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 crime, 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 broadly in different outlets so that my work can reach multiple audiences. I hope this website also contributes to that goal.

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


I presently teach courses in the areas of law and social control, theory, and popular culture:
  • SOCY 302: Sociological Theory - Undergraduate theory course. 
  • SOCY 368: Society Through Visual Media - Undergraduate course. 
  • SOCY 398D: Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame - Undergraduate topics course.
  • SOCY 507: Sociology of Social Control - Upper-division undergraduate course.
  • SOCY 540: Sociology of Law - Upper-division undergraduate course. 
  • SOCY 710: Classical Scholars - Graduate theory seminar. 
  • SOCY 711: Contemporary Scholars - Graduate theory seminar. 
  • SOCY 701: Scientific Methods and Sociological Inquiry - Graduate seminar.
  • SOCY 710: Theoretical Foundations of Sociology - Graduate theory seminar.
  • SOCY 791D: Sociology of Law & Social Control - Graduate seminar.
  • SOCY 729: Comparative and Historical Sociology - Graduate methods 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]

Academic 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.

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