Graduate Sociology at UAlbany
Areas of Specialization: Crime & Deviance
The Department of Sociology at the University at Albany has a rich tradition of educating graduate students in the study of deviance and crime. Professors Kecia Johnson, Joanne Kaufman, Ryan King, and Steven Messner conduct research and teach courses primarily in the deviance, law, and criminology areas. In addition, several departmental colleagues specialize in related fields, such as urban sociology, social demography, and social stratification. Given these distinctive strengths, the department offers graduate students an opportunity to work with faculty on a diverse array of topics on crime and deviance.
The high faculty-to-students ratio provides the context in which a true mentorship relationship between students and faculty can be fostered. It is common for faculty who do research in the area of deviance and crime to include graduate students in their research, which often results in joint authorship. Such joint endeavors not only provide the student with invaluable experience, but also generate the type of resumes that have been increasingly attractive to potential employers. Albany Ph.D.’s who have chosen deviance/crime as their major area of concentration have done quite well on the job market.
Another advantage of studying deviance/crime at the University at Albany is the presence of the School of Criminal Justice. Students can supplement their program with courses focusing on aspects of the criminal justice system taught by a nationally recognized faculty. The quality of the program is enhanced by the fact that it is housed in a department that has earned national recognition in recent years as being among the leaders in scholarly research. The quality and diversity of education offered in the Department of Sociology generally, and in the area of deviance/crime specifically, make Albany an exciting place at which to continue your education.
The graduate program is designed to provide a basic core of courses in theory, methods and statistics while allowing for flexibility in the area of deviance/crime. The student pursuing a Ph.D. is required to take two sociological theory courses, and three methods/statistics courses. SOC 601, Social Deviance, is typically the first course in the deviance/crime sequence. It provides an in-depth examination of the major theoretical perspectives in the area. SOC 602, Research Issues in Deviant Behavior, continues this exploration by focusing on research that has examined these perspectives.
Having provided a basic background in the area, the program is designed to utilize the particular strengths of our faculty. The program offers a variety of specialized courses exploring issues in which the faculty has special expertise. For example, in recent years Professor Messner has offered a seminar on Macro-Sociological Approaches to Crime and Delinquency. Professor Johnson has offered seminars on Gender and Crime and Race, Ethnicity and Crime. Professor King has offered seminars on Law and Society in addition to a graduate course on Crime and Social Control, both of which discuss state responses to deviance. Professor Kaufman has offered seminars on Research Issues in Deviance and Micro and Social Psychological Perspectives on Deviance.
Ph.D. Alumni in Crime and Deviance
Numerous graduates of the deviance and crime program within sociology now occupy important positions in the field. Graduates from the program include:
- Eric Baumer, Florida State University
- Mark Beaulieu, State University of New York College at Plattsburgh
- Thomas Arvanites, Villanova University
- Paul Bellair, Ohio State University
- Jon Bernburg, University of Iceland
- Lory Collins Hall, Hartwick College
- Sung Joon Jang, Baylor University
- John King, FBI
- Jianhong Liu, University of Macau
- Fred Markowitz, Northern Illinois University
- Tom McNulty, University of Georgia
- Ben Pearson-Nelson, Indiana-Purdue University
- Mark Reed, Georgia State University
- Eric Silver, Penn. State University
- Jukka Savolainen, University of Nebraska
- Brian Stults, Florida State University
- Kim Tobin, Westfield State College
- Bonnie Veysey, Rutgers University
- Rachel Whaley, Southern Illinois University
- Lening Zhang, St. Francis College
- Peter Shrock, Southeastern Louisiana University
Faculty in Deviance and Crime
Ph.D. North Carolina State University
Professor Johnson’s research examines how race and gender inequality influence crime and delinquency. One area of interest seeks to further understand the collateral consequences of incarceration for individuals. A current project focuses on the impact of incarceration on employment and earnings trajectories of African American, Latino, and white men. This work advances a theoretical rationale that explains race and the stigma associated with incarceration as mutually-reinforcing processes which systematically reduce social and economic outcomes for African American and Latino men in comparison to whites, regardless of their former incarceration status. A new line of work explores the gendered and racialized nature of women’s imprisonment. This research examines how demographic and social factors, such as poverty rates and welfare expenditures affect women’s imprisonment rates.
Joanne M. Kaufman
Ph.D. Emory University
Professor Kaufman’s research interests lie at the intersection of sociological approaches to crime and deviance and social psychology focusing on the causes and risk factors for deviant and criminal behavior, inequalities and crime, and more recently, life course criminology. In one line of research, she helped refine and empirically test multifaceted explanations of how gender and race/ethnicity shape the causes of crime and deviance. Part of this research focused explicitly on expanding the application of general strain theory, focusing on the importance of negative life experiences, emotions, and coping strategies. She has worked with research partners at the Division of Violence Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine characteristics, risk factors, and patterns in school related violent deaths. Her current research focuses on crime over the life course looking at multi-faceted explanations of changes in criminal behavior. She is particularly interested in examining the impact of social psychological processes (such as changes in the self and emotions) on changes in crime, considering how these processes relate to life transitions and bonds to social institutions, and examining variation by gender and race/ethnicity.
Ph.D. University of Minnesota
Professor King conducts research at the intersection of law, criminology, and intergroup relations. His scholarship includes research on the topics of criminal sentencing, hate crime law, criminal deportations, the social control of incivility, terrorism, punitive attitudes, anti-Semitism, and the relationship between collective memory and law. In addition to research on these issues, he has also written on topics related to crime and punishment over the life course. His published work in this area includes papers on desistance from crime over the life course, the effect of imprisonment on family relations, and the association between marriage and crime. Professor King has received several awards for his research, including distinguished article awards from the American Sociological Association and the Law and Society Association.
Ph.D. Princeton University
Professor Messner has conducted research on the relationship between features of social organization and crime rates with data for a variety of areal units, including neighborhoods, metropolitan communities, counties, and nation–states. In collaboration with Richard Rosenfeld, he has been developing and testing “institutional-anomie theory.” He is also engaged in research on crime in China, the spatial patterning of crime, and the relationship between immigration and crime. Professor Messner’s work has been published in the major sociological and criminological journals. He is co-author of Crime and the American Dream; Perspectives on Crime and Deviance; and Criminology: Using MicroCase ExplorIt; and is co-editor of Theoretical Integration in the Study of Deviance and Crime; Crime and Social Control in a Changing China; and The Sage Handbook of Criminological Research Methods. Professor Messner is a recipient of the University at Albany’s President’s Award for Excellence in Research, the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Service, the State University of New York Research Foundation’s Award for Research and Scholarship, and the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities. He is a Past President and fellow of the American Society of Criminology.