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Chris Smith


  • Ph.D., Sociology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2015
  • B.A., Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, 2002


Chris Smith is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Davis. Broadly, she studies inequality in crime, criminal relationships, and criminal organizations. Specifically, this includes projects on historical organized crime in Chicago, relational inequality in co-offending networks, inequality in police shootings, and neighborhood change and its effects on crime. Her book, Syndicate Women: Gender and Networks in Chicago Organized Crime is forthcoming with University of California Press in July 2019. Chris has published in American Sociological ReviewCity & Community, Crime & Delinquency, and two edited volumes. Chris's research has received funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Justice. Chris has received multiple teaching awards, including the university-wide Distinguished Teaching Award at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She teaches classes on crime and inequality at UC Davis.

Research Focus

Areas of Specialization: Crime and inequality, feminist criminology, historical research methods, organized crime, police violence, social network analysis, sociology of gender, urban sociology

Historical Organized Crime Networks: Chris’s research on historical organized crime networks is based on a relational database built from 5,000 pages of archival documents with information on more than 3,321 individuals and their 15,861 social relationships. Chris's current book and article projects with this database examine how women's structural positions in early 1900s Chicago organized crime networks diminished over time. Chris and Andrew Papachristos (Northwestern University) have published on the topic of multiplexity in organized crime. Chris is expanding this work into research on relational inequality in co-offending networks.

Police Violence: Chris’s newest research is on violent police encounters. She has several collaborative projects using administrative data, and she organizes a project compiling a database on more than 11,000 news reports from 2015 on hostile or dangerous interactions between civilians and police to examine differences in fatal and nonfatal police shootings.

Gentrification and Crime: Chris’s past research studied neighborhood inequality and the relationship between gentrification and crime outcomes over time in Chicago.

Selected Publications

Smith, Chris M. Forthcoming. Syndicate Women: Gender and Networks in Chicago Organized Crime. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. 

Smith, Chris M., and Andrew V. Papachristos. 2016. "Trust thy Crooked Neighbor: Multiplexity in Chicago Organized Crime Networks." American Sociological Review 81(4):644-67.

Papachristos, Andrew V., and Chris M. Smith. 2014. "The Embedded and Multiplex Nature of Al Capone." Pp. 97-115 in Crime and Networks, edited by C. Morselli. New York: Routledge.

Smith, Chris M. 2014. "The Influence of Gentrification on Gang Homicides in Chicago, 1994 to 2005." Crime & Delinquency 60(4):569-91.

Papachristos, Andrew V., Chris M. Smith, Mary L. Scherer, and Melissa A. Fugiero. 2011. "More Coffee, Less Crime? The Relationship between Gentrification and Neighborhood Crime Rates in Chicago, 1991 to 2005." City & Community 10(3):215-40.


Professor Smith regularly teaches Soc 150 – Criminology and Soc 151 – The Criminal Justice System. She uses team-based learning in her undergraduate courses to transform a passive large lecture hall into a dynamic active learning space. She teaches graduate courses on social networks that cover methods, theory, and applications. In 2016, Professor Smith was a selected participant for the UC Davis Center for Educational Effectiveness’ first Engaged Learning and Teaching Community. While at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she received the university-wide Distinguished Teaching Award in 2009.


2016-2017 Institute for Social Sciences Fellow, University of California, Davis, Institute for Social Sciences

2016 Engaged Learning and Teaching Community, University of California, Davis, Center for Educational Effectiveness

2013-2015 Graduate Research Fellowship, National Institute of Justice

2013-2014 Sociology Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, National Science Foundation

2009 Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Office of the Provost