In modern societies, formal education plays primary roles in a host of basic social processes, from socialization and stratification to national development and globalization. Questions arise at every level of analysis, and they inspire vigorous policy debates.

The Sociology of Education cluster at UCI draws on uniquely broad and deep faculty expertise to provide students with exceptional opportunities and training to address these questions. Our faculty are on the cutting edge of both quantitative and qualitative methods, and cluster members' research features prominently in public debates as well as informing policy and legislation. Students interested in the sociology of education benefit from UCI's interdisciplinary landscape, and work with faculty examining educational processes at the interactional, organizational, and global levels. Nine sociologists at UCI have been honored as National Academy of Education/Spencer post-doctoral fellows, and our faculty includes a member of the National Academy of Education. In addition to the world class faculty in the cluster, students often work closely with other leading scholars from UCI's School of Education.

Interests of individual faculty and examples of their research are listed below:


Richard ArumMy current research focuses on studying innovative programs that have attempted to integrate digital learning with progressive pedagogical approaches. I also continue to work on higher education outcomes and assessment.

  • Arum, Richard and Josipa Roksa. 2014. Aspiring Adults Adrift: Tentative Transitions of College Graduates. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Arum, Richard, Josipa Roksa and Amanda Cook, eds. 2016. Improving Quality in American Higher Education: Learning Outcomes and Assessments for the 21st Century. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.


Susan Brown:My research examines unexpected ways that policy affects access to higher education.  Current work with Frank D. Bean looks at how the ability of unauthorized immigrants to legalize can enhance children's educational attainment.

  • Bean, Frank D., Mark A. Leach, Susan K. Brown, James D. Bachmeier, and John R. Hipp. 2011. “The Educational Legacy of Unauthorized Migration: Comparisons Across U.S. Immigrant Groups in How Parents’ Status Affects Their Offspring.” International Migration Review 45(2): 352-389.
  • Brown, Susan K., and Charles Hirschman.  2006.  "The End of Affirmative Action in Washington State and Its Effect on the Transition from High School to College."  Sociology of Education 79: 106-30.


George Farkas: My research focuses on educational inequality and how it can be reduced.

  • Miller, E., Farkas, G., Vandell, D., & Duncan, G. (2014).“Do the Effects of Head Start Vary by Parental Pre-academic Stimulation?” Child Development 85(4), 1385-1400.
  • Silver, Eric, Stacy Silver, Sonja Siennick, and George Farkas. (2011). “Bodily Signs of Academic Success: An Empirical Examination of Tattoos and Grooming.”  Social Problems 58 (4): 538 – 564.
  • Hall, Matthew, Emily Greenman, and George Farkas.  (2010). Legal Status and Wage Disparities for Mexican Immigrants.”  Social Forces 89 (2): 491 – 513


Glenda Flores: My research examines the intersection of race, gender, class and other social locations in educational institutions through ethnographic methods. In particular, I examine interracial relations between teachers, parents and students as well as dominant and non-dominant forms of cultural capital in schools.
  • Flores, Glenda M. 2017. Latina Teachers: Creating Careers and Guardians of Culture. New York: NYU Press.
  • Flores, Glenda M. 2011. "Racialized Tokens: Latina Teachers Negotiating, Surviving and Thriving in a White Woman's Profession." Qualitative Sociology, 34: 313-335.

David John Frank: A current project (with John W. Meyer) envisions the university as the bedrock institution of the contemporary global knowledge society.  Another (with Matthew Pearce and Evan Schofer) looks at the worldwide expansion of the university curriculum.

  • Robinson, Karen Jeong, and David John Frank.  2014.  “Higher Education: Institutional Effects.”  Pp. 2868-70 in Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research, edited by A. C. Michalos.  Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.
  • Frank, David John, Karen Jeong Robinson, and Jared Olesen.  2011.  “The Global Expansion of Environmental Education in Universities.”  Comparative Education Review 55 (November): 546-73.


Paul HanselmanMy research asks how schools contribute to social inequality and what we can do about it. I am especially interested in how local social contexts shape developmental processes and the consequences for educational interventions and policy. Some of my research details how schools allocate valuable learning opportunities, such as advanced mathematics courses. Other projects assess the effects of individual interventions, such as writing exercises to mitigate stereotype threat for students of color, with a focus on how effects vary across different types of schools.

  • Hanselman, Paul and Jeremy E. Fiel. 2017. "School Opportunity Hoarding? Racial Segregation and Access to High Growth Schools." Social Forces 95(3):1077–1104.
  • Hanselman, Paul, Sarah K. Bruch, Adam Gamoran, and Geoffrey D. Borman. 2014. "Threat in Context: School Moderation of the Impact of Social Identity Threat on Racial/Ethnic Achievement Gaps." Sociology of Education 87(2):106–24.


Julia C. Lerch: My research examines how global cultural ideologies impact the role of education as a social institution in countries around the world. One current project focuses on the rise of education as a humanitarian response. Today, global responses to humanitarian crises have come to deliver "emergency education" to affected populations (e.g. refugees), in addition to more traditional humanitarian services like emergency medicine, shelter, and food. The project seeks to understand the world cultural changes that have facilitated this re-conceptualization of education as a humanitarian need. A second project studies the impact of the global cultural environment on school curricula worldwide, asking to what extent global cultural ideologies of individual rights and multiculturalism have challenged nationalism and the mono-cultural narratives once favored in schools.
  • Lerch, Julia C., S. Garnett Russell, and Francisco O. Ramirez. Forthcoming. "Wither the Nation-State? A Comparative Analysis of Nationalism in Textbooks." Social Forces. (https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/sox049)
  • Lerch, Julia C., Patricia Bromley, Francisco O. Ramirez, and John W. Meyer. 2017. "The Rise of Individual Agency in Conceptions of Society: Textbooks Worldwide, 1950-2011." International Sociology 32(1): 38-60.


Andrew Penner (Cluster Coordinator) : My research seeks to understand issues around inequality in education. In particular, I am interested in how educational systems sort students in ways that create categorical inequalities, the role of educational policies and practices in creating and redressing inequality, and how gender differences in education vary across national contexts. 

  • Domina, Thurston, Andrew M. Penner, and Emily K. Penner. 2017. "Categorical inequality: Schools as sorting machines." Annual Review of Sociology, 43, 311-330.
  • Penner, Andrew M., Thurston Domina, Emily K. Penner, and AnneMarie M. Conley. 2015. "Curricular policy as a collective effects problem: A distributional approach." Social Science Research, 52, 627-641


Emily PennerMy work examines the ways in which schools, teachers, families, and policies produce and ameliorate educational inequality. In particular, I'm interested in the ways that contexts and policies shape school experiences and outcomes for low-income children and youth in urban schools.

  • Dee, Thomas S. and Emily K. Penner. Forthcoming. "The Causal Effects of Cultural Relevance: Evidence from an Ethnic Studies Curriculum." American Educational Research Journal. NBER Working Paper No. 21865.
  • Penner, Emily K. 2016. "Teaching For All? Teach For America's Effects across the Distribution of Student Achievement." Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 9(13): 259-282. DOI: 10.1080/19345747.2016.1164779. NIHMSID: 809947.


Maria Rendon: My current research focuses on urban environments and their impact on the social mobility process of children of Latino immigrants. As part of this research, I examine neighborhood and school processes and the cultural outlooks of inner city youth and young adults. In particular, I focus on Latino young men.

  • Rendón, Maria G. February 2014. ""Caught Up:" How Urban Violence and Peer Ties Contribute to High School Non-Completion." Social Problems. 61 (1)
  • Rendón, Maria G. 2013. "Drop Out and Disconnected Young Adults: Examining the Impact of Neighborhood and School Contexts." The Urban Review.
  • Briggs, Xavier de Souza, Kadija Ferryman, Susan Popkin, Maria Rendón. Spring 2008. "Why Didn't the Moving to Opportunity Experiment Get Children to Better Schools?" Housing Policy Debate.19 (1)


Rubén G. Rumbaut: My research focuses on intergenerational educational mobility and inequality among immigrant-origin groups.

  • Rumbaut, Rubén G. 2008. "The Coming of the Second Generation: Immigration and Ethnic Mobility in Southern California." The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 620: 196-236.
  • Rumbaut, Rubén G. 2005. "Children of Immigrants and Their Achievement: The Role of Family, Acculturation, Class, Gender, Ethnicity, and School Contexts." Pp. 23-59 in R.D.Taylor, ed., Addressing the Achievement Gap.  Greenwich, CT: IAP. A volume in the series on Research in Educational Productivity


David Schaefer, DASA M.A. Program Director: I am interested in the processes that shape adolescent social networks and drive network change. Much of my research uses Add Health data to examine school-based friendship networks, their links to extracurricular activities, and consequences for adolescent development and health outcomes.

  • Schaefer, David R., Sandra D. Simpkins, and Andrea Vest Ettekal. 2018. ³Can Extracurricular Activities Reduce Adolescent Race/Ethnic Friendship Segregation?² Chapter in Together Through Time: Social Networks and the Life Course. Edited by Duane F. Alwin, Diane H. Felmlee, and Derek A. Kreager. DOI: 10.17605/OSF.IO/RCHXM
  • Schaefer, David R., Sandra D. Simpkins, Andrea E. Vest, and Chara D. Price. 2011. ³The Contribution of Extracurricular Activities to Adolescent Friendships: New Insights through Social Network Analysis.² Developmental Psychology 47:1141-1152.
  • Adams, jimi and David R. Schaefer. 2016. ³How Initial Prevalence Moderates Network-Based Smoking Change: Estimating Contextual Effects with Stochastic Actor-based Models.² Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 57:22-38.


Evan Schofer: I am interested in the global expansion of education systems, the varying structure and organization of education around the world, and the impact of those variations on the economy and inequality.

  • Meyer, John W., Francisco O. Ramirez, David John Frank, and Evan Schofer.  2007.  "Higher Education as an Institution."  Pp. 187-221 in Sociology of Higher Education: Contributions and Their Contexts, edited by P. J. Gumport.  Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Schofer, Evan, and John W. Meyer.  2005.  "The World-Wide Expansion of Higher Education in the Twentieth Century."  American Sociological Review 70: 898-920.


Kristin TurneyMy research examines how inequalities in family life contribute to inequalities in children's wellbeing. In one vein of this research, I consider the collateral consequences of incarceration for children's educational outcomes.

  • Turney, Kristin. 2017. "The Unequal Consequences of Mass Incarceration for Children." Demography 54:361-389.
  • Turney, Kristin, and Anna Haskins. 2014. "Falling Behind? Children's Early Grade Retention after Paternal Incarceration." Sociology of Education 87:241–258.


To qualify for a graduate field exam and/or expertise in the sociology of education, students must take both of the core courses and one of the elective courses listed below.

Core Courses

SOC 237- Educational Inequality 

EDUC 251- Educational Politics and Policy 


Elective Courses: 

  • Comparative Sociology of Education (Lerch)
  • Higher Education and Society (Frank)
  • Intersectionalities in Education (Flores)
  • Organizational Studies and School Change (Arum)
  • Policies to Reduce Educational Inequality (Farkas)
  • Social and Cultural Foundations of Education (E. Penner)
  • Social Capital and Student Achievement (Farkas)
  • Women in Science (A. Penner)
  • World Culture and World Society (Frank and Schofer)


Students interested in taking the field exam in the sociology of education should consult with the cluster coordinator.  Parts of the reading list (up to a quarter of the readings) can be tailored to accommodate particular student interests.



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