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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

  • Director, Community University Research Collaboration Initiative (CURCI)
  • Ph.D. 1997, University of California – Davis

Jon Shefner serves as director of the Community-University Research Collaborative Initiative (CURCI) at UT. He proposed the creation of CURCI after researching the topic with Lecturer of Sociology Lisa East revealed provided two important findings: the Knoxville community has a variety of needs, and they are interested in working with UT faculty to resolve those needs; and UT faculty are interested in working in the Knoxville community but there is little university infrastructure and few incentives to facilitate that work.

Shefner’s vison is that CURCI will establish meaningful and enduring collaborations between UT and the Knoxville community and help address the needs of community members, especially from disadvantaged communities. Jon also hopes CURCI will help move the university into new roles in Knoxville, and continue to fulfill the duties of a flagship, land-grant university in an increasingly urban state.

Shefner has written and taught about social movement and labor organizing, the informal economy, immigration, globalization and austerity, and civil society. His research focuses on how social movements, community organizations, and organized labor struggle for democratic representation and material prosperity. He has done fieldwork and worked in collaborative research and consultations with movements, labor, and community organizations in Mexico, Ecuador, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Knoxville. His current research examines movements and organizations across the US South to determine what kinds of organizing tactics work best in which contexts.

Shefner is the editor, co-editor, author, and co-author of nine books, including Why Austerity Persists (2019, Polity Press with Cory Blad); The Illusion of Civil Society: Democratization and Community Mobilization in Low Income Mexico (2008, Penn State University Press); and Out of the Shadows: Political Action and the Informal Economy in Latin America (2006, Penn State University Press, co-edited with Patricia Fernandez-Kelly). He is also the author or co-author of dozens of scholarly and public sociology articles and book chapters. Jon’s work has received over $1.3 million in research and other grants from external sources.

Shefner has held an endowed research chair and won several awards for his research, teaching, and service, including a Fulbright grant and the Distinguished Lectureship from the Southern Sociological Society. Shefner served as head of the Department of Sociology for ten years and led faculty efforts to integrate work with social change organizations into scholarly research, making the department one of the most engaged with community needs in the Southeast.

Throughout Shefner’s scholarly career and his work as department head, he has simultaneously worked as an organizer and leader in a variety of movements and organizations. That work began in the early 1980s in the movement against US interventions in Central America. Shefner lived and worked on a cooperative farm in Nicaragua following those experiences, building homes for farming families. He also coordinated a successful divestment campaign, participated in anti-war activity, and worked with the pro-democracy movement in Mexico. Shefner has served in the leadership of United Campus Workers—Communication Workers of America 3865 for a decade, and currently works closely with a number of other social change organizations.

  • 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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