Faculty Biography - James Inverarity

James Inverarity

Sociology Department
Western Washington University
Bellingham, WA 98225-9081
Arntzen Hall 502
Phone: (360) 650-3006
Fax: 360-650-7295

James Inverarity received his B.A. from the University of Michigan and his PhD from Stanford University.  Before coming to WWU in 1985 he taught at Reed College, UCLA and the University of Minnesota.  His doctoral thesis examined lynchings in the American South as instances of ritual punishment linked to crises in the social integration of white communities.  A version of this work appeared as “Populism and Lynching” in American Sociological Review (1976). began a thirty year exploration of how punishment of crime is shaped by external social, economic and political influences.  The basic orientation is outlined in Law and Society: Sociological Perspectives on Criminal Law [1983; Japanese edition 1994], coauthored with Barry Feld (University of Minnesota Law School) and Pat Lauderdale (Law Center, Arizona State).  The central focus of his work has been on the relationships between labor markets and imprisonment rates.  This research is based on analyses of trends in rates of imprisonment among American states between 1970 and 2000.  This data set is also used as the basis for papers in the sociology of law capstone course (Soc. 450), in which students develop independent research projects.  Recent topics have included the positive impact of state three strike sentencing reforms on homicide rates, the effect of racial threat on variation in executions, the effects of mandatory domestic violence arrest laws on family murder rates.  An entirely new project, which has emerged out of a couple recent senior theses, explores the impact of variations in social integration on recent spikes in urban male murder and suicide rates among 140 cities.

Recent Publications

2000.   “Sociology of Law.”  In E. Borgatta and M. Borgatta (Eds.),   Encyclopedia of Sociology.  Second edition. New York:  Macmillan.

2001.   "Functions of Deviance" In Clifton D. Bryant (ed.) Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behavior.  New York:  Taylor and Francis.

Current Projects

Why Racial Disparities in Imprisonment Rates Are Higher in the South and West:  A Test of Alternative Explanations.

Regional Racial Disparities in Imprisonment and Executions 1890-1950.

Comparable Worth Discrimination: Parallel Issues in Labor Markets and Criminal Sentencing.

Page Updated 12.12.2011