Calvin Morrill

Professor of Law & Sociology
Associate Dean for Jurisprudence and Social Policy / Legal Studies, School of Law
Research Interests: 
sociology of law, organizational theory, social movements, culture, youth, education, qualitative field methods, social networks
Room #204, Center for the Study of Law and Society, 2240 Piedmont Avenue

Calvin Morrill is Stefan A. Riesenfeld Professor of Law and Professor of Sociology, and Associate Dean and Chair for Jurisprudence and Social Policy / Legal Studies at the School of Law. His primary research and teaching interests lie in the fields of the sociology of law, organizational theory, social movements, sociology of culture, qualitative field methods, sociology of youth, sociology of education, and the sociology of work.  His work focuses on how social conflict emerges and is handled at multiple levels of analysis, with implications for the study of organizational and institutional change. 

His most recent book is entitled, Navigating Conflict: How Youth Handle Trouble in a High-Poverty School (University of Chicago Press, 2018).  Based on a multi-method, longitudinal case study of an American high-poverty high school, this book examines how youth handle peer conflict on their own terms.  Professors Morrill and Musheno find that whether youth turn to violent or non-violent means to handle interpersonal and intergroup trouble hinges on the fluidity of peer relationships and freedom of movement on campus, undergirded by long-term social trust embedded in student-teacher relations.  In addition, they investigate how the school’s shift toward a punishment-centered disciplinary/security policy (now common in many American high schools) undermined social trust and unsettled relatively peaceful youth conflict practices on campus, ironically creating the conditions for greater school violence.

Professor Morrill has published and is working on several papers with Lauren Edelman, Karolyn Tyson, Richard Arum, and multiple graduate students that examine the influence of law on everyday life in high schools.  Drawing on original surveys and qualitative fieldwork (in-depth interviewing and ethnographic observation), they examine rights violations involving due process, discrimination, freedom of expression, and harassment among students, teachers, and administrators in 25 high schools in California, New York, and North Carolina.  These normative domains represent key areas of legal contestation and decision-making about American schools over the past sixty years.  Rather than think of individual responses to rights violations as an “either/or,” law-or-nothing dynamic, legal mobilization is conceived as a multidimensional process that can involve legal, quasi-legal (e.g., mediation, internal organizational grievance procedures), and extra-legal actions.  Among the findings from this work is evidence that what youth and adults believe they would do when faced with a violation of their rights is very different from what they actually do.  This discrepancy is particularly dramatic for African American and Latino youth compared to white youth, which suggests that legal mobilization is a key analytic site of social inequality in schools.

Over the past several years, Professor Morrill also has been involved in an emerging area of scholarship that combines organizational and social movement theory to understand institutional and organizational change.  In a series of solo-authored and collaborative papers with Hayagreeva Rao, Elizabeth Chiarello, and the late Mayer Zald he has examined how social movements produce new organizational forms and fields; the interplay between covert and overt political conflict in organizations; how social movements influence organizations; and how the “encroachment” of institutional fields leads to change.  He co-edited with Gerald Davis, Hayagreeva Rao, and Sarah Soule a special issue of Administrative Science Quarterly on social movements in organizations, markets, and fields.


Representative Publications: 

Works in Progress
“The Early Years of the Law and Society as a Field” (co-authored with Lauren Edelman and Yan Fang)
“Dealing with Negative Social Ties” (co-authored with Lindsay Bayham)
“Social Control in Organizations” (co-authored with Brittany Arsiniega)
Constituting Privilege via School Discipline (co-authored with Kelsey Mayo, Lauren Edelman, Karolyn Tyson, and Richard Arum)
Field Encroachment and Institutional Change (co-authored with Elizabeth Chiarello)

Books and Edited Special Issues of Journals
2018 Navigating Conflict: How Youth Handle Trouble in a High-Poverty School (co-authored with Michael Musheno). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

2008 Special Issue on Social Movements in Organizations and Markets (co-edited with Gerald Davis, Hayagreeva Rao, and Sarah Soule). Administrative Science Quarterly, 53, no 4.

2005 Together Alone: Personal Relationships in Public Places (co-edited with David A. Snow and Cindy White). Berkeley: University of California, Press.

1995 The Executive Way: Conflict Management in Corporations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (paperback edition, 1996).

Articles and Chapters
2016 “Change Disguised as Continuity in Studying Law and Society? Evidence from the Law & Society Review, 1966–2015.” Law & Society Review 50:1019-1022.

2015 “Charting the Classics in Law and Society: The Development of the Field Over the Past Half-Century. (co-authored with Kelsey Mayo). Wiley Handbook of Law and Society, edited by Austin Sarat and Patricia Ewick. NY: Wiley.

2011 “Fairness Monitoring: Linking Managerial Controls and Fairness Judgments in Organizations.” (co-authored with Chris Long and Corinne Bendersky). Academy of Management Journal 55:1045-1068.

2010 “Legal Mobilization in Schools: The Paradox of Rights and Race among Youth.” (co-authored with Lauren Edelman, Karolyn Tyson, and Richard Arum). Law & Society Review 44:651-694.

2009 “Ethnography in Organizational Settings” (co-authored with Gary Alan Fine and Sharmi Surianarain). Pp. 602-619 in Handbook in Organizational Research Methods, edited by David Buchanan and Alan Bryman. London: Sage.

2008 “Culture and Organization Theory.’ Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 69:15-40.

2003 “Covert Political Conflict in Organizations: Challenges from Below.” (co-authored with Hayagreeva Rao and Mayer N. Zald). Annual Review of Sociology 30:391-415.

2003 “Elaborating Analytic Ethnography: Linking Ethnography and Theoretical Development” (co-authored with David A. Snow and Leon Anderson). Ethnography 4:181-200.

2000 “Telling Tales in School: Youth Culture and Conflict Narratives” (co-authored with Christine Yalda, Madelaine Adelman, Michael Musheno, and Cindy Bejarano). Law & Society Review 34:521-566.

2000 “Power Plays: Social Movements, Collective Action, and New Organizational Forms” (co-authored with Hayagreeva Rao and Mayer N. Zald). Research in Organizational Behavior 22: 237-281.

1991 “Conflict Management, Honor, and Organizational Change” American Journal of Sociology 97:585-621.