Power, Capital, and Politics

Faculty 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 the 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. The faculty in this cluster are especially concerned with linking macro-analyses of political economy to questions of culture, identity, experience, and struggle. 

Political Sociology (Ackerman, Kurien)

The political sociologists on our faculty employ a range of theoretical perspectives to examine the relationship between state and civil society, the nature of citizenship, and the dynamics of social movements and political advocacy. We have explored these topics through both comparative-historical and ethnographic methods and in contexts as diverse as the U.S., Latin America, and the Middle East. Recent scholarship has focused on the formation of political parties, immigrant political activism, the changing modalities of state power, and relationships between population health and voting patterns in the 2016 Presidential election. 

Work and Labor (Purser, Green, Schewe, Paris)

A number of faculty engage in sociological and interdisciplinary research on topics of work and labor. We examine the relations between capital and labor, the transformations in the labor market, the changing nature of work, the challenges of care work and reproductive labor, and the past, present, and future of workers’ movements in the U.S. and around the world. We are especially interested in the intersections of work and race, gender, and citizenship status. Recent scholarship has focused on precarious forms of work, globalization and work, the shifting terrain of care work, the role of labor market intermediaries, agricultural labor, job-readiness and job-search programs for the unemployed, and the promise and permutations of innovative forms of labor organizing. Many sociology students and faculty participate in the PARCC Labor Studies Working Group, which hosts symposia, organizes reading groups and workshops, and--in the past—has distributed research grants. 

Crime, Law, and Punishment (Purser, Green, Monnat)

We have a cluster of faculty interested and engaged in questions concerning crime, law, and punishment, particularly within the exceptionally punitive and race- and class-stratified context of the United States, but also globally. Recent scholarship has focused on policing as racialized state-violence, the bail bond industry and pretrial detention, the race/class/gender implications of the penal system in Barbados, the workplace vulnerability of the formerly-incarcerated, and prisoner “re-entry” programming. 

Social Policy (Harrington-Meyer, Monnat, Purser, Montez, London, Silverstein, Wilmoth, Lutz, Ma)

Our department has deep expertise in the area of social policy. Drawing upon a wide range of theoretical approaches, we examine government policies related to social welfare, immigration, health and aging, criminal justice, education, disability, housing, the family, and the workplace. Whether via policy evaluation or critical policy ethnography, recent scholarship in the department has focused on care work and aging policy, affirmative action policies and their impact on college enrollment, welfare reform and neoliberal paternalist poverty governance, school physical activity policies, state tobacco policies and smoking behavior and attitudes, the effects of deregulation and decentralization of political authority on population health, and veterans’ benefits. Many faculty and graduate students working in this area are affiliated with the Center for Policy Research or Aging Studies Institute.

Science and Technology (Orr, Paris, Schewe, Ma)

We also have a cluster of faculty interested and engaged in questions of technology, science, culture, and power. Faculty approach these questions from a wide range of theoretical perspectives. Recent scholarship has focused on the technoscientific management of disorder, the politics of digital infrastructures, stratification in STEM degree attainment, and agricultural climate change mitigation.