About Bruce Western


Bruce Western is a sociologist who studies the connections between political institutions and social and economic inequality, with a focus on criminal justice policy and incarceration. His research has detailed the causes, scope, and consequences of the historic growth in U.S. prison populations; the effects of labor unions on income inequality; and trends in income inequality and mobility in the U.S.

Professional positions
  • 2018–present: Bryce Professor of Sociology and Social Justice, Columbia University
  • 2017–present: Director, Justice Lab at Columbia University
  • 2007–2018: Professor of sociology (2007–2018) and Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice Policy (2013–2018), Harvard University
  • 1994–2007: Assistant (1994–1998), associate (1998–2000), and full (2000–2007) professor of sociology, Princeton University
Notable publications
  • Western, Bruce. 2018. Homeward: Life in the Year after Prison. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
  • Western, Bruce. 2006. Punishment and Inequality in America. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
  • Western, Bruce, and Becky Pettit. “Black–white wage inequality, employment rates, and incarceration.” American Journal of Sociology 111(2): 553–578.
  • Western, Bruce, and Katherine Beckett. 1999. “How unregulated is the U.S. labor market? The penal system as a labor market institution.” American Journal of Sociology 104(4): 1030–1060.
  • PhD, sociology, University of California, Los Angeles
  • MA, sociology, University of California, Los Angeles
  • BA, government, University of Queensland
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