Political sociology and social movements are two major, overlapping areas of sociological inquiry, both nationally and internationally, and constitute a central focus of research and instruction within the UCI Sociology Department.  With the addition of new faculty in this area over the past six years, not only has this research cluster become one of the Department’s scholarly cornerstones, but it has also become one of the top programs in the country in which to study social movements and related forms of collective action. The vitality of this research cluster is attributable partly to the number and prominence of participating faculty as well as to the substantive, theoretical and methodological breadth of their research, as indicated by the listing of a few of their respective recent publications and some of their current research projects. Faculty in this area, just as in the Department in general, work closely with students; so students are likely to find themselves working closely with faculty on one of their projects or working with a mentor as they pursue their own projects. Two organizational appendages of this cluster offer additional opportunities to students: the developing Center for the Study of Collective Action, which brings together interested faculty and students from across the UCI campus to engage in joint research, seminars and workshops; and the Social Justice & Social Movement seminar, which meets twice monthly to discuss works in progress relevant to politics and social movements.


Edwin Amenta*

  • When Movements Matter: The Townsend Plan and the Rise of Social Security, Princeton University Press, 2006.
  • “State-Centered and Political Institutional Theories in Political Sociology: Retrospect and Prospect.” In the Handbook of Political Sociology , eds. Robert Alford, Alexander Hicks, Thomas Janoski, and Mildred A. Schwartz. Cambridge , 2005.

Catherine Bolzendahl (On Leave 2020-21) 

  • “Women’s Political Resources and Welfare State Spending in 12 Capitalist Democracies.” Social Forces, 2007 (with Clem Brooks)
  • “Feminist Attitudes and Support for Gender Equality: Opinion Change in Women and Men, 1974-1998.” Social Forces 83: 759-790, 2004 (with Daniel Myers)

David Frank

  • “World Society, NGOs, and Environmental Policy Reform in Asia” (with Wesley Longhofer and Evan Schofer), International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 2007.
  • "The Nation-State and the Natural Environment over the Twentieth Century" (with Ann Hironaka, and Evan Schofer), American Sociological Review, 2000.

Ann Hironaka

  • “Citizenship Beyond Borders: A Cross-National Study of Dual Citizenship.” (with Eric Dahlin), Sociological Inquiry, 2008.
  • Neverending Wars: The International Community, Weak States, and the Perpetuation of Civil War.  Harvard University Press, 2005.

David S. Meyer, Cluster Coordinator *

  • The Politics of Protest: Social Movements in America.  Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Routing the Opposition: Social Movements, Public Policy, and Democracy, (co-edited with Valerie Jenness and Helen Ingram), University of Minnesota Press, 2005.

Francesca Polletta*

  • It Was Like a Fever: Storytelling in Protest and Politics, University of Chicago Press, 2006
  • Freedom Is an Endless Meeting: Democracy in American Social Movements, University of Chicago Press, 2002

Belinda Robnett* (On Leave 2020-21)

  • “We Don’t Agree: Collective Identity Justification Work in           Social Movement Organizations” In Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change Vol.26 ed. Patrick Coy. Amsterdam: Elsevier. 2005:201-238.
  • How Long? How Long, African-American Women in the Struggles for Civil Rights, Oxford University Press, 1997

Evan Schofer

  • “The Structural Sources of Associational Life”  (with Marion Fourcade Gourinchas)  American Sociological Review, 2001
  • “The Effects of World Society on Environmental Protection Outcomes” (with Ann Hironaka)  Social Forces, 2005

David Smith

  • "Politics and Globalization: An Introduction."  Research in Political
    15:1-23. 2007.
  • "The Politics of Immigration and Labor in Postsuburban California."
    (Co-authored with Dennis Downey)  Forthcoming in Charles A. Gallagher and Cameron D. Lippard (eds), Below the Belt: Race, Ethnicity, Labor, and Politics in a Changing Sunbelt Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.

David A. Snow, Distinguished Emeritus Professor* 

  • “Framing the French ‘Riots’: A Comparative Study of Frame Variation” (with Rens Vliegenhart and Catherine Corrigall-Brown). Social Forces, 2007
  • “Ideology, Framing Processes, and Islamic Terrorist Movements” (with Scott Byrd) Mobilization: An International Journal, 2007

Judith Stepan-Norris, Department Chair*

  • “The Labor Movement in Motion,” in The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements (with Rick Fantasia), 2004
  • Left Out: Reds and America's Industrial Unions (with Maurice Zeitlin), Cambridge University Press, 2003  

Yang Su, Co-Graduate Director*

  • "The Cultural Revolution in the Countryside: Scope, Timing and Human Impact," China Quarterly (with Andrew Walder), 2003
  • "The War at Home: Anti-War Protests and Congressional Voting, 1965-73," American Sociological Review (with Doug McAdam), 2002


*Members for whom the study of social movements and collective action is a primary research specialty.


  • Examination of processes through which collective action frames are produced, negotiated, and modified
  • Investigation of the interactive dynamics that affect the course and character of celebratory and protest crowds/gatherings
  • Assessment of the ebbs and flows of anti-war and antinuclear weapons activism in America since World War II, with particular attention to the relationship of protest to policy
  • Investigation of the relationship between shop-floor networks and union leadership
  • Examination of the ways in which racial identity, gender relations, class stratification, and generational differences have facilitated or impeded various forms of political formation and mobilization among African-Americans in the post-1960s era    
  • Study of the AFL-CIO's Union Summer Program, which recruits mostly college students to help with individual union organizing, strike, and other union efforts
  • Data collection project on U.S. unions over the last hundred years.
  • Examination of state-sponsored mass movements in the communist society
  • Study of popular resistance in transitional China
  • Investigation of the spatial dimensions of work, ethnicity, and religion, and how they are involved in the development of community politics in Detroit, Michigan during the 1950s
  • Examination of collective action, quasi-legal structures, and abusive authority in organizations
  • Examination of the relationship between deliberation and contention, through an investigation of decisionmaking about the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11
  • Examination of the relations between culture, structure, and strategy in social movements
  • Examination of the influence of U.S. old-age pension movements on social security
  • Study of America’s most publicized challengers, mapping and analyzing the population of political SMOs as they have appeared in national newspapers
  • Examination of the relationship between deliberation and contention, through an investigation of decision-making about the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11
  • Study of how well “victim stories” serve activists in the court, media, and legislative hearings
  • Investigating gender differences in citizenship norms and behaviors cross-nationally
  • Study of gender influences on social policy and welfare state development internationally
  • Study of the sources of cross-national variation in voluntary organizations
  • Examination of the effects of domestic and international associations on environmental policy reform
  • Theorization of the role of the international community in civil and interstate warfare



Specialization in the area requires students to pass an area field exam. To qualify for the exam, students must take at least two core seminars and one elective seminar.

  • Core Seminars:  Political Sociology; Social Movements; Comparative Contentious Politics
  • Elective Seminars: Elective seminars in this area are generally Special      Topics Seminars. Among those offered recently are: Strikes; Genocide, Mass Killings, and the State; Law, Inequality, and Mobilization; Collective Identity; and Deliberative Democracy and Collaborative Governance.



(Check with Department Administrator & Cluster Coordinator) 


Fall: Special Topics - Macrosocial Consequences of Social Movements (Amenta)
Fall: Special Topics - Strikes (Stepan-Norris)
Winter: Special Topics - Collective Identity (Robnett)
Winter: Special Topics - Social Movements in America (Meyer)
Spring: Special Topics - Genocide, Mass Killings, and the State (Snow and Yang Su)
Spring: Special Topics - Gender, Family and the Welfare State (Bolzendahl)


Fall: Social Movements (Meyer)
Fall: Political Sociology (Amenta & Bolzendahl)
Winter: Special Topics – Women in Legislature: Causes and Consequences (Bolzendahl)
Spring: Special Topics - Democratic Deliberation and Collaborative Governance (Polletta, Rosenberg, and Feldman)


Fall: Social Movements (Meyer and Snow)
Fall: Work and Industrial Relations (Stepan-Norris)
Spring: Special Topics - Culture, Collective Identity, and Collective Action (Robnett)
Spring: Special Topics - Genocide, Mass Killings, and the State (Snow and Su Yang)


Winter: Special Topics - Law, Inequality, and Mobilization (Polletta)


© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766