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Alexes Harris

Alexes Harris

Professor of Sociology, University of Washington
I am a sociologist who uses a mixed-method approach to study institutional decision-making. My research interests focus on social stratification processes and racial and ethnic disparities. I investigate how contact with varying institutions (educational, juvenile and criminal justice and economic) impact individuals' life chances. Frequently, my work combines data types in order to illustrate both the macro context of the problem at hand, and at the same time investigate the micro processes leading to outcomes. Using participant observation, interview, and statistical methods my work has investigated how institutional actors assess, label, and process individuals and groups, and how those processed respond. My aim is to produce research that is theoretically informed and empirically rich, and research that is of value in local, state, and national policy arenas.

Teaching
I have taught undergraduate courses on race and ethnicity (soc 362), social problems (soc 270), juvenile justice (375), and special topics courses (soc 401 one on credit markets, one on criminal sentencing and currently prepping one on sports, higher education and race). I also teach the graduate-level research methods course on qualitative research methods (soc 519 and 520) and have taught juvenile justice.

Current Research Projects
A Pound of Flesh documents the contemporary relationship between the United States' systems of social control and inequality. Using a mixed-method approach (court observations, interviews with court actors and defendants, review of legal statute and cases, and statistical analysis of court automated data), I analyze the particular policies and mechanisms used within the criminal justice system to impose and monitor sanctions to poor people who do not pay their legal debts, and I examine the consequences of this process. I explicitly outline how local community and court culture and financial constraints influence contemporary notions of who should be held accountable for their actions by the criminal justice system. Put simply, monetary sanctions serve as a punishment tool that permanently penalize and marginalize the poor.

Certain states, including Arizona, have begun scrapping court costs and fees for people unable to pay – two experts on legal punishments explain why

Dec 05, 2023 05:39 am UTC| Law

In todays American criminal legal system, courts impose fines and fees as a means to punish people and hold them accountable for legal violations. At times, people are sentenced to pay without incarceration, but...

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Economy

China’s doom loop: a dramatically smaller (and older) population could create a devastating global slowdown

China has announced that in 2023 its population declined from 1.4118 to 1.4097 billion people. Forecasting by the UN suggests Chinas population will dip to 1.313 billion by 2050 and then down to about 800 million by 2100....

The private sector housing experiment has failed: Ottawa must now step up on social housing

Politicians of all stripes say that housing affordability is a top priority. But few are saying much about social housing the kind thats needed for low-income households in greatest need of affordable rental...

Wholesale power prices are falling fast – but consumers will have to wait for relief. Here’s why

Wholesale power prices are falling steeply in Australia, following two years of surging prices after the Ukraine war triggered an energy crisis. New data shows annualised spot prices for power in Australias main grid fell...

Mortgage and inflation pain to ease, but only slowly: how 31 top economists see 2024

A panel of 31 leading economists assembled by The Conversation sees no cut in interest rates before the middle of this year, and only a slight cut by December, enough to trim just $55 per month off the cost of servicing a...

South Africa’s military is expected to do more than ever with tighter budgets: how the force has declined over 30 years

The South African National Defence Force marks 30 years this year, having been established on 27 April 1994. Its as old as the countrys constitutional democracy, the result of a negotiated political settlement that ended...

Politics

200 million voters, 820,000 polling stations and 10,000 candidates: Indonesia’s massive election, by the numbers

Indonesians are going to the polls to elect a new president today. There are three candidates running, alongside their vice presidential candidates. According to opinion polls, the favourite is Prabowo Subianto, leader...

How Muslim teachings support political dynasties in Indonesia

President Joko Jokowi Widodo is the latest high-profile political figure in Indonesia to attempt to build a political dynasty, loosely defined as a concentration of political power involving family members. Jokowis...

Russia’s next election is likely to put Putin in power for longer than anyone since Peter the Great

Presidential elections will be held in Russia in March. It is inevitable that the incumbent president, Vladimir Putin, will win. Putin has been in power (whether as president or as prime minister) since 2000. If he wins...

Rwanda deal: why the media should focus more on the policy and less on the politics of immigration

Heading into an election year, the governments handling of migration continues to dominate headlines. Much of the coverage has been about the plan to send those who enter the UK without legal paperwork to Rwanda. This...

Biden’s ‘hard look’ at liquefied natural gas exports raises a critical question: How does natural gas fit with US climate goals?

The Biden administration has frozen pending decisions on permit applications to export liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to countries other than U.S. free trade partners. During this pause, which will last for up to 15...

Science

The brain is the most complicated object in the universe. This is the story of scientists’ quest to decode it – and read people’s minds

In the middle of 2023, a study conducted by the HuthLab at the University of Texas sent shockwaves through the realms of neuroscience and technology. For the first time, the thoughts and impressions of people unable to...

Synthetic human embryos let researchers study early development while sidestepping ethical and logistical hurdles

Embryonic development, also known as embryogenesis, is a cornerstone in understanding the origins of life. But studying this marvel of intricate and layered biological processes in people faces considerable challenges....

Genetic diseases: How scientists are working to make DNA repair (almost) a piece of cake

I have always been fascinated by genetics, a branch of biology that helps explain everything from the striking resemblance between different members of a family to the fact that strawberry plants are frost-resistant. Its...

Orbital resonance − the striking gravitational dance done by planets with aligning orbits

Planets orbit their parent stars while separated by enormous distances in our solar system, planets are like grains of sand in a region the size of a football field. The time that planets take to orbit their suns have no...

Why now is the time to address humanity’s impact on the moon

Humans have always looked at the sky, using the stars as navigation guides or for spiritual storytelling. Every human civilization has looked to the stars and used celestial movements to measure time and find...

Technology

Apple Rethinks Foldable Tech, Pauses iPhone Project Amid Display Challenges

Apple is currently deliberating on the design of its first foldable device as the development of the project accelerates, DigiTimes reports. Apple Edges Closer to Foldable Device Debut, Targets High-Quality Design...

LG Electronics to Debut High-Tech Bathroom Fixtures

LG Electronics Inc. is planning to launch innovative fixtures and appliances for bathrooms. The South Korean electronics giant is set to showcase its new cutting-edge bathroom products this month. LG Electronics is...

Reddit Strikes $60M AI Content Deal with Google Ahead of Anticipated IPO

Social media platform Reddit has reached an agreement with Google and has launched a new portal where its content can be used to train the search engine giants artificial intelligence models, a new report...

Samsung Expands S24 AI Innovations to Galaxy S23 and More with One UI 6.1 Update

Samsung assured us around the time of the Samsung Galaxy S24 launch that One UI 6.1, the software that debuted on those phones, would be available on additional devices. The company is currently providing a schedule for...
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