UW Today

Department of Sociology


April 20, 2017

Research team tracks complex web of monetary sanctions in 9 states

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UW sociologist Alexes Harris leads a team of researchers at nine universities who are exploring the role of monetary sanctions in the criminal justice system. They recently completed a review of financial punishments in the laws of each of their home states. Based on their preliminary findings, the impact to a person’s pocketbook depends largely on his or her location on a map.


March 22, 2017

Race, health, justice topics for March 31 UW symposium on medical ethics

Photo by Katherine Turner.

The interdisciplinary 2017 Benjamin Rabinowitz Symposium in Medical Ethics on March 31, titled “Race, Health & Justice,” will explore inequities in health and health care and place them in political, economic and historical context.


March 15, 2017

Adrian Raftery receives Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Day Medal for contributions to statistics

UW professor Adrian Raftery.

On March 15 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland honored Adrian Raftery, a professor of statistics and sociology at the University of Washington, for his diverse contributions to the field of statistics. Kenny presented Raftery with the St. Patrick’s Day Medal, which is awarded each year by Science Foundation…


December 13, 2016

Studies of vulnerable populations get a ‘bootstrapped’ boost from statisticians

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In a paper published online Dec. 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of Washington researchers report on a statistical approach called “tree bootstrapping” can help social scientists study hard-to-reach populations like drug users.


August 21, 2016

Is divorce seasonal? UW research shows biannual spike in divorce filings

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To everything there is a season — even divorce, new research from University of Washington sociologists concludes. Associate sociology professor Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini found what is believed to be the first quantitative evidence of a seasonal, biannual pattern of filings for divorce. The researchers analyzed filings in Washington state between 2001…


August 20, 2016

‘I miss you so much’: How Twitter is broadening the conversation on death and mourning

Twitter bird and logo on blue background

Death and mourning were largely considered private matters in the 20th century, with the public remembrances common in previous eras replaced by intimate gatherings behind closed doors in funeral parlors and family homes. But social media is redefining how people grieve, and Twitter in particular — with its ephemeral mix of rapid-fire broadcast and personal…


April 19, 2016

States with punitive justice systems have higher rates of foster care, study finds

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The number of children in foster care across the country is driven not solely by child abuse and neglect, but by states’ varying politics and approaches to social problems, a new University of Washington study finds. States with more punitive criminal justice systems tend to remove children from their homes far more frequently than those…


December 4, 2015

UW project focuses on fines and fees that create ‘prisoners of debt’

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Criminals are meant to pay their debts to society through sentencing, but a different type of court-imposed debt can tie them to the criminal justice system for life and impact their ability to move forward with their lives. Though debtors’ prisons were eliminated in the United States almost two centuries ago, a modern-day version exists…


August 24, 2015

Blacks hit hardest by public-sector job losses during recession, study finds

Exterior photo of large government building in Mississippi

The public sector has long served as an equalizer in American society, a place where minority workers could find stable employment that offered advancement and a reliable path to a middle-class life. But the Great Recession wiped out many of those jobs, as tax revenues declined and anti-government sentiment added to a contraction that continued…


July 7, 2015

Harsh prison sentences swell ranks of lifers and raise questions about fairness, study finds

There are currently close to 1,400 inmates serving official or de facto life sentences in Washington state.

Stricter state sentencing laws in Washington have swelled the ranks of inmates serving life sentences to nearly one in five. And some lifers who opted to go to trial are serving much longer sentences than others who committed the same crimes and plea-bargained — raising questions about equitable treatment of prisoners. Those are among the…


June 16, 2015

Study reveals surprising truths about caregivers

Father Holding Daughter's Hand

Caregiving is a part of daily life for millions of Americans, particularly the so-called sandwich generation balancing the needs of aging parents with looking after their own children. A new study looks at just who is doing that caregiving, and who they’re caring for — and some of the findings are surprising.


June 11, 2015

Nearly half of African-American women know someone in prison

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African-American adults — particularly women — are much more likely to know or be related to someone behind bars than whites, according to the first national estimates of Americans’ ties to prisoners.


November 24, 2014

Study: US attracting fewer educated, highly skilled migrants

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The U.S. economy has long been powered in part by the nation’s ability to attract the world’s most educated and skilled people to its shores. But a new study of the worldwide migration of professionals to the U.S. shows a sharp drop-off in its proportional share of those workers – raising the question of whether…


August 16, 2014

Virginity pledges for men can lead to sexual confusion — even after the wedding day

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Young men receiving support after they pledge to abstain from sex until marriage, can find themselves without advisors and help once they do marry.


June 11, 2014

Nearly 1 in 8 American children are maltreated before age 18

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By the time they reach age 18, nearly one in eight of American children experience a confirmed case of maltreatment. Co-author Hedy Lee, a UW assistant professor of sociology, says the study shows that child maltreatment is much more common than previously thought.


February 12, 2014

Jake Rosenfeld explores the sharp decline of union membership, influence

Book cover of "What Unions No Longer Do"

Jake Rosenfeld, a University of Washington associate professor of sociology, examines the far-reaching economic and social consequences of the decline of organized labor in his new book, “What Unions No Longer Do.”