Amy Binder

Amy Binder


Contact Information

Research Interests: Education, Politics, Culture, and Organizations

Education: PhD, Northwestern University

I am an SNF-Agora Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University.

I earned my Ph.D. in Sociology from Northwestern University in 1998 and my BA in Anthropology from Stanford University in 1986. I was on the sociology faculty at the University of California San Diego from 2003 to 2023 and, before that, at the University of Southern California from 1998 to 2003.

I have served the discipline and the university in many ways, including serving as chair of the Sociology of Education section of the American Sociological Association and as a member of the councils of three other ASA sections (OOW, Political Sociology, and Culture). I served as deputy editor for the journal Sociology of Education, and as a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement. At the university level, among other positions, I served as chair of the Department of Sociology at UC San Diego from 2019 to 2022. In 2021, I was elected to the Sociological Research Association.

Most of my research concerns how politics and education collide, but I take occasional detours into other aspects of educational, cultural, polticial, and organizational life. My research has been funded by the Spencer Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation and, earlier in my career, I was a postdoctoral fellow of the National Academy of Education.

My three books typify my interest in political contentiousness and education. In 2002, I published Contentious Curricula: Afrocentrism and Creationism in American Public Schools (Princeton University Press), which went on to win three awards, including the outstanding book award from the Culture section of the American Sociological Association and the American Educational Research Association’s major book award. In 2013, I co-authored Becoming Right: How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives (Princeton University Press), which has been covered widely in the media. My most recent book, The Channels of Student Activism: How the Left and Right Are Winning (and Losing) in Campus Politics Todaywas published by the University of Chicago Press in 2022. I have written several articles, co-edited a special issue on cultural sociology in the American Annals of Political and Social Sciences, and published numerous opinion editorials and articles, including in the Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Washington Monthly.

I have not yet taught at Johns Hopkins, but I look forward to teaching qualitative methods and sociology of higher education in the coming years.

Please see my Curriculum Vitae for a full list. The following is a sample from the past ~10 years


Binder, Amy and Kate Wood. 2013. Becoming Right:  How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives.  Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

Binder, Amy and Jeffrey Kidder. 2022. The Channels of Student Activism: How the Left and Right Are Winning and Losing in Campus Politics Today. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.


Jeffrey Kidder and Amy Binder. 2022. “Higher Education for Democracy’ and the Channels of Student Activism.” Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 54:1, 33-40, special issue devoted to the 75th anniversary of the release of the “Truman Commission Report, Higher Education for Democracy.”

Kidder, Jeffrey and Amy Binder. 2021. “The Politics of Speech on Campus.” Sociological Forum 36:338-58.

Kidder, Jeffrey and Amy Binder. 2020. “Trumpism on College Campuses.” Qualitative Sociology 43:145–163.

Davis, Daniel and Amy Binder. 2019. “Industry, Firm, Job Title: The Layered Nature of Early Career Advantage for Graduates of Elite Private Universities." Socius 5:1-23.

Binder, Amy and Andrea Abel. 2019. “Symbolically Maintained Inequality: How Harvard and Stanford Students Construct Boundaries among Elite Universities.” Sociology of Education, published in German in Zeitschrift für Pädagogik (Journal of Education), Jahrgang, Beiheft 65, pp 210-31. 

Davis, Daniel and Amy Binder. 2016. “Selling Students: The Rise of Corporate Partnership Programs in University Career Centers.” Research in the Sociology of Organizations (special issue, Elizabeth Popp Berman and Catherine Paradeise), 46:395-422. 

Binder, Amy; Daniel Davis; and Nick Bloom. 2016. “Career Funneling: How Elite Students Learn To Define and Desire ‘Prestigious’ Jobs.” Sociology of Education, 89:20-39.

Binder, Amy. 2013,“Sociology of Education’s Cultural, Organizational, and Societal Turn: Response to Steven Brint’s Essay, ‘The Collective Mind at Work: A Decade in the Life of U.S. Sociology of Education. Sociology of Education, 2013, 86:282-283


Binder, Amy and Scott Davies. 2019. “Importing School Forms across Professional Fields: An Understudied Phenomenon in the Sociology of Education” in Education & Society (Thurston Domina, Benjamin Gibbs, Lisa Nunn, and Andrew Penner, eds.). University of California Press, pp.300-310.

Binder, Amy. 2018. College and University Campuses as Sites for Political Formation: A Cultural Organizational Approach” in Education in a New Society: Renewing the Sociology of Education (Scott Davies and Jal Mehta, eds.). University of Chicago Press, pp. 220-28.

Binder, Amy. 2017. “Afterword: New Institutional, Inhabited Institutional, and a Cultural-Organizational Approach to Studying Elites in Higher Education” in Universities and the Production of Elites. Discourses, Policies, and Strategies of Excellence and Stratification in Higher Education (Roland Bloch, Alexander Mitterle, Catherine Paradeise, Tobias Peter, eds.). London: Palgrave MacMillan.

 Binder, Amy and Kate Wood. 2014. “’Civil’ or ‘Provocative’? Varieties of Conservative Student Style and Discourse in American Universities” in Professors and Their Politics (Neil Gross and Solon Simmons, eds.). London and New York: Johns Hopkins University Press.