Professor Bruce Western
Director of the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy at Harvard University
Bruce Western is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Born in Australia, Western took his undergraduate degree at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. He completed his PhD in Sociology at UCLA in 1993, and taught at Princeton for fourteen years before moving to Harvard in 2007.
His research broadly examines how social inequality is shaped by political and economic institutions. Most of this work is quantitative, reflecting a keen interest in statistical methods and Bayesian inference, in particular.
Western is the author of Between Class and Market, a study of labor unions in Western Europe and North America. His second book, Punishment and Inequality in America, which studies the growth of the U.S. penal system over the last three decades, was the winner of the Michael Hindelang Award for outstanding scholarship from the American Society of Criminology and the Albert J. Reiss Award from the Crime, Law and Deviance section of the American Sociological Association.
Current research interests include the analysis of policies for improving employment among poor men and the formerly incarcerated. He is also at work on a book on trends in the social and economic insecurity of American families.
Western co-directs the Collaboration for Poverty Research, a newly formed partnership between Harvard and Stanford University, and currently sits on the advisory board of the General Social Survey and a National Research Council panel reviewing the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Western is a former Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute, a Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Scholar, and a Guggenheim Fellow. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007 and currently chairs an American Academy committee examining the challenge of mass incarceration.
We caught up with Professor Western during his visit to the US Studies Centre.