Sandra Smith


Sandra Susan Smith is Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of California-Berkeley. Her research interests include urban poverty, joblessness, race and ethnicity, social networks and social capital, trust, culture and social structure, and now punishment and inequality. In her first book, Lone Pursuit: Distrust and Defensive Individualism among the Black Poor (Russell Sage Foundation), Smith advances 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. In her current book project, tentatively titled Why Blacks Help Less, Smith further interrogates the process of finding work by examining racial and ethnic differences in trust dynamics and exploring the social psychological, cultural, and structural factors that generate these differences. In addition to developing a set of papers on the effect of penal contact on job search and social capital mobilization, Smith has begun a new four-city, qualitative study of the influence of pretrial detention and diversion on low-risk offenders’ future involvement in crime, contributing to ongoing national debates about the consequences of such criminal justice interventions. Along with Lone Pursuit, Smith has published a number of articles in sociology’s top journals, including the American Journal of Sociology, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, the Annual Review of Sociology, Criminal Justice Policy Review, DuBois Review, Racial and Ethnic Studies, Social Science Research, The Sociological Quarterly, and Work and Occupations. Smith recently served as a member of Harvard University’s Executive Session on Community Corrections and was the chair of the Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility Section of the American Sociological Association (ASA). She has been a member of ASA Council, a deputy editor of the American Sociological Review, and consulting editor with the American Journal of Sociology and Context Magazine. Smith was a recipient of the Hellman Family Faculty Fund, which supports the research of promising assistant professors who show capacity for great distinction in their fields, a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City, and a Fellow at Stanford’s Center for the Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences (CASBS).