Sandra Susan Smith

Sandra Smith is the Interim Director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) and professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Smith's research focuses on questions of urban poverty and joblessness, social networks and social capital, racial inequality, interracial dynamics, and trust. Her work on these topics has been widely published in journals such as the American Journal of Sociology, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, the Annual Review of Sociology, Racial and Ethnic Studies, Social Science Research, and The Sociological Quarterly. She has also recently served as a council member for the American Sociological Association (ASA), Deputy Editor of the American Sociological Review, and chair of the ASA Section, Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility.

Her first book, Lone Pursuit: Distrust and Defensive Individualism among the Black Poor (Russell Sage) 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.

Professor Smith has recently expanded her research to include criminal justice issues, with special attention to the front-end of criminal case processing, a direct result of her membership in the Executive Session on Community Corrections at Harvard's Kennedy School and her membership on the National Research Advisory Board on Misdemeanor Justice. She is currently working on a large, four-city qualitative study of the front end of criminal case processing, with a focus on how pretrial detention and diversion affect justice-involved individuals' future involvement with crime.

Smith is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at UC Berkeley. She holds a PhD and Masters in sociology, both from the University of Chicago and a BA from Columbia University. She joined the Berkeley faculty in 2004.

Areas of Expertise: urban poverty and joblessness, workplace discrimination, racial inequality, and criminal justice.


IRLE Publications by Sandra Susan Smith