Scroll down for an overview of my work.


My main interests are in the areas of sociology of law and social control, popular culture, and social theory. 

On law and social control, I have devoted most of my research to policing, including book-length studies on the police role in counterterrrorism (The Policing of Terrorism, Routledge 2010) and on international police cooperation (Policing World Society, Oxford University Press 2002). Ongoing research concerns the history of Interpol and counterterrorism in Israel since October 7. I also connect these interests with theoretical issues in sociology. Examples include my book Sociology of Law: Visions of a Scholarly Tradition (Cambridge University Press 2008) and the anthology The Handbook of Social Control (Wiley 2019). A current line of related interest concerns the role of law in democratic societies.

In the area of popular culture, I primarily study celebrity culture and popular music on the basis of my background in cultural sociology and anthropology. I published a book, Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame (Palgrave 2017), and other writings following a rather famous course (gagacourse). A recent co-authored book, Doing Gender in Heavy Metal (Anthem Press 2022), discusses the role of women in the heavy metal music culture. Other work on culture involves the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock, music censorship, and the anthropology of Victor Turner.

Most recent research concerns the transformation of celebrity culture, including work on racial justice, the activism of tennis star Naomi Osaka, and the nexus between law and popular culture, including comparative-transnational studies in the United States and Japan. I spent a sabbatical stay in the Spring of 2023 as a Visiting Research Scholar at the University of Tokyo, where I will continue my relevant efforts in 2024.

Most all of my work is closely connected with important questions in sociological theory, a specialty I have also explored in its own right, especially concerning discourse theory, systems theory, and sociological structuralism.

See the Books and Articles & Chapters pages for related writings.


I teach courses in the areas of law and social control, theory, and popular culture:
  • Undergraduate: Sociological Theory; Society Through Visual Media; Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame; Sociology of Deviant Behavior; Sociology of Social Control; Sociology of Law. 
  • Graduate: Advanced Sociological Theory; Classical Scholars; Contemporary Scholars; Scientific Methods and Sociological Inquiry; Theoretical Foundations of Sociology; Criminological Sociology; Sociology of Law and Social Control; Comparative and Historical Sociology. 
See the Teaching Pages for more information.



Professor, Department of Sociology, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, since 2010.

Visiting Research Scholar, The University of Tokyo, Japan, February-May 2023. 

Associate Professor (2005-2010), Assistant Professor (2002-2005), Department of Sociology, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, 2002-2010.

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 1997-2002.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology and Law and Society, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH, 1996-1997.


Ph.D. Sociology, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1996.
Dissertation: “Borders of Police Force: Historical Foundations of International Policing Between Germany and the United States.” A revised version was published as my first book, Policing World Society (Oxford University Press 2002).
M.A. Sociology of Developing Societies, University of Hull, England, 1990.
Thesis on “Processual Symbolic Analysis in the Writings of Victor W. Turner". [PDF]
Special Diploma Social and Cultural Anthropology, Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven, Belgium, 1987.
Thesis on the anthropology of space (in Dutch). [PDF]
Licentiate Sociology, Candidate Social Sciences, Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven, Belgium, 1983, 1986.
Thesis on the sociological concept of anomie (in Dutch). [PDF]

See Curriculum Vitae page for more info. Mathieu Deflem