Sandra Susan Smith

Sandra Susan Smith's picture
Associate Professor
Research Interests: 
Urban poverty and joblessness, job search, social capital and social networks, trust and cooperation, and culture and social structure.
468 Barrows
Curriculum Vitae: 

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).

Current study PreTrial Diversion and Detention (PTDD).


Representative Publications: 


    Lone Pursuit: Distrust and Defensive Individualism among the Black Poor. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2007.

Published Articles and Chapters

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.

  • 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.