In 2004, Sandra Susan Smith joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology. Smith received a B.A. in History-Sociology from Columbia University in 1992 and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago in 1998. From 1998 to 2000, she was a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan's Poverty Research and Training Center. After Michigan, Smith accepted a tenure-track position in the Department of Sociology at New York University where she remained until her move to the Bay Area.
Smith's research interests include urban poverty, joblessness, race and ethnicity, social networks and social capital, trust, and culture and social structure. In her new book, Lone Pursuit: Distrust and Defensive Individualism among the Black Poor (Russell Sage Foundation), Smith advances current and enduring debates about black joblessness, highlighting the role of interpersonal distrust dynamics between low-income black jobholders and their jobseeking relations that make cooperation during the process of finding work a problematic affair. In her current project, tentatively titled Why Blacks Help Less, Smith further interrogates the process of finding work by examining racial and ethnic differences in trust dynamics and exploring the social psychological, cultural, and structural factors that generate these differences. In addition to Lone Pursuit, Smith has published a number of articles in such journals as the American Journal of Sociology, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, the Annual Review of Sociology, Racial and Ethnic Studies, Social Science Research, and The Sociological Quarterly.
Smith currently serves on the editorial board of the American Sociological Review and is a member of the ASA Council. In the past, she was a consulting editor with the American Journal of Sociology and Context Magazine. She holds memberships with the American Sociological Association, the Association of Black Sociologists, and the International Network for Social Network Analysis.
In 2007, Smith was a recipient of the Hellman Family Faculty Fund, which supports the research of promising assistant professors who show capacity for great distinction in their fields. She has also been a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City and a Fellow at Stanford's Center for the Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences (CASBS).
Lone Pursuit: Distrust and Defensive Individualism among the Black Poor. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2007.
Published Articles and Chapters
"Intraracial Harassment on Campus: Explaining Within and Between-Group Differences?" (with Jennifer Jones), Ethnic and Racial Studies, 34:9, 1567-93, 2011.
"Race and Trust." Annual Review of Sociology 36:453-75, 2010.
"A Test of Sincerity: How Black and Latino Service Workers Make Decisions about Making Referrals." The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 629: 30-52, 2010.
"A Question of Access or Mobilization? Understanding Inefficacious Job Referral Networks among the Black Poor." In Social Capital: Advances in Research, edited by Nan Lin and Bonnie Erickson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
“Examining the Impact of Welfare Reform, the Economic Expansion, and the Earned Income Tax Credit on the Employment of Black and White Single Mothers.” (with Mary Noonan and Mary Corcoran) Social Science Research 36:95-130, 2007.
"'Don't put my name on it': (Dis)Trust and Job-Finding Assistance among the Black Urban Poor." American Journal of Sociology 111(1):1-57, 2005. *Lead Article; Spotlighted in Contexts: Understanding People in Their Social Worlds, Volume 5, No. 2, 2005.
"Exploring the Efficacy of African-Americans' Job Referral Networks." Ethnic and Racial Studies 26(6): 1029-1045, 2003.
"Expectations of Campus Racial Climate and Social Adjustment among African-American College Students." Pp. 93-110 in C. C. Yeaky (Series Ed.) and W. R. Allen, M.B. Spencer, and C. O'Connor (Vol. Eds), African American Education: Race, Community, Inequality and Achievement--A Tribute to Edgar G. Epps. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Science (with Mignon R. Moore), 2001.
"Intraracial Diversity and Relations among African Americans: Feelings of Closeness among Black Students at a Predominantly White University." (with Mignon Moore) American Journal of Sociology 106(1):1-39, 2000. *Lead Article.
"Mobilizing Social Resources: Race, Ethnic, and Gender Differences in Social Capital and Persisting Wage Inequalities." The Sociological Quarterly 41(4):509-537, 2000. *Lead Article.
Reprinted in the college text, Prejudice and Discrimination in America: A Book of Readings, 2001, edited by Juan Gonzales. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.
Book Reviews and Short Pieces
Review of Unanticipated Gains: Origins of Network Inequality in Everyday Life, by Mario Luis Small (New York: Oxford University Press) in Sociological Forum.
"Culturally Resistant and Defeated?" Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity: The Source for News, Ideas, and Action, September 14th, 2001. http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org/ExclusiveCommentary.aspx?id:33cf993e-9569-457d-a7ec-08173274bf4a
Review of Categorically Unequal: The American Stratification System, by Douglas S. Massey (New York: Russell Sage Foundation) in Contemporary Sociology 37(3):235-6, 2008.
Review of Working and Growing Up in America, by Jeylan T. Mortimer (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press) in Social Forces 84(1):610-612, 2005.
Review of The Minority Rights Revolution, by John D. Skrentny (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002) in Contexts (summer): 65-6, 2004.
Review of Civility in the City: Blacks, Jews, and Koreans in Urban America, by Jennifer Lee (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002) Social Forces 81(4):1520, 2003.
"Exploration into the Efficacy of the Job Referral Networks of Low-Income African Americans." Focus 21(3): 23, 2001.
Review of A Poverty of Imagination: Bootstrap Capitalism, Sequel to Welfare Reform, by David Stoesz (Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2000), American Journal of Sociology 107(2): 513-515, 2001.
In Progress or Under Review
Logics of Assistance (tentative title). In progress.
“Do the Effects of Individual-Level Attributes on Social Capital Activation Differ by Race? A Study of the Job-Finding Process.” Under review.
“Searching for Work with a Criminal Record” (with Nora Broege). Under review.
”Logics of Assistance: Why Weak Ties Help and Strong Ties Don’t.” In progress.
"The Role of Mental and Physical Health Concerns on Ex-Offenders' Job Search" (with Nora Broege). In progress.