Larry Isaac

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Larry Isaac
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Academic background
EducationBS, 1971, MS, 1974, University of Akron
PhD, 1979, Indiana University
ThesisThe Political Economy of Insurgency, State Expenditures, and Income Distribution: A Comparative Panel Analysis, 1948-1970 (1979)
Academic work
InstitutionsFlorida State University, Vanderbilt University
Notable studentsJonathan Coley, Anna Jacobs, Quan Mai

Larry W. Isaac is an American sociologist, the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Political Economy at Vanderbilt University.

Early life and education[edit]

Isaac was born in Cleveland, Ohio, graduated from Avon High School west of Cleveland, and received a B.S. in Industrial Management and M.A. in Sociology from the University of Akron. He did his doctoral work and received the Ph.D. in Sociology from Indiana University (Bloomington).[1]


Isaac began his professorial career at Florida State University in 1978 where he rose through the academic ranks to become the Mildred and Claude Pepper Distinguished Professor. He joined the Sociology Department at Vanderbilt University in 2004, where he is now the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Distinguished Professor (endowed chair) of Sociology & Political Economy.[1] He served as the Sociology Department Chair at Vanderbilt from 2015 to 2021.

From 2010-2015, Isaac served as senior editor of the American Sociological Review, the flagship scientific journal of the American Sociological Association.[1] He also previously served as president of the Southern Sociological Society from 2007–2008 and received the Distinguished Lectureship Award from the Southern Sociological Society in 2011.[2][3]

Isaac has published extensively in the fields of political sociology, political economy, social movements, labor studies, and historical processes of social change. He is known for his published work in three major areas: (i) political economy of labor movements and class formation processes; (ii) civil rights and black liberation movement dynamics; and (iii) methodological approaches to incorporating qualitative events and turning points into quantitative models of social-historical change.[1]

Isaac's publications have received three awards from the American Sociological Association (in Comparative-Historical Sociology, Culture, and Labor Movements).[4][5] In recognition of his accomplishments in research, he was elected into the national honorary research society, Sociological Research Association, in 2014.[6]

Partial bibliography[edit]

  • Isaac, Larry W., and William Kelly. 1981. “Racial Insurgency, the State, and Welfare Expansion.” American Journal of Sociology 86(6): 1348-1386.
  • Isaac, Larry W., and Larry Griffin. 1989. “Ahistoricism in Time-Series Analysis of Historical Process: Critique, Redirection, and Illustrations from U.S. Labor History.” American Sociological Review 54(6): 873-890.
  • Isaac, Larry W. 1997. “Transforming Localities: Reflections on Time, Causality, and Narrative in Contemporary Historical Sociology.” Historical Methods 30(4): 4-12.
  • Isaac, Larry W. 2002. “To Counter ‘the Very Devil’ and More: The Making of Independent Capitalist Militia in Gilded Age America.” American Journal of Sociology 108(2): 353-405.
  • Isaac, Larry W., and Lars Christiansen. 2002. "How the Civil Rights Movement Revitalized Labor Militancy." American Sociological Review 67(5): 722-746.
  • Isaac, Larry W., Steve McDonald, and Greg Lukasik. 2006. “Takin' it from the Streets: How the Sixties Mass Movement Revitalized Unionization.” American Journal of Sociology 112(1): 46-96.
  • Isaac, Larry W. 2008. “Movement of Movements: Culture Moves in the Long Civil Rights Struggle.” Social Forces 87(1): 33-63.
  • Isaac, Larry W. 2009. “Movements, Aesthetics, and Markets in Literary Change: Making the American Labor Problem Novel.” American Sociological Review 74(6): 938-965.
  • Isaac, Larry W., Jonathan S. Coley, Daniel B. Cornfield, and Dennis C. Dickerson. 2016. “Preparation Pathways and Movement Participation: Insurgent Schooling and Nonviolent Direct Action in the Nashville Civil Rights Movement.” Mobilization 21(2): 155-176.
  • Isaac, Larry W., Anna W. Jacobs, Jaime Kucinskas, and Allison R. McGrath. 2020. “Social Movement Schools: Sites for Consciousness Transformation, Training, and Prefigurative Social Development.” Social Movement Studies 19(2): 160-182.
  • Isaac, Larry W., Jonathan S. Coley, Daniel B. Cornfield, and Dennis C. Dickerson. 2020. “Pathways to Modes of Movement Participation: Micromobilization in the Nashville Civil Rights Movement.” Social Forces 99(1): 255-280.
  • Isaac, Larry W., Rachel G. McKane, and Anna W. Jacobs. 2022. “Pitting the Working-Class Against Itself: Solidarity, Strikebreaking, and Strike Outcomes in the Early U.S. Labor Movement.” Social Science History 46(2): 315-348.
  • Isaac, Larry W., Jonathan S. Coley, Quan D. Mai, and Anna W. Jacobs. 2022. “Striking News: Discursive Power of the Press as Capitalist Resource in Gilded Age Strikes.” American Journal of Sociology 127(5): 1602-1663.


  1. ^ a b c d Cornfield, Daniel (May 2009). "Brown, Donato, Isaac and McCammon Are Incoming Editors of American Sociological Review". Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  2. ^ "Presidents of the Southern Sociological Society". January 2020. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  3. ^ Freymeyer, Bob (Summer 2011). "The Southern Sociologist" (PDF). Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  4. ^ "Sociology of Culture Award Recipient History". August 2020. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  5. ^ "Labor and Labor Movements Award Recipient History". August 2020. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  6. ^ Entman, Liz (October 3, 2014). "McCammon and Isaac inducted into the Sociological Research Association". Retrieved August 11, 2021.

External links[edit]