Vicki Smith

Vicki Smith Portrait

Position Title
Professor Emerita; Member, Sociology Graduate Program Faculty



  • Ph.D., Sociology, UC Berkeley, 1987 (Phi Beta Kappa)
  • M.A., Sociology, UC Berkeley, 1981
  • B.A., Sociology, UC Santa Cruz, 1978 (Highest Honors)


Vicki Smith’s research focuses primarily on changes in work and employment relationships, with an eye to how these changes create and perpetuate distinct forms of inequality and destabilization for American workers. Past projects include the rise and institutionalization of temporary employment, workplace flexibility, worker participation programs, and how new labor market practices shape people's job search and employability strategies. Her two-volume encyclopedia on the sociology of work was published by Sage and selected by Choice magazine (in 2014) as "Outstanding Academic Title" and by the American Library Association (in 2015) as a "Notable Business Reference Source."

Professor Smith has been working on employability strategies of low-wage workers with Brian Halpin, UC Davis Sociology (funded by the UCD Poverty Research Center (view the Policy Brief at Her review of research on employment uncertainty and risk was recently published in the Sage Handbook of the Sociology of Work and Employment (edited by Stephen Edgell, Heidi Gottfried, and Edward Granter), as was her chapter in a volume of Research in the Sociology of Work in honor of the memory of Randy Hodson, one of the world's most distinguished sociologists of work (edited by Lisa Keister and Vincent Roscignio).

Research Focus

Organizations, Work, and Employment; Inequality; and Field Methods


Smith, V. (2016) Dignity at work, working with dignity: Reflections on three decades of field research, Pp. 31-55 In Research in the Sociology of Work. A Gedenkschrift to Randy Hodson: Working with Dignity. Lisa Keister and Vincent Roscigno (Eds.), United Kingdom: Emerald.

Smith, V. (2016) Employment uncertainty and risk, Pp. 367-384 in The SAGE Handbook of the Sociology of Work and Employment. Stephen Edgell, Heidi Gottfried, and Edward Granter (Eds.), Los Angeles: Sage Reference.

Smith, V. (Ed.) (2013) Sociology of Work: An Encyclopedia. Los Angeles: Sage Publications. Two-volume, 1,136-page encyclopedia. Includes sole-authored introduction (pp. xxix-xxxii) and approximately 350 original entries, many written by leading scholars in the field.

Smith, V., & Neuwirth, E. B. (2008) The Good Temp. Ithaca: Cornell University/ILR Press (paperback edition 2012).

Smith, V. (Ed.) (2006) Special issue of Research in the Sociology of Work: Worker Participation, Practices, and Possibilities, Vol. 16. Includes original sole-authored introduction (pp. xi-xxiii) and 14 original, peer-reviewed chapters.

Smith, V. (2001) Crossing the Great Divide: Worker Risk and Opportunity in the New Economy. Ithaca: Cornell University/ILR Press (paperback edition 2002).


Professor Smith teaches lecture classes on Sociology of Work and Employment, Complex Organizations, and Social Change Organizations. She teaches an upper-division seminar on inequality and education and a graduate-level seminar, Gendered and Racialized Organizations. All her classes incorporate data about cutting-edge trends in work and employment in the U.S. and around the world.


2016 UC Davis Graduate Studies Inaugural Distinguished Graduate Mentoring Award

2013 Interdisciplinary Frontiers in the Humanities and Arts Program Grant, UC Davis (Cluster leader, Ann Stevens, Department of Economics)

2012 Graduate Student Research Fellowship (with Brian Halpin), Center for Poverty Research, UC Davis. Policy brief from our research on low-wage workers: