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Spencer Headworth

Spencer Headworth

Associate Professor // Sociology

Curriculum vitae

Office and Contact

Room: STON 347

Office hours: By appointment


Phone: (765) 496-3269

PhD, Sociology, Northwestern University

BA, Sociology, Psychology, Bowling Green State University



SCLA 200: Cornerstones in Constitutional Law

Sociology 328: Criminal Justice

Sociology 411: Social Stratification

Sociology 419: Sociology of Law

Sociology 686: Qualitative Research Methods



Law, Social Control, Inequality, Organizations, Occupations

Dr. Headworth is currently completing a major project on welfare fraud enforcement, a novel intersection between the worlds of criminal justice and poverty management. Based primarily on interviews with fraud control personnel from five states, his findings provide new insights into how social policies related to rule enforcement, accountability, and sanction are put into practice on the ground, and the implications of these processes for state agencies, their employees, and the people with whom they engage. The results of this research appear in Policing Welfare: Punitive Adversarialism in Public Assistance, forthcoming from University of Chicago Press, and a series of articles in American Sociological Review, Law & Society Review, Punishment & Society, and Social Justice.

Dr. Headworth’s other past and current work includes projects on the political economy of prison construction, status stratification in academia, inequalities in the legal profession, and correctional health care litigation and reform. He has published findings from these projects in Social Forces, DuBois Review, and other venues. He is an Affiliated Scholar of the American Bar Foundation, and the lead editor of Diversity in Practice: Race, Gender, and Class in Legal and Professional Careers, published by Cambridge University Press. In 2019, he received the ASA Sociology of Law Section’s Distinguished Article Award and Purdue Sociology’s Daryl P. Evans Outstanding Teaching Award.