Workshops at Penn are offered as part of the cluster system, established around 1990 to identify the strengths of the department for both internal and external audiences. Cluster groups evolve according to faculty and student interests, with the establishment and closing of clusters approved by the Chair. Currently, Penn clusters include Culture and Interaction; Demography; Family and Gender; Race, Ethnicity and Immigration; Education and Inequality; Urban Ethnography, and Economic Sociology. Clusters sponsor one or more ongoing workshops. Workshops offer opportunities for students to participate, as audience members and as speakers, in presentations of cutting edge research in cluster areas, by scholars at Penn and visitors.

Fall 2016 Schedule (all workshops held at 12PM in McNeil Building Room 169):
9/9/16      Culture, Ethnography, and Interaction: TBA

9/16/16    Education & Inequality: Rand Quinn, Assistant Professor of Education, Penn GSE

9/23/16    Family & Gender: TBA

9/30/16    Culture, Ethnography, and Interaction: TBA

10/14/16  Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration: Andrea Kauffman-Berry, Ph.D. Student, Penn Sociology

10/21/16  Culture, Ethnography, and Interaction: TBA

10/28/16  Medical Sociology: TBA

11/4/16    Education & Inequality: TBA

11/11/16  Culture, Ethnography, and Interaction: TBA

Spring 2017 Schedule (all workshops held at 12PM in McNeil Building Room 169):

1/20/17    Culture, Ethnography, and Interaction: TBA

1/27/17    Education & Inequality: TBA

2/3/17      Family & Gender: TBA

2/17/17    Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration: TBA

2/24/17    Culture, Ethnography, and Interaction: TBA

3/17/17    Education & Inequality: TBA

3/24/17    Medical Sociology: TBA

3/31/17    Culture, Ethnography, and Interaction: TBA


Culture & Interaction

Organizer: Annette Lareau

Culture is largely instantiated and reproduced through face-to-face interaction. At the same time, culture can be created and transformed in such encounters, when new ideas are infused with significance and old ones are found to be inadequate to the interactional challenges at hand. This workshop brings together faculty and students from several Penn and other Philadelphia-area colleges and universities for informal talks and discussion about culture and interaction. Some speakers present polished work, but the workshop aims to be useful to early-stage research, so most sessions center on research proposals and early drafts of papers. 

Family & Gender

Organizer:  Jerry Jacobs

The family is an important institution through which a host of social processes get played out. Thus, understanding family formation and functioning is especially important, particularly given the dramatic demographic changes of the last five decades. This workshop gives faculty members from various departments across the university, as well as graduate students in the Sociology and Demography graduate groups, the opportunity to present ongoing research on families and gender. Occasionally, individuals from outside of the university are invited to present their research. The workshop presentations are generally informal, and presenters are encouraged to leave time for feedback. 

Education & Inequality

Organizer: Hyunjoon Park

The Education and Inequality workshop focuses on issues of inequality in educational opportunity. These issues have long been central to the field of sociology. Penn Sociology has a broad representation of faculty working in this area, with particular strengths in the areas of race, ethnicity, gender, and comparative international research. Faculty members affiliated with this cluster are listed below, along with a brief summary of their areas of expertise. We have had a number of accomplished graduates in recent years. In addition to the faculty based in the Sociology Department, students interested in this area of study have access to faculty located in Penn’s nearby Graduate School of Education. A joint-degree Ph. D. program in Sociology and Education is available for those who are interested in scholarship at the intersection of sociology and education. Graduate students from Penn’s Graduate School of Education are often enrolled in sociology graduate courses, and sociology graduate students avail themselves of expertise available in GSE.

Population Studies Center Colloquium

DirectorHerb Smith

The Population Studies Center Colloquium provides a direct link between the Sociology Department and the Population Studies Center. In its original incarnation, population studies mainly concerned demography: the study of the growth and structure of human populations, primarily in terms of fertility, mortality, and migration. As the field of population studies has evolved, so too has the PSC at Penn, which is a major national resource for our understanding of the dynamics of human populations, including health and well-being, human resources, networks, and policy evaluation. For additional information, please visit the Population Studies Center. For a full list of presenters please visit the PSC colloquium.

Race, Ethnicity & Immigration

OrganizerChenoa Flippen

Scholars have come to appreciate the complex, dynamic, and fluid nature of the concepts of race and ethnicity and the process of immigration—leaving a field that can seem disjointed, confusing, and at odds with itself. The race, ethnicity, and immigration workshop brings together interested graduate students and faculty to discuss and consider the critical sociological questions with which research continues to grapple in these fields. Through both formal presentations and informal discussion, the workshop strives to challenge assumptions, highlight important work, and engage theory and empirical work from both within and outside the academy on these topics. The workshop hopes to both offer members of the group the chance to present early-stage research and to bring in outside speakers to offer fresh insight from outside the workshop's membership. 

Urban Ethnography

Organizer: Annette Lareau

The broad mission of this workshop is to promote and support social science research on urban affairs using participant observation and other ethnographic methods and techniques. This workshop brings together faculty and students from the entire University community as well as neighboring institutions in the Philadelphia area to present and discuss current research on a variety of issues relevant to contemporary urban life and the culture of cities. Past presentation and discussion topics include the religious diversity of urban neighborhoods; the political economy of civic arts and cultural festivals; the social lives of heroin users; and the relationship between community-based organizations and the urban poor. The workshop attracts an interdisciplinary group of regular participants not only from Sociology but also Anthropology, City Planning, Communication, Criminology, Family and Community Medicine, Folklore, History, Social Policy and Practice, Urban Studies, and Women’s Studies. For more information and schedule visit the Urban Ethnography page.


Organizer: Jason Schnittker

The Medical Sociology workshop gives students the opportunity to expand their understanding of the sociological study of medicine and health. The workshop critically engages students with the social and cultural framing of what is defined as “illness”; the structural factors that may contribute to those illnesses; and the interactive dynamics between healthcare providers and patients. The workshop connects the organization of social groups with the profession of medicine, the practice of medical care, and the social factors that contribute to sickness and well-being.   Through both formal presentations and informal discussion, the workshop exposes students to theoretical developments and empirical work from both within and outside the academy around medical sociology. The Medical Sociology workshop continues Penn's long tradition of quantitative and qualitative scholarship on the topic. 


Organizer: Guobin Yang

The Media Activism Research Collective(MARC) offers a collaborative space for graduate students, faculty, and activists working at the intersection of media studies and social movement theory. The MARC blog can be found here:

Innovative research on the dynamic relationship between media and social movements requires methodologies and frameworks that defy disciplinary boundaries. In the spirit of the field’s rich diversity, MARC brings together graduate students and faculty from Penn and beyond to establish a supportive network for research that might not lend itself to a traditional laboratory setting, but nonetheless benefits from collective thinking and creative experimentation. MARC links students with peers, leading scholars, and resources so as to institutionalize the formation of generative ties that foster deep learning and insightful research. In a field more typically pursued through individual paths that sometimes cross, MARC is committed to the type of synergetic research required to explore the complex realities of activism, social movements, and media systems. A joint endeavor between the Annenberg School for Communication and Penn’s Department of Sociology, MARC is a student-driven, collaborative, and interdisciplinary research group.