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Jon ShefnerJon Shefner

Professor of Sociology

The University of Tennessee
901 McClung Tower
Knoxville, TN 37996-0490

Phone: (865) 974-7022
Curriculum Vitae

  • Betty Lynn Hendrickson Professorship of Social Science
  • Ph.D. 1997, University of California – Davis

My work is centered on globalization and political economy, and in the widely defined field of political sociology.  I'm interested in explaining different national trajectories and global stratification, and looking at the activity of social movements and states. My work is multidisciplinary, drawing from anthropology, economics, history, and political science, as well as sociology. My research is largely qualitative, although I am increasingly moving towards using mixed methods.  I have conducted field research in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, New Orleans, LA, and Quito, Ecuador.  I have also explored other academic interests in Nicaragua and Wales.

My research details how poor people push for political change, and the limitations to which they are subjected in their efforts toward greater self-determination. I have particular interest in the links poor people hold with other social groups. The interaction of organized poor people's movements with groups representing interests of the state, elites, or middle classes, has important implications for how poor people's political efforts proceed, and the gains they are able to win.

Much of my work in Mexico focused on a community organization representing poor neighborhoods in the south of Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city. This organization, the UCI, actively defied the clientelist political efforts of the government, allying instead with both community organizations of the poor and middle-class nongovernmental organizations.  Together, these groups pressed a diverging political agenda of democratization and human rights, and land security and better urban services. My work in Mexico lasted for 15 years, and led me to criticize the concept of civil society, which I find analytically, theoretically, and politically inadequate.

I currently am pursuing a several research topics.  First, I have a project in which I am researching the green economy in Knoxville.  Knoxville is the location of the nation's second largest per capita green economy.  I am examining that local economic sector, but also working with a variety of partners to nurture its growth.  The local green economy offers an important opportunity to do public sociology, pushing for more and better jobs while combating global climate change and other manifestations of environmental degradation. 

Second, I am working on two projects on austerity.  One is the continuation of my work on austerity protest, a topic to which I have returned regularly over the years.  The second is a book project on austerity as a failed global policy.  A great deal of recent work focuses on austerity, but much of it strangely ahistorical and Eurocentric.  I'm trying to address both of those problems in the current literature.  Finally, I am going to be working with others, including my UT colleague Stephanie Bohon, on new destination immigration, and how it differs from previous waves of change.

  • Jon Shefner and Cory Blad.  2019.  Why Austerity Persists.  Polity Press.
  • Glenn W. Muschert, Kristen M. Budd, Michelle Christian, Brian V. Klocke, Robert Perrucci & Jon Shefner, editors. 2018.  Global Agenda for Social Justice. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.
  • Muschert, Glenn, Brian Klocke, Robert Perrucci, and Jon Shefner, editors.  2016.  Agenda for Social Justice.  Policy Press and the Society for the Study of Social Problems.  Bristol, UK.
  • Jon Shefner, editor.  2015.  States and Citizens: Accommodation, Facilitation, and Resistance to Globalization.  Current Perspectives in Social Theory, Vol. 34.
  • Meghan Conley and Jon Shefner.  2020.  “Infrastructures of Repression and Resistance: How Tennesseans Respond to the Immigration Enforcement Regime”.  Ethnic and Racial Studies.  Reprinted in The End of Compassion: Children of Immigrants in the Age of Deportation, edited by Alejandro Portes and Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, Routledge Press, 2020.
  • Lamphere, Jenna and Jon Shefner.  2018.   “How to Green: Institutional Influence in Three U.S. Cities”.  Critical Sociology Special Issue on Social Institutions and Sustainability.
  • Cory Blad, Samuel Oloruntoba, and Jon Shefner.  2016.  "Course Corrections and Failed Rationales: How Comparative Advantage and Debt Are Used to Legitimize Austerity in Africa and Latin America".  Third World Quarterly  38:4, 822-843.  First published online at DOI: 10.1080/01436597.20161145047.
  • Steve Panageotou and Jon Shefner.  2015.  “Crisis Management and the Institutions of Austerity: A Comparison of Latin American and Greek Experiences.” Comparative Sociology 14, 301-27.
  • Jon Shefner, George Pasdirtz and Aaron Rowland.  2015.  “Austerity and Protest: Bringing Hardships Back In”. Journal of World Systems Research, Vol. #21, No. 2.
  • Krista Brumley and Jon Shefner.  2014.  “Opportunity, Context, and Action: Understanding the divergent strategies of two Mexican social movement coalitions in a time of tremendous change”.  Sociological Spectrum 34,1.
  • Jon Shefner and Harry Dahms.  2012.  “Civil Society and the State in the Neoliberal Era: Dynamics of Friends and Enemies”.  Current Perspectives in Social Theory, Vol. 30.
  • Jon Shefner and Zachary McKenney.  2020.  “Old Wine New Bottles: Presidential Attitudes Towards Organized Labor from Carter to Trump”.  In The Future of U.S. Empire in the AmericasThe Trump Administration and Beyond, edited by Timothy Gill.   Routledge Press.
  • Shefner, Jon, and Michelle Christian.  2018.  “Global Issues”. In Glenn W. Muschert, Kristen M. Budd, Michelle Christian, Brian V. Klocke, Robert Perrucci & Jon Shefner. 2018.  Global Agenda for Social Justice. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.
  • Shefner, Jon and Zach McKinney.  2018.  “Far Afield: Confronting Political and Ethical Dilemmas in Ethnographic Field Work”.  In Sage Handbook on Qualitative Ethics, edited by Martin Tolich and Ron Iphofen.
  • Social Justice and the University.  Globalization, Human Rights, and the Future of Democracy, edited by Jon Shefner, Harry F. Dahms, Robert Emmet Jones, and Asafa Jalata (Houndmills Basingstoke:  Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).
  • Jon Shefner and Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, editors. 2011. Globalization and Beyond: New Examinations of Global Power and its Alternatives. Penn State University Press. Also published as La globalización y más allá: Nuevos análisis del poder global y sus alternativas. Miguel Ángel Porrúa; México, DF.
  • Jon Shefner and Julie Stewart. 2011. "Neoliberalism, Grievances and Democratization: An Exploration of the Role of Material Hardships in Shaping Mexico's Democratic Transition". Journal of World Systems Research, Volume XVII, Number 2.
  • Paul Gellert and Jon Shefner. 2009. "People, Place, And Time: How Structural Fieldwork Helps World-Systems Analysis". Journal of World Systems Research, Volume XV, Number 2.
  • Fran Ansley and Jon Shefner, editors. 2009. Global Connections and Local Receptions: New Latino Immigration to the Southeastern US. University of Tennessee Press.
  • Shefner, Jon, and Katie Kirkpatrick. 2009. "Globalization and the New Destination Immigrant", edited by Fran Ansley and Jon Shefner. In Global Connections and Local Receptions: New Latino Immigration to the Southeastern US. University of Tennessee Press.
  • Jon Shefner. 2008. The Illusion of Civil Society: Democratization and Community Mobilization in Low Income Mexico. Penn State University Press. Awarded Honorable Mention by the Society for Social Problems' Global Section, 2009.
  • Jon Shefner. 2007. "Rethinking Civil Society in the Age of NAFTA: The Case of Mexico". The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. March, Volume 610.
  • Jon Shefner, co-editor with Patricia Fernandez-Kelly. 2007. Special Volume on NAFTA and Beyond: Alternative Perspectives in the Study of Global Trade and Development. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. March, Vol. 610
  • Jon Shefner. 2008. "The new left in Latin America and the opportunity for a new US foreign policy". In Justice 21: Agenda for Social Justice, edited by Kathleen Ferraro, JoAnn Miller, Robert Perrucci, and Paula Rodriguez Rust. Society for the Study of Social Problems.
  • Patricia Fernandez-Kelly and Jon Shefner, eds. 2006. Out of the Shadows. Penn State University Press.

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