Sudhir Venkatesh

Williams B. Ransford Professor of Sociology



Sudhir Venkatesh is William B. Ransford Professor of Sociology, and the Committee on Global Thought, at Columbia University. He recently served as a Senior Advisor to the Department of Justice, Washington, DC.

CURRENT POSITIONS: Venkatesh is currently Chair of Policy & Budget, in the Committee on Global Thought. He is also Faculty Director of the MA in Global Thought, at Columbia University. He is the Co-Editor (along with Lance Freeman) of City & Community, the journal of the Community and Urban Section of the American Sociological Association.

ADMINISTRATION (prev):  Venkatesh served as the Academic Director of the Berlin School of Creative Leadership, an MBA program for the creative industries. Previously, he served as the Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, and the Director of the Center for Urban Research and Policy, both at Columbia University.

His most recent book is Floating City (Penguin Press). His earlier book, Gang Leader for a Day (Penguin Press) received a Best Book award from The Economist, and was translated into Chinese, Korean, Japanese, German, Italian, Polish, French and Portuguese. His previous work, Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor (Harvard, 2006) received a Best Book Award from (2006) as well as the C. Wright Mills Award (2007). His first book, American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto (Harvard, 2000) explored life in Chicago public housing.

Venkatesh’ editorial writings have appeared in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Fast Company, and the Washington Post. He writes for, and his stories have appeared in This American Life, WIRED, and on National Public Radio.

MULTI-MEDIA: Venkatesh’s documentary film (for PBS), Dislocation, followed families as they relocated from condemned public housing developments. He directed and produced a three-part award winning documentary on the history of public housing for public radio. And, he recently completed At the Top of My Voice, a documentary film on a scholar and artist who return to the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia to promote democracy and safeguard human rights.

Venkatesh received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago. He was a Junior Fellow at the Society of Fellows (Harvard) and an NSF CAREER award recipient in 2000. He is a voting member of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies.

RESEARCH: His recent research projects include a study of the transformation of the modern advertising industry. And, with Phil Cook, Jens Ludwig, Harold Pollack, and George Tita, he directs the ethnographic research component of a multi-city study of gun markets. He is also the co-founder and co-director of the Craft of Ethnography—a consortium of University social scientists dedicated to research and training in qualitative research and fieldwork.


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