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Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve

Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Brown University and an affiliated scholar with the American Bar Foundation.  

She is the award-winning author of the book, "Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America's Largest Criminal Court." Crook County won 11 awards or finalist distinctions for its contribution to the areas of sociology, law, criminal justice, media and social justice including the discipline’s highest book honor, The American Sociological Association’s Distinguished Book Prize. In the area of publishing, Crook County is a two-time Prose Award Winner (For Excellence in Law and Legal Studies and for Excellence in Social Sciences) and a Silver Medalist awarded by the Independent Publisher Book Awards. In the area of social justice, Crook County was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award in the category of “Outstanding Literary Work - Debut Author” and a Finalist for the National Council on Crime and Delinquency’s Media for a Just Society Award.  

Her new book, "The Waiting Room," (Amazon Original Stories) examines life around the Cook County Jail and how the suffering - caused by pretrial incarceration - extends beyond the cages and into the communities.  Gonzalez Van Cleve is a prolific public scholar. She has written for The New York TimesThe AtlanticNBC NewsCrain’s Chicago Business, and CNN.  Her legal commentary has been featured on NPRNBC NewsCNN, and MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show.  

Professor Gonzalez Van Cleve’s research is motivated by a central concern: theoretically challenging conventional paradigms driving the study of race and racism and placing these concerns squarely in the mainstream of sociology as well as the subfields of law, organizations and cultural sociology. Overall, she imports a cultural theoretical perspective (rooted in cultural sociology) to the study of discretion and bias in organizations and shows how these dynamics affect the law. Substantively, her research addresses the equitability of laws, the creation of racial meaning, and the “consumer experience” of criminal justice institutions. She applies a range of methodological and analytic approaches, which include traditional ethnography, comparative ethnography, content analysis, historical/archival work, and innovative large-scale, semi-structured fieldwork. 

Brown University Faculty Profile

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