Faculty Research Interests

Our department features a wide range of faculty research interests including Culture, Education, Ethnicity, Race, and Racism, Gender and Sexualities, Human RightsInequality, Poverty, and MobilityGlobalization and ImmigrationPolitical SociologySocial MovementsSocial DemographySociology of ReligionUrban and Community StudiesWork and Labor Markets.


The sociology of culture focuses on meanings and practices and their relationships to social structures and processes. Faculty study cultural industries, symbolic boundary work, high and popular culture, as well as urban, evaluative, and political subcultures. The department’s strength in culture lies partly in its diverse theoretical, analytical and methodological approaches. Historical research that examines cultural factors of taste formation, urban regimes, and institutions is complimented by ethnography, interview-based research, and textual analysis to highlight the intersections of culture, religion, race, and everyday politics.

Faculty: Ruth Braunstein, Andrew Deener, Matthew Hughey


The sociology of education considers the ways in which formal schooling influences individuals and the ways society affects educational institutions. Faculty examine education in its social context, including the relation between education and political and economic systems, the role of education in social and cultural reproduction, and the production of learning and other outcomes in schools. In addition, other areas include the multilevel analysis of the effects of schools, policy analysis in education, the sociology of teaching, and race, gender, and class differences in educational achievement.

Faculty: Simon Cheng, Mary Fischer, Ralph McNeal

Ethnicity, Race, and Racism

The examination of race, ethnicity, and racism focuses on conflict, domination, prejudice, discrimination, and oppression. Questions guiding the scholarship of ethnicity have traditionally emphasized how “new” groups’ migration into well-established social systems are constrained and enabled, while scholarship on race and racism focuses on race as an ideology used to stratify, legitimate, and rationalize unequal group relations. Through a variety of methodological and theoretical approaches, faculty answer the questions of why systemic racism persists and how racial oppression and ethnicity shape identity, institutions, worldviews, and life chances.

Faculty: Marysol Asencio, Noel A. Cazenave, Simon Cheng, Manisha Desai, David Embrick, Mary Fischer, Davita Silfen Glasberg, Matthew HugheyBandana Purkayastha, Ryan Talbert

Gender and Sexualities

Research in this area focuses on organized patterns of gendered and sexualized social relations and on the social construction of gender and sexuality as fundamental bases of inequality and stratification. Gender and sexuality are examined as categories that determine the division of labor, patterns of conversation, inequities in education and employment, and overall socialization. Faculty employ various theories, including feminist and intersectional paradigms, as well as consider a broad array of substantive issues, including the economy, education, family, face-to-face interaction, identity politics, judicial systems, and political processes, among many others.

Faculty: Marysol AsencioMary Bernstein, Manisha Desai, Davita Silfen GlasbergElizabeth Holzer, Christin Munsch, Nancy Naples, Kim Price-Glynn, Bandana Purkayastha, Kathryn S. Ratcliff

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Human Rights

Human rights scholars capture people's struggles in the face of injustice. We interrogate the perpetrators, institutions, and practices that seek to deprive people of their fundamental humanity. Alongside our award-winning work on human rights in the United States , the department specializes in transnational feminist and human rights activism, human rights in the United States, gender, sexuality, and human rights, and refugees and humanitarianism. Ours is a leading department in the discipline for work on human rights. Sociologists at UCONN form part of a vibrant multidisciplinary community anchored in the University's Human Right Institute, the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, and the UNESCO Chair in Comparative Human Rights.

Faculty: Mary Bernstein, Manisha Desai, David Embrick, Davita Silfen Glasberg, Elizabeth Holzer, Nancy Naples, Bandana Purkayastha, Kathryn S. Ratcliff

Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility

The study of inequality, poverty, and mobility deals with socioeconomic conditions that determine people’s life chances in society and result in wide variations in class, status, power, privilege, disadvantage, and oppression as well as patterns of upward or downward movement in these characteristics. Emphasis is placed on the economic, social and cultural forces which generate and perpetuate unequal distribution of resources and rewards as well as those organizational and institutional contexts in which they occur such as families, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, the state, and civil society. Our faculty conduct research on all these topics in contemporary, historical, and comparative perspective.

Faculty: Marysol Asencio, Simon Cheng, Mary Fischer, Nancy Naples, Ralph McNeal, Christin Munsch, Jeremy Pais, Ryan TalbertMichael Wallace, David Weakliem, Kathryn S. Ratcliff

Globalization and Immigration

Research on globalization and immigration centers on economic, cultural, and political interdependencies between nation-states, as well as, group processes of integration, competition, and exploitation. Research examines globalization and international migration as social phenomenon fostered by international trade and innovations in information technology, communication, and travel, which is promoted and managed by international institutions, multinational corporations, national governments, international nongovernmental organizations, and even individuals with access to the Internet.

Faculty: Marysol Asencio, Manisha Desai, Mary Fischer, Elizabeth Holzer, Nancy Naples, Bandana Purkayastha, Jeremy Pais, Michael Wallace

Political Sociology

Political sociologists study the ways in which the distribution of power in society shapes and is shaped by economic inequality, political processes, institutions, ideology, and the state. Political sociology is a broad subfield, but a core question involves how institutions of power shape and frame structured systems of oppression and inequality. Some scholars analyze trends in public attitudes toward public issues, and the influence of public opinion on policymaking. Still others focus on how political cultures and collective identities shape understandings of citizenship and the nation. Political sociologists at UConn pursue these questions through cross-national comparative studies, statistical analysis, historical analyses, and ethnographic research.

Faculty: Mary Bernstein, Ruth Braunstein, Noel A. Cazenave, Manisha Desai, Davita Silfen Glasberg, Nancy Naples, Bandana Purkayastha, Michael Wallace, David Weakliem

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Social Movements

Social movements and collective protest have centered around some of the most contentious political issues of our time, providing a voice for many who seek to promote or resist social change. Social movements scholars consider the conditions under which people come together to collectively challenge powerful elites, institutions, and cultural norms. They study how social movements maintain commitments in the face of challenges, and why their efforts sometimes succeed and sometimes fail. They examine the political and cultural constraints on mobilization and claims-making, the development of collective identities, and the ways in which movements interact with other actors within a range of institutional settings. UConn faculty members have won awards for their research in social movements and have expertise in a wide variety of social movements, within the US and around the world.

Faculty: Mary Bernstein, Ruth Braunstein, Manisha Desai, Davita Silfen Glasberg, Nancy Naples, Bandana Purkayastha, Michael Wallace

Social Demography

Social Demography is the study of the ways environmental, economic, political, and cultural factors influence, and are influenced by migration, fertility (births), aging, mortality (deaths), and morbidity (disease). Social Demography seeks to understand the causes and consequences of population change and population health. Although Social Demography is a discipline in its own right, it is heavily interdisciplinary, drawing from fields such as economics, epidemiology, and geography.

Faculty: Simon Cheng, Mary Fischer, Jeremy Pais, Ryan Talbert, Michael Wallace

Sociology of Religion

The sociology of religion examines how religious practices, institutions, discourses, and beliefs influence social life and, conversely, the role social forces play in the historical and contemporary development of religion. Faculty in this area study religion from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives. Major research topics include: religious identity formation, religion-based social movements and subcultures, the influence of religion on important social institutions such as politics and the workplace, the place of religious meaning and experience in peoples’ everyday lives, and the ways religious talk, practices, and symbols enter into public life.

Faculty: Ruth Braunstein, Bandana Purkayastha, Michael Wallace, Brad Wright

Urban and Community Studies

Rooted in some of the earliest work in sociology, urban and community studies encompass a vast range of sociological topics and social science methodologies. General areas of research include the spatial structuring of social interaction and community life; the nexus between global forces and local issues; human interfacing with natural and built environments; urban culture; the political economy of place making; racialized group conflict; urban, suburban, and rural inequalities; and community activism and civic participation. Empirical research often involves qualitative and quantitative analyses on groups living, working, and communicating within and across a diverse array of physical, institutional, organizational, and virtual contexts.

Faculty: Noel A. Cazenave, Andrew DeenerMary Fischer, Nancy Naples, Jeremy Pais, Kim Price-Glynn, Michael Wallace

Work and Labor Markets

The sociology of work and labor markets deals with the labor market contexts, organizational structures, social relations, and normative codes that characterize the behaviors, experiences, and identities of people during their working lives. Topics of study include industrial transformation and technological change at work; the culture of the workplace; the characteristics of workers’ jobs (such as skill requirements, autonomy, closeness of supervision, and alienation), the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards of work; the role of class, gender, race, and ethnicity in shaping the allocation of workers into jobs; labor conflict and the labor movement; flexible work arrangements; and precarious work.

Faculty: Mary Bernstein, David Embrick, Kim Price-Glynn, Christin Munsch, Jeremy Pais, Bandana Purkayastha, Michael Wallace, David Weakliem

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