Program in the Sociology of Economic Change and Development

Departments of Sociology and Community and Environmental Sociology

In 2002, the specialty area formerly known as "Sociology of Economic Change" was relabeled as "Sociology of Economic Change and Development" (SECD). The new label is meant to convey the fact that the Sociology of Economic Change and Development Program involves both the study of the political economy of global uneven development and the comparative sociology of national development. In other words, the Sociology of Economic Change and Development Program incorporates two distinct, but related subject matters. On one hand, the Program aims to train graduate students to understand and analyze the ways by which global and regional forces interact to create and reproduce a global hierarchy of economic and political power. On the other, SECD incorporates the concerns of the sociological sub-discipline commonly known as the "sociology of development"--that is, sociological analysis of the processes of socioeconomic development, poverty alleviation, agrarian transformation, and social change in "the South." But rather than being a program that is concerned only with the "third world" or with sociological dimensions of "development programs," the Wisconsin SECD Program aims to take a broad perspective on global social and economic transformation. Special emphasis is given to the interactions of firms, states, interstate institutions, social movements, technological change, and environment in the processes of uneven global development. Besides providing an extensive range of courses in development theory and global political economy, the program aims to prepare its students in the qualitative, quantitative, and practical methodologies for completing successful work in the field. Many of our students have obtained grants for preparatory and dissertation fieldwork from organizations such as the Social Science Research Council and private foundations.

SECD will continue to be a category II prelim area. That is, students in the Sociology of Economic Change and Development will elect SECD as their category II preliminary examination area, and in addition will select among the six available specialties (social stratification, demography, political sociology, organizational and occupational analysis, social organization, social psychology) for their category I preliminary exam area. Most SECD students tend to take either political sociology or social organization as their category I preliminary exam.

The SECD program is organized around three segments. Core courses, which are offered every year, provide an overview of the study of uneven development, its social and demographic bases, and basic methodologies for its study. Core seminars, most of which are also given at least once a year, cover basic theoretical approaches to global political economy and the central debates in the field. A series of specialized seminars allow the student to intensively pursue certain aspects of the field.

Core courses and core seminars include both substantive and methodological material. The methods courses complement the department's required methods sequence. Examples of popular sequences include Sociology of Economic Change, Population and Development; Seminar: Sociology of Economic Change; and Development, Natural Resources, and the Environment. Students can combine courses to fashion their own program.

In addition to coursework in the sociology of economic change and development in the Department of Sociology and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, the Madison campus has excellent resources for research and learning about global economic change and development and global cultures. In particular, area centers and programs (African Studies, South Asian Studies/South Asian Center, Southeast Asian Studies, Center for East Asian Studies, European Studies Center, Development Studies Program, Middle East Studies Program, Global Studies Program, Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies, and the Center for Russia, East Europe and Central Asia) provide language training and some field support, as well as a wide range of courses, on specific areas.

Core Courses

620 Comparative Racial Inequalities (Loveman, Seidman)
Compares the historical construction of racial orders in the United States, Brazil and South Africa, linking these processes to patterns of integration into the world economy, creation of labor supplies, and industrialization over the twentieth century. The course also compares the mobilization and trajectories of social movements opposed to racial exclusion.

630 Sociology of Developing Societies/Third World (Bunker)
Is primarily aimed at undergraduates but may be useful preparation for incoming graduate students with little sociological background. The course is organized around critical analysis of selected monographs on national development, world-systemic change, and globalization.

644 Comparative Sociology of Contemporary Capitalism (Rogers, Zeitlin)
This course, which is also one of the core courses of the Economic Sociology Program, centers on sociological problems of the political economy of capitalism. The course will revolve around the analysis of varieties of contemporary capitalism, emphasizing both the theoretical problems involved in the relationship between political democracy and capitalist economy and the empirical issues of global economic interdependence among nationally variable forms of capitalism.

726 Population and Development (Palloni, Guillot)
Is a course designed to rigorously review the most fundamental models and theories about the relations between population and development, including the connection between population and environment. While the course does indeed cover the contribution of classics (Marx, Malthus, Ricardo), its focus is more on contemporary theories such as those by Boserup and Simon and on paradigms such as those suggested by Hardin, Erlich an others. This course utilizes Third World countries as illustrations and makes it a point to highlight their historical uniqueness.

753 Comparative and Historical Methods in Sociology (Seidman, Gilbert)
Presents different comparative strategies as well as historical methods through a combination of methodological readings, exercises, and evaluations of exemplary analyses. This course surveys some important methodological statements about historical-comparative sociology, and students obtain experience in evaluating the research designs and sources of evidence employed in contemporary scholarship. Comparative-historical research has recently become a major area of emphasis and strength in the department. Because of the relevance of comparative-historical methods to comparative research on national trajectories of economic change and development, Soc 753 is commonly taken by SECD students.

754 Qualitative Research Methods in Sociology (Collins)
E xplores the role of qualitative methods in social science methodology; it acquaints students with a range of qualitative research strategies, including various types of interviewing procedures, oral history, participant observation and event analysis. It emphasizes research design and analysis of materials, its well as data-gathering techniques.

924 Intermediate Political Sociology (various instructors)
Is an intensive and critical examination of the range of theories and research in political sociology. It is intended as an advanced introduction to the field, suitable for students who wish to specialize in political sociology or related fields. Topics include: basic concepts (power, interests, and the state), comparative state-formation (Europe, the United State, Third World), collective action and social movements, revolutions, citizenship, ideology, states policy, the organization and representation of interests, and individual-level political behavior and attitudes.

Core Seminars

650 Sociology of Agriculture (Collins, Gilbert)
Introduction to sociology of agriculture in advanced industrial-capitalist societies, including theoretical, historical, and empirical issues of agriculture in the United States.

924 Seminar: Political Sociology; Topic: Theory of the State (Wright)
This course has generally revolved around various alternative theoretical frameworks for analyzing the State, particularly within the Marxist tradition. Particular attention has been given to theorists like Poulantzas, Gramsci, Therborn, Jessop, Offe, and Przeworski. About half of the seminar usually deals with a range of more empirically-oriented case studies and topics.

940 Seminar: Sociology of Economic Change; Topic: Commodities in the Global Economy (Collins)
Applies commodity systems analysis to the study of economic change and development at a global scale, and explores global commodity systems by utilizing theories of social change and development.

940 Seminar: Sociology of Economic Change; Topic: Development theories in an age of globalization (Seidman)
E xamines classic and contemporary debates on development theory, with an emphasis on how current discussions of globalization reflect old debates and introduce new elements.

941 Seminar: Grassroots Development in the Third World (Middleton)
This seminar focuses on grassroots, participatory, bottom-up approaches to development carried out by people's organizations, NGO's (nongovernmental organizations), and--on occasion--government agencies in Third World countries. The problems and opportunities of this type of approach are examined, and students do case studies of grassroots programs carried out by rural communities, women's organizations, community-based health groups, urban slum and squatter community organizations, environmental groups, groups seeking agrarian reform, irrigation and water management groups, cooperatives, and indigenous minority rights groups.

Specialized Seminars

925 Seminar: Sociology of Economic Change; Topic: Labor in developing countries (Seidman)
Looks at issues connected to labor and labor movements in late-industrializing countries, exploring questions such as: Why does peripheral labor tend to be relatively cheap? What kinds of labor movements are likely to emerge under peripheral capitalism? How do patterns of social reproduction interact with labor issues? What is the impact of global restructuring on labor unions and labor processes, and what strategies are available to unions facing global pressures?

940 Seminar: Sociology of Economic Change; Topic: Transitions in the Southern Hemisphere (Seidman)
I ntroduces some of the current debate over political transitions, both at a theoretical and empirical level. Although the course compares three cases (Brazil, South Africa and South Korea), it also seeks to build a broader sociological understand of transitions by bringing in discussions from other cases.

940 Seminar: Sociology of Economic Change; Topic: Comparative Perspectives on Race, Class, and Gender in Rural Areas as of the World-Economy
Trains students of comparative political economy to analyze the critical role that the social relations of race, class, and gender play in rural transformation.

945 Seminar: Rural Sociology; Topic: Gender and Local Labor Markets (Tigges)
F ocuses on the social and spatial dimensions of labor and the labor market, with special attention to gender and ethnicity/race.


Samer Alatout (Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University, 2002) is currently completing a book on the dynamics between water scarcity, settlement and state-building in Israel.

Jane L. Collins (Ph.D., Florida, 1981) is an anthropologist whose work has focused on labor issues in rural development. She has investigated the effects of migration on self-provisioning family farms in Peru, and the use of contract farming and family labor by agribusiness firms in northeastern Brazil. She is interested in the environmental impacts of agricultural practices and has written on women and the environment, and on theoretical approaches to unwaged labor. She is now investigating changes in work in the U.S. apparel industry and undertaking comparative analysis of global commodity chains.

Joseph W. Elder's (Ph.D., Harvard, 1959) geographical areas of interest extend from West Asia (he grew up in Iran) to South Asia (where he has conducted research primarily in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka). Within these areas his current interests include the relationships between ethnic conflicts and economic change, the roles of religion in contemporary political movements, and the involvement of foreign security and geopolitical concerns in local and regional economic strategies.

Jack Kloppenburg, Jr. (Ph.D., Cornell, 1985) is interested in the social ramifications of knowledge production. His current research focuses on the emergent social impacts of a cluster of new genetic technologies generically referred to as "biotechnology" and on the distinction between "scientific" and "local/indigenous" knowledge. He is also analyzing the global political economy of access to and control over genetic resources, the processes of genetic erosion and species extinction, the prospects for achieving a "sustainable agriculture" in both the advanced industrial and developing nations, and the structure of "food sheds" and agrofood commodity chains.

Mara Loveman (Ph.D., UCLA 2001) will join the faculty in 2003. Her dissertation, which she is currently revising for publication, examines the construction of racial categories in Latin America, with special attention to historical debates in the creation of the Brazilian census and their implications for our understanding of nationhood. Her interests include the construction of race, nationalism, human rights and political sociology, and development.

Alberto Palloni (Ph.D., Washington, 1977) is a demographer and political sociologist with a special interest in Latin America. He is currently investigating how family and household arrangements interplay with socioeconomic development in Latin America; population pressure, economic crisis, and their impact on health and nutritional standards in Latin America; the link between population and development in Latin America between 1900 and 1990; determinants of union formation and dissolution; and modeling AIDS mortality in Africa.

Gay Seidman (Ph.D., California-Berkeley, 1990) is interested in labor in developing countries, social movements, gender, and demography. She did fieldwork in Brazil and South Africa for a study comparing workers' movements in Brazil and South Africa, and recently completed an ethnography of the South African Gender Commission. She is currently doing research on international labor monitoring efforts. In 2003-4, she served as chair of the American Sociological Association's section on Political Economy of the World System.


Most of the graduate students in the Sociology of Economic Change and Development program have been able to obtain funding to conduct field work overseas. They have received funding from a variety of fellowship programs: SSRC Dissertation Fellowships, Fulbright Dissertation Fellowships, MacArthur Fellowships, Tinker Fellowships, Wenner Gren Fellowships, and so on. UW-Madison SECD students have been particularly successful in obtaining SSRC Predissertation Fellowships for fieldwork in less developed countries over the past decade. A partial sample of recent dissertations is given below.


Abraham, Sara. "New politics : multi-racial electoral coalitions in Trinidad/Tobago and Guyana," 1999.

Baiocchi, Gianpaolo, "From Militance to Citizenship; The Workers' Party, Civil Society, and Participatory Governance in Porto Alegre, Brazil," 2001.

Bashi, Vilna, "Survival of the Knitted: The Social Networks of West Indian Immigrants," 1996.

Bonilla, Eduardo, "Squatters, Politics, and State Responses: The Political Economy of Squatters in Puerto Rico, 1900-1992," 1993.

Booth, Karen, "Technical Difficulties: Experts, Women, and the State in Kenya's AIDS Crisis," 1995.

Chan, Wo Shun Alex, "Walking Through the "Chasm"-The Social Fabric of Economic Reform in Post-Mao China," 1997.

Chibber, Vivek Aslam, "Locked in Place: State Building and the Failure of Industrial Policy in India, 1940-1970," 1999.

Ciccantell, Paul, "Raw Materials, States and Firms in the Capitalist World Economy:Aluminum and Hydroelectricity in Brazil and Venezuela," 1994. Coles, Roberta, "An Analysis of the Gulf War Ideology," 1993.

Fomby, Paula Wendling, "Starting Points: Households of Origin and Mexico-U.S. Migration," 2001.

Fussell, M. Elizabeth, "The Gendered Geography of Production: Women and Work in Tijuana and Mexico," 1998.

Gellert, Paul, "The Limits of Capacity: The Political Economy and Ecology of the Indonesian Timber Industry, 1967-1995," 1997.

Gonzales Vega, Tirso, "Political Ecology of Peasantry, the Seed, and Non-Governmental Organizations in Latin America: A Study of Mexico and Peru, 1940-1995," 1996.

Hassan, Naima, "In Search of Livelihood: Females' Informal Factory Work in Textile and Garment Manufacturing in Rural Egypt," 1997.

Heo, Jang, "Politics of Policy-Making: Environmental Policy Changes in Korea," 1997. Lee, Joohee, "Micro-Corporatist Class Compromise and Democratic Stability: The South Korean Case," 1996.

Leitner, Jonathan, "Upper Michigan's Copper Country and the Political Ecology of Copper, 1840s-1930s," 1998.

Mannon, Susan, "Our daily bread: Workers and the construction of labor markets in a Costa Rican town". 2003.

McKay, Stephen C., "Securing Commitment in an Insecure World: Power and the Social Regulation of Labor in the Philippine Electronics Industry," 2001.

Mohlman, Kay, "Production in a Residential Domain: A Philippine Case Study of Family, Household, and Hired Workers in Small-Scale Manufacturing," 1993.

Neves, Jorge, "Human Capital, Social Classes, and the Earnings Determination Process in Brazilian Agriculture: 1973, 1982, and 1988," 1997.

Padin, Jose A., "Imperialism by Invitation: The Causes for the Failure of a Developmental State Project in Puerto Rico, 1940-1950," 1998.

Parham, Angel Adams. "The Diasporic Public Sphere: Internet-mediated Community and Public Life inTransnational Haiti". 2003

Pahari, Anup, "Feudalism in Nepal: Origins, Growth, and Dissolution," 1994.

Ray, Raka, "Public Agendas and Women's Interests: Organizing Women in Two Indian Cities," 1993.

Rothman, Franklin, "Political Process and Peasant Opposition to Large Hydroelectric Dams: The Case of the Rio Uruguai Movement in Southern Brazil, 1979 to 1992," 1993.

Schrank, Andrew M., "Urban Bias, Hinterland response: Social Organization and Export Diversification in the Dominican Republic," 2000.

Schurman, Rachel, "Economic Development and Class Formation in an Extractive Economy: The Fragile Nature of the Chilean Fishing Industry, 1973-1990," 1993.

Sprenger, Audrey, "Place Maps: The Sociology of Home," 2000.

Sunindyo, Saraswati, "She Who Earns: The Politics of Prostitution in Java," 1993.

Tanner, Clare Leah, "Agents of Development or Dependency? A Case Study of an Indian Family Business Group," 1999.

Tantuvanit, Nalinee, "Ideology and Ideological Practices of the Thai Peasantry," 1994.

Wehr, Kevin, "DamNation: The State of Nature and the Nature of the State in the American West," 2002.