Isaac Dalke

picture of Isaac

Isaac Dalke

Curriculum Vitae
Research Interests
crime, punishment, and violence; bureaucracy; expertise; governance

I am a PhD candidate in the UC-Berkeley Sociology Department. Broadly my work sits at the intersection of the sociology of punishment, political sociology, and the sociology of knowledge. More concretely, I am interested in (a) the relationship between ideas and social change in the penal state, and (b) the role of nonprofits in defining and responding to social problems. These two strands come together in my dissertation research, which takes a multifaceted approach to understanding the rise of community-based violence prevention efforts across California. What shapes where it happens, who does it, and what it consists of? And how do we know if it is working? Within these questions, I’m interested in how different actors and organizations envision violence prevention, and the practical opportunities and constraints involved in realizing those visions through nonprofit contracting. This ranges from securing funding and developing community partnerships to implementation and evaluating success.

Methodologically, I am interested in how to integrate emerging Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools with traditional interpretive modes of analysis. My master's research and related ongoing work investigates how the parole board in California decides who to release from prison, relying on both traditional interpretive and NLP methods to analyze parole transcripts. In another line of research, I use NLP techniques to probe scholarly claims about 'nonprofit ideology.'

My work is supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and an Institute of Governmental Studies Synar Fellowship. I am also affiliated with the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues at Berkeley. Prior to graduate school, I worked in prison condition advocacy, community development, and education research. I can be reached at

Peer Reviewed Articles
Dalke, Isaac. 2024. "I come before you a changed man: 'Insight,' Compliance, and Refurbishing Penal Practice in California." Law & Social Inquiry 49(2): 1138-1168. link
 - Honorable mention, ASA Sociology of Law graduate student paper award (2022)

Dalke, Isaac and Joss Greene. 2024. "Prerequisites and Pathways: How Social Categorization Helps Administrators Determine Moral Worth." Theory and Society 53(1): 41-66. link

Greene, Joss and Isaac Dalke. 2021. "'You're still an angry man': Parole boards and logics of criminalized masculinity." Theoretical Criminology 25(4): 639-662. link

Other Writing
Dalke, Isaac. 2020. Review of Courting the Community: Legitimacy and Punishment in a Community Court by Christine Zozula. Contemporary Sociology 49(6): 547-548. link

PhD Date: