Below is a brief overview of my work. Click here for a copy of my academic CV.


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

In the area of law and social control, my work primarily focuses on three themes. First, recent research involves a study of the global diffusion of terrorist anti-police violence. This work extends from my research on the police dimension of counter-terrorism that culminated in my book The Policing of Terrorism: Organizational and Global Perspectives (Routledge 2010). Related work explores the sociology of (counter)terrorism, which evolved in the edited volumes Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism: Criminological Perspectives (2004) and Terrorism and Counterterrorism Today (2015). Second, I research the history and contemporary conditions of international police cooperation. This work culminated in a book, Policing World Society (Oxford University Press 2002), and several research articles. 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. Presently in progress, also, is the 35-chapter The Handbook of Social Control in which leading scholars discuss a broad range of issues and dimensions of social control.

My most recent interests involve contemporary issues of popular culture, especially fame, popular music, and cinema, themes which connect with my initial specialization in cultural sociology as well as my background in cultural anthropology. Most recently, my book Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame has been published by Palgrave Macmillan. This book as well as several papers on music and fame follow a course I organized on the fame of Lady Gaga (www.gagacourse.net), which itself garnered a measure of fame. Relatedly, I also teach a course in visual sociology, and I have edited books on Music and Law (2013) and Popular Culture, Crime, and Social Control (2010). Other work on culture addresses such topics as the movies of Alfred Hitchcock, music censorship, and the anthropology of Victor Turner.

I have not only published consistently, ever since my first article in 1989, but I have also published very broadly in different outlets so that my work can reach multiple audiences. Additionally supporting my ambition to practice being a sociologist as a public intellectual, I hope this website also contributes to that goal.

See the Books and Articles & Essays pages for my writings.


The courses I presently teach at the University of South Carolina include:
  • Sociology of Law - SOCY 540. Undergraduate course.
  • Sociology of Social Control - SOCY 507. Undergraduate course.  
  • Sociological Theory - SOCY 302. Undergraduate theory.
  • Society Through Visual Media - SOCY 368. Undergraduate topics.
  • Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame - SOCY 398D. Topics course.
  • Theoretical Foundations of Sociology - SOCY 710. Graduate theory seminar.
  • Contemporary Scholars - SOCY 711. Graduate theory seminar.
  • Scientific Methods and Sociological Inquiry - SOCY 701. Graduate methods.
  • Law and Social Control - SOCY 791D. Graduate seminar.
See the Teaching Pages on this site for further information.



I was born in Belgium, where I lived in the small village of Stokkem and attended high school at St. Jan Berchmanscollege in Genk. I studied at the Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven, receiving masters-level degrees in Sociology in 1986 and in Cultural Anthropology in 1987. In 1990, I obtained an MA from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Hull, England. Between 1989 and 1992, I was an assistant in the Criminology program of the Law Department at K.U. Leuven, whereafter I came to the United States and received my PhD in sociology from the University of Colorado in 1996. I have since held academic positions at Kenyon College, Purdue University, and the University of South Carolina, where I have been since 2002.


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". [online as pdf file]
Special Diploma Social and Cultural Anthropology, Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven, Belgium, 1987.
Thesis on the anthropology of space (in Dutch). [online as pdf file]
Licentiate Sociology, Candidate Social Sciences, Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven, Belgium, 1983, 1986.
Thesis on the sociological concept of anomie (in Dutch). [online as pdf file]


University Positions 

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

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, 1997-2002.

Visiting Assistant Professor, Kenyon College, Law and Society Program, Gambier, Ohio, 1996-1997.

Graduate employment: Assistant/Instructor, Department of Sociology, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1992-1996; Assistant, Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven, Belgium, Department of Criminology, 1989-1992.

Selected Service & Awards   

Sabbatical leave for research on popular culture and social control, University of South Carolina, Spring 2016.

Chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee, University of South Carolina, since 2016.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, member of the review panel for Insight Grants, Spring 2012.

International Scientific Board member, Sociologia e Politiche Sociali (Italy), since 2012.

Sabbatical leave for research in Québec, Sweden, Scotland, and Germany, funded by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Sociology, University of South Carolina, Spring 2009.

Series Editor, Sociology of Crime, Law, and Deviance, published by Emerald Group, 2004-2018.

Mentor of the Year Award from the American Society of Criminology, November 2000.

National Science Foundation, Doctoral Dissertation Grant, Law and Social Sciences Division, 1994-1995.

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