Graduate Sociology at UAlbany

Areas of Specialization: Political Sociology


Political sociology is an area of major strength in the Department of Sociology. Faculty bring a variety of perspectives to the study of political sociology, and graduate students are able to draw also upon resources in the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy and to use the extensive archives of the University Libraries and the New York State Library. In addition, Albany, as the state capital, serves as a site for various research projects by faculty and students.

Students are encouraged and expected -- in graduate course work, as faculty research assistants, in preparing for their specialized examinations, and in writing their dissertations -- to develop their own research and have the opportunity to engage in collaborative research and publications with faculty.

Members of the department have studied the organizational bases for the exercise of power, urban places as sites of power and conflict, and networks of elites. Some of our research has addressed the historical origins of nation states and the role of conflict among elites in determining state forms and policies. The examination of government polices -- in war making, social policy, family and gender issues, economic and work regulation, urban planning and allocation, and toward social movements -- is a core concern of political sociologists in this department. We have approached these issues in qualitative and quantitative research, through studies in the contemporary United States and in other nations in all regions of the world, and through historical studies of state formation in early modern Europe, the demise of dictatorships in Spain, Portugal and Latin America, and of social movements in the United States. Comparative studies of the exercise of power -- in work organizations, in states, in cities, and through networks of elites in the United States and throughout the world -- are central to the research agenda of several members of the department. Faculty also are interested in the operation of the world system and with understanding how the United States achieved hegemony and whether its dominance will continue.

Graduate students in political sociology have the opportunity to examine a range of approaches to the study of this field and to participate with faculty in analyzing political institutions and behaviors in historical and contemporary societies. The following listings of faculty in this area and of recent and ongoing dissertations by Albany graduate students in political sociology will give you a sense of the work possible here at Albany, and of the faculty and student colleagues with whom you will exchange ideas and plans for research.

Faculty in Political Sociology: Popp Berman, Jacobs, Lachmann, Major, Raffalovich

Recently completed dissertations related to political sociology include:

  • An historical examination of competing citizenship practices and discourses of the body during the Civil Rights Movement.
  • A study of the role played by narrative and memory practices during the anti-military mobilization in Vieques, Puerto Rico. research based on interviews and fieldwork with neighborhood association leaders, a study of the disparities in organizational resources between underclass and gentrifying neighborhoods and evaluates their significance for the defense of neighborhoods.
  • a study showing that economic dependency has strong effects on crime in third world countries through the intervening variables of immiseration, structural distortion, and political concentration.
  • based on historical research on political change in South Korea and the Philippines, it is shown that the state is an active actor with its own interests using its resources strategically to sustain a nondemocratic regime.
  • an examination of the relationship between military control and post-war violence within indigenous communities in the highlands of Guatemala. This study uses archival data and original interviews.
  • a study of nonprofit organizational forms that support civic engagement.
  • an investigation of the effects of gender, personal characteristics, political experiences, views of public policy issues affecting political candidates’ electability.
  • a study of motives, outcomes, and commitment mechanisms in the cohousing movement using participant observation and intensive research in original sources.
  • an examination of recruitment to the movement against sexual violence among women who have been victimized.
  • a study of grassroots private economy in modern China using extensive archival and field research. The principal concerns are how state policies channel and limit the development of the private sector, the character of the new class that is being created, and the social consequences of a changing class structure.
  • a quantitative investigation of rural-urban inequality in modern China.

-- October 2013