The Café meets monthly to debate a recent book with its author and a discussant. Participants are expected to have read the book (or chapters available in the announcement). The author gives a ten-minute presentation, the discussant has ten minutes to offer comments, and the author another ten to respond. This is followed by an hour of open discussion. Come join the fun!

**Café sessions take place on Zoom, on select Fridays at 12 noon-1:30 pm PT/ 3-4:30 pm ET/ 9-10:30 pm Europe, unless otherwise noted.

Friday, May 24, 12-1.30 pm PT / 3-4:30pm ET

Ana Villarreal in conversation with Ieva Jusionyte 

The Two Faces of Fear: Violence and Inequality in the Mexican Metropolis

Zoom Meeting ID: 999 3910 8952

Password: 1234

*Read excerpts here

Ana Villarreal is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Boston University specializing in the sociology of violence, emotions, and urban life. Her first book The Two Faces of Fear: Violence and Inequality in the Mexican Metropolis (2024) draws on two years of qualitative fieldwork conducted during a major turf war in Monterrey, Mexico to bring two seemingly contradictory faces of fear into focus—its ability to both isolate and concentrate people and resources, deepening inequality. The book puts forth a new approach to the study of emotion and provides tangible evidence of how quickly fear and violence worsen inequality beyond Mexico and the "war on drugs."

Ieva Jusionyte is the Watson Family University Associate Professor of International Security and Anthropology at Brown University. A legal and medical anthropologist who studies borders and violence, she is the author of three books, including award-winning ethnography, Threshold: Emergency Responders on the US-Mexico Border (2018) and, most recently, Exit Wounds: How America’s Guns Fuel Violence Across the Border (April 2024). Jusionyte is the editor of the California Series in Public Anthropology and a member of the Advisory Committee of Global Action on Gun Violence. 

Past Events

Friday, April 19, 12-1.30 pm PT / 3-4:30pm ET

Neil Gong in conversation with Owen Whooley 

Sons, Daughters, and Sidewalk Psychotics: Mental Illness and Homelessness in Los Angeles

Zoom Meeting ID: 999 3910 8952

Password: 1234

*Read excerpts here

Neil Gong is assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of Sons, Daughters, and Sidewalk Psychotics: Mental Illness and Homelessness in Los Angeles (University of Chicago Press, 2024). With Corey Abramson, he is editor of Beyond the Case: The Logics and Practices of Comparative Ethnography (Oxford University Press 2020). Neil's writing appears in academic journals like the American Sociological Review and Social Problems, as well as popular outlets like the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and the LA Review of Books.

Owen Whooley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of New Mexico. His research focuses on medical professionals, particularly within mental health, and explores dynamics related to medical knowledge and power. Whooley is the author of two books. Knowledge in the Time of Cholera (University of Chicago Press, 2013) tells the story of how the modern American medical profession emerged out of intellectual crises produced by recurrent cholera epidemics in the 19th century. On the Heels of Ignorance (University of Chicago Press, 2019) retells the history of U.S. psychiatry as a history of ignorance, examining how psychiatric elites have negotiated a fundamental lack knowledge regarding their object to maintain authority. Whooley is currently writing a third book, a multi-sited ethnographic study of community mental health work.

Friday, November 17, 12-1.30 pm PT / 3-4:30pm ET

Karen Levy in conversation with Angela Ke Li 

Data Driven: Truckers, Technology, and the New Workplace Surveillance*

*Read excerpts here

Karen Levy is Associate Professor in the Department of Information Science at Cornell University, and Associated Faculty at Cornell Law School. Her research focuses on the social, legal, and ethical dimensions of data-intensive technologies. Levy is a New America Fellow and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Angela Ke Li is Fung Global Fellow in the Institute for International and Regional Studies at Princeton University, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore. Her research examines digital economies and the mutual construction of technology and society. She is now working on her book manuscript The Promises of Fixing: Ride-Hailing and the Failures of Digital Innovation. Focusing on China's ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, the book explains how technology entrenched the very problem it claimed to solve and what sustains the mythology of technological solutionism before the unkept promises of fixing. Her work appeared in journals including New Media & Society, Information, Communication & Society, International Journal of Communication, Journalism, and among others.

Friday, October 13, 12-1.30 pm PT / 3-4:30pm ET

Reuben Jonathan Miller in conversation with Robert Werth

Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration*

*Read excerpts here

Reuben Jonathan Miller is an Associate Professor in the University of Chicago Crown Family School and in the Department of Race, Diaspora and Indigeneity, and a Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation. His research, which focuses on race, punishment, and social welfare policy is published in journals across the social sciences. Miller’s first sole authored book, Halfway Home: Race, Punishment and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration, won the 2023 Michael J. Hindelang Award from the American Society of Criminology and the 2022 Herbert Jacob Book Prize from the Law and Society Association. It was also a finalist for an LA Times Book Prize and the Pen America John Kenneth Galbraith Award. In 2022, Miller was selected as a MacArthur Fellow. He is currently conducting a transnational study of black emancipation in port cities along the transatlantic slave trade route and a study of violence and our response to it. 

Robert Werth is an Associate Professor of Teaching in the Department of Sociology at the University of Southern California (USC). His areas of focus include law, state-based punishment, post-prison experiences, knowledge production techniques and algorithms in the penal realm, and ethnography. His work has been published in various academic journals, including Sociology Compass, Social & Legal Studies, Punishment & Society, Theoretical Criminology, and the British Journal of Criminology, as well as in edited volumes.

Friday, September 29, 12-1.30 pm PT / 3-4:30pm ET

Kelly Underman

in conversation with stef shuster

Feeling Medicine: How the Pelvic Exam Shapes Medical Training*

*Read the chapters here

**watch the event video here

Kelly Underman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Drexel University with an affiliation in the Center for Science, Technology, and Science. She is a qualitative researcher whose interests include medical education, the social construction of bodies and emotions, and the politics of scientific knowledge production. Dr. Underman is the author of Feeling Medicine: How the Pelvic Exam Shapes Medical Training (NYU Press, 2020). Her work has also been published in Social Science & Medicine, Gender & Society and Sociological Forum. Her awards include the Simmons Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Sociological Association Medical Sociology Section. She is a founding member of the Sociology of Health Professions Education Research Collaborative, a collective of interdisciplinary and applied scholars.

stef shuster is an Associate Professor in Lyman Briggs College and Sociology at Michigan State University. Their current research in gender, medicine, and feminist science and technology studies considers how evidence is constructed, mobilized, and weaponized. This is the subject of

their award-winning book, Trans Medicine (2021, NYU Press). In Trans Medicine, shuster traces the development of this medical field from the 1950s to modern medicine to show how providers create and use scientific and medical evidence to quell uncertainty, “treat” a gender identity, and uphold their authority.

Friday, May 12, 12-1.30 pm (PT)

Ethnographic Café Special Panel: Emotions in Fieldwork*

*See recommended readings here.

Meeting Passcode: 1234

Friday, April 28, 12-1.30 pm (PT)

Two Ethnographies about Social Movements in South Africa

Delivery as Dispossession: Land Occupation and Eviction in the Postapartheid City

Zachary Levenson in conversation with Fareen Parvez


Fractured Militancy: Precarious Resistance in South Africa After Racial Inclusion

Marcel Paret in conversation with Zine Magubane

Zachary Levenson is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a Senior Research Associate in Sociology at the University of Johannesburg, and for the current academic year, a Donald D. Harrington Faculty Fellow in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Delivery as Dispossession: Land Occupation and Eviction in the Postapartheid City (Oxford University Press, 2022) and co-editor of the forthcoming volume The South African Tradition of Racial Capitalism: From Margin to Center (Routledge, 2023). He has also recently edited special issues of Qualitative Sociology (2021) and Ethnic and Racial Studies (2023, forthcoming).

Z. Fareen Parvez is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Her work uses ethnographic and other qualitative methods to explore the political, economic, and religious lives of working-class communities. Parvez is the author of Politicizing Islam: the Islamic revival in France and India (2017, Oxford University Press) and was a 2019-20 fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where she worked on her new project on predatory lending and household debt in urban India.

Marcel Paret is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Utah and Senior Research Associate in the Center for the Social Change at the University of Johannesburg. He is the author of Fractured Militancy: Precarious Resistance in South Africa After Racial Inclusion (Cornell University Press, 2022). He is also the co-editor of the volume Building Citizenship From Below: Precarity, Migration, and Agency (Routledge, 2017). 

Zine Magubane is an Professor of the Sociology at Boston College. She also holds a courtesy appointment in the department of African and African Diaspora studies at Boston College. Her areas of specialization include social theory, sociology of post-coloniality, race and ethnicity, globalization, race and popular culture, gender and sexuality, and the sociology of African societies. Professor Magubane is the author of Bringing the Empire Home: Race, Gender and Class in Britain and Colonial South Africa (University of Chicago Press, 2004).  She is the editor of two other books – Postmodernity, Postcoloniality, and African Studies (Africa World Press, 2004) and, with Reitu Mabokela, Race, Gender and the Status of Black South African Women in the Academy (UNISA, 2005).  Her work has appeared in Signs, Gender and Society, and Critical Sociology. She is currently working on a book: Slavery, Colonialism, and the History of American Sociology.

Friday, March 31, 12-1.30 pm (PT)

Kimberly Kay Hoang

in conversation with Bruno Cousin

Spiderweb Capitalism: How Global Elites Exploit Frontier Markets*

*Read the chapters here

Kimberly Kay Hoang is Associate Professor of Sociology and the College and the Director of Global Studies at the University of Chicago. Dr. Hoang is the author of two books based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork: Spiderweb Capitalism: How Global Elites Exploit Frontier Markets (Princeton University Press 2022) and the award-winning Dealing in Desire: Asian Ascendancy, Western Decline, and the Hidden Currencies of Global Sex Work (University of California Press 2015). 

Bruno Cousin is Associate Professor of Sociology at Sciences Po (France), where he holds the Endowed Chair on Cities, Housing & Real Estate. He has conducted several ethnographic and interview-based research projects among the upper classes, on topics like urban self-segregation, class prejudice, forms of bourgeois sociability, corporate boards, elite transnationalism, and labor relations within super-rich households. He often combines ethnography with other methods and regularly experiences the heuristic virtues of doing fieldwork as a duo – mainly with Sébastien Chauvin (University of Lausanne) or Jules Naudet (CNRS & EHESS).

Friday, February 17, 12-1.30 pm (PT)

Jeremy Levine

in conversation with Nicole P. Marwell

Constructing Community: Urban Governance, Development, and Inequality in Boston*

*Read the chapters here

Jeremy Levine is an Assistant Professor of Organizational Studies and Sociology (by courtesy) at the University of Michigan. His work focuses on questions of inequality and public policy, especially in cities. His first book, Constructing Community, was published in 2021 with Princeton University Press, and he has additionally published articles in the American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, and Social Forces, among other outlets. His newest work analyzes the historical development of crime victim policy and its effects on racial and gender inequality.

Nicole P. Marwell is Associate Professor at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago, where she is also a faculty affiliate of the Department of Sociology and the Data Science Institute. Her research examines urban governance, with a focus on the diverse intersections between nonprofit organizations, government bureaucracies, communities, and politics. Current projects include: a book about how the rise of randomized controlled trials threatens the responsiveness, diversity, and inclusivity of the nonprofit sector; and a study of the structure and performance of internet infrastructure across urban neighborhoods in the U.S. 

Friday, December 16, 12-1.30 pm (PT)

Beth Bechky

in conversation with Alison Gerber

Blood, Powder, and Residue: How Crime Labs Translate Evidence into Proof*

*Read the chapters here

Beth Bechky is a professor at the University of California, Davis. Beth is interested in work practices, and studies how workers collaborate to solve problems, struggle to coordinate, and manage the challenges of technological change at the workplace. Her recent book, Blood, Powder, and Residue: How Crime Labs Translate Evidence into Proof (2021) shows how the work of forensic scientists is fraught with the tensions of serving justice—constantly having to anticipate the expectations of the world of law and the assumptions of the public—while also staying true to their scientific ideals. In previous projects she has learned how to sell Xerox equipment, locked up sets and made copies as a production assistant in the film industry, assembled semiconductor equipment in a clean room, and assisted technicians in a biotech lab.

Alison Gerber is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Lund University in Sweden. Gerber's research is focused on culture, science, and public life, with a special emphasis on new kinds of evidence: algorithmically generated images and emerging digital 3D methods for documentation, visualization, and analysis as they move between science and the law. From 2021-2025 Gerber is leading a project called Show & Tell: Scientific representation, algorithmically generated visualizations, and evidence across epistemic cultures, funded by the European Research Council.

Friday, November 18, 12-1.30 pm (PT)

Jordanna Matlon

in conversation with Annie Hikido**

A Man among Other Men: The Crisis of Black Masculinity in Racial Capitalism

*Read the chapters here

**watch the event video here. ( Passcode: =iv6J+zu )

Jordanna Matlon is an Assistant Professor at American University’s School of International Service and an urban ethnographer interested in questions of race and belonging in Africa and the African diaspora, and the ways “Blackness” operates as a signifier, intersects with gender norms, manifests in popular culture, and illuminates our understanding of political economy. Her book, A Man among Other Men, is a historically grounded ethnography of the livelihoods and lifestyles of men in the informal economy of Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. This book offers an empirically rich and theoretically innovative account of Black masculinity that demonstrates the sustained power of imaginaries – even as capitalism affords a deficit of material opportunities.

Annie Hikido is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Colby College. She uses ethnographic methods to examine how intersections of race, class, and gender function in dialogue with globalization, especially in urban environments. She is working on a book about Black South African women offering tourist accommodation in Cape Town. It explores how Black women generate racialized projections of post-apartheid development through global tourism.


Bit of a Mess & Bit of a Miracle: 

Problems and Promises of Organizational Ethnography

Nov 11, 12 p.m. PST, 3 p.m. EST

Check the event details here

Friday October 28, 12 – 1:30pm (PT)

Ugo Corte

in conversation with Iddo Tavory

Dangerous Fun: The Social Lives of Big Wave Surfers

*Read the chapters here

Ugo Corte is professor of Sociology at the University of Stavanger in Norway.  His latest work has addressed small group creativity across fields, fun and cruelty, and the qualitative methodology. This work has been published in journals like Sociological Theory, Sociological Forum, The Social Psychology Quarterly, and Qualitative Sociology

Dangerous Fun: The Social Lives of Big Wave Surfers (University of Chicago Press, 2022) is Corte´s ethnography based on the North Shore of O´ahu. He argues that fun is a quintessentially social phenomenon, a pathway to solidarity rooted in the delight in actualizing the self within a social world  of risky interactions with uncertain outcomes.  Corte provides an understanding of collective effervescence, emotional energy, and the interaction rituals leading to fateful moments in the Goffmanian sense—moments of decision that, once made, transform one’s self-concept irrevocably. 

Iddo Tavory is Professor of sociology at NYU, and editor of Sociological Theory. He is broadly interested in the interactional and experiential patterns through which people come to construct and understand their lives across situations. His books Abductive Analysis and Data Analysis in Qualitative Research (both with Stefan Timmermans) provide a pragmatist account that allows researchers to make the most of the surprises that emerge in the process of research. His book, Summoned, is an ethnography of a Jewish neighborhood in Los Angeles as well as a treatise on the co-constitution of interaction, identity and social worlds. His book (with Sonia Prelat and Shelly Ronen) Tangled Goods explores the relationship among goods in pro bono advertising, and theorizes the coordination of different forms of worth in action. Iddo is currently writing a theoretical manuscript on something he is calling cultural interactionism as well as writing a book based on an ethnography of an advertising agency in New York. Among other awards, Iddo has received the Lewis A. Coser Award for theoretical agenda setting in sociology.

Friday September 30, 12 – 1:30pm (PT)

Heba Gowayed

in conversation with Danilo Mandić

Refuge: How the State Shapes Human Potential

*Read the chapters here

Heba Gowayed is the Moorman-Simon Assistant Professor of Sociology at Boston University. 

Her research, which is global and comparative, examines how low-income people traverse social services, immigration laws, and their associated bureaucracies, while grappling with gender and racial inequalities. Her book Refuge is based on three years of fieldwork documenting the strikingly divergent journeys of Syrian families from similar economic and social backgrounds during their crucial first years of resettlement in the United States and Canada and asylum in Germany. Their experiences reveal that these destination countries are not saviors; they can deny newcomers’ potential by failing to recognize their abilities and invest in the tools they need to prosper.

Danilo Mandić is Associate Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Harvard University. His first book, Gangsters and Other Statesmen (2022), received awards from the Eastern Sociological Society and the American Sociological Association. His second book, The Syrian Refugee Crisis: How Democracies and Autocracies Perpetrated Mass Displacement (2023), presents rare refugee data collected by a research team he led into fieldwork in five countries in the Middle East and Europe.

May 20, 10 a.m. PST, 1 p.m. EST 

ETHNOGRAPHIC CAFÉ SPECIAL PANEL: Ethnography in/of the Global South: Critical Reflections

A half century ago, Manuel Castells posed an existential question for urban sociologists: does the subfield constitute sociology in the city, or does urban space play a defining role, producing a sociology of the city? This panel poses a comparable question to ethnographers carrying out fieldwork in the global South: do they study sociological phenomena that just happen to occur beyond Euro-America, or is there something distinctive about the majority of the world’s surface that we call “the global South,” home to more than 85 percent of the global population? Scholars working on Africa, Asia, and Latin America discuss the meaning and limits of the concept and its significance for their work. Should southern ethnography be considered a distinct enterprise, or does this contribute to self-marginalization within an already notoriously parochial discipline?

Moderator: Zachary Levenson, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Levenson studies the politics of eviction in postapartheid South Africa. His work is based on a decade of fieldwork in land occupations and informal settlements in Cape Town, and his book Delivery as Dispossession was released in April 2022 on Oxford University Press. 

Presenter: Elena Shih, Manning Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies, Brown University

Trained as a sociologist, Shih studies the transnational social movement to combat human trafficking in China, Thailand, and the US. She works at the intersection of ethnography and critical humanitarianism studies. Her book Manufacturing Freedom is under contract with UC Press.

Presenter: Oluwakemi Balogun, Associate Professor of Sociology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of Oregon

Balogun’s research focuses on gender, globalization, and nationalism in the context of the Nigerian beauty pageant industry. Based on years of fieldwork, her book Beauty Diplomacy was released by Stanford University Press in 2020.

Presenter:  Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Professor of Individualized Studies and Sociology, New York University

Baiocchi is interested in questions of politics and culture, critical social theory, and cities. He has cultivated a distinctly political ethnography, which he has deployed in his fieldwork in Brazil, the US, and elsewhere. He is the author of numerous books, the most recent of which, co-authored with Jake Carlson, is Housing Is a Social Good, forthcoming from University of Chicago Press. 

Claudio Benzecry



April 29, 12-1.30 pm (PT)

Claudio Benzecry 

In conversation with Rosana Pinheiro-Machado

The Perfect Fit: Creative Work in the Global Shoe Industry

 **Read the preface and chapter 1 here

Claudio E. Benzecry is Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University and a sociologist interested in culture, arts, knowledge, and globalization. He is the editor of three volumes on theory, culture, and knowledge, and the co-Editor in Chief of Qualitative Sociology. His book The Opera Fanatic. Ethnography of an Obsession (University of Chicago Press, 2011) received the Mary Douglas Award for best book in the Sociology of Culture (2012), and an Honorable mention for the ASA Distinguished Book award (2014). His new book, The Perfect Fit. Creative Work in the Global Shoe Industry (University of Chicago Press) is based on a five-year ethnographic research on fashion, creativity, and globalization, following how a shoe is imagined, sketched, designed, developed, and produced in between the US, Europe, Brazil, and China.  

Rosana Pinheiro-Machado, an anthropologist, is Assistant Professor of International Development in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences at the University of Bath (UK) and a fellow of the British Higher Education Academy.  Her research deals with the topics of authoritarianism, labour, consumption, and poverty. She seeks to gain a longitudinal, local understanding of the major processes of world-making and world-ordering that have transformed emerging countries in economic and political terms. She has conducted multi-scalar and multi-sited ethnographic projects in the Global South (e.g., China and Brazil) over the last 20 years. She has recently been laureated by the European Research Council with a Consolidator Grant to lead the comparative and multi-methods transnational project "Flexible Work, Rigid Politics" in Brazil, India, and the Philippines.

Janet Vertesi

Florian Jaton

March 18, 12-1.30 pm (PT)

Janet Vertesi 

In conversation with Florian Jaton

Shaping Science: Organizations, Decisions, and Culture on NASA's Teams

 **Read chapters here. (password for the drive folder: cafe22)

Janet Vertesi is Associate Professor of Sociology at Princeton. She is an expert in the sociology of science, technology, and organizations. Her past decade of research, funded by the National Science Foundation, examines how distributed robotic spacecraft teams work together effectively to produce scientific and technical results. Vertesi is the author of two books about NASA science teams, and has also produced edited volumes with colleagues on the topic of images and representation in science, and studying digital environments and interactions. She also studies digital technologies and personal data privacy.


Florian Jaton is a sociologist of science, technology and computing, currently senior researcher and lecturer at the STS Lab, Lausanne, Switzerland. He has researched algorithmic finance, personalized medicine, and is the author of The Constitution of Algorithms: Ground-Truthing, Programming, Formulating (MIT Press, 2021), based on four years of ethnographic study of a computer science laboratory that specialized in digital image processing.

Nicholas Rush Smith

Javier Auyero

February 25, 12- 1.30pm (PT)

Nicholas Rush Smith 

In conversation with Javier Auyero

Contradictions of Democracy: Vigilantism and Rights in Post-Apartheid South Africa

 **Read chapters here

Nicholas Rush Smith teaches Political Science at CUNY-City College. Based on 20 months of ethnographic and archival research in two townships outside Durban, Contradictions of Democracy reveals that, in the context of densely networked neighborhoods, poor citizens often interpret the technical success of legal institutions—say, the arrest and subsequent release of suspects on bail—as failure and work to correct such perceived failures through extra-legal violence. When viewed through the eyes of young Black men on South Africa’s margins, vigilantism emerges as a reaction, not to state failure, but to democratic state-making.


Javier Auyero teaches sociology at the University of Texas, Austin, where he founded and directs the Ethnography Lab. His work deals with poverty, violence, the state, and politics at ground level. His latest book, The Ambivalent State (with Katherine Sobering) draws on court cases to dissect the dynamics of police-drug trafficker collusion in the Argentine periphery. His is currently at work (with Sofía Servian) on a book tentatively entitled Overwhelmed. How do the urban poor keep surviving?

Danielle Raudenbush



January 28, 11am-12:30pm (PT)*

Danielle T. Raudenbush 

in conversation with 

Armando Lara-Millán

Health Care Off the Books: Poverty, Illness, and Strategies for Survival in Urban America

*Please note the earlier time

**Read the introduction and methods chapters here. 

Danielle Raudenbush is Assistant Professor of Sociology at UC San Diego. In Health Care Off the Books: Poverty, Illness, and Strategies for Survival in Urban America (University of California Press, February 2020),  she draws on three years of fieldwork in a Chicago community to examine the health care practices of the urban poor, and specifically the informal network strategies that low-income African Americans develop in attempts to treat health problems when they face barriers to accessing formal health services. Currently, she is working on a project in which she investigates how living in the San Diego, California border region shapes the health care experiences of Mexican immigrants, including how members of this group strategically use health services in Mexico to meet their health care needs and goals.


Armando Lara-Millán is Assistant Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley. He uses ethnography and historical methods to study powerful organizations. He examines how these organizations use culture and cognitive processes to recast the economic worth of resources that many people depend on, purchase, or are subject too (e.g. jail and hospital space, crime, advanced medical technology, or even property value). He is the author of Redistributing the Poor: Jails, Hospitals, and the Crisis of Law and Fiscal Austerity (OUP, 2021).

Leslie PAIK

Vincent DUBOIS

December 10, 2021

Leslie PAIK 

In conversation with Vincent DUBOIS

Trapped in a Maze: How Social Control Institutions Drive Family Poverty and Inequality

Leslie Paik is Professor in the Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with 10 families, and interviews with another 53 families, her book Trapped in a Maze: How Social Control Institutions Drive Family Poverty and Inequality traces how low-income families navigate complex and multiple institutions –such as courts, hospitals, housing, schools, and welfare. The book reveals how the formal rationality by which these institutions ostensibly operate undercuts what they can actually achieve. And worse, it demonstrates how involvement with multiple institutions can perpetuate the conditions of poverty that these families are fighting to escape.

Vincent Dubois is Professor of Sociology and Political Science at the University of Strasbourg (France) and the author of  The Bureaucrat and the Poor: Encounters in French Welfare Offices (2017, Routledge). He works on surveillance and sanction policies in the contemporary social state and the relationship between the lower classes and public institutions. He will lead us in discussion.



November 19, 2021


In conversation with Sarah BRAYNE

Click to read the Introduction and Methods chapters.

Angèle Christin is Assistant Professor of Communications and (by courtesy) of Sociology at Stanford University. Her book Metrics at Work draws on four years of fieldwork in web newsrooms in the United States and France, including more than one hundred interviews with journalists. It uncovers crucial and paradoxical differences in how American and French journalists understand audience analytics and how these affect the news produced in each country.

Sarah Brayne, Assistant Professor of Sociology at UT-Austin, will lead us in discussion. Her research examines the social consequences of data-intensive surveillance practices and she is the author of Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing.

Special Event, Oct 29

Tahseen SHAMS

Hajar Yazdiha


October 22, 2021

Tahseen SHAMS in conversation with 


Chapters 1 and 2 available here

Tahseen SHAMS is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. Her award-winning book,  Here, There, and Elsewhere: The Making of Immigrant Identities in a Globalized World (2020), uncovers how different dimensions of the ethnic and religious identities of immigrants connect them to, not just to their homeland and hostland, but to different "elsewheres" around the planet, making immigrants prime agents of globalization. 

Hajar YAZDIHA, Assistant Professor of Sociology at USC, will lead us in discussion. Her work focuses on the Muslim diaspora and develops a comparative Du Boisian framework for the study of immigrant incorporation and ethnic identity formation. She is also working on a book entitled The Kingmakers: Making and Mobilizing the Collective Memory of the Civil Rights Movement in American Politics.

Sept 24, 2021.

Matthew Clair in conversation with Mona Lynch

Matthew Clair is Assistant Professor of Sociology and (by courtesy) Law at Stanford University. His award-winning book Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court (Princeton University Press, 2020) examines how racial and class inequalities are embedded in the attorney-client relationship. Based on fieldwork and interviews in the Boston court system, Clair found that attempts to exercise legal rights often backfire on the poor and on working-class people of color, and that effective legal representation alone is no guarantee of justice. 

Mona Lynch, Chancellor’s Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine and the author of Hard Bargains: The Coercive Power of Drug Laws in Federal Court (2016), will lead us in discussion.