Research in the dictionary

The UCSC Sociology Department faculty locate ourselves in various interdisciplinary sites, reflected in the courses we offer; research we undertake; and research working groups/centers we lead.

Each faculty member’s research and teaching focuses on at least two of the following five broad areas that are defining of our department.

Political Economies and Ecologies

Drawing on the tradition of radical political economy in Sociology and our department’s historic commitment to embedding this approach in an environmental framework, this area emphasizes critical analysis of capitalism and racial capitalism; socialism and social justice; as well as more applied research in labor, housing, and environment. We aim through our work in this area to transcend common binaries between nature/society and urban/ecology and to engage in active field-building in the established and emerging areas of environmental sociology, urban political ecology, environmental and climate justice, critical sustainabilities, black ecologies, more-than-human ethnographies, and eco-socialism.

Examples of courses we offer in this area include: Work and Labor Markets, Society and Nature, Environmental Inequality, Eco-Metropolis, Capitalism and Its Critics, and Black Botanical Medicine in the Americas.

Research clusters in this area led by Sociology faculty include the Center for Labor and Community, the Center for Critical Urban and Environmental Studies, and the Black Botany Studio.

Hillary L Angelo

  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Urban studies, Environmental History, Social Theory, Sustainability
Individual profile page for Hillary L Angelo

Christopher Benner

Individual profile page for Christopher Benner

Lindsey L Dillon

  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Activism, Environmental Justice, Science and Technology, American Studies, More...
Individual profile page for Lindsey L Dillon

Deborah Gould

  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Social Movements, Social Theory, Political Theory, Affect Studies, More...
Individual profile page for Deborah Gould

Miriam Greenberg

  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Urban studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies
Individual profile page for Miriam Greenberg

Julie H Guthman

  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Agroecology and Agriculture, Food/Nutrition, Capitalism, California More...
Individual profile page for Julie H Guthman

Camilla A Hawthorne

  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, African Diaspora, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, African More...
Individual profile page for Camilla A Hawthorne

Naya Jones

Individual profile page for Naya Jones

Steven Mc Kay

  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Labor and Social Movements, Immigration, Critical Race and More...
Individual profile page for Steven Mc Kay

Jennifer E Reardon

  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Science and Technology, History of Science, New Media, Genomics
Individual profile page for Jennifer E Reardon

Zoe Zhao

  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Labor and Social Movements; Digital Media; Video Games, Game Design, Game More...
Individual profile page for Zoe Zhao

Space, Place, and Mobility

Drawing from many of our faculty’s doctoral training in Geography and spatially-oriented Sociology programs, this area builds upon a range of critical approaches to human geography—including cultural geography, urban and regional geography, Black geographies, geographies of migration, and critical geographic information system (GIS) studies. This theoretical and methodological training informs a range of interdisciplinary work in the politics of difference, migration studies, urban studies, and diaspora and border studies. Particular focus is paid here to questions of displacement, exclusion, and mobility at multiple scales —from city-regional to the national and planetary scale.

Examples of courses here include Migrant Europe, Space and the Politics of Difference, and Global Cities.

Research groups include: Black Geographies Lab; Critical Urban Studies.

Hillary L Angelo

  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Urban studies, Environmental History, Social Theory, Sustainability
Individual profile page for Hillary L Angelo

Amy Marie Argenal

  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Community-based Research, Human Rights, Immigration
Individual profile page for Amy Marie Argenal

Christopher Benner

Individual profile page for Christopher Benner

Lindsey L Dillon

  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Activism, Environmental Justice, Science and Technology, American Studies, More...
Individual profile page for Lindsey L Dillon

James Battle

Individual profile page for James Battle

Miriam Greenberg

  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Urban studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies
Individual profile page for Miriam Greenberg

Julie H Guthman

  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Agroecology and Agriculture, Food/Nutrition, Capitalism, California More...
Individual profile page for Julie H Guthman

Camilla A Hawthorne

  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, African Diaspora, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, African More...
Individual profile page for Camilla A Hawthorne

Naya Jones

Individual profile page for Naya Jones

Steven Mc Kay

  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Labor and Social Movements, Immigration, Critical Race and More...
Individual profile page for Steven Mc Kay

Juan Pedroza

Individual profile page for Juan Pedroza

Jennifer E Reardon

  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Science and Technology, History of Science, New Media, Genomics
Individual profile page for Jennifer E Reardon

Culture, Knowledge, and Power

This area brings together approaches in media and cultural studies alongside science and technology studies. Interests encompass classic questions of cultural/knowledge production, representation, and ideology, as well as investigations into the complex ways that the structural is subjectivized, embodied, contested, and culturally reproduced. Theoretically and methodologically, this area includes a range of interdisciplinary formations, including the fields of science, technology, medicine and society; science and justice; law and society; media and cultural politics; critical data studies; critical analysis of medicine/health; critical analysis of education; critical analysis of erotic labor; critical race and ethnic studies; gender and sexuality studies; queer theory; Indigenous studies; and the politics of affect and embodiment.

This area holds the largest number of undergrad electives, including: Health and Medicine; Healing Justice; Genomics and Society; Race, Gender, Sexuality and Cultural Politics; Sex as Social Practice and Representation; Sociology of Knowledge; Theories and Methods for the Analysis of Popular Culture; Cultural Politics of Gender and Erotic Sovereignty; Educational Inequality; Social Welfare; Global and Transnational Perspectives in Science and Technology Studies; Health in a Changing America; and Black Botanical Medicine in the Americas. Offerings at the graduate level include our core theory courses Culture/Knowledge/Power and Identity and Inequality as well as Classical and Contemporary Social Theory; a core methods course, Analysis of Cultural Forms; and topical seminars like Global and Transnational Perspectives in Science and Technology Studies and Science and Justice: Experiments in Collaboration.

Important groups in this area are the Science & Justice Research Center (SJRC) and the Affect Working Group.

Hillary L Angelo

  • Title
    • Associate Professor
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Urban studies, Environmental History, Social Theory, Sustainability
Individual profile page for Hillary L Angelo

Amy Marie Argenal

  • Title
    • Assistant Teaching Professor of Community-Engaged Research and Learning
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Community-based Research, Human Rights, Immigration
Individual profile page for Amy Marie Argenal

Julie Bettie

  • Title
    • Associate Professor
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Cultural Studies, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Gender More...
Individual profile page for Julie Bettie

Lindsey L Dillon

  • Title
    • Assistant Professor
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Activism, Environmental Justice, Science and Technology, American Studies, More...
Individual profile page for Lindsey L Dillon

James Battle

  • Title
    • Associate Professor
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Science and Technology, Anthropology, African Diaspora, More...
Individual profile page for James Battle

Deborah Gould

  • Title
    • Professor and Chair
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Social Movements, Social Theory, Political Theory, Affect Studies, More...
Individual profile page for Deborah Gould

Miriam Greenberg

  • Title
    • Professor and Chair
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Urban studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies
Individual profile page for Miriam Greenberg

Julie H Guthman

  • Title
    • Professor
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Agroecology and Agriculture, Food/Nutrition, Capitalism, California More...
Individual profile page for Julie H Guthman

Camilla A Hawthorne

  • Title
    • Associate Professor
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, African Diaspora, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, African More...
Individual profile page for Camilla A Hawthorne

Naya Jones

  • Title
    • Assistant Professor & Core Faculty in Global and Community Health Program
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise African Diaspora, African American / Black Studies, Agroecology and More...
Individual profile page for Naya Jones

Rebecca A London

  • Title
    • Professor of Sociology and Faculty Director Campus + Community
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Schools and Academic Achievement, Community-based Research, Health and More...
Individual profile page for Rebecca A London

Jaimie Morse

  • Title
    • Assistant Professor
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Legal Studies, Science and Technology, Health and Wellness, More...
Individual profile page for Jaimie Morse

Jennifer E Reardon

  • Title
    • Professor
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Science and Technology, History of Science, New Media, Genomics
Individual profile page for Jennifer E Reardon

Alicia Rose Riley

  • Title
    • Assistant Professor & Core Faculty in Global and Community Health Program
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Health and Wellness, Discrimination and Inequality, Death/Mortality More...
Individual profile page for Alicia Rose Riley

Zoe Zhao

  • Title
    • Assistant Professor
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Labor and Social Movements; Digital Media; Video Games, Game Design, Game More...
Individual profile page for Zoe Zhao

Publics, Policy, and Law

In this area we do grounded policy- and/or practice-oriented research in fields including critical human rights, legal studies, public health, education and youth studies, and studies of housing, (im)migration, and labor. Many of our faculty in this area teach or have joint appointments in Legal Studies and Global and Community Health. Our approach includes both explorations of policy and/or law as an object of study as well as ways in which our research may itself inform policy and/or legal changes. Pervasive in this work is a critical focus emphasizing how power relations, historic inequities, and political struggles across lines of race, class, gender, citizenship status, and other forms of difference have shaped the ways in which policy and law are imagined, enacted, and experienced. This work also often engages with a wide range of publics beyond academia—from sharing work with planners, policymakers, and professional bodies to collaborating with community groups, non-profits, and activist organizations whose members are subject to and impacted by policy and law in a variety of ways.

Undergraduate courses include Sociology of Law and senior seminars such as Housing Justice; California and the Quest for Health Equity; and Law, Health, and Human Rights. A cornerstone of this area is the Community Engaged Research Practicum, which allows undergrads to participate in large scale research projects with community partners, and our new Community Engaged Research, Learning, and Internships, which provides scaffolding for students involved in individual field studies and internships. Grad courses include Community-Engaged Research; Science and Justice: Experiments in Collaboration.

Working groups include the Center for Labor and Community and Campus+Community, both of which are hubs for this work across campus.

Amy Marie Argenal

  • Title
    • Assistant Teaching Professor of Community-Engaged Research and Learning
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Community-based Research, Human Rights, Immigration
Individual profile page for Amy Marie Argenal

James Battle

  • Title
    • Associate Professor
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Science and Technology, Anthropology, African Diaspora, More...
Individual profile page for James Battle

Hiroshi Fukurai

  • Title
    • Professor of Sociology and Legal Studies
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Legal Studies, International and Global Affairs, Race, Critical More...
Individual profile page for Hiroshi Fukurai

Miriam Greenberg

  • Title
    • Professor and Chair
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Urban studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies
Individual profile page for Miriam Greenberg

Camilla A Hawthorne

  • Title
    • Associate Professor
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, African Diaspora, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, African More...
Individual profile page for Camilla A Hawthorne

Naya Jones

  • Title
    • Assistant Professor & Core Faculty in Global and Community Health Program
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise African Diaspora, African American / Black Studies, Agroecology and More...
Individual profile page for Naya Jones

Rebecca A London

  • Title
    • Professor of Sociology and Faculty Director Campus + Community
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Schools and Academic Achievement, Community-based Research, Health and More...
Individual profile page for Rebecca A London

Jaimie Morse

  • Title
    • Assistant Professor
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Legal Studies, Science and Technology, Health and Wellness, More...
Individual profile page for Jaimie Morse

Juan Pedroza

  • Title
    • Assistant Professor
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Immigration
Individual profile page for Juan Pedroza

Jennifer E Reardon

  • Title
    • Professor
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Science and Technology, History of Science, New Media, Genomics
Individual profile page for Jennifer E Reardon

Alicia Rose Riley

  • Title
    • Assistant Professor & Core Faculty in Global and Community Health Program
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Health and Wellness, Discrimination and Inequality, Death/Mortality More...
Individual profile page for Alicia Rose Riley

Veronica Terriquez

  • Title
    • On leave
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Immigration, Labor and Social Movements, Social Justice, More...
Individual profile page for Veronica Terriquez

World Building, Political Imaginaries, and Alternative Futures

Many of us in the department also are drawn to broader questions about the processes and practices of social change and social reproduction; the making and unmaking of movements, institutions, and other political collectivities; the affective dimensions of political life; utopian/dystopian thought and practice; and radical traditions and possibilities. This area encompasses a range of theoretically engaged work that explores the potential for social change in ways that are speculative and often experimental. It also provides space to look critically and creatively at social movements and social change efforts themselves, commonly from a trans-historical and international perspective.

These ideas are woven throughout many of the above areas and courses to some degree, but undergraduate courses explicitly in this area include Sociology of Social Movements; Sociology of Emotion; and Capitalism and Its Critics. Grad courses include Social Movements and Political Affect and Emotion.

An important research hub for this work in the department and across campus is the Affect Working Group.

Alison Alkon

  • Title
    • Associate Teaching Professor
Individual profile page for Alison Alkon

Amy Marie Argenal

  • Title
    • Assistant Teaching Professor of Community-Engaged Research and Learning
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Community-based Research, Human Rights, Immigration
Individual profile page for Amy Marie Argenal

Christopher Benner

Individual profile page for Christopher Benner

Julie Bettie

  • Title
    • Associate Professor
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Cultural Studies, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Gender More...
Individual profile page for Julie Bettie

Hiroshi Fukurai

  • Title
    • Professor of Sociology and Legal Studies
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Legal Studies, International and Global Affairs, Race, Critical More...
Individual profile page for Hiroshi Fukurai

Deborah Gould

  • Title
    • Professor and Chair
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Social Movements, Social Theory, Political Theory, Affect Studies, More...
Individual profile page for Deborah Gould

Julie H Guthman

  • Title
    • Professor
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Agroecology and Agriculture, Food/Nutrition, Capitalism, California More...
Individual profile page for Julie H Guthman

Camilla A Hawthorne

  • Title
    • Associate Professor
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, African Diaspora, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, African More...
Individual profile page for Camilla A Hawthorne

Jennifer E Reardon

  • Title
    • Professor
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Science and Technology, History of Science, New Media, Genomics
Individual profile page for Jennifer E Reardon

Veronica Terriquez

  • Title
    • On leave
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, Immigration, Labor and Social Movements, Social Justice, More...
Individual profile page for Veronica Terriquez

Zoe Zhao

  • Title
    • Assistant Professor
  • Website
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Labor and Social Movements; Digital Media; Video Games, Game Design, Game More...
Individual profile page for Zoe Zhao