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*

David Frank, Department Chair

Ann Hironaka

David S. Meyer, Cluster Coordinator *

Francesca Polletta*

Evan Schofer

David Smith

David A. Snow, Distinguished Emeritus Professor* 

Judith Stepan-Norris, Professor Emerita*

Yang Su, Co-Graduate Director*

*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:

Macrosocial Consequences of Social Movements   
Social Movements in America  
Genocide, Mass Killings, and the State  
Gender, Family and the Welfare State  
Women in Legislature: Causes and Consequences  
Democratic Deliberation and Collaborative Governance  
Work and Industrial Relations  
Culture, Collective Identity, and Collective Action  
Law, Inequality, and Mobilization  

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