College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Sociology

Comparative Political & Social Change


Comparative political and social change is a central focus of faculty in the Sociology Department. Questions about social order and change are at the core not only of sociology, but also across the social sciences. They are, fundamentally, questions about how we manage to live together productively and in a sustainable relationship with the earth, and why we sometimes fail in relationships or threaten that sustainability; questions about how we maintain social stability and how we make change. The greatest problems we face today as a society, such as ensuring our sustainability, or effectively responding to terrorism, or adapting to globalization are, at root, social. Even those that involve scientific or technical expertise require that human beings be able to coordinate and cooperate to implement solutions.

The following Sociology faculty contribute to the area of comparative political and social change:

Christine Horne studies how social norms emerge and why they are enforced. Her research uses laboratory experiments to develop theoretical understanding of norms and applied work explores the utility of the theory for addressing a range of substantive questions (including international human rights norms, informal neighborhood level control of crime, and default in micro-credit groups).

  • Horne, Christine. 2009. The Rewards of Punishment. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.
  • Horne, Christine and Michael Lovaglia. Eds. Forthcoming. "Experimental Studies in Law and Criminology". Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Horne, Christine. 2004. “Collective Benefits, Exchange Interests, and Norm Enforcement”. Social Forces 82(3): 1037-1062.


Erik Johnson’s work examines the development and outcomes of environmental movements in the U.S. and abroad.

  • Johnson, Erik W., Jon Agnone, and John D. McCarthy. Forthcoming. “Movement Organizations, Synergistic Tactics and Environmental Public Policy.” Social Forces.
  • Johnson, Erik W., Yoshitaka Saito, and Makoto Nishikido. 2009. “The Organizational Demography of Japanese Environmentalism.” Sociological Inquiry. 79(4): 481-504.
  • Johnson, Erik W. 2008. “Social Movement Size, Organizational Diversity and the Making of Federal Law.” Social Forces 86(3): 967-93.
  • Johnson, Erik W. 2006. “Changing Issue Representation Among Major United States Environmental Movement Organizations.” Rural Sociology 71(1): 132-54.





Sociology faculty study comparative political and social change across a range of substantive topics including peace, war and the military; environmental degradation and policy; social justice; the distribution of economic resources; social norms and the law; population change; and collective action. We employ a variety of theoretical and methodological lenses, analyzing variation in units at different levels of analysis, including individuals, cities, counties, states and nations.


Sociology Department, PO Box 644020, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-4020, Ph: 509-335-4595, Fax: 509-335-6419, Contact Us