Associate Professor, Sociology
Director of Undergraduate Studies, Sociology
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2009
Work and labor, urban poverty, law and punishment, housing and homelessness, precarity, social theory, ethnography, community-based action research
SOC 800 Ethnography
Purser is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and
co-coordinator of the PARCC Labor Studies working group at the Maxwell School
of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She received her
Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley and her 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 UC-Davis.
Her research focuses upon precarious work
and the low-wage labor market and the reproduction and lived experience of
urban poverty in the U.S. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her
research and teaching, including the 2016 Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for
Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Research and the 2013 Meredith
Teaching Recognition Award. She has been a visiting scholar at both the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the School for Advanced Research and
her research has been funded by the American Sociological Association, the W.E.
Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, and the Sociological Initiatives
Foundation. Since 2012, she has served as Chair of the Board of the Workers’ Center of Central New York. She also serves on the Community Advisory Board for Greater
Purser, Gretchen. 2019. “Day Labor Agencies, Back Door Hires, and the Spread of Unfree Labor.” Anthropology of Work Review. 40(1): 5-14.
Purser, Gretchen and Brian Hennigan. 2018. “Disciples vs. Dreamers: Job-Readiness and the Making of the Working Class.” Dialectical Anthropology 42:149-161. (Special issue on “The Making of the U.S. Working Class”).
Hennigan, Brian and Gretchen Purser. 2018. “Jobless and Godless: Religious Neoliberalism and the Project of Evangelizing Employability.” Ethnography 19(1): 84-104.
Purser, Gretchen and Brian Hennigan. 2017. “Cleaning Toilets for Jesus.” Jacobin (June 30).
Purser, Gretchen. 2017. “Day Labor Agencies and the Neoliberal-Parasitic Economy” in The City is the Factory: New Solidarities and Spatial Strategies in an Urban Age edited by Miriam Greenberg and Penny Lewis. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Carly Fox, Rebecca Fuentes, Fabiola Ortiz Valdez, Gretchen Purser, and Kathleen Sexsmith. 2017. 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.
Purser, Gretchen. 2017. “Religious Neoliberalism: Evangelizing Employability in a Faith-Based Job- Readiness Program.” Work in Progress: Sociology on the Economy, Work and Inequality (February 23).
Purser, Gretchen and Brian Hennigan. 2017. “Work as Unto the Lord: Enhancing Employability in an Evangelical Job Readiness Program.” Qualitative Sociology 40(1): 111-133 [Online First: December 29, 2016].
Purser, Gretchen. 2016. “The Circle of Dispossession: Evicting the Urban Poor in Baltimore.” Critical Sociology 42(3): 393-415. [Online First: May 27, 2014].
*Winner of the Best Scholarly Article Award, American Sociological Association’s Section on Marxist Sociology
*Honorable Mention for the Best Scholarly Article Award, American Sociological Association’s Section on Human Rights
Purser, Gretchen and Lindsay Bell. 2013. “Ethnographies of Uncertain Futures/Notes from the Field.” North American Dialogue: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of North America 16(2): 79-85.
Purser, Gretchen. 2013. “Milk Cows, Not Workers.” Labor Notes (September 13).
Purser, Gretchen. 2013. “Day Labor.” Sociology of Work Encyclopedia, ed. Vicki Smith. Sage Publications.
Purser, Gretchen. 2012. “The Labour of Liminality.” Labour, Capital & Society 45 (1): 10-35.
*Winner of the 2013 John Russo and Sherry Linkon Award for Best Published Article, Working Class Studies Association
Purser, Gretchen. 2012. “‘Still Doin’ Time:’ Clamoring for Work in the Day Labor Industry.” WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society 15: 397-415.
Purser, Gretchen. 2009. “The Dignity of Job-Seeking Men: Boundary Work among Immigrant Day Laborers.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 38(1): 117-39.
Purser, Gretchen. 2006. “‘Que du sale boulot:’ risques et accidents corporels chez les travailleurs journaliers aux États-Unis” [‘Nothing But Hard Ass Labor:’ Risk and Injury among Day Laborers in the US]. Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales 165 (November): 52-70.
Purser, Gretchen, Amy Schalet and Ofer Sharone. 2004. “Public Sociology—Sociology Translates to Public Action: Wages and Working Conditions at Berkeley.” ASA Footnotes. December.
Purser, Gretchen, Amy Schalet and Ofer Sharone. 2004. Berkeley’s Betrayal: Wages and Working Conditions at UC Berkeley. Berkeley: University Research Labor Project. [with foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich].
BOOK REVIEWS AND REVIEW ESSAYS
Purser, Gretchen. Forthcoming.
Review of The Space of Boredom: Homelessness in the Slowing Global Order
by Bruce O’Neill (Duke University Press, 2019) in American Journal of
Gretchen. 2019. Review of When the State Meets the Street: Public Service
and Moral Agency by Bernardo
Zacka (Harvard University Press, 2017) in American
Journal of Sociology 124(4):
Gretchen. 2018. Review of Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools
Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor
by Virginia Eubanks (St. Martin’s Press, 2018) in The
Journal of Working-Class Studies 3(2): 110-112.
Purser, Gretchen. 2016. 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 57(3): 546-549.
Purser, Gretchen. 2015. Review of Consuming Work: Youth Labor in America (Temple University Press, 2014) in Contemporary Sociology 45: 20-21.
Purser, Gretchen. 2014. 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 43: 535-537.
Purser, Gretchen. 2014. 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 73 (Spring): 382-384.
Purser, Gretchen. 2013. “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) in Contexts 12(4): 74-76.
Purser, Gretchen. 2012. Review of Banished: The New Social Control in Urban America by Katherine Beckett and Steve Herbert (Oxford University Press, 2010) in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 36(3): 631-633.
Purser, Gretchen. 2010. Review of Bourdieu in Algeria: Colonial Politics, Ethnographic Practices, Theoretical Developments edited by Jane E. Goodman and Paul Silverstein (University of Nebraska Press, 2009) in H-France Review 10(77): 351-355.
Purser, Gretchen. 2010. Review of Coal Mountain Elementary by Mark Nowak (Coffee House Press, 2009) in Labor Studies Journal 35: 275-276.
Purser, Gretchen. 2010. Review of Transnational Tortillas: Race, Gender & Shop-Floor Politics in Mexico and the United States by Carolina Bank-Muñoz (ILR Press, 2008) in Contemporary Sociology 39(2): 144-145.
Research Grants and Awards
CUSE interdisciplinary and
innovative research grant, “Turbulent Tenancy: Evictions in Syracuse,” Syracuse
University (PI) (2018-2020)
CUSE interdisciplinary and innovative
research grant, “Work Transitions in a Dynamic Labor Market,” Syracuse
University (Co-PI) (2018-2020)
CUSE seminar grant, “The Future of Work,”
Syracuse University (Co-PI) (2018-2020)
Curriculum Development Grant, Tenth Decade Project on “Work, Labor
& Citizenship in the 21st Century,” Maxwell School of Syracuse University
Carla B. Howery Teaching Enhancement Grant, American Sociological
Association (Co-PI: Nazanin Shahrokni) (2017)
PARCC Faculty Mini-Grant, Maxwell School of Syracuse University
(2017 & 2012)
Appleby-Mosher Research Grant, Maxwell School of Syracuse University
(2017, 2016, 2014, 2011, 2010)
Summer Project Assistantship Award, Maxwell School of Syracuse
University (2017, 2015)
Sociological Initiatives Foundation Grant (2014-2015)
Early Career Research Grant, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment
Spivack Community Action Research Initiative Grant, American
Sociological Association (2012-2014)
Fellowships and Awards
Winner of the Best Scholarly Article Award, American
Sociological Association’s Section on Marxist Sociology (2018)
Mention for the Best Scholarly Article Award, American Sociology Association’s
Section on Human Rights (2018)
Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for
Outstanding Contributions to Teaching, Research and Service, Maxwell School of
Syracuse University (2016)
International Book Award, California
Series in Public Anthropology, University of California Press (Theme: “American
Visiting Scholar, American Academy of
Arts and Sciences (2013-2014)
Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer
Scholar, School for Advanced Research (2013)
Teaching Recognition Award, Syracuse University (2013)
John Russo & Sherry Linkon Award for Best Published
Article, Working Class Studies Association (2013)
Postdoctoral Fellowship, UC Office of the President (2009-2010)
Labor Studies Working Group