- PhD, Sociology, New York University, 2001
- MA, Sociology, New York University, 1996
- BA, Political Science and Economics, University of Wisconsin, 1990
Drew Halfmann’s research and teaching focuses on social movements and the politics of health and social policy.
His book, Doctors and Demonstrators: How Political Institutions Shape Abortion Law in the United States, Britain and Canada (University of Chicago Press, 2011), won best book awards from the Pacific Sociological Association and from the ASA Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements (the Charles Tilly Award). His research has also appeared in the American Sociological Review, Social Problems, the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Mobilization, HEALTH, Studies in American Political Development, and the Journal of Policy History.
Halfmann is affiliated with the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research and has taught at East China Normal University in Shanghai. He has been interviewed by PBS Newshour, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, NBC and The Guardian and published op-eds and blog posts in the Huffington Post, Sacramento Bee, Dissent, Contexts, Mobilizing Ideas, and the Society Pages.
Drew Halfmann’s research focuses on the politics of abortion and health inequality, with a focus on the ways in which political institutions shape policy-making.
Abortion Politics and Policy
Abortion is one of the most divisive political issues in the United States. In contrast, it has remained a less controversial, primarily medical issue, in Britain and Canada despite the countries’ shared heritage. Halfmann’s book, Doctors and Demonstrators: How Political Institutions Shape Abortion Law in the United States, Britain and Canada (University of Chicago Press, 2011), looks beyond cultural or religious explanations to find out why abortion politics and policies differ so dramatically in these otherwise similar countries.
Political institutions are crucial. In the United States, federalism, judicial review, and a private health care system contributed to the public definition of abortion as an individual right rather than a medical necessity. Meanwhile, the porous structure of American political parties gave pro-choice and pro-life groups the opportunity to move the issue onto the political agenda.
He also has conducted research on the use of grotesque imagery in abortion politics, cross-national differences in the medicalization of abortion, and the pursuit of medical allies by the abortion rights movement.
This project examines the social forces and government policies that shape health inequalities. The project shows that political institutions, such the separation of powers, federalism, and winner-take-all elections, are a major cause of health inequality because they have shaped the historical construction and maintenance of many of its key determinants such as residential segregation, the educational system, labor markets, social welfare policy and the health care system. The project seeks to identify key opportunities, constraints and strategies for addressing health inequalities through public policy.
Halfmann, Drew. 2023. “Mechanisms of Coalition Formation: Venue Shifting in the Abortion Rights Movement before Roe v. Wade.” Mobilization: An International Quarterly 28(1):109–33.
Halfmann, Drew. 2021. “Mechanisms of Social Movement Market Innovation: The Birth of the American Abortion Clinic.” Participation and Conflict 14(3):1036–56.
Halfmann, Drew. 2019. “Political Institutions and the Comparative Medicalization of Abortion.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 60(2):138–52.
Halfmann, Drew. 2011. Doctors and Demonstrators: How Political Institutions Shape Abortion Law in the United States, Britain and Canada. University of Chicago Press. (Winner of best book awards from the Pacific Sociological Association and the ASA Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements (the Charles Tilly Award)).
Halfmann, Drew. 2011. Recognizing medicalization and demedicalization: Discourses, practices and identities. HEALTH: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine.
Halfmann, Drew and Edwin Amenta. 2011. Opportunity knocks: The trouble with political opportunity and what you can do about it, In Jeff Goodwin and James M. Jasper (Eds.) Contention in Context: New Opportunities in Social Movement Research. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
Halfmann, Drew and Michael P. Young. 2010. War pictures: The grotesque as a mobilizing tactic. Mobilization, 15(1):1-24.
Halfmann, Drew and Edwin Amenta. 2000. Wage wars: Institutional politics, WPA wages and the struggle for U.S. social policy. American Sociological Review, 65(4): 506-528.
At the graduate level, Drew Halfmann teaches Comparative and Historical Methods, the Politics of the Welfare State, Political Sociology, and the Sociology of Health and Illness. At the undergraduate level, he teaches Social Policy, Health Policy and Political Sociology.
2013 Distinguished Scholarship Award, Pacific Sociological Association, Doctors and Demonstrators: How Political Institutions Shape Abortion Law in the United States, Britain and Canada (University of Chicago Press, 2011)
2012 Charles Tilly Best Book Award, Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements, American Sociological Association, Doctors and Demonstrators: How Political Institutions Shape Abortion Law in the United States, Britain and Canada (University of Chicago Press, 2011).