On Theory and Method Lecture Series- Indefinite: Doing Time in Jail

About the Program

For this first event of the On Theory and Method Lecture Series, we welcome Dr. Michael Walker. His broad research concerns stratification, social control, punishment, and social psychology, which he translates into studies of race relations, carceral patterns, identities, emotions, and time. Professor Walker is the author of Indefinite: Doing Time in Jail, which won the 2022 Charles H. Cooley Award for Best Recent Book from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. Indefinite is a beautifully written, field defining ethnography of what Walker calls penal living. It brings the reader into the visceral and emotional landscape of the jail, revealing what it means to do time and what the social situation of jail residents tells us about the use of punishment in the United States. Professor Walker is also the recipient of the American Society of Criminology’s 2018 Joan Petersilia Outstanding Article Award for his paper, “Race Making in a Penal Institution,” which was published in the American Journal of Sociology.

Dr. Walker will be joined in conversation by Reuben Jonathan Miller, Associate Professor in UChicago’s Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice and the Department of Race, Diaspora and Indigeneity and is a research professor at the American Bar Foundation. Professor Miller is the author of Halfway Home: Race, Punishment and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration, which follows the lives of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. The recipient of many awards, Professor Miller was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2022. The discussion will center on Professor Walker’s theoretically sophisticated, and deeply lyrical approach to rendering the social situations of people we’ve thrown away—the incarcerated, the poor, and the racialized.


About the Series

“On Theory and Method” is a lecture series that brings innovative social scientists who have written field defining books into conversation with graduate students and members of the public who aspire to bring their research findings to the page. The series focuses on the writing process, how to make sense of what we find in social research and how to render those findings in ways that resonate within and beyond the academy.

If you have any questions about access or to request a reasonable accommodation that will facilitate your full participation in this event such as ASL interpreting, captioned videos, Braille or electronic text, food options for individuals with dietary restrictions, etc. please contact the event organizer.