IRLE Names Interim Director


Sandra Smith, Professor of Sociology, Named Interim Director at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment

The Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) is delighted to announce that Sandra Smith will serve as Interim Director for IRLE, effective July 1.  She takes over for Jesse Rothstein, who will be on sabbatical through June 2018.

Professor Smith is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology. She received a Ph.D and Masters in sociology, both from the University of Chicago and a BA from Columbia University. She joined the Berkeley faculty in 2004. Her research focuses on questions of urban poverty and joblessness, social networks and social capital, racial inequality, interracial dynamics, and trust.

In her first book, Lone Pursuit: Distrust and Defensive Individualism among the Black Poor (Russel), she advances the current and enduring debates about black joblessness, highlighting the role of interpersonal distrust dynamics between low-income black jobholders and their job-seeking relations that make cooperation during the process of finding work a problematic affair. She more fully engages questions about the cultural underpinnings of social capital mobilization during the job-matching process, in her forthcoming book, Want, Need, Fit: Cultural Logics of Job-Matching Assistance.

As Interim Director, Professor Smith will lead IRLE’s activities to increase engagement and awareness of the institute on campus, improve opportunities for IRLE’s faculty affiliates to conduct interdisciplinary research on important topics of the day, and support the research activities of Berkeley’s graduate and undergraduate students who are broadly interested in labor and employment studies.