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]

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 several contemporary and historical themes. I examine 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. I also 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. Further, 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. 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 and fame, popular music, and cinema 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 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 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, 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 in 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.

Chair of the Tenure & Promotion Committee and the Faculty Evaluation Committee, Department of Sociology, University of South Carolina, since 2020.

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