Kate Ragon


Research Interests: Collective Behavior/Social Movements, Organizations, Labor
Dissertation: Exploring the Institutional Impact of Graduate Employee Unionization


My work explores how social movements make change even within inherently slow-to-change institutions. I am particularly interested in the institutional change that SMOs with broad social justice goals – like gender, racial, and environmental justice – can affect. In my dissertation I examine the relationship between graduate employee unionization, the increasing dominance of market logic, and institutional change in higher education. I draw on data from ethnographic participant observation, in-depth qualitative interviews, and text analysis of documents at a large, public research university in the Eastern US.


Alongside my research I have participated in social movement organizing and training others how to engage in non-violent direct action. I bring these experiences of popular education into the classroom where I am passionate about engaging students’ sociological imagination and critical thinking skills. I am particularly interested in mentoring first-gen undergraduate students through the research process. In 2019 I was awarded the Ronald L. Taylor Award for Best Graduate Student Paper and the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award by the UConn Sociology Department. I was also nominated for the UConn-wide Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award and recognized for excellence in teaching by the UConn Office of the Provost.

Committee:  Dr. Mary Bernstein, Dr. Daisy Reyes, Dr. Ruth Braunstein
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