Skip to content

Political Economy and Globalization

See Also: Interdisciplinary Program for Global Studies

Political economy generally explores the production, allocation, and consumption of goods and services, including the role the state plays in these processes. The sociological approach to the study of political economy draws upon distinctive theoretical traditions, employs distinctive methods of analysis, and addresses distinctive subject matter. Sociological political economy particularly emphasizes the social context that frames economic production, resource distribution, and state action, typically a social context deeply marked by structural inequalities of class, ethno-racial identity, gender, and nation. Sociologists examine political-economic dynamics and outcomes that span a range of spatial scales (from the global economy to the local neighborhood), occur in a variety of organizational settings (from multilateral institutions to factory assembly lines), and take place across multiple historical periods (from the earliest stirrings of European colonial expansion to the present moment). Political economy enriched by the sociological perspective also recognizes that social movements, both popular and elite, have contested and changed the order of collective economic and political life.

The sociological study of political economy takes on timely questions of great relevance, questions such as:

  • Will countries whose class structure is being transformed by industrialization replicate the political experience of the already developed countries, and why or why not?
  • Why has a rising tide of inter-ethnic violence enveloped many states in recent years?
  • For what reasons has growth in government spending on social welfare stagnated?
  • How has the movement for women's rights differently reshaped gender relations around the globe?
  • What accounts for the vast and widening gap of wealth and income in the world?

The Sociology Faculty in Political Economy and Globalization

  • Stephanie Bohon, Associate Professor
    Social and applied demography, immigration to emerging gateway places, Latino migration, ethnic economies, and immigrant incorporation/adaptation.
  • Michelle Christian, Assistant Professor
    Globalization, political economy, racial stratification,labor, global tourism
  • Harry F. Dahms, Associate Professor
    Theory, globalization, economic sociology/political economy, social inequalities, entrepreneurship.
  • Paul Gellert, Associate Professor
    Environmental sociology, development, comparative/historical sociology, political economy, Asian studies, global studies.
  • Asafa Jalata, Professor
    globalization, race & ethnicity, economic development.
  • Jon Shefner, Professor and Department Head
    globalization, social movements, development and democratization.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.