Scroll down for an overview of my work. Click here for my Curriculum Vitae.



Professor (since 2010), Associate Professor (2005-2010), Assistant Professor (2002-2005), Department of Sociology, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, 2002-present.
Previous positions: Assistant Professor of Sociology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, 1997-2002; Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology and Law and Society, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, 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]


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

In the area of law and social control, I have devoted most of my research to policing, including the police dimensions of counter-terrrorism, a project that culminated in my book The Policing of Terrorism (Routledge 2010), and the conditions of international police cooperation, most distinctly in my book Policing World Society (Oxford University Press 2002). I am presently researching the political history of Interpol. I also seek to connect my interests in law and social control with theoretical issues in sociology. In my book Sociology of Law: Visions of a Scholarly Tradition (Cambridge University Press 2008), I analyze the history and systematics of the sociology of law. In The Handbook of Social Control (Wiley 2019), leading scholars discuss a broad range of issues of social control. 

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 papers on music and fame following a rather famous course (www.gagacourse.net). A recent book with Anna S. Rogers, Doing Gender in Heavy Metal (Anthem Press 2022), involves a qualitative study of the role of women in the heavy metal subculture. Further, I have done work on several other cultural themes, such as the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock, music censorship, and the anthropology of Victor Turner. 

My most recent interests concern the transformation of celebrity culture since the COVID-19 pandemic, including research on racial justice, the advocacy of tennis star Naomi Osaka, and work on the nexus between law and popular culture. In the coming years, I aim to develop a comparative-transnational perspective of aspects of popular culture and law in the United States and Japan. To this end I will spend the spring of 2023 at the University of Tokyo as a Visiting Research Scholar.

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 & Essays 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 further information.


Member of the South Carolina Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 2019-2023.

Series Co-Editor, with Derek Silva, “Sociology of Crime, Law, and Deviance,” Emerald Publishing, since 2018.

Advisory Board, Archives of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, Bronx Community College, New York, since 2018.

Scientific Committee member, Editorial Series “Sentieri e scenari postmoderni”, co-directed by Michele Corsi and Massimiliano Stramaglia, since 2019.

Further details on my academic CV.

See Books and online available Articles pages for publications. Mathieu Deflem