Sociology Department Colloquium: Matthew Clair

Fri December 1st 2017, 12:00 - 1:20pm
Mendenhall 101

Please join us for a colloquium being given by Matthew Clair from Harvard University.

Privilege and Punishment: Unequal Experiences of Criminal Justice

Explanations of racial and socioeconomic disparities in the criminal justice system seldom consider how the interpretations and actions of defendants—particularly those who are middle class or white—shape disparate outcomes. Drawing on interviews, ethnography, and administrative data, this talk offers a rare examination of how defendants from a range of race and class backgrounds engage with their lawyers. I reveal how decisions to delegate legal authority to attorneys privilege middle-class defendants in comparison to their working-class and poor (especially racial/ethnic minority) peers who are more likely to mistrust, and thus withdraw from, their attorneys. I discuss implications for research on criminal justice disparities and for sociological theory on the institutional reproduction of inequality.