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
Loïc Wacquant
Incarnation, the penal state, comparative urban inequality and marginality, "race" as a principle of social vision and division, extreme social systems, politics of reason, social…
Danya Lagos
Assistant Professor
Sex and Gender, Demography, Survey Methods, Health, Social Change, Embodiment
David J. Harding
poverty, inequality, causal inference, mixed methods, incarceration and prisoner reentry, education, neighborhood effects, urban communities, adolescence
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
Guanxi, translated as 'social connections,' or 'social networks,' is among the most important studied phenomena in China today. Guanxi lies at the heart of China's social order, its econo...

Social Connections in China

Guanxi, translated as 'social connections,' or 'social networks,' is among the most important studied phenomena in China today. Guanxi lies at the heart of China's social order, its economic structure, and its changing institutional landscape. It is considered important in every realm of life, from politics to business, and officialdom to street life. This 2002 volume offers scholarly thinking on the subject by top China sociologists whose work on guanxi has been influential and by scholars offering insights on the topic. The authors examine the role ...
[homepage] colloquium

Departmental Colloquium Series

Luciana de Souza Leão, "Optics of the State: The Politics of Making Poverty Visible in Brazil and Mexico"

Wednesday, November 16, 2022, 2-3:30pm Hybrid: The Graduate Hotel, California Room & via Zoom

Sociological studies stress how state legibility serves as a form of population control. Often overlooked is how states differ in their will to control, and how this variation shapes legibility projects. This research proposes a three-dimensional analytical framework to study legibility from a comparative perspective that seeks to account for this variation. I illustrate the usefulness of this framework through an in-depth analysis of how Brazil and Mexico rendered poor individuals visible in order to implement conditional cash transfer programs (or CCTs). In the mid-1990s, these two states implemented the same policy, facing very similar challenges; yet, they adopted different solutions for governing their respective CCT programs and making poor families visible. Drawing on the analysis of approximately 15,000 pages of official documents, 125 in-depth interviews with bureaucratic and political elites, and 18 months of fieldwork in Brazil and Mexico, this article reveals the political and governance effects of distinct methods of seeing like a state. Specifically, I show that the differences and consequences of legibility projects depended on the politics of legitimation of each CCT program and had the unanticipated effect of making the state itself visible to broader publics and thus subject to intense scrutiny.