College of Social Sciences

Inequalities and Social Justice


While all of our areas introduce students to important effects of inequalities, the Inequalities and Social Justice concentration enables students to focus on the processes through which inequalities are produced and challenged. At issue are the foundations of power: politics and the state, social movements, race and ethnicity, gender and sexualities, and social class. Courses enable students to critically evaluate theory and research on the distribution of income, wealth, and opportunities, organizational dynamics at work and in schools, historical and political processes that influence state policy, cultural and interactional mechanisms of inequality reproduction, and the mobilization and consequences of social movements. Students can take their preliminary exam on either politics and social movements or on race, class, and gender.

Illustrative Courses

(For current listings, contact area committee Chair)

SYA 693x Maternal & Child Health
SYA 693x  Gender, Work, & Family
SYA 693x Sociology of Education
SYD 5705 Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
SYO 5306 Political Sociology
SYO 5335 Political Economy: Politics, Institutions, and Inequality
SYO 5535 Inequalities: Race, Class, and Gender
SYO 6538 Advanced Research Seminar: Educational Policy and School Reform
SYO 6538 Advanced Research Seminar: Mass Media and Society
SYP 5005 Social Interaction
SYP 5305 Collective Behavior and Social Movements
SYP 6356 Sociology of the Contemporary Women’s Movement

Inequalities & Social Justice Faculty

Irene Padavic (Michigan, 1987) uses quantitative and qualitative methods to study workplace inequality, including workplace gender inequality (glass ceiling, segregation, sexual harassment) and race inequality in organizations (workplaces, the fraternity/sorority system; the juvenile justice system). She also has investigated contingent workers, how organizations can contribute to or mitigate sex differences, and various gender and family issues.

Hernan Ramirez (University of Southern California, 2011) studies socioeconomic mobility among self-employed Mexican immigrant gardeners and their American-born children.

John Reynolds (Ohio State, 1997) is director of the Claude Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy. Reynolds’ current research examines various educational trends--including women’s recent gains in higher education relative to men and the dramatic rise in teenagers’ plans to get a four-year or graduate degree--and their implications for educational inequality. He also is studying school reform in Florida.

Deana Rohlinger (University of California, Irvine 2004) is interested in social movement dynamics, movement-media interactions and strategy. She is also interested in, and has written about, gender, transnational movements, political parties, and popular culture. Her current research includes an analysis of media strategy in the abortion debate, an examination of the relationship between Internet usage and political participation in conservative and progressive movements, and an analysis of the linkages between emotions, identity and discourse in the battle over Terri Schiavo.

Doug Schrock (North Carolina State, 2001) focuses on social psychology, inequality, and social movements. One strand of research has centered on transsexual women’s status passage and another on masculinity in a batterer intervention program. Both projects investigate how identity, emotion, and interactional processes are linked to the reproduction and undermining of gender categories and inequalities. He is currently collecting data on farmworker-solidarity activists (see

Daniel Tope (Ohio State, 2007) examines questions related to the causes, consequences, and historically and spatially variable nature of political power. Prominent lines of research in this area include partisan ideological divisions and the persistence of racial/ethnic political cleavages as well as their policy implications. Second, he is interested in working life. Major lines of research in this area include workplace changes, organized labor, worker solidarity, and dignity in the workplace.

Miranda Waggoner (Brandeis, 2011) studies the social and cultural dimensions of medicine, science, and public health, with an emphasis on the politics of gender and reproduction. Current projects include analysis of the emergent pre-pregnancy care model in maternal and child health, the rise of reproductive epigenetics, and the cultural impact of new epidemics among children.