Sociology Faculty

Steven McKay
  • Title
    • Associate Professor
    • Director, UCSC Center for Labor Studies
  • Division Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Sociology Department
    • Center for Labor Studies
    • Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
  • Affiliations College Nine, Community Studies Program, Research Center for the Americas
  • Phone
    831-502-7331 (office)
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Rachel Carson College Academic Building, 318
  • Office Hours SOCY 15 Mon/Wed 2-3pm; SOCY 220 Mon/Wed 3-4pm
  • Mail Stop Rachel Carson College Faculty Services
  • Mailing Address
    • 1156 High Street
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Labor and Social Movements, Immigration, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Globalization
  • Courses SOCY 15 World Society: Origins and Consequences of Globalization, SOCY 139T Community Engaged Research Practicum, SOCY 176A Work and Society, SOCY 188A Social Change in Global Economy, SOCY 205 Graduate Field Methods, SOCY 220 Global Transformations, SOCY 229 Ethnographies of Work and the Work of Ethnography

Research Interests

Labor and labor markets, political sociology, globalization and social change, migration and racial formation, Southeast Asia.

Biography, Education and Training

2001 - Ph.D., Sociology, University of Wisconsin - Madison
1996 - M.A., Southeast Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin - Madison
1989 - B.A., Political Economy of Industrial Societies, University of California - Berkeley

Steve McKay is associate professor of Sociology and Director of the UCSC Center for Labor Studies.  His research has focused on labor, gender, migration, racial formation, and globalization.  He is currently working on a book, based on historical and multi-sited ethnographic research, focused on the rise and reproduction of ethno-national labor niches in contemporary global labor markets.  The book, focused on global shipping, is entitled Born to Sail? Race, Masculinity and the Making of Filipino Seafarers.  Steve is also working locally in the Santa Cruz area on a series of community-initiated student-engaged research (CISER) projects: Working for Dignity - the Low Wage Worker Study of Santa Cruz County; No Place Like Home - The Affordable Housting Crisis Study of SC County; and We Belong: Collaboration for Community-Engaged Research and Immigrant Justice


Honors, Awards and Grants


  • 2019. Golden Apple Award for Outstanding Teaching, UCSC Division of Social Sciences

  • 2017. Community Hero, United Way of Santa Cruz County, Community Assessment Project
  • 2015.  Community Game Changer Award, Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County
  • 2012. UC Santa Cruz Chancellor's Achievement Award for Diversity.
  • 2011. Visiting Senior Research Fellowship at the National University of Singapore, Asia Research Institute, Migration Studies Cluster.
  • 2010.  Teaching: Award for Universal Design in Instruction from the University of California – Santa Cruz’s Disability Resource Center. 


  • 2019. Co-Principal Investigator – Sprout Grant, Institute for Social Transformation, UCSC Project: We Belong: Collaboration for Community-Engaged Research and Immigrant Justice - $20,000
  • 2019. Co-Principal Investigator – Funding Allocation,Student Fee Advisory Committee, UCSC, Project: We Belong: Collaboration for Community-Engaged Research and Immigrant Justice - $45,000
  • 2019. Co-Principal Investigator – Healthy Vibrant Communities,Monterey Peninsula Foundation, Project: Uplifting the Stories and Assessing the Needs of Mixed-Status Families - $17,000
  • 2018. Co-Principal Investigator – Collaborative Research Grant – 2018, Service Employees International Union, Local 251, Project: “Affordable Housing Research Project” - $15,000
  • 2017. Principal Investigator – Summer Research Grants - 2017, Ensemble, Inc., Project: “No Place Like Home” - $18,500
  • 2016. Co-Principal InvestigatorStudent Success Initiative Grant, 2016-17,University of California Office of the President,Project: “Community Engaged Research Practicum” - $100,000
  • 2016. Co-Principal Investigator - Engaging Humanities Project Grant, 2016-17, University of California Humanities Research Institute. Project: “No Place Like Home: Voices and Visions of the Housing Crisis in Santa Cruz County” - $27,000
  • 2015. Co-Principal Investigator: John E. Sawyer Seminar on the Comparative Study of Culture, Andrew Mellon Foundation. project title: "Non-citizenship". CO-PIs: C. Ramirez, J. Poblete, S. Falcon and F. Amaya Shaeffer (all at UCSC). $178,000.
  • 2015. Co-Principal Investigator, Collaborative Solutions for Poverty Competition, UCSC Blum Center. project title: "Give Me Shelter: Experiencing the Housing Crisis in SC County."  CO-PI: M. Greenberg. $10,000.
  • 2015. Principal Investigator: Research Award, UCSC Blum Center on Poverty, Social Enterprise, and Participatory Governance. project title: "Working for Dignity: the Santa Cruz County Low-Wage Worker Survey." $4,400.
  • 2014-2015. Principal Investigator: Engaging Humanities Public Humanities Project Grant,  University of California Humanities Research Institute Project: “Working for Dignity:  Rural-Urban Stories in a Changing California.” $20,000.
  • 2012. Principal Investigator: Working Group on the Humanities and the Changing Conceptions of Work, for "Changing Work, Changing Workforce: Immigrant and their Impact on the Meaning of Work." $25,000.
  • 2012-2013. Principal Investigator: Labor and Food Program, UC Santa Cruz Center for Labor Studies, for "Labor Across the Food System. Funded by the Webster Foundation. $15,000.
  • 2011. Principal Investigator: Visiting Senior Research Fellowship, National University of Singapore, Asia Research Institute, Migration Studies Cluster. 3 month residential writing fellowship used to complete one book chapter and work on book manuscript. $22,000.

Selected Publications


Edited Books

Contributions to Books

Journal Articles

Selected Presentations

Public Lecture or Forum Participation

  • 2019. “Community Initiated Student Engaged Research: The Santa Cruz Model” – CU Engage Program, Colorado University-Boulder
  • 2018. “Housing as a Human Right” – UN Day, United National Association, Santa Cruz.
  • 2018. “No Place Like Home: The Santa Cruz Housing Crisis Study” - Administrative Management Professionals Conference, Santa Cruz.
  • 2017. "No Place Like Home: Community-Engaged Research Tackles the Santa Cruz Housing Crisis” – invited speaker, UC Santa Cruz Division of Social Sciences Research Frontiers Presentation, Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.
  • 2016. "The Santa Cruz County Puzzle: Poverty Amidst Affluence” – invited speaker, Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Board of Directors Retreat
  • 2015.  “Power in Motion: Approaching Filipino Labor Migration as a Diasporic Social Field,” presented at the Philippine and Filipino Studies: 40 Years Hence, An International Symposium, University of Hawaii – Manoa.
  • 2013. "Transnational Social Fields of Masculinity – Theorizing Gender through Migration," presented at the Transnationalism, Gender Hierarchies and Masculinity in Asia Conference, at the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore.
  • 2013. “Intersectionality Panel" at the Low Wage Workers and Organizing Conference, at the Unviversity of California- Los Angeles.
  • 2012. "Re-masculinizing the Hero: Filipino Migrant Men and Merchant Shipping", for the Department of Sociology at the National University of Singapore. 

Papers Presented at Professional Meetings

  • 2018. “Community-Initiated Student-Engaged Research: A Model for Integrated Public Sociology” - American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.
  • 2018. “Community-Initiated Student-Engaged Research” – Urban Research and Action Network Conference, Denver, CO.
  • 2018. “Community-based and Worker-engaged Research: Lessons from the Field of Participatory Action Research” – invited panelist, United Association of Labor Educators Annual Conference, Seattle, WA
  • 2016. “Agents of Precarity: Intermediaries, Institutions and the Vulnerable Lives of migrant workers” – Rethinking Migration Conference, UC Santa Cruz.
  • 2014. “Migrant seafarers and transnational workplace ethnography,” presented at the Pacific Sociological Association Annual Meeting.
  • 2008. "Our Little Brown Sailors: Colonial Constructions of Race and Labor," presented at the Race, Labor and Empire Mini-Conference at Northeastern University.
  • 2006. "Race Politics Afloat: American Imperialism and the Taming of Filipino Maritime Labor," presented at the American Studies Association Annual Meeting in Oakland.
  • 2006. "Men at Sea: Migration and the Performance of Masculinity," presented at the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting for the Regular Session on Immigration and Gender in Montreal.