Shannon Gleeson (ILR Press, 2013)." In Contemporary Sociology. , 2014.
    • Purser, G. W., Flores-Gonzalez, N., Guevarra, A. R., Toro-Morn, M. and Chang, G., "Review of Immigrant Women Workers in the Neoliberal Age edited by Nilda Flores-Gonzalez, Anna Romina Guevarra, Maura Toro-Morn, and Grace Chang (University of Illinois Press, 2013)." In Labour/Le Travail. , 2014.
  • Essay
    • Purser, G. W., "Penal Spectatorship." In TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology. American Sociological Association, 2012.
  • Instructional Material
    • Purser, G. W., "Diagramming the Argument." TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, 2012.
  • Magazine/Trade Publications
  • Newspaper Article
    • Harvey, P., Kenn, D., Purser, G. W., Robinson, J. A., Weissman, E. and Weissman, M., "Decent housing is not a charitable endeavor: It’s a human right." Syracuse Post-Standard, 2019.
  • Op-Eds
  • Review Essay
    • Purser, G. W., ""Precarious Work." Review essay on The Temp Economy by Erin Hatton (Temple University Press, 2011), Intern Nation by Ross Perlin (Verso Books, 2012), and The Precariat by Guy Standing (Bloomsbury Academic, 2011)." Contexts, 2013.
  • Special Issue
    • "Special Issue on 'Labor and the Political Economy of Punishment'." In WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society. Purser, G. W., Rooks, D. (eds.) , 2012.
  • Technical Reports
    • Fox, C., Fuentes, R., Ortiz Valdez, F., Purser, G. W. and Sexsmith, K., Milked: Immigrant Dairy Farmworkers in Upstate New York. A report prepared for the Workers' Center of Central New York and the Worker Justice Center of New York, 2017.
    • Purser, G. W., Schalet, A. and Sharone, O., "Berkeley's Betrayal: Wages and Working Conditions at UC Berkeley." University Research Labor Project, 2004.
  • Working Paper
    • Purser, G. W., "Waiting for Work: An Ethnography of a Day Labor Agency." In Institute for the Study of Social Change, ISSC Fellows Working Papers. eRepository, California Digital Library, 2006.

Presentations and Events

Southern Sociological Society, "Author-Meets-Critics for Robin Bartram's Stacked Decks: Building Inspectors and the Reproduction of Urban Inequality" (April, 2024)

Cornell Center for Health Equity Symposium, Cornell University Brooks School of Public Policy, "Place, Power, and Health Justice" (April, 2024)

Colloquium Series of the Department of Sociology at University of California at San Diego, "Ready for Work? Learning to Labor in a Low-Wage Economy" (March, 2024)

Cultural Politics of Prison Towns, Anthropology Department (October, 2023)

Tenant Organizing and Health Equity Convening, Cornell University Center for Health Equity & HouseUS (September, 2023)

Special Session on Precarious Employment and Worker Rights at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, "Precarious employment and worker rights issues among day laborers and dairy farmworkers" (August, 2023)

annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society, "From strategy to struggle: Dignity and work in job readiness programs for the poor" (February, 2023)

Extraction and Citizenship, Moynihan Center (September, 2022)

Extraction and Citizenship Conference, Moynihan Center (September, 2022)

University of Sheffield, "Evicted Planet" (May, 2022 - June, 2022)

Purser, G. W., Hamlin, M., Annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, "A Program, Not the Projects: Reentry in the Post-Public Housing Era" (August, 2021)

Annual meetings of the Eastern Sociology Society, "Author-Meets-Critics for Erin Hatton's Coerced: Work under Threat of Punishment" (March, 2021)

Purser, G. W., Ortiz Valdez, F., Covid-10 Across the Food Chain panel at the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, "Essential but Excluded: Immigrant Farmworkers Organizing for Covid Protections in New York" (March, 2021)

Invited Session on Engaged Scholarship for Social Justice, American Sociological Association, "Milking Research for Change" (August, 2020)

Purser, G. W., Harvey, P., Power at the Margins II: Mobilizing Across Housing Injustice, University of California at Berkeley, "Cracks in the Code: Poverty, Rental Housing, and the Struggle for Habitability" (March, 2020)

Discussion presented by Ken Burns, WCNY, "East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story" (March, 2020)

Purser, G. W., Hamlin, M., Power at the Margins II: Mobilizing Across Housing Injustice, University of California at Berkeley, "Freedom Commons: Entanglements of Social and Penal Policy in Housing Provision for the Poor" (March, 2020)

Purser, G. W., Shahrokni, N., Carla B. Howery Teaching Enhacement Fund at the annual meeting, American Sociological Association, "Citizen-Sociologists: Using Smartphones to Produce Sociological Knowledge" (August, 2019)

Purser, G. W., Hennigan, B., Regular Session on Poverty at the Annual Meeting, American Sociological Association, "The Other Side of the Paycheck:' The Virtue of Thrift in Job-Readiness Training" (August, 2019)

Annual meeting of the Law & Society Association, "Prison/Work: Labor in the Carceral State" (May, 2019)

Department of Sociology at University of Buffalo, "Learning to Labor: Job Readiness and Poverty Management in the US" (February, 2019)

Honors and Accolades

2022 John Russo and Sherry Linkon Award for Best Published Article, Working Class Studies Association (2022)

Inaugural Dr. Ralph E. Montonna Endowed Professorship for the Teaching and Education of Undergraduates, Maxwell School (2020 - 2021)

Best Publication Award , American Sociological Association’s Section on Sociological Practice and Public Sociology (2020)

Distinguished Scholarly Article Award , American Sociological Association’s Section on Labor and Labor Movements (2020)

Excellence in Graduate Education Award, Graduate School at Syracuse University (2020)