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

Previous positions: Assistant Professor of Sociology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, 1997-2002; Visiting Assistant Professor, Kenyon College, Law and Society Program, 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 file]
Special Diploma Social and Cultural Anthropology, Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven, Belgium, 1987.
Thesis on the anthropology of space (in Dutch). [pdf file]
Licentiate Sociology, Candidate Social Sciences, Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven, Belgium, 1983, 1986.
Thesis on the sociological concept of anomie (in Dutch). [pdf file]

RESEARCH Mathieu Deflem

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

In the area of law and social control, my work primarily focuses on three themes. First, I study the police dimensions of counter-terrrorism, a project that culminated in my book The Policing of Terrorism (Routledge 2010) and edited volumes on the sociology and criminology of (counter)terrorism. Second, I study the history and contemporary conditions of international police cooperation. This work was presented in my book Policing World Society (Oxford University Press 2002) and several research articles, including an ongoing study on the political history of Interpol. Third, I 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. Building on these interests, I edited a 32-chapter The Handbook of Social Control (Wiley, 2019) in which leading scholars discuss a broad range of issues and dimensions of social control.

In the area of popular culture, I study a variety of themes, including celebrity and fame, music, and cinema, that connect with my background in cultural sociology and anthropology. I published Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame (Palgrave 2017) as well as related papers on music and fame following a rather famous course (www.gagacourse.net). Also, a 2022 book with Anna S. Rogers called, Doing Gender in Heavy Metal involves a qualitative study of the status of women in the heavy metal subculture. And I have done work on other cultural themes, such as the movies of Alfred Hitchcock, music censorship, and the anthropology of Victor Turner.

My most recent interests involve a study on the celebrity activism since the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 protests, including work on the activism by tennis star Naomi Osaka, as well as work on the nexus between law and popular culture, specifically legal dimensions of popular music and litigation involving pop stars. In the coming years, I hope to develop a comparative-transnational perspective of aspects of popular culture and law in the United States and Japan.

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 mainly teach courses in the areas of law and social control, theory, and popular culture:
  • Undergraduate courses: 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 seminars: 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.

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