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The "governance cluster" brings together faculty and graduate students in the sociology department who are interested in the structures, processes, and beliefs that shape collective decision-making and action across changing local, national, and global political contexts. Governance as distinct from government, then, addresses both formal aspects of government as well as the informal social and political expectations that accompany the application of authority. The aim of the cluster is to enhance intra- and inter-disciplinary scholarship that is united by concerns about issues of "governance" in order stimulate new research, theory, and empirical projects.

Starting in 2012-3, the cluster will offer three graduate seminars. One on "Governance" as a broad umbrella concept that covers a wide range of collective decision-making concerns; one on "Neoliberalism" as an emergent governance regime; and one on “Social and Political Ecology” and therefore competing conceptions of environmental governance.


SOC 295. Sociology of the Environment/Environmental Governance. Seminar —4 hours. Social theories regarding society and environment. Focus on societal governance structures, environmental outcomes, recent critiques, and proposed solutions. The course involves intensive dialogue and critique concerning subjects, issues, and theories including: classical economics, deep ecology, political economy, aesthetic rationalism, eco-feminism, social ecology, neo-Malthusianism, environmental justice, risk society, and eco-modernization, among others.

SOC 280. Organizations and Institutions. Seminar—4 hours. Theories of formal organizations, formal bureaucracy, bases of authority, and governance. Topics will include the history, structure, and function of organizations; social scientific theories of both formal and informal organization; as well as the implications of what these say about the current configuration contemporary society and how it (and we) are governed.

STS 180. Topics in Science and Technology Studies: Science and Power in California. Seminar—3 hours; term paper. Open to graduate students.  Prerequisite: course in History and Philosophy of Science, Science and Technology Studies, or other coursework relevant to topic. In depth treatment of selected topics in Science and Technology Studies. This offering is focused on science and power in California, particularly in relation to governance and state formation.

SOC 215.  Economy, Polity and Society. Seminar—4 hours.  Examines questions such as: What is power and who possesses it? What are capacities of the state and how is it related to other actors and social structures such capital, labor, markets and civil society? What accounts for cross-national differences in social policies? What accounts for the emergence, development, and success of social movements?

SOC 295. The Welfare State. Seminar—4 hours.  Examines cross-national differences in the origins and development of social policies that protect against contingencies such as illness, disability, old age, unemployment and poverty; and (sometimes) foster equality among individuals, classes, genders, and racial/ethnic groups.

SOC295. Categories, Boundaries, and Identities. Seminar 3 hours. Theories and case studies on use of classifications, identification, and other tools related to demarcation in state and other forms of governance. Examination of racial, gender, class, scientific, and other categories and their epistemological, political, and institutional bases. Discussion of social effects that include naturalization and materialization of boundaries, symbolic violence, embodiment, and resistance.

SOC 295.  History and Political Economy of Neoliberalism.  Seminar--4 hours.  History, theory and analysis of neoliberalism and the "neoliberal era" from 1970 to the present.  Topics include (1) conceptualizations of neoliberalism from a range of theoretical perspectives (Marxian, Polanyian, Bourdieusian, and Foucauldian, among others), and (2) the varying ways in which neoliberalism has been analyzed as a political, economic, state-based and cultural phenomenon.  On the latter topic we will consider works on the rise of finance, deregulatory and liberalizing policies, welfare state retrenchment, the rise of economic expertise, monetarism, urban-level expressions, penality and the remaking of the state, the reorganization of Western party politics, regional variations (Africa, Latin America, Western Europe, etc.), and the question of "post-neoliberalism" since the financial crisis.

People specializing in this area

Beamish, Thomas (Tom)
  • Professor
530 297 8089
2271 SS&H
Spring 2017: Tuesday 1 - 3:00 PM (or just after lecture for SOC18A students)
Carroll, Patrick
  • Associate Professor
2272 SS&H
Grattet, Ryken
  • Professor
2268 SS&H
Spring: Tuesdays 11am & by appointment
Halfmann, Drew
  • Associate Professor
2270 SS&H
Spring 2017: T 10-11am, and by appointment
Mudge, Stephanie
  • Assistant Professor
2257 SS&H (Entrance off of A St., 2nd floor)
Spring 2017: W 2:00-4:00 (pls note: it is best to check ahead with me if you are going to come by office hours, so that I can let you know if there is a good time slot to come.)
U, Eddy
  • Associate Professor
2248 SS&H
On Sabbatical through Winter 2018

1283 Social Sciences & 
University of California, 
One Shields Avenue 
Davis, CA 95616

(530) 752-0782 phone
(530) 752-0783 fax

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