Working papers

This page includes working papers that are in draft form and subject to revision.

Ethnic Dimensions in Social Movements

This project began as a talk at Notre Dame in 2012. I have presented various versions of this paper since then.

This is the August 2016 version of my paper The Ethnic Dimensions in Social Movements, presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association  that stresses that the social construction of race/ethnicity is intertwined with state formation in creating structures of domination and is tied to the crucial network structures of society. It typologizes majority and minority movements with an emphasis on calling out the important of race for majority movements, as well as minority movements. It is about 16,000 words! This is the link to a 45 minute Power Point presentation that was still too long for oral presentation in the ASA session:  Ethnic Dimensions Long Powerpoint.

Here is the abstract of this paper: This paper develops a conception of three “ethnic” dimensions derived from scholarship on the social construction of race and ethnicity: domination hierarchies, network relations, and intergenerationality. These abstract “ethnic” dimensions both are critical axes of analysis for all social movements and provide a theoretical account of when and how “ethnic” differences are central axes of movement mobilization. “Ethnic” distinctions, which include ethnicity, race, nationality, caste, language group and sometimes religion or clan, are distinguished from other axes of difference by intergenerational inheritance, ascription, childhood socialization into group membership, and ties to kinship. Some “ethnic” divisions are tied to the deepest foundations of modern nation-states. “Ethnicity” matters when ethnic boundaries are relatively sharp, consequential, and highly correlated with domination structures and social networks. Strong “ethnic” boundaries divide societies into majorities and minorities. Regardless of whether their goals are group-oriented or issue-oriented, all movements have an “ethnic” dimension in the sense that they draw from or map onto one or more ethnic groups. Movements arising from “ethnic” majorities have different dynamics from movements by “ethnic” minorities or mixed-ethnic movements. Processes of group formation derived from theories of the social construction of ethnicity illuminate other movement-relevant group formation processes, including class formation and politicial subcultures. Lying at the intersection of the sociology of social movements and the sociology of race and ethnicity, the “ethnic” dimensions are revealed as a lens for understanding the general problems of group and identity formation and collective mobilization that lie at the heart of both areas.

Here is the  now outdated version of Ethnic Dimensions submitted to ASA in January 2016. I would prefer that you read and cite the more current version.

The PowerPoint slides for my talk “The Ethnic Dimensions: Bringing ethnic divisions & conflict to the center of social movement theory” given at Notre Dame on May 5, 2012 on the occasion of my receiving the John D. McCarthy Award for lifetime achivement in social movements. Here is a PDF of the slides. This is a text write up of the talk.

Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice

These are working paper drafts that contain significant analysis of trends in imprisonment 1983-2002. In general they are too long and unwieldy for publication in their current form.

Oliver_National PoliticsaMassIncarceration_Aug2012


Oliver2011Political FactorsIStateIncarceration Oliver_PoliticalFactors2011_Appendix


OliverMoneyEducationIncarceration July 2012



Other papers

Oliver_2016_Revolt of the reviewers preprint forthcoming in The American Sociologist 2016.