Sociology Department

Devah Pager

Devah Pager

Director, Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality & Social Policy
Professor of Sociology (FAS) and Public Policy (HKS)
Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study


Research interests
: Institutions affecting racial stratification, including education, labor markets, and the criminal justice system. Inequality, race, discrimination, punishment.

Jason Beckfield

Jason Beckfield

Professor of Sociology


Research interests: Institutional causes and consequences of social inequality. Economic inequality in the European Union.  Theoretical and empirical investigation of why societies have such different population health profiles, showing how institutional arrangements (welfare programs, educational expansion, labor markets, and citizenship rights) stratify health. Long-term trends in the development of political economy.

Lawrence D. Bobo

Lawrence D. Bobo

W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences


Research interests: Intersection of social inequality, politics, and race. Political psychology.

Bart Bonikowski

Bart Bonikowski

Associate Professor of Sociology


Research interests: Applies insights from cultural sociology to the study of politics in Europe and the United States, with a particular focus on populist claims-making in political discourse and popular identification with the nation in settled times. 

Mary C. Brinton

Mary C. Brinton

Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology
Chair, Department of Sociology


Research interests: Gender inequality, education, labor markets, economic sociology, Japanese society, and comparative sociology. 

Brinton's research combines qualitative and quantitative methods to study institutional change and its effects on individual action, particularly in labor markets and in education.

Matthew  Desmond

Matthew Desmond

John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences


Research interests: Urban sociology, poverty, race and ethnicity, organizations and work, social theory, and ethnography. Prevalence and consequences of eviction and the low-income rental market, network-based survival strategies among the urban poor, and the consequences of new crime control policies on inner-city women.

Frank Dobbin

Frank Dobbin

Professor of Sociology


Research interests: Organizations, inequality, economic sociology, and public policy. Evidence-based approaches to diversity management. The rise of the shareholder value model of corporate management.

Alexandra (Sasha) Killewald

Alexandra (Sasha) Killewald

Professor of Sociology


Research interests: Killewald's research takes a demographic approach to the study of social stratification. Work-family intersection; ways in which earnings and employment shape women's time in household labor; and the effect of marriage and parenthood on workers' wages. 

Parental wealth on adult outcomes, including the role of parental wealth in explaining the Black-White wealth gap. Assortative mating by parental wealth.

Michèle Lamont

Michèle Lamont

Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies
Professor of Sociology and African and African American Studies
Director, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs


Research interests: Cultural sociology. Inequality, race and ethnicity, the evaluation of social science knowledge, and the impact of neoliberalism on advanced industrial societies. Shared concepts of worth and excellence and their impact on hierarchies in a number of social domains.

Orlando Patterson

Orlando Patterson

John Cowles Professor of Sociology


Research interests: Historical and cultural sociology. The culture and practice of freedom; the comparative study of slavery and ethno-racial relations; the sociology of underdevelopment with special reference to the Caribbean; the problems of gender and familial relations in the black societies of the Americas; the ways that cultural processes relate to poverty and other social outcomes.

Robert J. Sampson

Robert J. Sampson

Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences
Director, Boston Area Research Initiative


Research interests: Crime, urban inequality, the life course, neighborhood effects, civic engagement, "ecometrics," and the social structure of the contemporary city. 

Mario Luis Small

Mario Luis Small

Grafstein Family Professor of Sociology


Research interests: urban poverty, support networks, and the relationship between quantitative and qualitative social science methods.

Small is currently working to transform how social scientists use newly available forms of data to understand urban poverty and writing a book on how actors mobilize their networks when seeking social support.

Mary C. Waters

Mary C. Waters

John L. Loeb Professor of Sociology


Research interests: Integration of immigrants and their children; the transition to adulthood for the children of immigrants; intergroup relations; the measurement and meaning of racial and ethnic identity; and the social, demographic, and psychological impact of natural disasters.

Bruce Western

Bruce Western

Professor of Sociology
Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice Policy


Research interests:  Criminal justice policy, incarceration, and the effects of incarceration on poor communities. Labor unions and their effects on income inequality. Trends in income inequality and mobility in the United States. Quantitative methods, applications of Bayesian statistics to sociology.

William Julius  Wilson

William Julius Wilson

Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor


Research interests: Urban poverty, neighborhoods, joblessness, concentrated disadvantage, race and inequality, and social policies to address these problems.