Welcome to Berkeley Sociology

Berkeley’s Sociology Department is known around the world for its excellence in research and teaching. Our faculty advance cutting edge research and teach in most sociological specialities. Our PhDs are leaders in universities and research centers across the US and in many other countries. And our BAs populate the ranks of innumerable professions, bringing with them the skills and special perspective of Berkeley sociology. 

We are proud to make these contributions from the world’s leading public university. At Berkeley, we combine intellectual rigor with a commitment to public service through our research, teaching, and service on campus and beyond. 

For the past six decades, Berkeley’s Sociology Department has consistently been ranked among the world’s top sociology departments. Our graduate program is ranked #1 in the latest U.S. News and World Report, and our undergrad degree is currently the best in the US according to College Factual and features on Grad Reports’ Best College List 2020.

Faculty Spotlight
Ann Swidler
Professor of the Graduate School
Culture, religion, theory, institutionalization, African responses to HIV/AIDS; social ecologies of religion in Africa; chieftaincy, congregational religion and capacities for collective action
Yan Long
Assistant Professor
Global and transnational sociology, political sociology, health and medicine, organizations, gender and sexualities
Neil Fligstein
Economic sociology, organizations, methodology and statistics, political sociology
In Memoriam
Albert Einstein (1941)
Albert Einstein (1941)

Prof. Einstein served graduate students as a model of prudence in remaining unfashionably true to the grand…

Faculty Publishing
Teach-In Seminar
[homepage] colloquium

Departmental Colloquium Series

Michael McCarthy Dismantling Solidarity: Capitalist Politics and American Pensions since the New Deal Monday

Monday, April 19, 2-3:30pm via Zoom
Michael McCarthy
Dismantling Solidarity: Capitalist Politics and American Pensions since the New Deal

What explains the decades long marketization of retirement security in the US since the New Deal period? This talk explores two key transformations, which both had profound demonstration effects around the world. First, the adoption of private collectively bargained pensions after World War Two as an alternative to expanding the public Social Security system. And second, the replacement of these defined-benefit plans with riskier defined-contribution plans, such as 401(k)s. It makes three interlocking arguments about these changes to develop a theory of structural contingency. First, state intervention in labor-management relations triggered marketization. Second, policymakers intervened to manage perceived crises in capitalism – a structural condition. And third, how they intervened and how their policy choices caused marketization was a result of historical contingencies. Drawing from archival research, the talk will argue that the structural constraints of capitalist democracy established a range of possible policy paths available to policymakers, but contingent factors channeled policy selection within that range. It argues that this has important implications for how we conceptualize capitalist democracy.


Michael A. McCarthy is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Social and Cultural Sciences at Marquette University and an incoming Berggruen Research Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Center on Science, Technology and Public Life. His book, Dismantling Solidarity, was awarded the American Sociological Association's Paul Sweezy Book Award and the Labor and Labor Movements' Distinguished Book Award Honorable Mention. He currently has two book projects underway. The first is on democratizing finance and the second is on sociological Marxism.